Panasonic DMC-L10 Review
Panasonic Lumix DMC-L10 Flash
The Panasonic L10's built-in flash has a guide number rating of 36 feet (11 meters) at ISO 100, translating to a range of about 12.9 feet at ISO 100 with an f/2.8 lens or 6.4 feet at f/5.6. That's a little weaker than most DSLRs, but we're not sure if that's in full auto or manual mode (power in TTL auto flash mode is usually less, as the preflash used to determine exposure discharges the flash capacitor somewhat just before the main flash fires). The flash is released manually by sliding the Flash Open lever toward the front. Raising the flash enables it, though it can be defeated using a menu selection. It never pops up automatically like some models, which can be good or bad, depending on your point of view. For a novice, auto popup would probably be appreciated, but for someone with experience it can be a nuisance.
When open, the flash extends fairly high, to reduce the chance of red-eye and to help avoid shadows from the lens, though as you can see from our test results below, it doesn't always clear the longer-than-average 14-50mm kit lens at wide angle. Although the L10 has a dedicated AF assist lamp, the built-in flash can also act as an auxiliary AF assist while using phase-detect autofocus, which I thought was a neat feature. The L10's flash is disabled by simply closing it, pressing down until it clicks.
The built-in flash has seven modes: Auto, Auto with Red-Eye Reduction, Forced On, Forced On with Red-Eye Reduction, Slow Sync, Slow Sync with Red-Eye Reduction and Forced Off. Flash modes are changed via the Record menu, and available settings vary depending on exposure mode. There is unfortunately no direct access flash mode button, so menus must be used for all flash adjustments. Second curtain synchronization can also be enabled via the menu system. X-Sync (the maximum shutter speed with the flash enabled) is 1/160s, a bit below average these days, and there is no mention of a higher-speed FP (focal plane) mode. There doesn't appear to be any wireless flash support. That could be added via a firmware update as Olympus's new wireless RC flash system rolls out, since Panasonic's current external flashes are rebadged Olympus designs.
The Panasonic L10 allows you to adjust flash and ambient exposure independently of each other, by providing flash exposure compensation between -2 and +2 EV in one-third EV increments. Flash exposure bracketing is not supported.
Like all SLRs, the DMC-L10 also has a dedicated hot shoe, for mounting external flash units, like Panasonic's DMW-FL500 or FL360. Olympus flash units such as the FL-50, FL-36, FL-20 should also work. The advantages of a good external flash are many: more power for increased range, faster recycle times, longer battery life, reduced red-eye, auto zoom to match coverage to the current focal length, and the ability to adjust the tilt and swivel of the head to allow light from the flash to be bounced off nearby surfaces such as a ceiling, for a diffuse affect. Most external flash units have a more powerful AF assist illuminator built-in than the one on the body, and other useful features such as modeling flash, and super FP mode for higher shutter speeds are common on higher end models.
Flash Test Results
Coverage and Range
A moderately powerful flash, but uneven coverage at wide angle, and partially blocked by the kit lens. Our indoor shots required more than average positive compensation in the normal flash mode.
|14mm equivalent||50mm equivalent|
|Normal Flash, +1.7 EV||Slow-Sync Mode, +1.0 EV|
Coverage. Flash coverage was quite uneven at wide angle, though results at telephoto were more uniform. In the Indoor test, the Panasonic DMC-L10's flash underexposed our subject at its default setting, requiring a higher-than-average +1.7 EV positive exposure compensation boost. The camera's Slow-Sync flash mode resulted in a more even exposure and a brighter overall image, at +1.0 EV, though the longer shutter time resulted in an orange color cast from the very warm-hued room lighting.
ISO 100 Range. Flash power remains pretty strong to about 11 or 12 feet at wide angle. At telephoto, the flash is bright to about nine feet, drops off gradually from there and is quite dim at the 16-foot point.
|Manufacturer-Specified Flash Range|
Manufacturer Specified Flash Range. Panasonic rates the L10's with a GN of 11 meters at ISO 100. That works out to about 6.4 feet at an aperture of f/5.6. In the shot above, the DMC-L10 seems to perform exactly as Panasonic says it will, providing a bright exposure at the rated distance.
Note: Our standard test method for flash range uses a fixed setting of ISO 100, to provide a fair basis of comparison between cameras. We've now also begun shooting two shots using the manufacturer-specified camera settings, at the range the company claims for the camera, to assess the validity of the specific claims.
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.