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Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Comments

I had an LX2 which I sold to buy a Canon G9. Reasons: (1) No optical finder--impossible to shoot in bright sunlight, (2) lens doesn't fold into body, an essential feature for a pocketable camera, and (3) poor RAW support (too many apps didn't handle the format).

--Marc

Ctein, you are a geek ;-) But a nice one.

Another thing: Mike, you nailed it again with your ZiggyRaw story.

And could it be that the Panasonic case is even nicer than the the Leica? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iadKBAL3Spo

The LX3 is easily the most beautiful of all of the cameras listed so far.

How do we know?

Because I said so.

;-)
Adam

P.S. I'm really looking forward to Fib(665).

Where can I learn more about the Boogerpicker mods? Is there a link?

Mike, an excellent choice.

I have the LX3 and it is a superb camera. I use Lightroom and Photoshop to my RAW files.

The fast wide lens really suits my needs and allows me to get the results I want, even with its small sensor. I am able to carry it in my pocket so that it is always with me; which is why I purchased it.

I bought this camera and broke my long standing rule to only buy Canon point and shoots. Three things make this thing great:

1. Wide FAST lens. You'd think the 24mm equivalent is "too wide", but actually it's perfect. Also, the 2.0 aperture is much more useful than I figured.

2. Fast enough frame to frame. It's not a D3 or even a D100, but it's quick enough. The modern Olympus Stylus Epic.

3. Small enough. It's not quite a pocket camera, but then neither is the Canon G9 or whatever else you might buy instead. This one lives in my laptop bag permanently. And that's great.

But wait, there's more. There's the macro mode, which is great for travel food shots, which I take too many of. And the flash shoe is just great for general dorking around.

Just to prove it can.

Sounds like something straight out of a Dostoevsky novel!

I totally disagree with Ctein. We are on internet, the first number should be googol. Or the last?

Roberto

I don't know from the LX-3, though no doubt it is a a great camera for it's place in the scheme of things. I did take your point about cameras that fit the "sweet spot". For me, as an APS-C sensor (D)SLR, the Canon 30D hit and fit that spot nicely. I still think so, even now a 50D is my primary digital camera.

So I was pleasantly surprised when I failed to pass up a good deal and rather unexpectedly acquired a Canon 5D (mk I). (I didn't need no stinkin' "full frame").

As it turns out, a 5DmkI is, more or less, a full-frame 30D. And I do find that full frame is something I use and rather appreciate.

Who'd 've thunk?

...Mike

@1: not "impossible" to shoot without the LCD, surely. Crank it to the widest setting, estimate the framing and fire away. 10mp (on a relatively large sensor) provides latitude for cropping if necessary - especially in good sunlight.

Good choice. I have the Leica equivalent - was it silly to to lay out the extra $ for what is essentially the same camera (w/o a grip no less). Yep, but it was available in a local shop, there was $150 rebate and it was one of those cases where I just couldn't help myself. It may be the only Leica product I can ever afford. In any case, it is certainly the fast lens that sets this camera apart from the pack.

C'mon Mike - you gotta know that Cherry Garcia would be #1.

wow! The second camera from the list I own. Either that shows great taste or I have to many cameras.

I actually bought this one about 2 weeks after release, going against my normal wait-and-see instinct and never regretted it. It's a pocket camera that actually takes pictures I'm happy with.

Wow, a camera "review" without ever actually reviewing the camera... cool!

Stan,
I don't think I'd call these reviews. Recommendations, is the word.

Mike

Wait, wait just a second...viola teacher? Really? You played viola? Very nice.
Julie,
Viola Performer and Teacher.

My first sweet camera was an OM1, eventually jilted for a Nikon FM and FE which have been with me since 1979, lightweight, rugged, fast handling and you can change the sensor every shot and the ISO every 36 shots. What digital camera will still be living a useful life after 30 years?
After cutting my digital teeth on a Coolpix 4500 (great lens, and they built the pyramids between successive exposures) I succumbed to a 5D a few years ago. A real viewfinder and great image quality but compared to the FM/FE it's big and intrusive, festooned with modal buttons, and demands serious body building to carry a camera bag and lenses. When cameras became computers we lost something, including the ability to estimate exposures to within half a stop.
The sweet spot for a small camera became a Fuji F10 for a few years (still does ISO 1600 better than most), but the LX3 has now seduced me with its lovely lens, manual controls, real hot shoe and high speed flash sync with FEC. And RAW. But I still try to raise it to my eye to take a picture. Damn. I really miss a good viewfinder. And simplicity.
Think I'll keep hold of my Nikons. Reckon they'll still be going when the others are long dead.

I don't play golf and I don't know about film cameras. I have owned a variety of small PS type digital cameras over the last few years. Periodically I succumb to the hype and buy the ‘Best’ PS camera of the moment. So far I’ve been disappointed with all of them. They were wonders of modern technology but none had very good image quality above ISO 200. Maybe this one is different.

Even though the LX3 is beautiful with the best lens known to man I’ll wait for the real deal. I’m not asking for state of the art low light performance just something as good as my 40D.

Julie,
Actually I don't...it's an old joke I had with a friend who's now dead. He used to write "voila" and I'd reply, viola? What's got anything to do with a viola? Which for some reason infuriated him from the first time I mentioned it, so of course I kept doing it.

It wasn't what killed him, I hasten to add. It took cancer to do that, fortunately after a very long and productive (and mostly healthy) life.

I do like viola (well, string quartets anyway) if that redeems me at all.

Mike

I love this camera. I had a Canon G9 for a short while before selling it to get the LX3. While the Canon was a great camera, I find the LX3 even better for my needs.

The f/2 lens has let me shoot in situations where I would have not been able to get a decent shot with the Canon. That extra stop can make a big difference when it comes to choosing ISO settings on these compacts, as the upper levels get very noisy.

I actually find the LX3 more pocketable than the G9 (although neither are really truly pocket-size); although the lens sticks out, it is less "boxy."

I do not miss the optical viewfinder, but I guess I don't do a lot of shooting in bright sunlight.

The dedicated ISO dial on the G9 was nice, though. The LX3 can be set up to have a shortcut going right to the ISO menu, which is great, but I really liked that physical dial.

I also find the image quality at 24mm to be better with the LX3 than the G9 at 35mm, despite being a much wider focal length (at least the one I had, maybe the compacts are subject to Canon's infamous copy variation too?); less CA and sharper corners. And of course the fact that it IS 24mm and the Canon's widest was 35mm. Downside is lack of telephoto range, but 99% of the time, I use it on 24mm. So far I have never wanted a longer focal length when using the LX3.

Overall, it's just what several others have said—it's a small camera that shoots pictures that I am happy with. It's not perfect and there are certainly things than can be improved, but so far I think it is the best compromise as far as advanced compacts go.

I almost always have it with me, and since I bought it, have used it much more than my Canon 20D, mostly because it is so much smaller easier to carry around all the time (and I usually carry the 20D with no grip and a Pentax pancake lens attached). Sure, the 20D is faster, much better at high ISOs, and has better "per pixel" image quality, but each has it's place and purpose. I've actually gotten a bit spoiled by the LX3 in some ways; I now wish I could have a f/2 24mm equivalent lens for my 20D that does not cost an arm and a leg and is not bigger than 50mm. Not going to happen though.

...snowed here in NH last night as well.
...still thinkin' I would love to have that Zeiss.
...that, and that Zeiss but with a 12-ish mp sensor in place of film, and no other differences.

Yes, indeed, the LX3 is a sweet little thing that somehow remembers pictures even better than how I saw them, if you know what I mean (rather like the Olympus Mju in that respect). I'm regularly humbled by comparing the results of my labours with its RAW files to the effortlessly superior in-camera JPGs...

I love its true multi-aspect-ratio capacity, and it's a generally an understated delight to use, but I DETEST its Eezy-Slip mode dial -- talk about yer ha'porth of tar ... I'd tape the bastard thing down on "A", except I don't want to hurt the LX3's feelings.

I love the you tube vid on the LX3 case. Who new thing had a future beyond his days serving the Adamses. ch

I personally own a G10 and am incredibly fond of it, mostly because of the way it feels in my hand every time I pick it up (that's silly but so true!), but the LX3 is the one P&S that, it would seem, actually manages to top the Canon. I would love to get my hand on one and do side-by-side comparison tests. I particularly wonder how it does at high ISO compared to the G10, which appears a little weak in that domain.

Looking forward to the last top 3 picks.

I am quite sure that aleph(1) should be at the beginning or the end of the list.

seems like "42" should be on that list somewhere.

I fear buying the LX3 because I'm afraid I'll never take my DSLR out again! Well, at least, not often enough to justify the amount I have spent on the DSLR.

"of course there's nothing stopping you from putting a Panasonic LX3 in a Leica case"

... except maybe, the (for-lack-of-a-better-word) grip? The Leica model has a flush and unadorned frontage.

I have an LX1, and would not be without its front grip. I use an ever-ready style 2 piece leather case, from Panasonic, which works well. They make a new one for the LX3 as well, but to the same degree that the Leica case is stylish, this one is un-.

Mike, if you don't care for April snow, we in Los Angeles were treated to 100+ temperatures yesterday (and more of the same today).

It is nice seeing the LX3 on this list. My niece in Spain is asking for help in selecting a camera, and the DLUX4 is on her short list. If the LX3 were available, my pleas to save money and get that would make sense. At least they understand they are paying for the red dot and nothing else, and since it isn't taking food off the table, I don't see a problem with wanting the Leica badge (even though I'd wait for the Panny).
She and her husband are definitely not gear heads, but they've done their research (including handling the potential purchases) and they've gotten good advice (like don't worry about mpix). I also recommended the Panasonic G1 when she mentioned they weren't averse to bigger cameras up to a budget limit of $1000.


Patrick

Great choice. Now as to those who say: "Hold on. The Panasonic LX3? Isn't that a step backward? What's going on here?" Post their names. We have ways of dealing with those elements. :-)

PSU said: "And the flash shoe is just great for general dorking around."

Hmmmm, I think this is the best summation of a lot of what I do with my Canon 400D! Maybe I ought to think about getting one of these; would it make me more or less dorky? Nah, there's not much hope for me...lol.

Rod

Hey Mike,


The nifty lack of an optical viewfinder on the LX3/Leica D-Lux means we can all pay $150.00+ for the accessory hot shoe viewfinder, and pretend we are using a Leica IIIc mated with a 28mm F 5.6 Summaron.

Are photo anthropologists fifty years from now going to look at the greater body of work made by the general public from circa 1999 to 2009, and wonder why "arms length perspective" was all the rage?

Man, that Panasonic case looks almost exactly like the case that came with Zenit E my father brought home from a business trip to the SSSR. Yes, it was the SSSR then. :-)

But a hundred dollars... You can buy a Billingham bag for that money.

Couple of people mentioned lack of viewfinder. Isn't that what the shoe is for? Add your own favorite accessory finder? I mean, how often are you going to be jamming a flash unit on that beauty?

Dear Carsten,

Are you sure? I know people who would say Cherry Garcia should be ranked at least ahead of the order aleph(2).

Hmmm, suddenly envisioning a truly geeky ad campaign:

"Some folks say the ways of love are uncountable. Our ice cream is so delicious it's unmappable!"

[side note for the confused: we are riffing on Cantor's ordering of infinities. And somewhere in Minneapolis, DD-B is slowly shaking his head and rolling his eyes).

pax / Ctein

Something that often puzzles me about comparisons between the g10/p6000/LX3: there are always samples (often at 100%) comparing the cameras at iso 800. However, the reviews often pay less attention to how each camera fares in low light in general.

In Ken's featured comment, he mentioned that the g10 looks better at ISO 800. But at most aperatures, the LX3 has a stop or more faster lens, reducing the need for ISO 800. Having never used any of the three high-spec P&S cameras (but trying to decide between them), I'm curious to hear someones comparisons about how they do in low-light, *in general*.

Rather than comparing all the cameras at the same 1/30th F4 ISO 800, how about trying to make the best possible shot of the same low light scene with each camera?

I thought #4 was gonna be a Leica M8 or 8.whatever the new one is.

No way it's 3,2 or 1

Panasonic makes pretty cool stuff. Fine choice and one my wife tried to buy on many occasions.

No doubt this camera can produce decent images usable for a variety of purposes -- they all can these days. But I remain skeptical of small sensors; there's usually something missing, to my eye, about the final product.

So, am I missing something -- has Panasonic / Leica really overcome the small sensor problem? And, Mike, hasn't the tiny sensor been your longstanding complaint against ALL such cameras?

Is it too much to ask for a LX3 with a APS-C (or 4/3) size sensor? (I know, I know, the DP2 ....)

robert e, I wouldn't jam a flash unit on it, but attach it either with a sync cable (via adapter to the hot shoe) or with a wireless transmitter. This could be an issue then, but hopefully the LVF is good enough in bad light - i mean shooting events/paries with such a combo and off camera flash is fun + gives probably better results than a dslr for the extended framing possibilites the little camera provides. I did that last january at a birthday party with an oly c5050z and was very satisfied, though the oly is slow in operation. But it remembers up to 8 (eight!) custom settings, including focal length and focus distance, so you set it to hyperfocal effectively. This is my concern with the lx3, since as I understand, it can't remember focal length nor focus distance.

For me, the perfect combo would be a ricoh body with the lx3 lens. So long I prefer the 1.8 lens of the c5050z with custom settings to work around its shortcomings. And save the money for a nice flash wireless transmitter ;-)

Btw, noone ever mentions or did mention the oly c5050z when talking about serious compacts. I think regarding operation and controls as well as lens reach and speed, this was the perfect camera. If it only was a tad faster.

Ken Tanaka wrote:
"This in-camera processing is really where the money is spent on these little cameras so it makes sense that this is where the camera might shine."


Very true, but in this case I think there's a bit too much going on under the hood.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I seem to remember that the LX3 software is doing some pretty heavy-handed perspective correction as well. And Adobe even had to implement automatic correction for this in their RAW processing software. The result was that you'd end up with funky looking perspective if you tried to work on RAW files in the wrong post-processing or cataloguing software.

In other words: "funky lens."

For some reason that just gives me the heebie-jeebies.


A beautiful design for the most part, but I wish Panasonic would take a few more styling cues from Leica (except for the big red dot). There is a little too much *stuff* on this camera. What is that shiny outline on the grip? What is that big scripty "L" on the front lower right? And they had to write Mega O.I.S. 24mm Wide in Red?

Ken,

As the saying goes, "extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof". While your claim isn't quite so extraordinary, it does go against what many have said. It'd help if there was something back that opinion up instead of passing the contrary off as bullshit. Is it the loss of low-contrast detail at higher ISOs? Or a case of the G10's higher resolution brute-forcing its way when you print at a smaller size?

James,

Indeed, I'm not fond of *clueless* marketing intruding on design at times.

"IT NEEDS TO SCREAM THE FEATURE! LET'S PUT IT IN RED! BOLD!"

Oh well. I suppose there's nothing I can't do with the right chemical mix...

PS. Personally, I think both the Leica and Panasonic cases are described with a term around these parts that is reserved for old farts and outdated and unfashionable concepts. But that's just me.

@ Kent: "Correct me if I'm wrong , but I seem to remember that the LX3 software is doing some pretty heavy-handed perspective correction as well" After working with several hundred RWLs and a similar number of JPGs from this camera I think you're wrong. In fact, last weekend I was using the camera to shoot a scene where perspective management was a very important characteristic. I observed no perspective issues, beyond a bit of normal barreling on close-in verticals at 24mm. The only LX3/D-Lx 4 quirk I've observed thus far is its tendency to under-expose brighter scenes by approximately 1/3 stop.

You may very well remember something about the camera, Kent, but I've not observed any evidence of heavy-handed processing in its files.

@ YS: It's not clear to me specifically what part of my remarks you challenge. That the LX3 lags the G10 at higher ISOs? If so, I guess you'll just have to take my opinion as just that; a first-hand observation opinion. I do not find the LX3 / D-Lux 4's ISO 800 files very usable in comparison with those from the G10. (Note: I don't play with synthetic in-camera b&w or other funky processing. I want the file from the camera to be as high of a fidelity to the scene as possible. I've also not adjusted the LX3's noise processing settings from it's defaults, so perhaps there are undiscovered secrets there.)

Regarding custom cases, I agree that custom cases for these cameras are expensive rather prissy accessories. After all, the premise of these little cameras is that they're pocketable and quick to action. But I'd not condemn their purchasers so summarily. People buy stuff, particularly camera stuff, for many
reasons. Some practical, some impractical. Consider, for example, the "old fart" that sees you taking pictures and summarily declares that cameras are for children.


"Boogerpicker mods? Is there a link?"
http://chdk.wikia.com/wiki/CHDK

Actually Mike's post on the Canon point and shoot inspired me to go buy a SD1100 that they are selling refurbed at Adorama for 120 bucks. I did the "Boogerpicker mods" and now I have a cute little camera that shoots in Raw, has a built in intervalometer, flash syncs at some ridiculous shutter speed of around 1/10,000 , calculates DOF and brackets focus and can be set up as a motion detector that wakes up when someone walks by, focuses on their face, and keeps taking their picture until they go away. What fun! And it even takes surprisingly good pictures at 1/2 second hand held. And fits in an old eyeglasses case cut in half. I haven't tried the special triggered by lightening mode or the full control by radio on a kite mode yet.

The shoots in raw and fits in any pocket a little larger than the change pocket of my pants for less than a Diana with a flash part is the best part of the deal though.

Patrick,

If your niece is in Spain she could buy a LX3 from Technikdirekt.de - they are in stock and shipping is only 22 Euro or something. Always worth checking them if you are in the EU (I am only a happy customer).

HTH
Andrew

I'd like it even better if it looked like this:

LX3 classic

Hugh,
I protest that my satire was general and I didn't mean to specify any particular product with my comments, or with that denigrating name...honest.

Mike

I like to use the 3:2 ratio setting on the lens. Makes perfect 4"x6" prints with no cropping.
Dan K.

I think the comments regarding "sweet spot" could apply to a large proportion of the Lumix range. While I tend to avoid digicams myself, I've done a lot of research and handling in this area for friends and family.

Don't you love the way that if you happen to own an expensive camera that makes you THE person to advise on every other camera ever made?

Anyway - regardless of the interests and requirements (and budget!) Panasonic always seems to have a model that if not at the top of my short list is always in the top 3.

A dozen or so have bought a Lumix of one type or another on my recommendation, and all have been very happy.

Cheers,

Colin

Ken,

Sorry for not being clear enough. I was typing in this little text box and I guess I don't compose my thoughts so well in a constrained space.

Yes, I was talking about high ISO settings (well, ISO 800). I know the Panasonic does a few tricks with its image processor to give the images a boost in higher ISOs. One of them is to raise the floor on the data from the sensor; that reduces noise, but also destroys low contrast shadow detail. So I was asking if that was one of the parts you found objectionable. Many people have found the LX3 better than the Gs in this area (and it's more than just the reviewers), so I just wanted to know why. It'd certainly be useful if I ever got the camera (yes, I'm still afraid of getting it).

On cases,

I might get a good tease out of it, but in general I've come to understand people can have their own personal internal logic when it comes to these things. Still, my own sense of logic and taste directs me to say:

Them cases are not particularly nice-looking.

Or in modern Internet lingo:

ZOMG OOGLY CASES!!!!11one

(I tease, I tease. Don't get offended!)

Mike,
You didn't notice that I was having fun too? Now I'm offended!
But seriously, I'd put a Dymo "boogerpicker" label on the camera in your honor but I don't think there is really enough room. Maybe a big red circle that reads "B-picker", yeah that's the ticket.

I had the original LX-1. I finally let it go several months ago. I do miss the frame size switch and 9 x 16 framing. It was one damn good pocket cam. And despite the protruding lens I did carry it in a shirt pocket.

Yay! I had an LX2 that I LOVED for its handling, but was highly annoyed that I couldn't use it north of ISO 100 (extreme noise). When the LX3 was announced I checked the list of features and it was as if Panasonic had asked me personally to design the upgrade. I got one and I love it!

My only complaints are that even with the handgrip it feels very slippery, and more annoying, the "clicker" on the mode dial is really loose. In other words, the dial is way too easy to turn. I have never, not once, taken it out of my pocket/bag and found it still on the same mode as when I put it away.

And it frequently gets knocked out of my desired shooting mode by simply brushing my finger against the dial. That can be a real problem for me, as I do a lot of discreet "from the hip" shooting (for this project: http://fromthehipmontreal.wordpress.com/) where I'm taking it on faith that the settings are correct. (Too often they are not because the dial was accidentally moved.)

Fix that, and add a dial for ISO, and you'd have something that I'd call nearly perfect!

Excellent choice! Since getting the LX3 in September 2008 I have so far taken 42,212 photographs with it, and it is still going on strong.

The best things is the usability, the f/2.0 24 mm lens, and the multiple aspect ratio switch.

The aspect ratio switch was the biggest positive surprise. I didn't think I would use the feature but after a while I was using it all the time.

In low light the f/2.0 lens does give some advantage over other point and shoots but the camera is of course nowhere near DSLR territory. But then it is not an anvil hanging around your neck either.

This is what piqued my interest in the LX3 to start with:

http://gadgets.boingboing.net/2009/03/16/old-russian-analog-v.html

That just looks fantastic. Impractical sure, but *WOW* it's neat looking!

I have the LX3 and it is truly wonderful. Downside is lack of optical v/f as the screen, like all I've seen, is hard to use in bright light. Still a Voigtlander 24 finder is not expensive - I use a 21 as I have one already.

The LX3 is nicer than the DLux 4 because it has a very useful and ergonomic handgrip. Unfortunately this means that the LX3 does not fit in the nice DLux 4 case. Personally I see no need for an ERC for this type of camera.

Count me out of the LX3 love-fest. I bought a Leica D-Lux 4 from Calumet just before a trip to New Orleans. It took me a while to donwload the pictures, but I was distinctly unimpressed and returned the camera. Noise at ISO 1600 I expect, and the D-Lux 4 is not too horrendous in this respect (although not as good as my Fuji F31fd). I had taken test shots at ISO 1600 in the store before buying.

What really turned me off was the abysmal grain at ISO 320, very visible in skin tones. Even at the base ISO 80 you can see powdery texture in areas of flat color. I use RAW and Lightroom. I wouldn't be surprised if the supplied RAW converter applies heavy-handed noise reduction and the people who like it are using that converter.

The Sigma DP1 (and presumably the DP2), is far superior in the image quality department. I placed an order for the DP2 (the 28mm-e on my DP1 is too wide for my taste) with the money I got back from the D-Lux 4.

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