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Software - RAW conversion

Supplied software

Panasonic supplies the same two packages with the LX1 as we saw with the FZ30; Lumix Simple Viewer, an image viewer that does little more than display pictures (though it can resize them for emailing and can print), and there are many applications (including some shareware and freeware options) that do the job better. The second application is the slightly more capable PHOTOfunSTUDIO, which offers an ACDSee-style image browser and rudimentary RAW conversion.

PHOTOfunSTUDIO allows you to browse directories and view thumbnails of images. Double clicking on a JPEG or TIFF allows you to view it full screen. There are options for resizing, emailing, printing, rotating and so on.

Double-clicking on a RAW file brings up a warning that the file has to be converted before it can be viewed.

Click on OK and the RAW converter is launched. There's no options on how the file is saved, no conversion controls and not even the option to specify a destination. The output file is a JPEG that is almost identical in size to a High Quality JPEG produced in-camera.

JPEG & RAW Resolution compared

If we were disappointed by the lack of functionality or control offered by the PHOTOfunSTUDIO RAW conversion we were even less impressed with the results. It's not unusual for very basic RAW converters to produce results almost indistinguishable from an in-camera JPEG, but in this case the results are considerably worse. Not only is resolution lower (due to what appears to be very heavy noise reduction), but there is heavy moiré (color fringing) that you don't get with out-of-camera JPEGS or TIFFs. After using the software we were going to call it 'underpowered', having seen the results that opinion was revised to 'spectacularly useless'.

The good news is that if you use Adobe's Camera Raw plug-in to convert the files you'll get a lot more out of them, including a smidgeon more resolution and detail than with in-camera JPEGs or TIFFs. You need to tweak the settings to cure the luminance noise (see below) but at least there is more information in there to play with, and - if you invest in the Adobe software - the world of control offered by RAW file processing opens up to you. Word on the street is that Panasonic intends to offer an improved RAW converter at some point in the future; let's hope it's not too far in the future.

Note: You don't have to invest in Photoshop to get the full benefit of raw files; Photoshop Elements (3 or 4) also supports LX1 raw conversion (via Camera Raw 3.2 or later). The latest version of Silkypix Developer Studio 2.0 can also convert LX1 RAW files, though we did not have time to try it for this review.

Adobe Camera Raw
RAW -> TIFF (Default)
ACR 3.2 Beta
Panasonic RAW
RAW -> JPEG
JPEG from camera
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