The Panasonic LX5 mixes advanced features with portability. Equally it could sway those who might otherwise be considering an interchangeable lens GF2.
With better low light performance than its LX3 predecessor and new dynamic range boosting processor on board, plus durable metal build and leather effect padding, the LX5 looks and feels like a high-quality camera - much like the Nikon J1.
OK, so a 10.1 megapixel top resolution isn’t playing the numbers game, but when twinned with a brighter than average f/2.0 lens starting at a wide angle 24mm in 35mm terms, this Lumix proves a versatile beast, and is by far one of the best digital compact cameras we've come across.
Shoot JPEGs, unprocessed Raw files for best quality, or a combination.
Whilst not cheap, features such as light sensitivity boosted to ISO 12800 allowed us to keep shooting without flash in near darkness, and are again the equivalent of a DSLR. A 3-inch, 460k dot resolution rear LCD matches the GF2 for spec, and clear visibility.
Alternatively there’s the option of a clip on viewfinder, but that comes at an additional cost.
Panasonic LX5: Ease of use
Though sophisticated the LX5 is user friendly. A case in point is the dedicated video record button on the top plate for its High Definition movie clips.
Press this and recording begins instantly in a choice of AVCHD Lite or Motion JPEG format.
Another neat feature is the ability to swap image aspect ratios from default 4:3 to 3:2, 16:9 or more unusually 1:1, courtesy of a physical switch mounted just above the lens barrel.
This almost identically mirrors the same function on the Canon PowerShot S95 and helps the camera feel more interactive.
Regular time saving features include the ‘Q.Menu’ (Quick Menu) button on the backplate.
Press this to call up toolbar of commonly swapped settings on screen for nigh instant adjustment, which saves wading through the menu screens proper.
Panasonic LX5: Pictures and conclusion
In terms of picture quality, under clear bright skies the Panasonic LX5 acquitted itself extremely well. We achieved even exposures and bags of detail in both highlights and shadows.
To boost colour we really enjoyed the ‘Expressive’ mode, which can provide visual punch perhaps missing at the time. In low lighting, images hold up well up to and including ISO1600, at which point the LX5 gives a performance comparable to what rivals achieve at the lower ISO800.
The overall feeling is that once you pick up the LX5, you won’t want to put it down.
This is an able companion for the point and shooter looking for a pocket camera with which to up their game, the only real-world downside being the cost
Panasonic LX5 launch date:Out now, link Panasonic
Panasonic LX5 price: £350-£380 online