Like the Canon and Nikon models here, the robust metal construction of the Lumix LX5 is pitched at photo enthusiasts and could reasonably lay claim to being Panasonic’s most sophisticated non-interchangeable lens camera yet. Size and price-wise it falls inbetween the Canon and Nikon, while remaining very portable.
It boasts a fixed, bright f/2.0 Leica lens with image-stabilised 3.8x optical zoom providing a 24-90mm focal range in 35mm terms. While that’s modest compared with 12x and 15x rivals, the effect is a more considered approach. The LX5 additionally provides an Extra Optical Zoom option accessible in standard 4:3 aspect ratio with incremental resolution decreases, namely 4.5x at 7 megapixels, 5.4x at 5 megapixels and 6.7x at 3 megapixels or under.
The Panasonic’s lens is coupled with a 10.1-megapixel high sensitivity sensor and responsive Venus Engine FHD processor, with the ability to shoot JPEG or Raw files, or both in combination. ISO speeds for low light photography reach an impressive ISO12800, albeit with a resolution drop above an acceptable ISO3200. Pictures are composed via a high-resolution 3in LCD which, like Ricoh’s CX4, boasts a life-like clarity. A Q.Menu (Quick Menu) button lets users pull key settings from a drop-down toolbar running across the top of the screen.
There’s a dedicated video record button for capturing HD-quality clips, with a choice of AVCHD or Motion JPEG formats. Another welcome feature is the ability to swap image aspect ratios on the fly, courtesy of a switch mounted just above the lens. The options here are the standard digital 4:3 ratio, 3:2, 16:9, or unusually 1:1. You can point and shoot courtesy of scene- and subject-recognising and optimising intelligent Auto (iA) mode. Along with My Colour modes this is selected with a twist of the top-mounted mode dial. Also present are a selection of film simulation modes when the shooting dial is turned to a creative mode.
Ultimately, it’s the sharpness and clarity delivered by the bright Leica-branded lens that left a lasting impression on us. Since there’s clearly more to the LX5 than meets the eye, and in a conveniently pocketable form, that lofty asking price starts to look justified.