Over the course of a year, I review around 100 digital cameras, maybe one or two more or less, but quite a lot by any standard. Naturally some are better than others. Some are hopeless rubbish and some are really good, but it's only a couple of times a year that a camera comes along that really stands out from the crowd. The Panasonic Lumix LX3 is one of those cameras.
I was first introduced to the LX3 at a lavish press launch held in Monaco earlier this year. While there I had a chance to try a pre-production sample of the camera, and I was immensely impressed by it. I've been looking forward to getting my hands on a production model for a full review, and so for the past week I've been out and about putting the LX3 through its paces. I have not been disappointed; it's every bit as good as I remember.
The top model in Panasonic's compact camera range, the Lumix LX3 is a high-spec compact camera aimed primarily at enthusiast and semi-professional photographers. Its many features include a 10.1-megapixel sensor of the larger 1/1.63-inch type, Venus Engine IV image processing, a very high quality F2.0 - F2.8 Leica-branded 2.5x zoom lens equivalent to 24-60mm, a 3.0-inch monitor with 460k dot resolution, a full range of manual exposure and metering options, and can shoot in Raw mode.
Even with such an impressive specification the LX3 may seem expensive at around £300, however it's worth pointing out that the essentially identical Leica D-LUX 4 costs nearly twice as much, at around £570. The LX3 doesn't have a lot of competition at this end of the market. It will find itself on the same page of the catalogue as the Canon PowerShot G10 (£370), the Nikon CoolPix P6000 (£340) and the Ricoh GR Digital II (£399), and against those that £300 doesn't seem so expensive anymore. Of course you can get an entry level DSLR for less, but then the LX3 isn't competing with a DSLR.