In live view (shooting) mode the LX5 displays a lot of information on its 3in LCD screen. By default, it shows the status of all key shooting parameters, as well as battery status, image quality and image stabilization. THe LX5 lacks an equivalent to the P7000's electronic virtual horizon but, like the other two cameras in this group, a rule of thirds grid can be overlaid on the display to aid composition. Alternatively, you can turn all on-screen information off.
In operation, in terms of the balance between external controls and menus, the LX5 is a midpoint between the relatively svelte Canon S95 and the considerably more 'utilitarian'-looking Nikon P7000. Many of the key shooting settings have their own dedicated external controls, and like the Canon Powershot S95, the LX5 features a concise menu of key settings, independent of the main menu system. This menu is activated using the 'Q Menu' button on the camera's rear, and provides access to image quality and burst shooting options, as well as the basics like white balance and ISO. From here it is also possible to change the metering pattern and activate face detection/AF tracking.
The 'Q Menu' button is a blessing, because you don't want to spend longer in the LX5's main menu system than you absolutely have to. Although (slightly) less monochromatic than Panasonic's older Lumix cameras, the LX5's menu is long and - compared to the Canon S95 and P7000 - relatively hard to navigate. Both the Rec (shooting) and Setup menus stretch to 7 pages of options and settings, and finding something simple like - for example - card format, generally involves a frustrating amount of scrolling.
That said, the reason why the LX5's menus are so long is that there is a heck of a lot in them. Of the three cameras in this group the LX5 is, by some margin, the most customizable. Although many of the custom options will go overlooked by the casual snapper, enthusiast photographers will love the fact that so many facets of the LX5's operation can be tailored from within the menu system.
Live View screens
The standard live view display is fairly comprehensive, and shows the status of most key shooting parameters.
You can also add a 'rule of thirds' grid to aid composition.
Or if you prefer, you can get rid of all on-screen clutter (with the exception of shutter speed/aperture in the PASM modes) for a clearer view.
In movie mode, the screen is cropped to the 16:9 aspect ratio, and a countdown timer appears once shooting has commenced.
In image review mode, this is the basic metadata view - file name, and date and time when the shot was taken.
A single press of the 'Disp' button adds exposure information.
And a third press of the 'Disp' button gives you a completely clean view.
To zoom into an image in review mode you simply pull on the zoom lever as you would in shooting mode. The LX5 has 4 zoom levels, up to 8X.
'Zooming out' brings up a thumbnail view showing 12 images...
...pulling it again shows 30...
...and a third tug brings up a useful calendar view, which allows you to see what images you took (if any) on a specific date.
The 'Q Menu' is a useful means of gaining access to the core of the LX5's feature set. From here it is possible to quickly change key shooting settings like ISO, white balance and AF pattern.
If you can't find what you need in 'Q menu' then it's time to embark on a voyage into the LX5's lengthy menus. There are three tabs in total - Rec (shooting), Movie settings, and Setup.
In the 7 pages of settings within the Rec menu you will find the usual shooting options, such as ISO and white balance, but go a little further and here is where you get to the 'nuts and bolts' - image stabilization options, flash synchronization settings and the like.
The movie menu is short but comprehensive, and from here you can set the file type, image quality, AF mode as well as whether you want the LX5 to automatically adjust its audio to reduce the effect of wind noise.
The LX5'\s Setup menu is 7 pages of options ranging from the basics such as volume and time settings to far more in-depth customization options like file numbering and TV output settings.
There are optical and electronic viewfinders available for the LX5. The camera automatically detects the EVF, but if you want to mount the optical (24mm equivalent) finder you will have to let the camera know using this custom function.
The LX5 features a versatile multi-aspect CCD sensor, and one of the better-hidden custom options is aspect ratio bracketing, where a series of shots are automatically captured at its various aspect ratios.
Registering friends and family's faces with the LX5 allows the camera to automatically detect and tag them if they appear in a scene...
...however while data entry is easy enough, it's really quite quite time-consuming. Our advice? Stick to nicknames.