BUILD AND DESIGN
The LX5 fits the mold for most compact digitals in the under 5x zoom class – a rounded rectangular body with smoothed edges and large deck of cards size, although with a lens protruding from the front of the body in a more pronounced fashion than most others. As befits a compact digital sporting a $500 MSRP that abuts on entry-level DSLR country, body construction is metal and seems well built in addition to providing a hot shoe that most compacts only dream about.
Ergonomics and Controls
The LX5 is relatively unremarkable in its feel – there is a slight built-up ridge on the camera’s right front that provides just enough grip for one-handed holding, and the AF/AE lock and playback buttons that sit in the thumb rest area on the camera back are recessed to avoid inadvertent activation. The flash is manually deployed from the top left of the body and should clear the fingers of most two handed grips.
Control layout is what we’ve come to expect from most compacts these days – the top of the body is filled with the flash, hot shoe, shooting mode dial, on/off, video capture and shutter button/zoom lever. The camera back is dominated by the 3.0-inch LCD monitor with the balance of the external controls arrayed vertically down the right side.
Menus and Modes
Menus in the LX5 are straightforward and intuitive. A “quick menu” button displays shooting-oriented, user-adjustable settings depending on the particular shooting mode selected at the time. There are record and setup menus of up to seven pages each, a single page video menu, single page playback mode menu and a three page playback menu.
Shooting modes consist of:
- Intelligent Auto: Camera determines most settings, user has limited inputs in areas of file size, movie record mode and quality, color effect and burst shooting.
- My Color Mode: Offers color palette options different from the “film mode” color palette used for other shooting modes – largely automatic, user has burst, metering mode, AF mode, picture size and video recording quality inputs.
- Scene: Offers 23 specific shooting scenes, largely automatic with user inputs varying according to specific scene chosen.
- Custom 1, Custom 2: Permits custom settings with user-defined film mode, flash, burst shooting, metering mode, AF mode, white balance, picture size, video recording quality and many others. Other camera functions automatic.
- Program AE: Automatic mode with user inputs approximating those available in the custom settings.
- Aperture Priority: User sets aperture, camera sets shutter speed and user has wide variety of inputs.
- Shutter Priority: User sets shutter speed, camera sets aperture and user has wide variety of inputs.
- Manual: User sets aperture and shutter speed, has wide variety of inputs and camera displays effects of exposure changes in real time so exposure can be seen before shooting.
- Movie: Captures AVCHD Lite or Motion JPEG video at 1280×720 pixel resolution; additional Motion JPEG captures at 848×480, 640×480 and 320×240 resolutions.
The fixed 3.0-inch LCD monitor has a 460,000 dot composition and is adjustable for only automatic or “power” brightness levels – the monitor can be difficult to use in bright outdoor conditions. Area of coverage is about 100% and there is no viewfinder.