With the Panasonic LX3 on the market for well over a year, rumors began circulating among Panasonic fans of a successor (assumed to be the LX4) as far back as early 2010. Panasonic kept everyone in the dark until the new camera was finally unveiled on July 21 - and turned out to be the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5. While some folks were hoping for a major transformation (DSLR-sized sensor being an oft-quoted item on the wish list), the new camera is a measured update to the existing LX3 platform.
Panasonic says that in comparison to the LX3, the LX5 has been "...fully re-designed in the lens, the CCD and the image processing engine together with other improvements and upgrades." The 10 megapixel resolution on a 1/1.6" sensor has been retained, but the redesign resulted in"....further expansion of dynamic range by increasing the sensitivity by approximately 31% and the saturation by approximately 38%." The camera retains the fast f/2 maximum aperture at the 24mm wide angle end of the zoom lens, but the lens redesign has resulted in an increase in zoom ratio to 3.8x, resulting in a 24 to 90mm focal range in 35mm equivalents. Here's what that range looks like:
The new processing engine is the Venus Engine FHD instead of the Venus Engine IV of the LX3 and is said to provide "...higher-speed, higher-performance while compiling the Intelligent Resolution technology."
The LX5 has picked up an AVCHD Lite HD video format to go with the Motion JPEG capability carried over from the LX3, along with a Creative Movie mode which allows the user to set aperture and recording speed during video capture. For still images, the camera offers the usual compact digital automatic and scene modes along with full manual exposure controls.
The camera is equipped with Panasonic's Power O.I.S. (optical image stabilization) system, has a flash hot shoe and accepts SD/SDHC/SDXC memory media in addition to about 40 megabytes of internal memory. Still images may be captured in JPEG or RAW formats. Panasonic includes a battery charger, battery pack, AV and USB cables, shoulder strap, CD-ROM software, hot shoe cover, lens cap and lens cap string with each camera.
When I did a First Look article on the LX5 I posed the question "what happened to the LX4?" and answered with "don't know." Our review camera is a pre-production unit but Panasonic assures us it has final production quality. Let's put the LX5 through its paces and see if that answer gets changed to "don't care."
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