Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX1 Review
Review Date: December 6th 2005
(out of 5 stars)
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX1 is a unique, innovative and intriguing camera. It's the first ever model to offer a choice of image aspects, from widescreen 16:9 to the more conventional 4:3. If you are interested in panoramic photography, but also want to take "normal" images, then the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX1 is the only choice at the moment. It also offers a wealth of advanced features that all serious photographers will love - only the excruciatingly slow RAW mode and the poor supplied RAW software spoil the show for the prosumer. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX1 is almost the perfect, carry-anywhere compact digital camera.
Except for one big problem. Noise. The slowest ISO speeds of 80 and 100 are fine, but ISO 200, which isn't exactly a fast speed, displays very noticeable noise, with ISO 400 being all but unusable. The optical image stabilisation system partially makes up for the noise problems, in that you can take a photo at a slower ISO speed and therefore a slower shutter speed, and still get sharp results, without adversely affecting the battery life too much. But it isn't a complete solution - if this was my camera, I would set it to ISO 80 for every shot, turn on the anti-shake system and pray for good light. But as all photographers know, good light is never guaranteed, especially if you live in England! You could alternatively be very patient, use the slow RAW mode and buy some decent RAW conversion software to extract the highest quality images from the DMC-LX1, or run every JPEG image through noise-reduction software (a less than ideal solution).
The noise issue unfortunately makes the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX1 a premium-priced product that doesn't produce premium results. You have to remind yourself that this camera costs over £400, which is nearly as much as a Nikon D50 DSLR with a kit lens. Without all that noise, the DMC-LX1 would be an expensive but very worthwhile purchase. As things stand, I would wait for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX2 and hope that Panasonic cure the achilles heel of the DMC-LX1.
PhotographyBLOG is a member of the DIWA organisation. Our test results for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX1 have been submitted to DIWA for comparison with test results for different samples of the same camera model supplied by other DIWA member sites.