Panasonic Lumix DMC-LC1 review: Panasonic Lumix DMC-LC1

Shooting performance (seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Shot-to-shot time (flash)  
Shot-to-shot time (typical)  
Shutter lag (dim)  
Shutter lag (bright)  
Wake-up time  
Shot-to-shot time (raw)  
Canon PowerShot G6
Konica Minolta Dimage A2
Leica Digilux 2
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LC1

High-resolution continuous-shooting performance
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Frames per second at minimum burst speed   

Using autofocus, we recorded a relatively short shutter delay of 0.7 second across a wide range of lighting conditions, a testament to the LC1's quick and decisive AF system. With manual focus, shutter delay drops to 0.2 second.

In fact, the camera's manual focus system is one of its best features. The lens focusing ring is nearly as smooth and precise as a good SLR lens with a helical focusing mechanism. The LC1 magnifies the center portion of the image, in either the electronic viewfinder or on the LCD, to help you judge focus. Equally helpful, clear distance markings on the focus ring make efficient zone focusing a genuine possibility. The zoom ring, too, is smooth and well made, reminiscent of that on a good 35mm lens.

A big 2.5-inch LCD graces the back of the LC1, and it remains sharp and usable in outdoor light. The electronic viewfinder (EVF) is also above average, but it's far from the best, which we find somewhat disappointing in a camera at this price. Both the EVF and the LCD show close to 100 percent of the actual image.

The built-in flash has an unusually good maximum range of 15.8 feet at ISO 100. The range will be considerably shorter when the flash head is tilted for bounce, but we got good bounce-flash exposures at distances of 6 to 7 feet.

Overall, the quality of our test shots from the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LC1 is top-notch--compared with other consumer digicams, not with digital SLRs--and were virtually identical to those of the Digilux 2. Sharpness and detail are very good for a 5-megapixel camera, and the lens performs exceptionally with good edge-to-edge sharpness, very little barrel distortion at its wide end, and essentially zero pincushioning at its telephoto setting.

Colors are natural but vivid, and we noted good, neutral skin tones with both existing light and flash. We got consistently good exposures, and found the auto white balance to be very good in varying outdoor light. We also experienced exceptionally few digital artifacts.

At ISO 100, there is somewhat more visible noise in the LC1's images than we've found in competing models; it gets worse at ISO 200, and telltale signs of noise suppression postprocessing show up in the form of slightly smeary patches here and there. The noise suppression is quite strong at ISO 400, which results in lower-than-average noise but noticeably oversmoothed or painterly sections in many photos.

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