Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX2

      Photo Review 8

      In summary

      Plenty of user-adjustable controls in a high-resolution camera that fits into a jacket pocket.Released just over a year after the DMC-LX1, Panasonic’s Lumix DMC-LX2 model retains many of the admirable features of its innovative predecessor but boasts a higher resolution sensor (10.2 megapixels, vs 8.4). The main advantage of the new model lies in its ‘widescreen’ LCD monitor, which no longer letterboxes shots taken with the camera’s 16:9 setting. There’s also a new widescreen movie mode that records video clips at 1280 x 720 pixels, creating movies for playing back on widescreen TV sets. However, there’s still no optical viewfinder. . . [more]

      Full review


      Released just over a year after the DMC-LX1, Panasonic’s Lumix DMC-LX2 model retains many of the admirable features of its innovative predecessor but boasts a higher resolution sensor (10.2 megapixels, vs 8.4). The main advantage of the new model lies in its ‘widescreen’ LCD monitor, which no longer letterboxes shots taken with the camera’s 16:9 setting. There’s also a new widescreen movie mode that records video clips at 1280 x 720 pixels, creating movies for playing back on widescreen TV sets. However, there’s still no optical viewfinder.
      The Lumix DMC-LX1 was the first compact digicam with a 16:9 aspect ratio sensor and Panasonic provided a slider control on top of the lens barrel that let users shift through 16:9, 3:2 and 4:3 aspect ratios. Full sensor resolution was achieved at 16:9 and the other aspect ratios involved cropping and, therefore reduced resolution. The new LX2 model uses the same strategy with a top resolution of 4224 x 2376 pixels at 16:9, 3568 x 2376 pixels at 3:2 and 3168 x 2376 pixels at 4:3.


      ‘Widescreen’ 16:9 aspect ratio.


      3:2 aspect ratio.


      4:3 aspect ratio.

      The Leica-branded lens has been carried over into the new model and covers a focal length range equivalent to 28-112mm in 16:9 aspect ratio mode. Maximum aperture is still f/2.8 at the wide setting and f/4.9 for tele. Built into the lens is Panasonic’s tried-and-proven Mega O.I.S. image stabilisation system, which works by moving a lens element to counteract camera shake.
      The stabiliser function has three modes. Mode 1 provides continuous jitter control and allows the photographer to see the effect of the stabilisation. It can be used for both still shots and movie clips. Mode 2 only works when the shutter button is pressed and can provide a higher degree of shake compensation. However it can only be used for still shots. There’s also an off setting for situations where stabilisation is unnecessary, such as when the camera is on a tripod or in bright lighting. Driving the stabiliser uses up some battery power – although we were unable to measure exactly how much. (It’s something to bear in mind when power conservation is important.)
      A new feature in the LX2 is a selectable Intelligent ISO Control (I.I.C.) mode. Sensors in the camera detect and analyse the speed of subject movement and automatically adjust ISO and shutter speed to suit the lighting conditions. For fast-moving subjects in dim lighting it will increase the sensor’s sensitivity. When no movement is detected, a low ISO setting is set. The iISO setting is found in the Sensitivity sub-menu, just below the Auto setting.
      We doubt anyone will miss the removal of the TIFF option from the image Quality menu, leaving only raw plus two JPEG compression options, especially since the raw setting also records a JPEG version of the shot. This gives keen photographers a strong reason to use raw file capture for most – if not all – pictures. (A typical raw file is around 20 MB in size so you need a high-capacity memory card if you plan to use this setting.) Like Panasonic’s Lumix L1 DSLR, the LX2 is supplied with Silkypix Developer Studio raw file converter. It’s a reasonably competent application that is straightforward to use but lack the finer controls of some other raw converters.
      The Venus Engine image processor has been upgraded to version III and menu sensitivity settings now include ISO 800 and ISO 1600. A new ‘High Sensitivity’ mode, which boosts sensitivity to ISO 3200, is included in the Scene mode settings. This mode cannot be used for raw file capture. The LX2 comes with 13 MB of internal memory, which can’t even hold one raw file so users will need to invest in an additional SD card. Support for the new SDHC cards is provided.


      The LX2’s metal body is well built and the lens is relatively large and well protected by a clip-on lens cap (supplied). However, it doesn’t retract into the camera body so this camera can’t easily be carried in a shirt pocket. Some control buttons on the test camera lacked refinement. The joystick was rather rough and the menu button in the centre of the arrow pad had a rough edge that caught the skin as we ran a finger across it. The buttons were also rather small, making the camera difficult to use for anyone with large hands or limited dexterity.
      However the LCD screen was easy to use, except in bright sunlight. The flash is neatly concealed, with its top panel lying flush with the camera body. Flash output is adjustable through the same EV range as the standard exposure compensation range. Auto bracketing is supported from -1.0 to +1.0 EV in 1/3, 2/3 or 1 EV increments. The memory card slot is adjacent to the lithium-ion battery compartment in the camera’s base. Panasonic claims a fully-charged battery will provide enough power for approximately 300 shots under CIPA testing conditions.


      The test camera’s performance was typical of most high-resolution digicams. JPEG Shots taken at the highest resolution and quality setting contained plenty of detail with low ISO settings but were not entirely noise-free. Exposures taken in bright sunlight tended to favour shadow detail while highlights were blocked up. Raw image files were somewhat less noise affected and had a wider dynamic range. Colour saturation was relatively high, especially with reds and blues. Imatest showed some colour shifts in red and cyan in shots taken at low ISO settings and a distinct purple cast appeared periodically in shots taken at ISO settings of 800 and 1600. Resolution deteriorated at high ISO settings due to high levels of image noise.
      We were disappointed in the resolution levels revealed by Imatest, especially at low ISO settings and with mid-range apertures and camera-to-subject distances where you would expect performance to be optimal. The best result we obtained was 1353 line widths/pixel height, which is low for a 10-megapixel camera. However, lateral chromatic aberration was generally low and we found only traces of coloured fringing in outdoor shots.
      White balance performance was almost identical to that of the Lumix DMC-FX07 (which had a similar colour shift at high ISO settings). The flash required at least ISO 400 to illuminate an average-sized room and noise was visible in long exposures from ISO 400 up. Movie clips appeared to suffer from the same disappointing resolution as still shots and were less impressive than clips from some lower-resolution digicams.
      The test camera powered up in approximately 1.5 seconds and took almost two seconds to shut down. We measured an average capture lag of 0.75 seconds, which reduced to 0.2 seconds with pre-focusing. Shot-to-shot times averaged 3.5 seconds for JPEG s and almost six seconds for raw files. Flash cycle times averaged just over five seconds.
      We found little difference in burst speeds between the three continuous shooting modes, all of which recorded shots at 1.1 second intervals. However, the high-speed and standard modes could only capture three shots, while the continuous low-speed mode just kept on recording. It took just over a second to clear the buffer memory.

      In Summary
      Provided you don’t plan to enlarge your shots beyond A4 size, the LX2’s disappointing resolution and relatively high image noise levels should not be a major deterrent to purchasing this camera because it has plenty of other factors in its favour. Although the rough finish of some control buttons is disappointing in a camera with a Leica-branded lens.
      The widescreen LCD and still and movie capture modes are great fun to use and produce some interesting – and worhtwhile – results. Overall, the abundance of user-adjustable controls makes the LX2 more suited to enthusiasts than point-and shoot photographers. However, it would be suitable for novices who want to learn more about digital picture-taking because the Panasonic menu system is straightforward to view and use.



      Low ISO colour error.


      High ISO colour error.






      Digital zoom.


      A crop from a long exposure showing high ISO and pattern noise.




      Image sensor: “1/1.65-inch” CCD with 10.4 million photosites (10.2 megapixels effective)
      Lens: Leica Vario-Elmarit 6.3-25.2mm f2.8-4.9 (28-112mm in 35mm format with 16:9 aspect mode)
      Zoom ratio: 4x optical, up to 6.2x digital
      Image formats: Stills ““ JPEG, RAW; Movies ““ QuickTime Motion JPEG (848 x 480. 640 x 480, 320 x 240 at 30 or 10 fps)
      Image Sizes: 4:3 Ratio Formats: 3168 x 2376, 2880 x 2160, 2304 x 1728, 2048 x 1536, 1600 x 1200, 1280 x 960, 3:2 Ratio Formats: 3568 x 2376, 3248 x 2160, 2560 x 1712, 2048 x 1360, 16:9 Ratio Formats: 4224 x 2376, 3840 x 2160, 3072 x 1728, 1920 x 1080
      Shutter speed range: Auto: 1/4-1/2000 sec., Program AE: 1-1/2000 sec., Aperture Priority AE/Shutter Priority AE: 8-1/2000 sec., Manual: 60-1/2000 sec.
      Image Stabilisation: Lens-based MEGA O.I.S. (Mode1/Mode2)
      Exposure Compensation: +/-2EV in 1/3 EV steps
      Focus system/range: Auto/Manual focus; AF range 50 cm to infinity; macro 30 cm to infinity
      Exposure metering/control: Intelligent Multiple, Centre-Weighted, Spot metering; Auto, P, A, S, M plus 18 scene modes and 4 colour effects
      ISO range: Auto, ISO 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, (High Sensitivity mode: 3200)
      White balance: Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Shade, Halogen, White Set 1/2, 2-Axis Adjustable in ± 9 steps
      Flash modes/range (ISO auto): Auto, Auto/Red-eye Reduction, Slow Sync./Red-eye Reduction, Forced On/Off, Flash Output Adjustment: -2 – +2EV in 1/3 EV steps
      Sequence shooting: 1 or 2 frames/second (max. 3 images in JPEG/Fine mode)
      Storage Media: 13 MB internal memory plus SD/SDHC/MMC card slot
      Viewfinder: n.a.
      LCD monitor: 2.8-inch Polycrystalline TFT LCD Display (207,000 Pixels)
      Power supply: 3.7V 1150 mAh lithium-ion battery (300 shots by CIPS standard)
      Dimensions (wxhxd): 105.7 x 55.8 x 26.3 mm
      Weight: 187 grams





      Digital cameras, lenses and accessories with 100% genuine Australian manufacturer’s warranties.
      Ph: (02) 9029 2219

      Camera House


      Ph: 133 686
      The largest speciality photographic retail chain in Australia.

      Camera Pro

      CameraPro Pty Ltd
      Suite 607, 180 Queen St, Brisbane 4000
      Tel: 07 3333 2900
      Australian owned and run company based in Brisbane.



      Retailer of digital camera equipment and more.
      Secure online shopping and delivery across Australia.
      Ph: 1300 727 056
      Ph: 1800 155 067



      Comprehensive range of digital cameras and accessories online ( and an online print service (

      Digital Camera Warehouse

      174 Canterbury Road 367 High Street
      Canterbury Northcote
      NSW 2193 VIC 3070
      Ph: 1300 365 220

      Electronics Warehouse

      1300 801 885
      Australian retailer of Vapex rechargeable batteries offering factory direct prices and fast, free shipping Australia wide.



      Photographic Equipment & Supplies – Retail & Repairs. Click here for list of stores.

      Ted’s Cameras



      1800 186 895
      Big range of cameras and photographic products with stores in most states and online.



      RRP: $879

      Rating (out of 10):

      • Build: 8
      • Ease of use: 8.5
      • Image quality: 7.5
      • OVERALL: 8