The Panasonic DMC-L10 is only Panasonic's second digital SLR to date – its predecessor was the slightly odd, Rangefinder-like L1, always more statement of intent than viable sales proposition.
The Panasonic DMC-L10, however, is the real deal and is closer to what we'd expect from a consumer/semi pro dSLR. The Olympus E-410 aside, it's the most compact and lightest of the enthusiast models here.
Aside from a chunky mode wheel up top and, by contrast, a scattering of tiny operational buttons requiring thumbnail operation, the other thing that hits you about the Panasonic DMC-L10 is the flip-and-twist 2.5in LCD screen that recalls Olympus' E-3 with its Live View functionality.
It's not a total surprise, as the Panasonic DMC-L10 shares some other Olympus technology, namely the adoption of a Four Thirds lens mount, 10.1Mp Live MOS sensor and dust-reducing Supersonic Wave Filter. As there is no separate status display window on top of the camera, everything is controlled via the LCD screen.
Panasonic has opted, however, to marry the Panasonic DMC-L10 with the optical excellence of renowned pro brand Leica, and our review sample came with an optically stabilised 14-50mm zoom, equivalent to 28-100mm on a 35mm camera.
To date, Panasonic's own expertise has been focused on digital compacts, you also get user-friendly features such as face detection or intelligent ISO – the Panasonic DMC-L10 automatically choosing the right sensitivity setting for you – which is a tad frustrating if you're looking to get more hands-on.
We liked the fact the Panasonic DMC-L10 can automatically zoom into an image so you can check focus/exposure.
A flick of the on/off switch and the Panasonic DMC-L10 powers up for the first shot in a second or so, with any shutter lag imperceptible. As for the images themselves, the Leica optic ensures an impressive degree of sharpness, while colours are naturally rendered, albeit with white balance slightly variable from shot to shot.
The Panasonic DMC-L10 falls between two stools – not quite a semi-professional camera but not an entry-level model either, which means that £900 is still looking expensive, even if the package includes a decent lens.