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Panasonic DMC-LZ5 Optics


Lens

Zoom
A generous 6x optical zoom range, with good performance.

37mm
222mm
4x Digital Zoom

The Lumix DMC-LZ5 zooms over the equivalent of a 37-222mm range, a larger range than most cameras in its class. Detail at wide angle is considerably sharp and well-defined. Only a small amount of coma distortion is visible around the tree limbs against the sky, and there's a bit of a moire pattern in the brick house front, but performance is overall very good. The camera's 4x digital zoom does a good job of holding onto fine detail, though details are soft overall, as you should always expect with digital zoom.

Macro
A small macro area with excellent detail and resolution. Flash had trouble though.

Standard Macro Macro with Flash

The DMC-LZ5's macro setting performed well, and captured a minimum area of 2.29 x 1.71 inches (58 x 44 millimeters). Detail and resolution are both excellent, with minimal softening in the corners from the lens. (Most cameras have some softening in the corners in macro mode, the LZ5 less so than most.) The DMC-LZ5's flash didn't throttle down much at all for the macro area, and overexposed the frame with a strong shadow from the lens in the lower right corner. (Plan on using external lighting for your closest macro shots with the DMC-LZ5.)

Distortion
Higher than average barrel distortion, low pincushion.

This is the tendency for the lens to bend straight lines outward (like a barrel--usually at wide angle) or inward (like a pincushion--usually at telephoto). The Lumix DMC-LZ5's 0.9% barrel distortion at wide angle is slightly higher than average among the cameras I've tested, and quite noticeable in the frame. At the telephoto end, the DMC-LZ5's 0.07% pincushion is quite low.

Barrel distortion at 37mm is 0.9%
Pincushion at 222mm is 0.07%

Chromatic aberration
Moderately high and bright at wide angle, noticeable in images at edges. Much less at telephoto.

Wide: moderate and bright, top left @ 200% Wide: fairly bright, top right @ 200%
Tele: less bright but still moderate, top left @200% Tele: moderately high, top right @200%

Chromatic aberration is moderately high at wide angle, with 4-5 bright pixels visible, but much lower at telephoto. In the top right corner at telephoto, the effect isn't as bright, but lens flare softens the edges considerably. (Chromatic aberration is visible as a very slight colored fringe around the objects at the edges of the field of view on the resolution target.)

Corner Sharpness
Some softening in the corners of the frame at both wide angle and telephoto zoom settings.

Wide: soft in the upper left corner. Wide: very crisp at center.
Tele: slightly soft in the lower right corner. Tele: sharp at center.

The Lumix DMC-LZ5 produced soft corners in a few shots. At full wide angle, the left corners of the frame were more strongly affected, with pretty good results in the right corners. However, at full telephoto, the right corners were slightly soft while the left corners were reasonably sharp. Across the full focal length range though, any softness was limited to the extreme corners, the images sharpening very quickly as you moved toward the center of the frame. Overall sharpness was better than average.

Viewfinder

Coverage
Very good accuracy from the LCD monitor.

37mm eq., LCD monitor 222mm eq., LCD monitor

The DMC-LZ5's LCD monitor showed about 103% frame accuracy at wide angle, and about 99% percent at telephoto. There's no optical viewfinder though, a feature we missed somewhat: The LCD viewfinder does better than some in bright lighting, but does wash out pretty badly in full sunlight.