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Panasonic Lumix LX3 Digital Camera
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Addie Bedford
(addiebedford) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Panasonic Lumix LX3 Digital Camera on 08/11/2009 15:47:35 MDT Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Panasonic Lumix LX3 Digital Camera

Tohru Ohnuki
(erdferkel) - F

Locale: S. California
Nice review on 08/11/2009 21:18:13 MDT Print View

I've been using an LX-3 since late last year and am really happy with its performance. I agree that its low light performance starts to suffer at ISO greater than 400, but that used to be a good fast film speed. I like its compactness and the ability to pop it out of a pouch on a shoulder strap, shoot and be walking again in seconds.

Erwin Vanderlinden
(ErwinVdl) - F
G1 on 08/12/2009 04:19:27 MDT Print View

I would venture to say that even when taking the DSLRs uit of the equation, the LX3 is not the best backpacking camera available for the money. The Panasonic G1 offers the complete image quality and flexibility of a DSLR, while being considerably more lightweight and smaller sized.

Erwin Vanderlinden
(ErwinVdl) - F
Addendum on 08/12/2009 04:21:42 MDT Print View

More lightweight and smaller sized than any DSLR that is, obviously not compared to the LX3 (weight penalty including the very good kit lens amounts to +-200g).

greg degler
(gregdegler) - F

Locale: West
Cam Talk with Greg on 08/12/2009 07:51:49 MDT Print View

It is early.....early in the morning.......and I'm... waking up.....but wanted to mention a few things.

One of my prerequisites in a backpacking camera is that it uses AA batts. Lithium, Re-chargeables, or Alkaline double A's, the choice is yours, they're easy to find, offer great performance and economical (rechargeables actually improved a small but significant part of my increasingly unexciting life: . The thought of being on a long trail hoping to find a place that will let me charge any battery for a couple of hours, all the while CARRYING xtra batts and charger is very unappealling to me and seems somewhat anti-BackpackingLight.
A number of points mentioned in this article bring questions to my mind: Can't use Ultrapod because metal camera mount is in "wrong" position? Isn't an LCD monitor a viewfinder? Over 8 oz. + accessories?
3 years ago I acquired a Nikon Coolpix L5. It weighs 5oz, uses AA's, 5X opt. zoom, etc. It's not that I am specifically recommending the L5 (even though I LOVE it), but that in the world of much compromise that is UltraLite or even BackpackingLight there are - and I believe this to be true for the majority (ie: average Joe's with a camera)- at least a few, perhaps many other practical and beneficial possibilities.

Now it is later and I've still not woken'd up.

"Somewhere Between Thought And Action Is Talk Which Often Stands In For Both"

Greg Degler
USAA New Enland Owl

Misfit Mystic

Locale: "Grand Canyon of the East"
Horses for Courses on 08/12/2009 08:32:01 MDT Print View

I would have to agree with Rick's assessment; I'm not a compact digicam user, but the LX3/D Lux 4 certainly seem the best combinations of size and features for what I would want. If I were going for a Micro 4/3 cam, I would go for an Oly EP-1 over the Pana G1. If I were buying a dslr setup from scratch and weight/size were primary considerations, the Oly e620 is approaching the performance of Canon/Nikon in terms of noise and DR in a fairly small form factor (close to e4xx size).

Of course, if I'm commited to carrying a dslr on a given trip, image quality is the overriding factor. In that case, I'll carry my 5D; no m4/3 camera will match it. Or maybe my old Nikon FM2.

Sam Farrington
(scfhome) - M

Locale: Chocorua NH, USA
Lumix LX3 on 08/12/2009 15:54:18 MDT Print View

Unless you are a professional photographer and are willing to carry the extra weight, including waterproof cases, I think you have to be either rich or crazy to take any item with a lot of expensive electronics and zero weather proofing on a long backpack. For me, the digital camera offerings for backpackers are disappointing to say the least.
Sam Farrington, Chocorua NH

Noel Hong
(arborrider08) - F

Locale: SouthShore of Lake Superior
DMC-LX3 improvements over the LX2 on 08/12/2009 16:09:56 MDT Print View

Have been using the LX2 for +3 years. Happy to see that Panasonic improved the sensor. LX2 noise limits to shooting at no more than ISO200. Ideally ISO100. Outside of the noise issue at higher ISO and no optical viewfinder have been content with the LX2. The LX3 improved sensor and bit wider angle tele are appealing. Thanks for the review.

Tranina Glover
(panamint) - MLife
24mm LEICA LENS on 08/12/2009 18:34:36 MDT Print View

I have an LX3 and the 18mm lens with adapter also. Years ago I had a Canon AT SLR with the 1.8 24mm lens. I've been waiting for this lens on a digital camera for years. I finally have found it on the LX3 and its a Leica lens to boot.

I will be carrying it on a backpack in the Hetch Hetchy/Yosemite area in September. For a long time I was looking at the Canon 5D with the 16-35 mm lens at 2.0 but the weight and cost were prohibitive. So I am very happy with the LX3. I got a terrific shot of a sun flare ring this past spring that is so good for a "point and shoot" camera.

Your shots with macro settings were detailed and brilliant. You mentioned that you shot wide angle and did not hit the macro switch on the side. Is that correct?

Thank you for reviewing the LX3.

Joseph Reeves

Locale: Southeast Alaska
LX-3 on 08/12/2009 19:38:27 MDT Print View

I've had my LX-3 since February and have rediscovered photography outdoors. It is as much fun and simple to carry as a rangefinder.

After much hand-wringing about not having a viewfinder I simply figured out what would give me the correct view with my nose or cheek against the hotshoe and let it go at that in bright sunlight. I did purchase an external viewfinder but gave it away after a month.

I too had vowed never to purchase a camera that didn't run on AA or AAA batteries, but then I remembered saying in my teens that I would never buy jeans that weren't bell bottoms and decided to embrace the modern age. I take photographs where there are no stores, electricity or roads. The LX-3 battery, and its aftermarket cousins, typically shoot 250-300 photographs before needing recharging. An extra battery or two weighs about the same as another set of AAs. Turning off the LCD panel and figuring out the nose-cheek setting increases the number of photographs markedly.

The LX-3 isn't waterproof, so I carry it in an alosak while on the water and in a pouch while walking. I live in a rainforest and have managed to not kill it to date. I seem to recall that Andrew Skurka uses the LX-3 on long walks, so that probably means that it passes the "lightweight" test.

Looking south along Stephen's Passage

Rain Forest

Fred eric
(Fre49) - MLife

Locale: France, vallée de la Loire
LX3 on 08/13/2009 00:13:21 MDT Print View

I wouldnt consider the G1 as light when i compare it to my Olympus 420, that wasnt the improvement i was waiting from micro 4/3.THe EP1 was a better surprise.

Maybe they will do something interesting with the GF1 :

but after pondering that for months i think ill buy a LX3 and wait a bit for more micro 4/3 developpement to buy one.

James McIntosh

Locale: Near Bass Strait
Too much sharpening? on 08/13/2009 05:44:19 MDT Print View

Thanks for the review - it sounds like a great camera. One pet hate I have with the compact digicams I've owned is unwanted sharpening of images. The zoomed in photo of the tree in the review shows the problem. Was this on JPG setting or RAW?

James McIntosh

Edited by JamesMc on 08/13/2009 05:45:07 MDT.

Alan Dixon
(alandixon) - MLife

Locale: Mid-Atlantic
Re: GF1 on 08/13/2009 12:08:19 MDT Print View

>Maybe they will do something interesting with the GF1 :

Smaller would be great. But let's hope that they introduce slightly better u4/3 lenses than debuted with the E-P1.

At this point, the challenge for u4/3 is not in the camera bodies or the format's technology. They are close enough.

What u4/3 despirately needs are some good lenses to legitimise the format as a serious photographic tool.

Ashley Brown
(ashleyb) - F
Re: Re: GF1 on 08/13/2009 20:26:27 MDT Print View

What u4/3 despirately needs are some good lenses to legitimise the format as a serious photographic tool.

Better lenses and a wider range of them would certainly be welcome.

However I'd place a higher priority on improving focusing speed (not terribly relevant for landscape, but it is for travel and general use). I haven't tried one, but from all reports the EP-1 is just as sluggish as your average P&S.

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: Panasonic Lumix LX3 Digital Camera on 08/13/2009 22:06:27 MDT Print View

Thanks everybody for taking time to read the review and for your comments and questions. I'll try to aggregate some responses while packing for the weekend (yay).

All the shots in the review are jpgs. There may have been some USM applied in post processing, but it's been long enough ago that I can't specify which images and how much. Generally, the LX3 jpgs don't seem to benefit from more than a light hand with PP sharpening. Whatever minor in-camera sharpening artifacts that might manifest on low-ISO shots are completely avoided shooting RAW. High-ISO jpg sharpening manifests itself as a rather painterly patterning that's very different from other digicam brands I've used.

By my scales the LX3 batteries are 25-26 grams each. Aftermarket batteries are about US$10. So, for about 75g one can conservatively have 1000 frames. By comparison, a pair of NiMH AA cells on my scales is about 62g, disposable Li AA cells about 28g. (Alkaline cells needn't be discussed, since they're strictly for emergency backups since they yield perhaps a tenth as many frames). The US-spec LX3 charger is 57g.

The two environmental conditions I fear the most are wind-driven dust and salt spray. FWIW I've never owned a weatherproof camera nor have I ruined a camera in the field over decades of shooting. I'd happily carry a high-quality weatherproof camera the LX3's equal but nobody builds one. Someday.

For macro I either use manual focus or autofocus in macro mode. If I can see the display I get a higher percentage of keepers in manual, but a lot of times I'm holding the camera where I can't view the screen, so I put it on AF macro, listen for the focus beep and shoot. Definitely hit-n-miss when I can't verify where the focus frame landed.

At present the biggest LX3 challenge is finding one. Panny seems to have badly underestimated the demand and at least in the States they hit the stores in tiny waves, with the price remaining stubbornly high. I don't understand why they haven't corrected the problem in the last half year.

Happy shooting!


Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
LX3 on 08/14/2009 00:02:19 MDT Print View

I think Rick I has done a good job describing the LX3 in the context of backpacking. For me, the LX3 was the first pocketable(Cargo pockets... not normal pockets) camera I used that had decent enough image quality at or below ISO 400 equiv that I would consider leaving our DSLR at home.

I would ding the dynamic range a bit more than Rick, but taking multiple shots at different exposure values and then combining them in a post process can address this shortcoming.

I seemed to have more problems viewing the screen in sunlight than Rick. I have often found that I was shooting blind because the lack of contrast and glare from sunlight would make it impossible for me to see the screen. Part of this might be my poor eyesight. I hadn't tried using an external viewfinder... I expect that will be a big help and need to see if I have one in a drawer from when I was using a film viewfinder camera.

The controls compare favorably to any of the compact cameras I have tried except the Ricoh GR line. I really miss having two dials: in manual model one for aperture and one for shutter speed, in priority mode one setting the primary value, and the other controlling the EV adjustment. I often shoot aperture priority and then fiddle with EV offsets. It's a bit of a pain with the LX3.

I typically don't carry my LX3 in a special case. It live in an oversize pants pocket, or in a domke wrap in a side pack pocket. No problems after 3/4 of a year of use.

Several people have comments on the Panasonic G1 or other Micro 4/3 cameras. I have been using a Panasonic G1 since the beginning of the summer and find it almost good enough to consider a full switch from my Canon DSLR but I won't fully convert at this time. The G1 isn't up to the mid to high end DSLR but it's almost as good as the entry level DSLRs while being noticeably smaller and lighter. I don't hate carrying the G1 were I did hate carrying even the light weight Canon Digital Rebel.

The G1 definitively has better image quality that the LX3, but this comes at a fairly significant dollar cost, not to mention weight and size. I expect even the E-P1 and the GF-1 won't be small enough to actually go into a larger cargo pocket which the LX3.


Nathaniel Frey
(walfyfrey) - F
Excellent review... on 08/15/2009 01:21:26 MDT Print View

Thanks for the excellent review. I almost bought this camera, after reading many reviews, to take on a hike into California's glorious Trinity Alps, from which I returned today. This review was one of the best I've seen. What did I take instead on the hike? I ended up buying no camera, but took my trusty Nikon D700 SLR, along with the heavy 70-200 VR lens and the Nikon 17-35 lens. I tried to go ultra-lightweight to make up for this terribly heavy equipment. Once I got up to the main camp 10 miles in, it was wonderful having that gear, and took many day hikes carrying only the gear and snacks. But if my next trek into the wilderness is not the type consisting of a base camp with day hikes to and from that base camp, but instead one where I have to carry all my gear day after day, I will not carry my SLR kit but will get one of these light weight LX3's instead, or something like it. SLRs and good lenses are just too darn heavy.

dave hollin
(backpackbrewer) - F

Locale: Deepest darkest Wales, boyo
Panasonic LX3 on 08/15/2009 02:48:54 MDT Print View

I've had my LX3 since last November not long after it was released. I think there has been a surge of interest in this camera leading to steady high prices. I managed to buy mine at around £50 cheaper than the cheapest on-line deal currently!
I'm not a techy camera person so its not for me to discuss the intricate merits of the LX3. All I can say is that its a lightweight high end compact camera that takes really nice pictures. One day I hope to match the camera's capabilities with my own :)
For now here is a sample of some of my pictures with it:The Peak DistrictTrig Point in the Black Mountains

James Yares
(jimyares) - F
Re: Panasonic Lumix LX3 Digital Camera on 08/16/2009 23:22:22 MDT Print View

I have been delighted with my LX-3 since I bought it in April. I wanted most, low light capability and a wide lens in a small, light form factor. For that I was willing to trade zoom range. The Leica lens is superb and Panasonic's electronics do a good job of getting the most out of it. I also think they deserve some credit for getting out of the silly megapixel war. I have learned that the quality of the visual information in the pixel is more important than the sheer number of them.

What do I wish for? An even smaller, lighter form factor (like my wife's Cannon SD 880). But, you can't beat the overall flexibility, sweet lens and clean, crisp output of the LX3.
Yosemite Falls

Manresa State Beach, CA

Miss Liberty

Edited by jimyares on 08/17/2009 23:36:00 MDT.

Noel Hong
(arborrider08) - F

Locale: SouthShore of Lake Superior
Wind driven dust and salt-spray. on 08/23/2009 09:16:08 MDT Print View

3 spring trips where the LX2 has been exposed daily for ~1month to wind driven dust and salt spray. No problems yet. If the LX3 is as "tight" as the LX2 it should be as durable. Similar conditions damaged the previous cameras (Oly C-60, Canon ??) within couple seasons.