Panasonic Lumix DMC-L10

      Photo Review 8.5

      In summary

      A high-performance Four Thirds system DSLR with SSWF dust reduction and live viewing plus an articulated LCD monitor.Panasonic’s second DSLR camera, the 10.0-megapixel Lumix DMC-L10 is far more conventional-looking than its predecessor. It’s also lighter and provides some of the features that have made the Lumix name popular with digicam buyers, such as an LCD monitor that can rotate through 270 degrees, an Intelligent ISO setting, a range of Scene pre-sets and a straightforward user interface. A dedicated Function button provides quick access to key camera settings. . . [more]

      Full review


      Panasonic’s second DSLR camera, the 10.0-megapixel Lumix DMC-L10 is far more conventional-looking than its predecessor. It’s also lighter and provides some of the features that have made the Lumix name popular with digicam buyers, such as an LCD monitor that can rotate through 270 degrees, an Intelligent ISO setting, a range of Scene pre-sets and a straightforward user interface. A dedicated Function button provides quick access to key camera settings.

      Once again, the new model has input from Olympus (for whom Panasonic produces image sensors and electronic components) and Leica. It has the same sensor type and 10-megapixel resolution as the latest Olympus DSLRs, although the sensor specifications differ slightly. It also comes with the Olympus-developed SSWF dust control filter system. The Leica D Vario-Elmar 14-50mm/F3.8 – 5.6 ASPH, Mega O.I.S lens supplied with the camera combines Leica’s optical design with Panasonic’s lens-shift Mega O.I.S. image stabilisation, which is engaged via a switch on the lens barrel.


      The kit lens is lighter than the L1’s kit lens and about two thirds of a stop slower, although in no way inferior. (Panasonic will offer it separately at an RRP of $1,199 to interested purchasers.) Consisting of 15 lens elements in 11 groups, it includes two aspherical lenses for minimising distortion and peripheral vignetting at the wide end and two ED (extra-low dispersion) lenses for suppressing chromatic aberration. Neither an aperture ring nor focus scale window are provided on the lens so related adjustments must be made via the camera’s controls.

      A wide, finely-ridged rubber zoom ring provides smooth, accurate zooming and five focal length distances are engraved on the lens barrel just behind the zoom ring. Close focusing is supported down to 29 cm. A sliding switch on the lens barrel engages and disengages the Mega O.I.S. stabilisation function. Three stabilisation modes can be selected in the menu system: Mode 1 (continuous); Mode 2 (shot only) and Mode 3 (vertical stabilisation for panning). A petal-shaped lens hood is supplied but there’s no lock to prevent the lens from extending when it is carried facing downwards.

      Body and Build
      In shape, size and functionality, the L10 resembles the current crop of enthusiast DSLR cameras. Because of the alliance between Panasonic and Olympus, it’s safe to assume the L10 uses not only the Olympus SSWF dust control mechanism but also the same mirror assembly, shutter mechanism, viewfinder and lens mount as the Olympus E410 and E510 cameras. Overall body design, however, comes from Panasonic’s design team.

      The L120’s moulded grip carries the shutter button, below which is a control dial that is used for adjusting aperture and shutter speed settings and exposure compensation in shooting mode and moving from one shot to the next in playback. Tucked into the base of the grip is the battery compartment, which accommodates a small, chunky battery.


      Grip design is very good and likely to suit a wide range of photographers. The soft rubber on the front panel is complemented by a moulded thumb pad on the rear. Above this pad lies the rear control dial, which adjusts shutter speeds in manual mode, exposure compensation and playback zoom and selects index and calendar display. Below this dial, the USB and remote terminals and the memory card compartment are set into the side panel behind rigid plastic covers. No lock is provided for the card compartment, although its cover lies flush with the camera body to prevent accidental opening.

      The pentamirror housing dominates the top panel and carries the pop-up flash and hot-shoe. Beside it is the mode dial, which perches above two rotating switches. The front one selects the various drive and self-timer modes, while the rear is the on/off switch. No data LCD is provided.


      Close to the drive mode selector is a Film Mode button for selecting settings that mimic the effects of analog film. Users can choose from nine modes: Standard, Dynamic, Nature, Smooth, Nostalgic, Vibrant, Standard B/W, Dynamic B/W and Smooth B/W. Contrast, sharpness, saturation and noise reduction can be adjusted within each setting and noise reduction processing can also be applied. (Unfortunately, adjusted settings cannot be recorded in the custom memory banks.)

      Just over half of the rear panel is covered by the LCD monitor. This display’s resolution is a touch below average at 207,000 pixels but it has an automatic brightness level control to make the screen usable in both sunlit and dark environments. The screen is hinged on the left side and articulates through 270 degrees, making it easy and comfortable to shoot from high or low angles, as shown in the illustrations below.



      The viewfinder is brighter than the L1’s porro viewfinder but its magnification remains lower than other DSLRs. To compensate, Panasonic supplies a clip-on magnifying eye cup, which provides a 1.2x enlargement (at the expense of eye relief). It’s unsuitable for use with glasses but diopter adjustment to -3 dpt is provided to assist users with poor vision.

      Shooting data displayed down the right side of the viewfinder includes the aperture value, manual ISO and white balance indicators (which show if a setting other than auto is selected), shutter speed, exposure compensation, focus confirmation, AE compensation and auto bracketing, flash settings and frames remaining. Metering mode and AE-Lock indicators are also provided.

      To the right of the viewfinder is a rotating switch for selecting AFS, AFC and manual focus settings. The AF and AE lock button is located in its centre. Rotating dials on the front and rear of the grip side of the camera body are used to adjust aperture, shutter speed and exposure compensation in the various shooting modes and picture selection and playback zoom in playback mode.

      The remaining buttons on the rear panel cover quick review, display and LCD brightness settings, with the Function and delete buttons below the arrow pad. A metal-lined tripod socket is located on the base plate directly below the centre of the lens axis. Shallow grooves etched into the base plate in front of and behind the tripod socket provide a stable and secure platform for tripod mounting. Strap eyelets are located at each end of the top panel, providing a good balance when the shoulder strap is attached.

      The menu display on the LCD combines features of the earlier L1 model with Panasonic’s LZ series cameras. A hint of the Olympus menu styling is added for good measure. The result is a menu system that looks logical and easy to understand. Unfortunately, you can’t access the settings directly as you can with the Olympus DSLRs. Instead you must use the dedicated buttons to select the parameter you wish to adjust plus the front and rear control dials or the arrow pad buttons to change the settings.


      The L10’s menu is straightforward but adjustments must be made with the camera’s button controls.
      Most frequently used settings can be accessed directly via buttons. Arrow pad buttons provide quick access to AF area, ISO, metering mode and white balance settings. The Function button is similar to that on most Lumix cameras. Pressing it calls up a strip menu along the top of the screen covering picture size and quality, stabilisation mode, ISO and flash functions.


      Some of the settings accessed via the Function button.
      All other camera settings are accessed via the menu button, which opens four colour-coded folders: record (red), setup (yellow), custom (blue) and play (green). The arrow pad buttons are used to move between folders and select individual items from each. The record folder covers settings that relate to the image: size, quality, aspect ratio, film mode, flash adjustment, colour space and noise reduction.


      The four folders in the camera’s menu system.

      The setup folder covers camera settings like date/time, monitor brightness, auto review, power saving and file numbering functions. Language settings and TV controls are also found here. The custom folder allows users to configure the camera to suit their requirements and has setting for the three custom memories, ISO limits, front and rear dial functions, AF options and display parameters. The play menu supports slideshow and index playback, allows users to mark images as favourites, and provides rotate, protect, resize and trimming adjustments. You can also change the aspect ratio of shots via this menu.

      Live Viewing
      Live View shooting has become commonplace in the most recently-released DSLR cameras. On the L10, it’s accessed via a button left of the viewfinder. In this mode, users can easily check the image on the monitor after making exposure compensation adjustments or adjusting white balance, but before taking the shot. With manual mode, any part of the subject can be enlarged for focus checking and users can view and adjust horizontal and vertical guidelines to assist composition.

      The L10’s hybrid AF system switches from the conventional three-point phase difference detection system to a contrast-detect system with live view mode. In this mode, you can select from an array of 11 AF points, choose from several AF point patterns or select face detection AF, which can identify up to 15 faces in a frame. The face detection system is similar to that used in Panasonic’s digicams and includes focusing and exposure measurement.


      Two of the autofocus patterns that are available with live view mode.

      An ‘extended optical zoom’ (EOZ) function is available in live view mode. It works by cropping the centre of the field of view without enlarging the resulting image by interpolation. Effectively resolution is reduced, with subsequent image sizes depending on the EOZ magnification and the shot’s aspect ratio. Effective focal lengths for the lens change as a result of this cropping. The table below shows the options available through ‘extended optical zoom’.

      Aspect ratio

      Picture size

      EOZ magnification

      Effective focal length range


      MEZ (6M)




      (36-129mm in 35mm format)


      MEZ (5.3M)


      MEZ (4.5M)


      SEZ (3M)




      (49-178mm in 35mm format)


      SEZ (2.8M)


      SEZ (2M)

      Unusually for a DSLR camera, the L10 also includes a more conventional digital zoom function, which requires the live view mode. Shots can be magnified by 2x or 4x with this setting, allowing a maximum focal length of 200mm (35mm equivalent) to be achieved with the kit lens. You can use the digital zoom with the EOZ function to achieve a focal length equivalent to 712mm (35mm equivalent) at 3-megapixcel resolution.

      Another function linked with live viewing (and derived from digicam technology) is Panasonic’s “Intelligent ISO Control”, which tracks subject motion and boosts sensitivity where necessary to minimise blurring. Metering is also more precise in live view mode because the system switches from the regular 49-zone sensing to a finer 256-zone detection.

      Recording Functions
      The L10 gives users a choice of three aspect ratios: 4:3. 3:2 and 16:9. The last two are achieved by cropping the top and bottom of the frame, which reduces the file size. JPEG files can be recorded at three sizes (L, M and S) with two compression levels. Raw files can be recorded with all three aspect ratios, alone or with either of the JPEG compression settings. The table below shows typical file sizes.

      Image Size

      Size Setting

      File Size 4:3

      File Size 3:2

      File Size 16:9


























































      Photographers can choose from a comprehensive range of shooting controls covering full auto, Program AE, aperture- and shutter-priority AE and Manual exposure. Program shift is available in Program AE mode to provide full exposure flexibility. The mode dial also carries settings for five ‘advanced’ scene modes: Portrait, Scenery, Macro, Sports and Night Portrait. Selecting one of these modes opens a sub-menu containing various options within that mode.


      In the Advanced scene modes, users can select from several options. With all scene modes, users can call up information about how the setting is used.

      An additional SCN (Scene) mode setting holds pre-sets for Sunset, Food and two Baby settings and a Pet setting. These last three allow users to record the date of birth or age of the subject and have it displayed in playback mode. The function has been adapted from Panasonic’s digicam range and is a first in a DSLR camera. The final setting is a Custom mode, which accesses custom settings you have saved in one of the three custom memories.

      The pop-up flash can be used with all shooting modes but second-curtain synch is only available in the P, A, S, M and Custom modes. Flash output is adjustable in all modes across a range of +/- 2.0EV in 0.3 EV increments. The L10 also provides a multiple exposure facility, which lets users combine up to three shots in a single picture. An automatic gain control is provided to ensure subjects are not overexposed when this setting is used.

      Bundled Software
      The L10’s software bundle consists of Panasonic’s Lumix Simple Viewer and PHOTOfunSTUDIO viewer, both of which are Windows only, plus Silkypix Developer Studio 2.1 SE, which is provided in Windows and Mac versions. Lumix Simple Viewer provides facilities for acquiring, viewing, printing and emailing digital pictures and it targeted at beginners. PHOTOfunSTUDIO viewer is more sophisticated and enables users to organise their images by date, camera model or keyword. It also has resizing facilities and basic layout controls for printing.


      The user interface in the supplied PHOTOfunSTUDIO viewer software.

      Silkypix Developer Studio is the Raw file converter/editor supplied with the camera. Produced by Ichikawa Soft Laboratory, it’s an effective converter with all the adjustments most photographers require and a relatively easy to use and responsive interface. We obtained some excellent results with Raw files from the L10 using this converter. You can convert Raw files from the L10 into JPEG format with adjustable compression levels and it supports both 16-bit and 8-bit TIFF conversion.

      ‘Development’ adjustments can be applied to single shots or a batch of shots and each adjustment can be fine-tuned via a ‘click-based’ system using the slider controls. Adjustments parameters can be changed either individually or in a group and the result can be ‘pasted’ onto new images at the conversion stage. Illustrations showing the user interface are shown below.


      Pictures taken with the test camera were rich in detail with natural-looking colours and a wide dynamic range. Imatest showed resolution to be good, although not outstanding. The graph below tracks the performance of the lens across its aperture range and shows the best performance is achieved between f/5.0 and f/9.0. This is to be expected, as is the decline in resolution at small lens apertures where diffraction would affect image quality.


      Imatest showed colour accuracy to be generally good, although saturation was elevated in the red hues and minor hue shifts were recorded in olive green and mid-yellow. Lateral chromatic aberration was negligible across most of the lens aperture range as shown in the graph below.


      We observed slight edge softening and coloured fringing in outdoor shots when they were enlarged to reveal the pixel structure ““ but only in contrasty conditions. Neither aberration would affect overall picture quality for most photographers.


      Image noise was exceptionally low throughout the test camera’s ISO range, up to (and including) ISO 1600. Dark frame subtraction noise removal processing is applied to exposures longer than 1 second with the default camera setting but even so, noise at ISO 1600 was less than we see from most advanced digicams at ISO 400.

      The auto white balance setting failed to completely remove the colour casts of incandescent or fluorescent lighting but produced shots that were close enough to correct with minor editing adjustments. Both the pre-sets and manual measurement delivered neutral colours in both types of illumination. Flash coverage was good and exposures were even throughout the camera’s ISO range. Close-up performance was excellent. Long exposures at night were clean, colour-accurate and noise-free.

      The test camera powered up almost instantaneously and we measured an average capture lag of 0.1 seconds, which changed to instantaneous capture with pre-focusing. Shot-to-shot times averaged less than two seconds. We estimate it took less than 1.5 seconds to process each image file ““ JPEG or Raw.

      In continuous shooting mode, JPEG files at the highest resolution were recorded at 0.35 second intervals (3fps), with no apparent slowing up to 20 shots. No delay was imposed when shooting with the live view with JPEG, Raw or Raw+JPEG capture. Three Raw files could be recorded at 3 fps but then the capture rate slowed to approximately one frame/second. It took 6.7 seconds to process a burst of 10 JPEG images and just over 3.5 seconds to process a burst of three Raw or Raw+JPEG files.

      Panasonic’s Lumix DMC-L10 has a relatively high asking price for its resolution, largely as a result of its Leica-branded lens. Photographers looking for a sophisticated Four Thirds System DSLR with excellent performance and some of the more attractive features of Panasonic’s digicams will be well satisfied with this attractive new addition to the company’s line-up.






      Auto white balance with incandescent lighting.


      Auto white balance with fluorescent lighting.


      Taken with the lens at its widest position.


      Taken with the lens at full tele extension.


      Short exposure at ISO 100.


      Short exposure at ISO 1600.


      Long exposure at ISO 1600.





      Image sensor: 17.3 x 13.0 mm (Four Thirds type) Live MOS with 11.8 million photosites (10.1 megapixels effective)
      Lens mount: Four Thirds System
      Focal length crop factor: 2x
      Image formats: RAW, JPEG, RAW+JPEG (Fine/Standard)
      Image Sizes: 4:3 Aspect Ratio: 3648 x 2736, 2816 x 2112, 2048 x 1536, 3:2 Aspect Ratio: 3648 x 2432, 2816 x 1880, 2048 x 1360, 16:9 Aspect Ratio: 3648 x 2056, 2816 x 1584, 1920 x 1080
      Image Stabilisation: lens-based Mega O.I.S.
      Dust removal: Super-Sonic Wave Filter (SSWF)
      Shutter speed range: 60-1/4000 sec. and Bulb (up to approx. 8 minutes); X-synch at 1/160 sec.
      Exposure Compensation: +/- 2 EV in 1/3 EV increments
      Self-timer: 2sec / 10sec / 10sec, 3 images
      Focus system: TTL phase-difference detection with 3-point, Auto, 1fixed point, left/ centre/right modes; Contrast AF system in Live View mode with 9-point, Multi-point, 3-point, 1-point, Spot, Face Detection modes
      Focus modes: Single-shot, Continuous AF, Manual focusing:
      Exposure metering: TTL Full Aperture Light Metering by 49 Zones Multi-pattern Sensing system. 256 zones Multi-pattern Sensing system (Live View mode)
      Shooting modes: Program AE, Aperture-priority, Shutter-priority, Manual plus 10 scene pre-sets
      Picture Style/Control settings: Colour: Standard, Dynamic, Nature, Smooth, Vibrant, Nostalgic, Black and White: Standard, Dynamic, Smooth
      Colour space options: sRGB, Adobe RGB
      Custom functions: 3 internal memories covering 17 functions
      ISO range: Auto, ISO 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600; Intelligent ISO (Live View mode)
      White balance: Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Shade, Halogen, White Set 1,2, Colour temperature setting, Flash
      Flash: TTL Built-in-Flash, GN11 (ISO100,m); Auto, Auto/Red-eye Reduction, Forced On, Forced On/Red-eye Reduction, Slow Sync., Slow Sync./Red-eye Reduction, Forced Off; 1st. Curtain Sync. , 2nd Curtain Sync. modes; hot-shoe for accessory flash
      Flash exposure adjustment: +/- 2 EV in 1/3 EV increments
      Sequence shooting: High speed ““ 3 fps, low speed ““ 2 fps (3 frame limit for Raw files)
      Storage Media: SD, SDHC, MMC memory cards (single slot)
      Viewfinder: Eye-level pentamirror; 95% frame coverage; 0.92x magnification; 14mm eye relief; dioptric adjustment to -3 dpt
      LCD monitor: Free-angle 2.5-inch LCD, 207,000 pixels
      Data LCD: n.a.
      Interface terminals: USB 2.0, Video Out (PAL/NTSC)
      Power supply: 7.2V, 1320mAH Lithium-ion battery pack (C.I.P.A. rated for approx. 450 shots/charge with viewfinder or 280 shots with live view)
      Dimensions (wxhxd): 134.5 x 95.5 x 77.5 mm (body only)
      Weight: 480 grams (body only)





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