Panasonic Lumix LX5 Review

 
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Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5 Optics


Lens

Zoom
A wide, 3.8x optical zoom lens with good performance.

24mm eq., f/5.6 90mm eq., f/5.6 4x Digital Zoom, f/5.6

The Panasonic DMC-LX5 is equipped with a newly developed Leica DC Vario-Summicron f/2.0-3.3 lens covering the equivalent of a 24-90mm zoom on a 35mm camera; a welcome improvement over the LX3's more limited 24-60mm range. Results are quite good at wide-angle, with minimal blurring in the corners and low to moderate levels of coma distortion and chromatic aberration. Detail is also good at full telephoto, with negligible blurring or chromatic aberration in the corners of the frame. The camera's 4x digital zoom did a good job with the typical loss of fine detail associated with 4x digital magnification.

Macro
A very small macro area, with strong detail. Closest focusing distance is too close for the flash.

Standard Macro, f/5.6 Macro with Flash, f/5.6

The Panasonic Lumix LX5's macro setting captured a very small minimum area of just 1.17 x 0.88 inches (30 x 22 millimeters). Detail and resolution are very good in much of the frame, though corners and edges are quite soft. (Most cameras have some softening in the corners in macro mode.) The Panasonic LX5's built-in flash didn't clear the lens at this short a distance resulting in a very large shadow, so plan on using external lighting for any really close macro shots with the Lumix LX5.

Distortion
Lower than average barrel distortion at wide-angle in JPEGs; very high in RAW files.

JPEG: Barrel distortion at 24mm eq. is 0.6%
JPEG: Pincushion distortion at 90mm eq. is less than 0.1%

JPEG: The Panasonic LX5's 0.6% barrel distortion at wide-angle is actually fairly low compared to the average digital camera, especially considering its very wide 24mm equivalent focal length (see below for the explanation). The distortion is however still noticeable in some shots. At the telephoto end, the DMC-LX5's less than 0.1% distortion is almost imperceptible. 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).

Raw: Barrel distortion at 24mm eq. is 2.7%
Raw: Pincushion distortion at 90mm eq. is less than 0.1%

Raw: After converting RAW files using dcraw (which doesn't apply any distortion correction), barrel distortion at wide-angle is much higher, at about 2.7%. Distortion at full telephoto is still very low, so no correction is required. Note that dcraw doesn't fully support the LX5's files yet, so we haven't included links to full resolution versions. Incidentally, Adobe Camera Raw 6.2 does automatically correct for most distortion in the LX5's RAW files. The bundled SilkyPix software also corrects for distortion automatically, leaving about as much as the in-camera JPEGs.

Chromatic Aberration and Corner Softness
Moderate C.A. at wide-angle and telephoto. Mild to strong blurring in the corners of the frame at wide-angle, and mild to moderate blurring at telephoto.

Wide (f/2.0): Bottom left
C.A.: Moderate but a bit bright
Softness: Strong blurring
Wide (f/2.0): Center
C.A.: Low
Softness: Sharp
Tele (f/3.3): Bottom left
C.A.: Moderate but dull
Softness: Moderate blurring
Tele: (f/3.3): Center
C.A.: Low
Softness: Sharp

Chromatic Aberration. Chromatic aberration is moderate and slightly bright at wide-angle. The color fringing extends fairly deep into the frame, but the width and intensity of the fringes reduce as you move toward the center. At telephoto, the extent of the chromatic aberration is about the same but not quite as bright, and therefore less noticeable. dcraw doesn't fully support the LX5's files yet (it doesn't interpolate color correctly) and other converters tend to apply some correction automatically, so it's difficult to tell if the Panasonic LX5 is applying some correction for C.A. in its JPEGs. Chromatic aberration is a type of distortion visible as a slight colored fringe around the objects at the edges of the field of view on the resolution target.

Corner Softness. The Panasonic LX5's lens produced mild to strong corner softness at full wide-angle. Blurring was strongest in the lower left corner, but didn't extend very far into the frame, and is likely exacerbated by geometric distortion correction. The other corners weren't as soft, and the center was quite sharp. Corners at full telephoto were only moderately soft, with the bottom left being the softest again. Again, the center was sharp. Overall results are pretty good, especially considering that these shots were taken at relatively fast maximum apertures (f/2.0 at wide-angle and f/3.3 at telephoto), and corner sharpness improves when the lens is stopped down to smaller apertures.

Here are the same corners at f/5.6, showing much less C.A. and blurring than wide-open:

Wide (f/5.6): Bottom left
C.A.: Low,
Softness: Slightly soft
Tele (f/5.6): Bottom left
C.A.: Low
Softness: Slightly soft

Viewfinder

Coverage
Excellent accuracy from the LCD monitor.

24mm eq., LCD 90mm eq., LCD

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5's LCD monitor showed about 100% coverage accuracy at wide-angle, and about 99% at telephoto. Excellent results here, though there was a slight vertical shift at telephoto.

 

The images above were taken from our standardized test shots. For a collection of more pictorial photos, see our Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5 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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