Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ5 Review
Review Date: February 23rd 2006
(out of 5 stars)
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ5 is a versatile, fairly compact camera that is positioned between the ultra-compact, 3x zoom cameras and the bigger, SLR-like ultra-zoom models. The DMC-LZ5 is designed to be a take-everywhere, do almost everything well kind of camera, and for the most part it succeeds in this aim. The 6x optical zoom lens covers a wide range of different shooting situations, although at 37mm it isn't particularly wide. As usual Panasonic's Mega O.I.S image stabilisation system works very well, allowing you to hand-hold the camera in situations where you would normally get blurred results. Image quality is on the whole good, although the inability to alter image sharpness is frustrating.
Unfortunately there is an even bigger image quality problem, namely noise, which was also a problem for the 8 megapixel DMC-LX1 that I reviewed recently. As with that camera, the slowest ISO speeds of 80 and 100 on the DMC-LZ5 are perfectly fine, but ISO 200, which isn't exactly a fast speed, displays very noticeable noise, and ISO 400 is 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. You could alternatively run every JPEG image through noise-reduction software (a less than ideal solution). Panasonic's attempt to alleviate the noise issue, the new High Sensitivity mode which allows ISO speeds up to 1600, is only a partial solution because the image resolution is automatically reduced, resulting in smaller print sizes. It seems to be an interim fix until the company can come up with a better image sensor than the 1/2.5" one in the DMC-LZ5.
So overall, the new Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ5 is a stylish, easy to use, versatile point and shoot camera that is afflicted by an old problem. The noise issue is by no means a show-stopper, particularly if you live in a sunny climate or tend to shoot mostly outdoors, but it does stop me from recommending this camera more strongly.
PhotographyBLOG is a member of the DIWA organisation. Our test results for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ5 have been submitted to DIWA for comparison with test results for different samples of the same camera model supplied by other DIWA member sites.