The Good Sharp, bright lens; compact but comfortable design; broad manual shooting feature set.
The Bad Relatively nonresponsive Quick Menu button; proprietary connectors; artifacts under certain conditions; optical viewfinder is optional.
The Bottom Line Although the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3 has its share of passionate fans, we think the JPEG quality should be more consistent for the price.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3
With its compact, elegant design and enthusiast-friendly feature set, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3 certainly qualifies as the camera you want to carry when you need something more discreet than a dSLR. The replacement for the LX2, the LX3 has an almost identical body design, same-to-better performance, and improved photo quality. Still, to me it comes up a bit short overall compared with its main competitor, the Canon PowerShot G10.
At 9.1 ounces, with dimensions of 4.3 inches wide by 2.5 inches high by 2 inches deep (with lens retracted), the relatively compact LX3 fits comfortably in a jacket pocket. There's a slightly pronounced grip up front and a small, bumpy thumb rest on the back, but neither seems quite enough. I frequently felt as if the camera was going to slip out of my hand; a firmer grip required covering all the buttons below with my thumb. The LX3 can retain its slim design because it lacks an optical viewfinder. Instead, Panasonic offers an external model, the DMW-VF1, which is quite pricey.
On top of the camera sits a hot shoe, a welcome addition that the LX2 lacked, power switch, pop-up flash, focus point selector button, zoom switch, and mode dial. In addition to the PASM, movie capture, and scene modes that were available in its predecessor, plus the update from Auto to Panasonic's Intelligent Auto mode, the dial includes two slots for custom settings. Though there are only two slots, the camera can store four groups of settings; one set gets slotted in C1, while C2 stores three. This is an interesting approach that leaves one preset instantly accessible, while switching among the others requires a trip into the menus.
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