Movie mode

The LX3 builds on the 720p (1280x720) HD video capability of its predecessor by upping the frame rate to a much more credible 24 fps (though not the 30 frames per second claimed in our manual). There are also a selection of lower-resolution modes: 848x480 in 16:9 aspect ratio and 640x480 or 320x240 at 4:3, all at a 30 fps frame rate.

The results are pretty convincing and detailed though a touch jerky in places. You also have to be careful of the roughly 3MB/sec that the movies take up. They are stored in the now rather aged QuickTime Motion JPEG format (we'd have liked to see the use of a format with more efficient compression, though Motion JPEG does tend to offer good quality).

You cannot use the optical or digital zoom during filming.

On-screen information when recording movies is fairly basic - elapsed time and low battery warning. You can use AE compensation and white balance tuning (before you start shooting), but as mentioned above you can't zoom.
The Menu button brings up the normal menu but with unavailable options greyed-out, meaning everything is where you expect it to be. The video resolution options are dictated by the position of the aspect ratio slider on the camera lens.
A helpful screen is displayed if you try to switch to 3:2 aspect ratio. (There are no video modes for 3:2, which isn't unreasonable since there are no sensible output devices).
In playback mode a thumbnail of the first frame of the movie appears when scrolling through saved images. Press the up arrow to play movies.
When viewing movies a set of controls appears in the bottom left corner of the frame allowing you to play, fast-forward and rewind and pause the movie.

Sample movies

1280x720 pixels @ 30fps - 4 seconds - File size: 11.7MB

Shot at wide angle (24mm equiv.)

Click on the thumbnail to view the movie (caution: large file!)

Image stabilization

The LX3's lens, as well as being impressively bright, also has Panasonic's Mega O.I.S optical image stabilization built in. As with previous models, it offers two main modes. Mode 1 attempts to stabilize the image the whole time the camera is in record mode, while Mode 2 waits until the shutter button is pressed. The LX3 also has an extra, 'Auto,' mode that uses Mode 2 when the lens is at wide angle and Mode 1 to offer a stabilized preview at the telephoto end of the zoom where camera shake is more likely to make composition difficult.

Our tests (conducted at 52mm equivalent zoom at a distance of around 2 meters) suggest that Mode 1 generally gives better performance, rendering around a 2-stop advantage while Mode 2 provides around 1.5 stops. However, Mode 2 appears more effective at very slow shutter speeds.