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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:


In terms of overall performance, the LX3 is quietly impressive. It starts up in a little over two seconds, and in single-shot mode at maximum JPEG image quality it has a shot-to-shot time of approximately 1.7 seconds, which is fairly impressive when you consider that it's moving files averaging about 5MB each. Even more impressively, shooting in the Raw mode with its 11.5MB files the LX3 can maintain a shot-to-shot time of 1.8 seconds, and even in the Raw + Fine JPEG setting it can manage a shot every 2.3 seconds. I've used some DSLRs that can't shoot that fast.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3 top

The autofocus system is also extremely impressive, both for its speed and for its amazing low light ability, which is among the best I've ever seen. It has a small and not terribly bright AF assist lamp, but even so it is able to focus in almost total darkness seemingly as fast as it does in daylight.

The LX3 has a distinctive pop-up flash which is surprisingly powerful for such a small unit, with a wide-angle range of over eight metres at auto ISO setting. It is bright enough to provide shadow fill-in even in very bright sunlight, but is also very well metered so it doesn't burn out close-up highlights.

The Leica-branded lens is simply fantastic, producing virtually no distortion or chromatic aberration, although to be fair some of that is achieved during processing. Nonetheless images are pin-sharp from corner to corner, with an amazing level of detail. The LX3's sensor is of the larger 1/1.63-inch type, the largest normally used in compact cameras (Sigma DP1 excepted). As a result the LX3 has better than average dynamic range and outstanding colour reproduction.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3 bottom

As for image quality, see the sample shots attached and judge for yourself. I'm not exaggerating when I say that the LX3 has better image quality than some DSLRs that I've used. Images at 80 ISO are pretty much perfect, with deep rich colour, sharp detail and no noise at all, and the quality is maintained even at higher ISO settings. It is one of the few compact cameras that can produce useable images at 1600 ISO. The auto white balance is really the LX3's only significant problem. It does tend to produce slight tints if there's a strongly-coloured object dominating the frame, but this can be avoided by either manual WB setting or shooting in Raw mode.


The Panasonic LX3 is one of the very few digital cameras that I would consider buying for myself. It is a superbly designed and immensely capable all-purpose compact that will satisfy any keen photographer, but is also capable of producing good results in the hands of a novice. Build quality, performance and versatility are all of the highest order, and image quality is as good as ever gets. It may seem expensive, but I think it would be money well spent.

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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