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Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX1 Review

September 2005 | By Simon Joinson
Buy on Amazon.com From $486.95


Review based on a production Panasonic DMC-LX1

Announced alongside the FZ30 in July, the Lumix LX1 is the world's first compact camera with a 'widescreen' 16:9 ratio CCD sensor, combined with a 28-112mm (equiv.) wideangle 4x Leica-branded zoom lens. As with all Panasonic cameras, the LX1 features a two-mode MEGA OIS (Optical Image Stabilization) system, plus a wealth of real 'photographic' features, including fully manual exposure and focus options. Obviously designed to appeal to serious photographers, the LX1 also features more external controls than any previous Lumix compact, has both raw and TIFF capture modes and a high quality all-metal, traditionally-styled body. Here's just a few of the headline features to whet your appetite:

  • 8.4 Megapixel 16:9 aspect CCD
  • 28mm wide 4x optical LEICA DC lens
  • MEGA O.I.S.(Optical Image Stabilizer)
  • Venus Engine II
  • Joystick-operated manual control
  • Large 2.5” LCD monitor (207k pixels)
  • Industry’s first 16:9 aspect Wide VGA moving image recording
  • Raw, TIFF and JPEG recording modes
  • Manual exposure and focus options
  • 1/2000th to 60 sec shutter speeds
  • Available in black or silver

16:9 CCD: what it means

The image on the left shows the result of shooting the same scene at the same zoom setting using the LX1's three aspect ratio options. Unlike most 'widescreen' modes the LX1's unique sensor means you actually get a wider field of view at 16:9, with 4:3 and 3:2 being cropped at the sides.

Virtually all compact cameras use sensors with a 4:3 aspect ratio (giving a picture shape similar to a standard television). The LX1 has a sensor that is roughly the same height as a standard 6 megapixel CCD, but is considerably wider, giving the option of 16:9 shooting (16:9 is the shape of a widescreen television), and increasing the total number of pixels to just over 8 million. This is the first time a consumer stills camera has been equipped with such a wide sensor (although 16:9 modes are not unusual on stills cameras, they are achieved by cropping some of the top and bottom off the picture).

Because we don't always want a 'panoramic' shot the LX1 has an ASPECT switch on the top of the lens barrel that lets you swap between three different picture shapes; 16:9 (widescreen), 3:2 (same as most print papers) and 4:3 (same as most compact cameras and computer screens).

16:9 uses the entire CCD, whereas the 3:2 mode lops half a million pixels off each side and 4:3 crops out a million pixels from each side. As well as reducing the number of pixels in the final image, changing the aspect ratio also increases the equivalent focal length, so the 28-112mm lens in 16:9 mode becomes a 34-136mm lens when you switch to 4:3 mode.

Panasonic DMC-LX1 Key specifications

Street price • US: $570
• UK: £400
Body Material Metal
Sensor • 1/1.65" CCD, 8.61 million total pixels (16:9 aspect ratio)
• 8.4 million effective pixels
Image sizes

• 3840 x 2160 (16:9)
• 3072 x 1728 (16:9)
• 1920 x 1080 (16:9)
• 3248 x 2160 (3:2)
• 2560 x 1712 (3:2)
• 2048 x 1360 (3:2)
• 2880 x 2160 (4:3)
• 2304 x 1728 (4:3)
• 2048 x 1536 (4:3)
• 1600 x 1200 (4:3)
• 1280 x 960 (4:3)
• Image Quality: RAW/TIFF/Fine/Standard

Movie clips • 640 x 480 (10 / 30 fps)
• 320 x 240 (10 / 30 fps)
• 848 x 480 (10 / 30 fps) (16:9)
• Quicktime (.mov) M-JPEG with audio
• Limited only by storage
Lens

• 28 - 112 mm equiv. (4x zoom)
• F2.8 - F4.9
• MEGA OIS (Mode 1 / Mode 2)
• Leica DC Vario-Elmarit
• 9 Elements in 8 Groups (3 Aspherical Lenses/3 Aspherical Surfaces)

Focus

• Normal: 0.5 m - Infinity (wide), 1.2 m - Infinity (tele)
• Macro: 5 cm (wide), 30cm (tele)
• 1 point
• 1 point high speed
• 3 points high speed
• 9 points
• Spot
• Continuous AF On/Off
• Manual Focus

Shooting mode

• Auto
• Program Mode (with Program Shift)
• Aperture Priority Mode
• Shutter Priority Mode
• Manual Mode
• Portrait
• Sports
• Food
• Scenery
• Night Scenery
• Self-portrait
• Night Portrait
• Fireworks
• Party
• Snow
• Baby
• Soft Skin
• Starry Sky
• Candle
• Moving Image
• Exposure bracketing 0.3 to 1 EV steps
• AE Compensation +/- 2.0 EV in 0.3 EV steps

Shutter Speeds 1/4 - 1/2000 sec.: Auto
1 - 1/2000 sec.: Program AE
8 - 1/2000 sec.: Aperture Priority AE, Shutter Priority AE
60 - 1/2000 sec.: Manual
Apertures Wide: F2.8 - F8
Tele: F4.9 - F8
Sensitivity • Auto
• ISO 80,100,200,400
Metering • Intelligent Multiple
• Center-weighted
• Spot
White Balance • Auto
• Cloudy, daylight, halogen, manual x 2 (custom)
• White balance fine tune
Image parameters • Color (Cool, Warm, Black & White, Sepia)
• Picture Adjustment ( Contrast, Sharpness, Saturation, Noise Reduction)
Continuous

• 3 fps high speed, 2 fps low speed
• 9 frames (standard), 5 frames (fine)

Flash • Built-in pop-up flash
• Auto, on/off, red-eye reduction: on/off, slow sync with red eye reduction
• Range (ISO auto): W 0.6m - 4.1m, T: 0.3m - 2.3m
• Flash Output Adjustment (1/3EV step, -2 +2EV)
Storage SD/MMC
32 MB supplied*
Viewfinder None
LCD monitor • 2.5" TFT LCD
• 207,000 pixels
Connectivity • USB 2.0
• A/V out
• DC-IN
Power • Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery
• Charger included
In the box*

• DMC-LX1 camera
Battery Charger
Battery Pack
Battery carrying case
Lens cap
SD Memory Card (32 MB)
AC Cable
AV Cable
USB Connection Cable
Strap
CD-ROM ( Lumix® Simple Viewer, Photo Fun Studio, ArcSoft PhotoBase, ArcSoft PhotoImpression,ArcSoft Panorama Maker, USB Driver)

Other features

PictBridge
Mega Optical Image Stabilization
AF illuminator
Record and playback histogram
Audio dubbing
Venus II engine

Weight (inc batt) 220 g (7.8 oz)
Dimensions 106 x 56 x 26 mm (4.2 x 2.2 x 1.0 in)

* Supplied accessories may differ in each country or area


If you're new to digital photography you may wish to read the Digital Photography Glossary before diving into this article (it may help you understand some of the terms used).

Conclusion / Recommendation / Ratings are based on the opinion of the reviewer, you should read the ENTIRE review before coming to your own conclusions.

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DPReview calibrate their monitors using Color Vision OptiCal at the (fairly well accepted) PC normal gamma 2.2, this means that on our monitors we can make out the difference between all of the (computer generated) grayscale blocks below. We recommend to make the most of this review you should be able to see the difference (at least) between X,Y and Z and ideally A,B and C.

This article is Copyright 2005 and may NOT in part or in whole be reproduced in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from the author.

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