Panasonic Lumix LX3

Panasonic Lumix LX3 (by StarbuckGuy)

My Christmas present to myself (with Marion’s blessing) was a Panasonic Lumix LX3 digicam. Because I’ve been asked about it more than any other camera I own, I wanted to provide a short overview of the camera here, along with the reasons I bought it.

DPReview has published an in-depth review of the LX3 that details the camera’s specs and evaluates the camera in the context of today’s market.  They say in their conclusion:

The LX3 is an example of a species so endangered that the we were beginning to worry it had become extinct – a compact camera that photographers can get excited about. Panasonic has included a large degree of direct control, classy styling and, more importantly, a specification that goes beyond the unthinking ‘larger screen and more megapixels’ trend.

The camera receives their coveted “Highly Recommended” rating.

The things they praise about the camera are its exceptionally bright F2.0-2.8 lens, and its very wide angle equivalent: 24mm. They also highlight some of the camera’s shortcomings. It only zooms out to 60mm, which is far too little for many photographers. The camera is also tiny, making it a little tricky to manage the controls if you have large hands. And because it’s a small-sensor camera, it can’t rival the image quality of a good DSLR. Nonetheless, I’ve found the ‘noise’ or ‘grain’ quite acceptable all the way to iso800, and iso1600 in a pinch.

Given that I already own a much-loved Canon G9 that I consider my main walkabout camera, why did I add the LX3? That’s easy: for the wide angle! I enjoy wide-angle photography but don’t have anything in digital that’s really wide enough to grab my fancy. When I’m shooting film I like using my Bessa R3A with 21mm and 15mm lenses, but I then lose the convenience of digital. Ironically, the entire LX3 costs less than a good wide-angle lens for my Nikon DSLR.

For that reason, the LX3 is a specialty camera for me. I sometimes carry it by itself, but more frequently I carry it in addition to the G9. Heck they’re both small and light, so it’s easy to do.

The LX3 does more than provide a wonderfully fast F/2.0, 24mm lens equivalent, and image quality that is remarkably fine-grained. It also features a 16:9 cinematic aspect ratio that makes the wide-angleness even more pronounced. I like this aspect ratio so much I leave it on as my default.

The camera is smaller than it looks in the photo I’ve posted. That’s because I’ve added two accessories to it: an external 25mm viewfinder on the top, and a lens adapter on the front. The viewfinder is left over from when I owned a 25mm lens and it’s handy for shooting with the LX3 quickly, or when sunlight makes the LCD panel difficult to see.

The lens adapter (which I bought from a eBay seller fotobestbuy in Hong Kong), lets me attach 52mm filters and accessories — the size I already own for my Nikons. On bad-weather days I attach a UV filter to protect the front lens element from rain or snow. I also have a Raynox .66 wide-angle adapter that takes the LX3 to a 16mm wide-angle equivalent, albeit with considerable distortion and softness at the edges.

The final reason for its purchase is harder to justify, but may be the bottom line: it’s fun. I have difficulty resisting gadgets. When it comes to cool technologies, I’m a trout — every lure looks enticing and delicious.


About Gene Wilburn

Gene Wilburn is a writer ~ photographer ~ humanist
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2 Responses to Panasonic Lumix LX3

  1. Marc says:

    I’ve been severely tepmted by this camera myself. If it weren’t for the fact that I already own a lively Ricoh GX100, which satisfies the same wideangle requirement, I’d almost certainly have given in by now. As it is, I think the handling and user interface of the GX100 are better, whereas the LX3 appears to have the better image quality, especially at higher ISO settings. and of course the 16:9 is nice as well…

  2. Gene says:

    Marc, I’ve heard good things about the Ricoh GX cameras, including that they have better ergonomics than the LX3. It’s always a tradeoff.

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