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Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3 - Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3

By Cliff Smith



  • Editors choice
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3 front angle


Our Score:


The LX3 is no ultra-compact, but considering its specification it's surprisingly small. It measures 109 x 62 x 45mm with the lens retracted, or 70mm with the lens extended, and weighs 264g including battery and card. The body is comfortable to hold thanks to a nice finger grip on the front (not present on the Leica version) and a small textured thumb grip on the back. It will fit easily into a jacket pocket, but like most serious cameras it comes with a good quality neck strap, and there is an optional and rather retro-looking leather case.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3 back

Handling the LX3, it's impossible not to be impressed by its clever design, solid build quality, slick performance and general feeling of competence. It really is an extremely enjoyable camera to use, and while it is complex it isn't particularly complicated. Some people may have a problem with the small joystick-like control that operates the Quick Menu, however once you get used to it, it is very quick and easy to use.

The main menu is also comprehensive. The main picture control setting is the Film mode, which offers a number of presets, including three monochrome settings, all of which can be customised for contrast, sharpness, saturation and even noise reduction. Naturally the LX3 has multi-zone, centre-weighted and spot metering, and also has a wide range of AF modes, including a manual spot AF. Like most top-end cameras, particular setups can be saved and assigned to two custom settings on the main mode dial. Although it's a comparison that I would normally dismiss, I have to say that the level of user control offered by the LX3 is not far short of that of a good digital SLR. I particularly like the three position aspect-ratio switch on the top of the lens barrel. I found myself switching aspect ratios to suit the subject far more often that I normally would, with good results.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3 zoom

While the limited 24-60mm zoom range might sound like a restriction, in fact it's just right for general purpose scenic photography, and anyway the superior speed of the F2.0 - F2.8 maximum aperture more than makes up for it. That's around two stops faster than many compact camera zoom lenses, and combined with the excellent optical image stabilisation system it means fewer blurred shots. For those times when 24mm just isn't wide enough, a 0.75x wide conversion lens is available.

Other features include Raw mode, as well as two Raw + JPEG settings. However it's worth noting that even the latest version of Adobe Camera Raw does not yet recognise the LX3's Raw files, so you'll have to convert them using the supplied software.

The LX3 also has a very good video mode, offering 1280 x 720 HD at 24fps, or WVGA (848 x 480) and VGA at 30fps, although clips are limited to 15 minutes.

PK Son

November 13, 2008, 12:42 pm

wow!! This is even better!!! I can see what you mean by the price.. it's pretty expensive.. argh.. but Full HD @ 24fps. nice..

You say it's limited to only 15 minutes? hmm.. does it take long to save the video file once it's used up the 15 minutes?

How is the video quality?



November 13, 2008, 2:48 pm

PK Son said "You say {video} limited to only 15 minutes"

This is because the EEC classifies a device that takes more than 15 mins at a time as a video camera. Cameras sold in other regions probably do not have this restriction.

My FZ28 will shoot to a *file limit* of 2 GB. Manual says 8 mins HD, practice says up

to 16 mins. Subjectively, ending the take takes less time than saving RAW+jpeg.


November 13, 2008, 2:56 pm

"The Leica lens produces almost no barrel distortion despite its 24mm wide angle end. "

This is not true. The lens produces a lot of distortion, but it is corrected in the camera.

The LX3 is a fine example of the the melding of pure optics, electronics, and algorithms.

Nick Grant

November 13, 2008, 2:58 pm

No barrel distortion?!?! Are you mad! It was terrible!

I think the whole review was a bit overblown to be honest - I'm starting to doubt TR's impartiality, given that the high-ISO performance was good, but not amazing, and the barrel distortion comments were plainly deluded!

Also, I think that 9 out of 10 for value is completely barking... the Canon PowerShot A2000 IS costs around 𧶀, for comparable specs and image quality.

I'm disillusioned with TR.

Andy Vandervell

November 13, 2008, 3:14 pm


"almost no barrel distortion" not "no barrel distortion".

As for value, as noted in the review (page 1, last paragraph in case you haven't read it), 𧷤 for a professional grade compact of this quality is very good. As for the A2000, it's not a pro grade compact, doesn't have the same level of manual controls and nothing like the build quality. There's no doubting it's a very good camera, but the comparison isn't valid imo.


November 13, 2008, 5:13 pm

This camera review may or maynot be accurate. However I think anyone expecting any review site that doesnt actually go out and buy the goods they test to be completely impartial are deluding themselves. They all have to play the manufacturers' game to get free advanced review samples and keep advertisers happy. I wonder why manufacturers spend huge amounts on lavish launch junkets in exotic places?

Trustedreviews are certainly no worse than anyone else (and are much better than many) but I take everything I read on all review sites with a dose of healthy scepticism.

PK Son

November 13, 2008, 6:01 pm


Thanks. That was very helpful. I will look into it in Korea. If it's not a camera limitation but a localized restriction, then I'm hoping this will not be the case for the LX3 here.

it IS pretty expensive compared to the FX500, but I'm looking for a compact that can shoot HD. sounds nice.. but price.. but then again, the test shots looked great..


November 13, 2008, 6:36 pm

I'm not seeing 10/10 for image quality. It is good on the macro shots, but Exeter cathedral looks bland and smudgy, even if it was overcast. Not too impressed.


November 13, 2008, 7:35 pm

Nick Grant said "Canon PowerShot A2000 for comparable specs" -- there is no comparison. The A2000 is aimed squarely at the casual shooter market.

Pixel density /sq cm: LX3 24 M; A2000 35 M

Zoom: LX3 24 mm to 60 mm; A2000 36 mm to 216 mm

Max aperture: LX3 f2--2.8; A2000 f3.2--5.9

Closest rivals to LX3 are Canon G10 and Ricoh GX200.

A2000 f5.9 is pretty alarming. With a compact camera with a lens this small,

diffraction (light scattering) will be start to be a problem at this aperture, and you have no leeway, all you can do is make it worse by stopping down more.

PK Son

If you value portability the most, go for the FX500.

If you want wider range of usability (within the limits of the zoom) get the LX3.

You get an F2 lens and usable ISO800.

You will also find that the LX will give more pleasing results more often:

fewer clipped highlights, more shadow detail, less garish colours (which can be adjusted), and a wickedly good monochrome pictures.

I like the HD video on my FZ28, but Panasonic sound is fairly rudimentary.

I think it is more set up for recording photo memos and commentary by the shooter.

Canons are said to have better sound.

If you want an excellent-value pocketable shooter

with 10x zoom, the price of the TZ5 is remarkably low.

(I think that the lens diameter of the FX range is too small.)

Andy Vandervell

November 13, 2008, 7:46 pm

What he said. ;)

Cliff Smith

November 13, 2008, 8:35 pm

Well, nothing like a 10/10 stirring up a bit of controversy. Perhaps we should only have review scores that go up to 9?


November 13, 2008, 9:40 pm

Or up to 11, perhaps?

Andy Vandervell

November 13, 2008, 9:48 pm

That would get my vote. ;)


November 13, 2008, 11:14 pm

I've been looking for a replacement for my dead FUJIFILM F31 ...

This looks like a suitable candiate!


November 13, 2008, 11:51 pm

No viewfinder.


November 14, 2008, 12:25 am

Guys, what about FX-150? It has larger sensor than fx500, almost like LX3; much cheaper then LХ3. And what is the most important for me, it's about 30% lighter and smaller then LX3


November 14, 2008, 12:30 am

LX3 sensor 1/1.63

FX150 - 1/1.72

FX500 - 1/2.33

1/1.63 and 1/1/73 - very small difference, especially compared to 1/72 and 1/2.33

Scott NZ

November 14, 2008, 3:53 am

Any chance of making a small video from the camera available? I'd really like to see how good the video quality is at the max settings


November 14, 2008, 5:19 am

Scott, you can find plenty of vids here: hxxp://www.vimeo.com/videos...

smx, the size of the sensor is not as relevant as how densely it is populated with pixels.

Pixel density /sq cm: LX3 24 M; FX150 & FX500 35 M; Nikon D90 3.3 M & D700 1.7 M

Generally speaking, less dense means wider dynamic range and less noise.

Compact cameras, with their overpopulated sensors, cannot give you both shadow detail and highlights that are not blown (whited out). And when they do give you shadow detail there are likely to be dots of odd colours (chroma noise) or grey (luminance noise) in there. These occur because the signals from the photosites are not strong enough for background electrical noise not to be a problem. Camera makers fudge the problem by smudging the noise (noise reduction). Unless you want to print at A3 size and above (can you afford to?) more pixels is not good.

If portability is important, the FX range is the way to go. But photographically, with a little more bulk, you get a better, larger diameter lens on the TZ5.

The LX3 is getting close to a photographic tool. If you are interested in Photography with a capital P rather than snapping pictures, the LX3 is a no brainer. You would be willing to sacrifice the extra size for the results it can provide. People who buy the LX3 tend to love it because it pleases them. It makes them want to take more pictures.

PK Son

November 19, 2008, 1:13 pm

Nokabolikov : Thanks for the link! The FZ28 seems pretty nice, but I needed a portable HD camera.. (or else my D70 and D300 will start pouting) I checked out the videos, and it seems like the LX3 has significantly better video quality than the FX500. (although pretty good, under extreme low lights, the LX seems like it performs so much better.) And I'm sure I will like the picture quality of the LX3.

Thanks for the replies!


December 23, 2008, 10:02 am

I have gone out and bought this camera based partly on my own CRUDE comparison test of this camera against the Canon g10. You can see the results here...


...with an explanation in the comments under the first image.

After shhoting nearly 200 shots over 2weeks, the only thing I have noticed is a tendency to marginally overexpose. Any one else out there, noticed this at all?

Despite this possible flaw, I still feel the LX3 is blatantly superior to the g10. Hope this helps any one out there who are still torn between the two as I initially was.

Clive Pugh

January 23, 2009, 9:23 pm

I cannot decide between the Canon G10 and Panasonic DMC LX3

Anyone share helpful information ?


February 7, 2009, 6:03 pm

As I now own the Lumix LX3 and have owned the Powershot G9 (a bit different from the tested G10), I think you better first ask yourself: what is the aim I have with the device? Both cameras have good qualities, depending on what you are going to do and how you will influence the results. For my aims the winner is the Lumix LX3, as it makes wonderful pictures under difficult light conditions. The Powershot G10 will produce other results under the equal conditions plus you have to do a lot of manual work to get these results. In all I think the G10 will satisfy those who like manual interaction and the Lumix X3 those who trust the "intelligence" of the camera.


September 19, 2009, 4:38 pm

Canon G10 or Lumix X3? How can such a top quality camera as the Lumix leave out a viewfinder? I'm off to buy the G10.....


September 23, 2009, 6:13 am

I have a G9 but I got a Leica D-Lux 4 Safari edition last night, for color I prefer the Leica, I don't like the color of Canon cameras, no matter compat or SLR.

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