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Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX2 Review

October 2006 | By Simon Joinson

The Lumix LX1, announced July 2005, was a camera that proved just how commited Panasonic is to shaking up the digital camera market with innovative, often quirky products rather than taking the easy (though unimaginitive) 'me too' route followed by so many other manufacturers. Designed with the photo enthusiast in mind it offered the world's first 16:9 widescreen CCD sensor, a useful 28-112mm 4x wide angle zoom lens (with optical stabilization, naturally) and full photographic control. And now, a year later we have the LX2, which adds a 16:9 widescreen LCD to match the sensor, ups the pixel count to 10.2 megapixels and upgrades the processor to the latest Venus Engine III. There are also minor enhancements to the control interface and a new (low resolution) ISO 3200 mode.

Note: Some sections of this review are taken from the LX1 review (where the cameras are functionally identical) and you may find a few comments lifted straight from the FZ50 review too!

Headline features

  • 10.4 Megapixel 16:9 aspect CCD
  • 28mm wide 4x optical LEICA DC lens
  • MEGA O.I.S.(Optical Image Stabilizer)
  • Venus Engine III
  • Joystick-operated manual control
  • Large 2.8” 16:9 aspect ratio LCD monitor (207k pixels)
  • Raw and JPEG recording modes
  • Up to ISO 3200 sensitivity
  • Up to 1280x720 (15fps) pixel movie capture
  • Manual exposure and focus options
  • 1/2000th to 60 sec shutter speeds
  • Available in black or silver

LX2 vs LX1: main differences

Like the FZ30/FZ50 upgrade the changes made to the LX1 for the upgrade are mainly 'under the hood' - a new sensor and processor being top of the list.

  • Higher pixel count sensor (10.4 vs 8.4 MP)
  • TIFF file format dropped (RAW remains)
  • Venus Engine III (vs Venus Engine II)
  • Full resolution ISO settings up to 3200 (vs 400)
  • 16:9 aspect ratio 2.8-inch screen (was 2.5-inch 4:3)
  • SDHC support (for capacities over 2.0GB)
  • Internal memory (13MB)
  • New 16:9 (1280 x 720 pixel / 15fps) movie mode
  • Slower continuous shooting (from 3 to 2 fps)
  • 'SilkyPix Developer Studio' for RAW conversion included
  • Intelligent ISO feature
  • Improved battery life
  • Minor control and interface changes

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 LX2's three aspect ratio options. Unlike most 'widescreen' modes the LX2'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 LX2 has a sensor that is roughly the same height as a standard 7 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 10 million.

Because we don't always want a 'panoramic' shot the LX2 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 roughly half a million pixels off each side and 4:3 crops out roughly 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.

DMC-LX2 specifications

Street price • US: $480
• UK: £360
Body Material Metal and plastic
Sensor

• 1/1.65 " Type CCD
• 10.4 million pixels total
• 10.2 million effective pixels

Image ratios

• 16:9 (default, CCD native)
• 3:2
• 4:3

Image sizes
(4:3 ratio)

• 3168 x 2376
• 2880 x 2160
• 2304 x 1728
• 2048 x 1536
• 1600 x 1200
• 1280 x 960
• 640 x 480

Image sizes
(3:2 ratio)

• 3568 x 2376
• 3248 x 2160
• 2560 x 1712
• 2048 x 1360

Image sizes
(16:9 ratio)

• 4224 x 2376
• 3840 x 2160
• 3072 x 1728
• 1920 x 1080

Movie clips

• 1280 x 720, 848 x 480 (16:9), 30 / 10 fps *
• 640 x 480 (4:3), 30 / 10 fps
• 320 x 240 (4:3), 30 / 10 fps
• With audio
• Maximum movie clip size 2 GB

File formats • RAW
• JPEG (EXIF 2.2): Fine / Standard
• MOV (Movies, Motion JPEG codec)
Image processor Venus Engine III
Lens

• 28-112mm (35mm equiv) in 16:9 aspect mode
• LEICA DC VARIO-ELMARIT
• F2.8 - F8.0 (w) F4.9 - F8.0 (t)
• 4x optical zoom
• Extra Optical Zoom 16:9 Aspect Ratio: 4.4x for 8Mega, 5.5x for 5Mega, 2Mega / 3:2 Aspect Ratio: 4.4x for 7Mega, 5.6x for 4Mega, 3Mega / 4:3 Aspect Ratio: 4.4x for 6Mega, 5.5x for 4Mega, 6.2x for 3Mega, 2Mega, 1Mega

Image stabilization • Optical, "MEGA OIS"
• Modes: 1 (all the time), 2 (at shutter release only)
Conversion lenses No
Digital zoom • Up to 4x
• Extra Optical Zoom 16:9 Aspect Ratio: 4.4x for 8Mega, 5.5x for 5Mega, 2Mega / 3:2 Aspect Ratio: 4.4x for 7Mega, 5.6x for 4Mega, 3Mega / 4:3 Aspect Ratio: 4.4x for 6Mega, 5.5x for 4Mega, 6.2x for 3Mega, 2Mega, 1Mega
Focus • AF / AF Macro / Manual (switch on dial)
• Continuous AF On/Off
• One-shot AF
• Manual Focus (Joystick)
AF area modes • 1-point
• 1-point high speed
• 3 point high speed
• 9 point
• Spot
AF assist lamp Yes
Focus distance • Normal: Wide 50cm/ Tele 100cm - infinity
• Macro/ MF/ Auto: Wide 5cm/ Tele 30cm - infinity
Metering • Intelligent Multiple
• Center Weighted
• Spot
ISO sensitivity • Auto
• Intelligent Auto
• ISO 100
• ISO 200
• ISO 400
• ISO 800
• ISO 1600
• High Sensitivity Mode: 3200
Exposure compensation • +/- 2.0 EV
• 1/3 EV steps
Exposure bracketing • 3 frames
+/- 1/3 EV -1EV step
Shuttter speed • 1/4 - 1/2000sec.
• Program AE : 1 - 1/2000sec.
• Aperture Priority AE / Shutter Priority AE : 8 - 1/2000sec.
• Manual : 60 - 1/2000sec.
Aperture • Wide: F2.8 - F8
• Tele: F4.9 - F8
Modes • Exposure Auto
• Program AE
• Aperture Priority AE
• Shutter Priority AE
• Manual
Scene modes • Portrait
• Soft Skin
• Scenery
• Sports
• Night Portrait
• Night Scenery
• Self-portrait
• Food
• Party
• Candle
• Fireworks
• Starry Sky
• Beach
• Aerial photo
• Snow
• High Sensitivity
• Baby 1/2
White balance

• Auto
• Daylight
• Cloudy
• Shade
• Halogen
• Flash
• 2 Custom settings

White balance fine tune 150K step, -1500 - +1500 K) (except for auto WB)
Self timer 2 or 10 sec
Continuous shooting • Full resolution: 2 or 1 fps
• Full resolution: max 5 images (standard mode), 3 images (fine mode)
• Infinite consecutive (unlimited but slower shooting rate)
Color Effect • Cool
• Warm
• Black & White
• Sepia
Flash • Built-in (manual pop-up)
• Modes: Auto, Auto red-eye reduction, Slow sync, Forced On/Off
• Range: 0.6 - 4.9 m (W), 0.3 - 2.2 m (T)
• Flash exposure compensation (+/-2 EV in 0.3 EV steps)
Orientation sensor No
LCD monitor

• 2.8-inch wide Polycrystalline TFT
• 207,000 pixels
• 100 degree viewing angle
• Power LCD mode, High angle LCD mode

Record review 1 sec / 3 sec / Zoom
Playback • 2x / 4x / 8x / 16x magnification
• 9 / 16 / 25 thumbnail index
• Image rotation
• Slideshow
• Resizing
• Aspect ratio conversion
• Trimming
• Protection
• DPOF setting
Connectivity • USB 2.0 (Full-speed)
• A/V out
• DC-IN
Print compliance PictBridge
Storage • 13 MB Internal memory
• Secure Digital card, SDHC card, MMC card
• 32 MB SD card supplied
Power • 1150 mAh, 3.7V Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery
• Charger included
• Optional AC adaptor
Weight (No batt) 187 g (0.41 lb)
Dimensions 105.7 x 55.8 x 26.3 mm (4.16 x 2.20 x 1.04 in)
Supplied software LUMIX Simple Viewer, PhotofunStudio -viewer-, SILKPIX DEVELOPER STUDIO, ArcSoft Camera Suite (ArcSoft PhotoImpression, ArcSoft PanoramaMaker), Adobe Reader, Quick Time, USB Driver


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.

Images which can be viewed at a larger size have a small magnifying glass icon in the bottom right corner of the image, clicking on the image will display a larger (typically VGA) image in a new window.

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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 2006 Simon Joinson / dpreview.com and the review in part or in whole may NOT be reproduced in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from the author. For information on reproducing any part of this review (or any images) please contact: Phil Askey

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