Panasonic Lumix DMC-XS3 Review

January 13, 2014 | Matt Grayson |

Image Quality


Low noise performance isn't as good as we'd expect on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-XS3. The images are smooth and edges are sharp. Yet at full magnification, there's green discolouring in the shape of blobs in darker areas and even in some mid-tones. Not a good start for the camera.

To try and scratch some good news out of the bad start, the noise doesn't get any worse at ISO 200. It's not until ISO 400 that we start to see a degrading of image sharpness as salt and pepper noise begins to cause trouble.

At ISO 800 noise is affecting the whole photograph, regardless of colour, tone or shade. Noise reduction hasn't resorted to losing colours to maintain some semblance of order, but we think it's only a matter of time.

Panasonic have capped the sensitivity at ISO 3200 on the XS3 and we think that's a good idea. The final two settings are riddled with colour noise and JPEG artefacts. Colour noise turns deep yellow at ISO 3200 and causes a cast to the pictures that can be seen at normal viewing distance.

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

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ISO 400 (100% Crop)

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

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ISO 1600 (100% Crop)


Focal Range

The focal length of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-XS3 is 24-120mm in 35mm terms. That equals a 5x optical zoom. Not a bad size for such a thin model.



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Sharpening your pictures in an editing suite such as Adobe Photoshop will benefit them as long as you're at ISO 100 or 200. Any higher and the noise in the shot simply exacerbates with the sharpening.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

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File Quality

All images in this test were taken at full resolution on the Fine setting unless otherwise stated. These images record a file size of around 5Mb. If you change the compression to Normal, they will record around 3.3Mb which saves space on the card, but there is a loss in overall detail.



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Chromatic Aberrations

We managed to find chromatic aberration on most photographs that had contrasting lines on them. It occurs as the image quality drops towards the edges of the frame.

Chromatic Aberrations 1 (100% Crop)

Chromatic Aberrations 2 (100% Crop)

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Chromatic Aberrations 3 (100% Crop)

Chromatic Aberrations 4 (100% Crop)

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The Panasonic Lumix DMC-XS3 has a close focusing setting of 5cm at wide-angle. This is a standard setting which is the reason that Panasonic haven't placed a macro button on the camera. Image quality starts to degrade out to the edges of the frame. It's nice and sharp in the centre of the frame, though.


Macro (100% Crop)

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The Panasonic Lumix DMC-XS3 doesn't appear to suffer from vignetting unless you add flash. At wide-angle it's quite bad then. It settles a little as you zoom, but is still evident.

Flash Off - Wide Angle (20mm)

Flash On - Wide Angle (20mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

Flash Off - Telephoto (1200mm)

Flash On - Telephoto (1200mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

Red-eye is an issue when no red-eye reduction or removal is used on the Panasonic. The XS3 has both types. The reduction is a preflash that fires before the camera takes a picture. The red-eye removal uses software to locate and remove red-eye from pupils.

Forced On

Forced On (100% Crop)
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Auto/Red-eye Reduction

Auto/Red-eye Reduction (100% Crop)

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The Panasonic Lumix DMC-XS3 does have a Night scene in the SCN option in the Mode menu. The camera used the same settings as the Auto setting with the exception of a slower shutter speed. In fact, the Night scene allows an extra four seconds which in our test shot we think over exposed parts of the scene. We considered the Auto setting to be far more balanced and the lower shutter speed with obviate certain types of noise that can appear with long exposures.

Night Scene

Night Scene (100% Crop)

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Night Auto

Night Auto (100% Crop)

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