Panasonic Lumix DMC-L10 Review

 
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Panasonic Lumix DMC-L10 Optics


Lens

Zoom
Very good performance from the 14-50mm lens that comes with the Panasonic DMC-L10 kit.

14mm 50mm 4x Digital Zoom

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-L10 digital SLR comes with an Panasonic Leica D Vario-Elmar 14-50mm f/3.5-5.6 lens in the bundled kit, equivalent to a 28-100mm lens on a 35mm camera, a better than average range compared to the 18-55mm kit lenses more typically found on DSLRs. Results were quite good at 14mm, with minimal corner softness and strong detail throughout the frame. Coma distortion in the trees was quite low, although there is some chromatic aberration visible in the corners and edges. Results were even better at the 50mm setting, with no signs of visible coma distortion or chromatic aberration. The DMC-L10 also offers up to 4x digital zoom, a rare features for DSLRs, with good performance (but with the expected loss of detail associated with interpolation).

Overall, the DMC-L10's Leica-badged kit lens is of much higher quality and capability than the inexpensive optics bundled with most other DSLRs.

Macro
An average-sized macro area with the kit lens, though good detail and high resolution. Flash exposure was dim and uneven up close.

Standard Macro Macro with Flash

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-L10's macro setting performed well, though macro performance will vary with the lens in use. With the 14-50mm kit lens, the DMC-L10 captured an average minimum area of 2.93 x 2.20 inches (74 x 56 millimeters). Detail and resolution were both good, though details are a bit soft overall, with moderate softening in the corners. The built-in flash produced a dim and uneven exposure here, partially blocked by the lens barrel, so plan on using external lighting for macro shots with this lens.

Not bad performance for a kit lens really: Unless you're wanting to get micro-close for shots of bugs, etc, results as shown above will likely satisfy most needs.

Distortion
Below average amount of barrel distortion at wide angle, almost no distortion at telephoto.

Barrel distortion at 14mm is 0.6%
Pincushion at 50mm is less than 0.1%

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 Panasonic Lumix DMC-L10's 14-50mm kit lens produced about 0.6% barrel distortion at full wide angle, and was noticeable in some images. This is an above average performance, especially for such a wide angle, but is still pretty evident in some images. At the 50mm telephoto end, pincushion distortion was less than one pixel, or about 0.03% and imperceptible. A very good performance overall.

Chromatic Aberration
Fairly low at wide angle, almost nonexistent at telephoto, when shooting JPEGs. Moderate at wide angle in RAW files.

Wide, JPEG: Low,
lower left @ 200%
Wide, JPEG: Low,
lower right @ 200%
Tele, JPEG: Very low,
lower left @200%
Tele, JPEG: Very low,
lower right @200%

Chromatic aberration is low at wide angle, showing about 4-5 pixels of relatively faint coloration on either side of the target lines. The effect is only slightly visible in some shots. At telephoto, chromatic aberration is extremely low, and had almost no visible effect. (This distortion is visible as a very slight colored fringe around the objects at the edges of the field of view on the resolution target.) Really excellent results, especially for a kit lens.

But wait, are we giving the lens too much credit? Zig Weidelich, one of our technical editors remembered reading that the L10's Venus III engine reduces CA while processing JPEGs. To find out how well it works, we re-shot this series in both JPEG and RAW mode using the same lens and exposure settings. Here are the results:

Wide, RAW: Moderate,
lower left @ 200%
Wide, RAW: Moderate,
lower right @ 200%
Tele, RAW: Very low,
lower left @200%
Tele, RAW: Very low,
lower right @200%

As can be seen when comparing the wide angle camera JPEG and RAW mode (ACR processed) crops above, the DMC-L10's Venus III processor is pretty effective at reducing red-green / magenta-cyan types of chromatic aberration, however it's less so with the minor blue-yellow fringing found at the telephoto end, at least to our eyes. Adobe Camera Raw's chromatic aberration correction feature was not used for these crops, to show the uncorrected results.

We ran the DMC-L10 and its kit lens through our DxO test suite, to provide quantitative measurements of the CA with and without the camera-applied correction in the JPEGs. The numbers below show what DxO Analyzer found, the in-camera JPEG reduced tthe average CA by more than half. (Interestingly, DxO Analyzer found a similar degree of effect at tele and wide, while our eyes found the reduction at the wide angle end more dramatic.)

DMC-L10 Average Chromatic Aberration
(1/100ths of a percent)
  RAW file Camera JPEG
Wide Angle
(14mm, f/3.8)
7.08 3.00
Telephoto
(50mm f/6.3)
4.17 1.71

Below are crops of the same shot converted and corrected with SILKPIX, Panasonic's RAW-file processor.

Wide, SP: Extremely low,
lower left @ 200%
Wide, SP: Extremely low,
lower right @ 200%
Tele, SP: Extremely low,
lower left @200%
Tele, SP: Extremely low,
lower right @200%

SILKPIX' chromatic aberration correction seemed to work very well, but like Adobe's CA correction, it's a manual process. I found adjustments a little time-consuming to do, as I had to view at 200%, tweak the control and wait a few seconds for the display to update before I could see what the effect was and tweak again. Also notice that it does leave some edges slightly rough looking, but we don't think that would be visible in normal sized prints.

Corner Sharpness
Minor softening in the corners of the frame with the 14-50mm kit lens.

Wide: Slightly soft in the
corners (upper right),
but better than most.
Wide: Sharper at center.
Tele: A hint of softness in
the corners (upper right)
Tele: Fairly sharp at center.

The Lumix DMC-L10's 14-50mm kit lens produced better than average sharpness across the frame. At both wide angle and full telephoto, the corners were only slightly softer than the center of the frame, and what little softening there was, it didn't extend very far into the image area. Again, excellent performance for a kit lens.

 

The images above were taken from our standardized test shots. For a collection of more pictorial photos, see our Panasonic Lumix DMC-L10 Photo Gallery.

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Note: For details, test results, and analysis of the many tests done with this camera, please click on the tabs at the beginning of the review or below.

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