Monday, August 1, 2011

An informal comparison of Panasonic LX3 and LX5

After my Panasonic LX3 got broken last week, I tried using the Nokia E7 for a few days, until I got my hands on the Panasonic LX5.

Below are some informal notes which I wrote down while setting up and testing the LX5. The above photographs were taken at Elfvik late this afternoon.

I bought the camera from the cheapest online shop I found, on the condition that I wanted to get it delivered as fast as possible. The price was 437 euro including delivery. From another shop I ordered a spare battery (a copy, not a Panasonic original) which cost 28.60 euro including postage.

Today I also ordered two 3.1 inch screen protectors from Dealextreme, costing together 1.80 USD including postage. This is the same brand (or non-brand) I have been using on the LX3; extremely good price for the quality.

Here I'm comparing the LX5 to the LX3, which is a fine camera, and a great tool for photography also today. But techology evolves, and the LX5 is a moderately improved version of the LX3.

The camera feels good in the hand; it should, as I have grown into the LX3. For some reason the LX5 feels lighter in the hand. This may be due to the handgrip which allows a bit better hold than with the LX5. In any case, both cameras can be easily used with one hand. But I tend to use both, which is needed in dark conditions to stabilize the camera.

The battery compartment door is in principle similar to the one on the LX3, but it seems to close more firmly. This has been an occasional source of problems on the LX3, as the door has opened by itself every now and then. I think the LX5 won't have this problem.

Also, the mode dial on the top of the camera seems to be more firm, so there may be less accidental switches to the wrong position when keeping the camera in a pocket, for example.

The lens looks a bit different, maybe more impressive, which I guess is to be expected with the new 24-90 mm range. I hope the coating on the lens is as durable as on the LX3 - it is still in very fine condition despite a lot of use.

Next, some words about setting up the camera.

The camera was shipped from Paris to Finland, and so the initial language was French. Changing this to English was the first task - it took some time to find the right menu (it is at the end of the menu system).

Next, I switched off all sounds, immediate preview etc., set up some energy saving functions (LCD off interval etc.), disabled the focusing light, and so on. There were surprisingly many things to set up.

I stored to the C1 custom setting my usual mode: aperture priority, ISO 100, nostalgic film mode, all "intelligent" features off, showing overexposure in preview, showing histogram, guide lines visible, and so on. One thing which is much better on the LX5 is having the 1:1 setting on the aspect ratio switch, so there is no menu browsing to set it up.

The LX5 starts up as fast as the LX3, but it seems to go off a bit slower, but only a little. I noticed this when I tried to put the lens cover back a little too soon, according to my LX3 habits, and the lens was still extended.

My impression is that the LX5 focuses faster than the LX3, especially in macro mode. But as it was a bright day, the differences (if there are any) are minor. This may be also a usability issue and not a real thing.

I kept on having problems in learning to use the new setup of the buttons. On the LX3, I had preview in the Fn button, and I kept on pressing it by mistake. (I put white balance there this time.) But I think that having a play button instead of a slider is a good thing, and I'll grow into it soon enough.

The control wheel needed a rather firm press to activate, that was a surprise. And I haven't mastered the operation yet, it feels strange. I'm not sure whether the wheel is an improvement over the jog control on the LX3. Well, I'll learn this in time as well.

I haven't yet taken a lot of photographs with the LX5, but there seems to be a bit of a different feel to them. The bokeh is a bit different, but I like it. The photographs may be a bit less warm than with the LX3. The 90 mm reach of the lens gives new possibilities, especially in macro work, as it focuses to 30 cm as with the LX3.

So, as a summary: the LX5 is a great camera improved further, nothing revolutionary, but there was no need to big changes as the LX3 was already a fine tool. The good points of the LX3 have been preserved in the LX5. So, I'm happy with the LX5.

Update: There may be a break in the postings here; but I will be using the LX5.

Update 2: After taking about 2000 photographs I wrote some further notes about LX3 vs. LX5.


Anonymous said...

Juha, congrats on the new LX5. In one of my postings, here in your blog, months ago, my crystal ball predicted you would get an LX5 :)

Keep the beautiful images coming.


Juha Haataja said...

@Art: You are a seer!

Andrea Pryke said...

Am looking forward to the photos from the LX5 love the images so far might have to get one myself

Andrew Barron said...

Hi Juha, glad to hear about your upgrade. I wondered after this much time what you might be looking towards beyond the LX5. I had a good time with my LX5 earlier this year. I heard a rumor that on the LX5 you can set your startup focal length. If that is true, it sure would have helped me. Cheers and happy shooting!

Colin Griffiths said...

Congratulations on your new acquisition, now you can start to demonstrate how I ought to be using my own LX5!

Juha Haataja said...

@Andrea: Thanks!

@Andrew: That was a nice P6000/LX5 comparison, good points there.

As on the LX3, you can set the LX5 to remember the previously used focal length; the same applies to manual focus.

@Colin: Well, I do hope the LX5 is as durable as the LX3...

John Strong said...

Excellent choice in a point and shoot! I've been using Lumix as my p&s choice for years - I think at ISO 100 or 200 they produce some really beautiful photos.

Maybe it's just my old eyes, but it seems to me the LX5's colors aren't quite as vibrant as the LX3.
Could that be that it's just not quite dialed in for you yet? Nah, it's probably me.

Thanks for the great posts!


John Strong said...

Ha! I just moved your blog to my other monitor - colors look great now. It was just me!


Juha Haataja said...

@All: Just letting you know I have been very busy. In a day or two I'll resume postings here.

@John: Thanks for checking! I think there is something different with the LX5 photographs, but it is subtle. A lot of family resemblance anyway, between the LX3 and LX5 photographs.