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Compared to... Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3

The most obvious competitor to the S90 is the LX3, which offers a similar feature set (albeit wrapped up in a different package), and is undoubtedly aimed at the same audience. The main differences - and their importance to potential buyers - come down to preferences and priorities: the S90 is smaller, the LX3 has better handling; the S90's lens range covers a more broadly versatile range, whilst the LX3 is strongly biased to the wide angle end.

Studio scene comparison ( @ ISO 80)

  • Canon PowerShot S90: Aperture Priority mode, ISO 80, Default Image Parameters,
    Manual white balance, zoom position 15mm (approx 70mm equiv).

  • Panasonic DMC-LX3: Aperture Priority mode, ISO 80, Default Image Parameters,
    Manual white balance, +0.33 EV compensation , zoom position 12.8mm (60mm equiv).
     
  • Lighting: Daylight simulation, >98% CRI
Canon PowerShot S90
Panasonic DMC-LX3
ISO 80, 1/30 sec, F5
ISO 80, 1/100 sec, F3.5
2.8 MB JPEG (3648 x 2736)
4.3 MB JPEG (3648 x 2736)

The differences here are slight, and unless you're looking to really push the limits of magnification I think it's fair to say that (at base ISO in good light) these two cameras are close enough to call it a draw. That said, looking this close does of course reveal some differences in the JPEG output; the S90's result looks a lot cleaner and a touch sharper, but it shows hints of noise reduction (the hair in the second crop from the bottom, for example). Ultmately if you're pixel peeping to that level you're going to be shooting raw, so it's safe to say that both cameras do as well as any compact, and better than most of this size.

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