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DCRP Review: Panasonic Lumix DMC-L10
by Jeff Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: October 14, 2007
Last Updated: February 5, 2008
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-L10 is the second digital SLR from the Japanese consumer electronics giant. The L10 is the follow-up to the DMC-L1, which didn't end up in the hands of that many photographers (apparently), and I think it's ~$1700 price tag had a lot to do with that. The biggest reason for the L1's high price was it's excellent 14 - 50 mm kit lens, which sells today for $900. Panasonic created a new, less expensive kit lens for the DMC-L10, which brings the price down to a more reasonable $1300.
Here are the big differences between the DMC-L10 and its predecessor:
That's not too shabby! What hasn't changed? The L10 retains the live view, manual controls, dust reduction system, and expandability of its predecessor. Its kit lens may be cheaper, but it still has optical image stabilization built into it.
The original DMC-L1 got a mixed review from yours truly. Will the L10 do better? Find out now in our review!
What's in the Box?
The DMC-L10 comes in just one "kit", and it includes the following:
As you can see, Panasonic threw some extras in the box with the L10, including a 1.2X magnifier eyecup, lens hood, and lens storage bag. I can't think of a digital SLR that comes with any of those as standard accessories.
There's also the kit lens which, as I mentioned earlier, isn't quite as nice as the one that came with the DMC-L1. Both lenses are 14 - 50 mm (equivalent to 28 - 100 mm), but the L1's F2.8 - F3.5 lens is a heck of a lot faster than the F3.8 - F5.6 lens that comes with the DMC-L10. This lens is a lot closer to what's offered on other entry-level D-SLRs, though none of them have built-in optical image stabilization. The lens' OIS system lets you shoot at shutter speeds that would be unavailable on an unstabilized camera/lens, and I'll have an example of it in action later in the review.
As with all digital SLRs, no memory card is included with the DMC-L10. That means that, unless you already have one, you'll want to buy a large and fast SD, SDHC, or MMC card right away. I'd suggest starting out with a 2GB card, and it's worth paying the extra bucks for a high speed model.
The DMC-L10 uses a different battery than its predecessor. This model (known as the DMW-BLA13) packs a powerful punch, with 9.5 Wh of energy inside its plastic shell. Now let's see how that translates into battery life:
There a few things to cover before we move on. First, the L1's battery life is the same as the L10 before it -- even with the different battery. In the group as a whole, the L10 comes in about 30% below average, and that's with live view turned off. If you turn it on, look out -- the L10's battery life drops down to 280 shots per charge. Thus, you may want to think about getting a spare, which isn't going to be cheap -- Panasonic's batteries are traditionally quite expensive.
While none of the cameras listed above support AA batteries straight out of the box, many of them do via their optional battery grip. Since there's no battery grip available for the DMC-L10, you won't be able to use AA batteries (which some people prefer) with the camera.
When it's time to charge the L10's battery, just slide it into the included charger. Unlike most of Panasonic's chargers (which plug directly into the wall), this one requires a power cord. It takes around 140 minutes to fully charge the battery. The charger also doubles as an AC adapter, though you'll need to buy the DMW-DCC1 DC cable (price unknown) in order to actually take advantage of it.
One of the nice things about D-SLRs is they support virtually any accessory that you can imagine. The L10 supports the usual suspects, except for a battery grip. Here's what accessories are available:
Unfortunately, I don't have the pricing for most of those accessories. For some bizarre reason, Panasonic accessories seem harder to get your hands on than most.
Lumix Simple Viewer for Windows
Panasonic includes several software products with the camera, and the first one is Lumix Simple Viewer, which is for Windows only. This does just what its name implies: it imports photos from the camera and then lets you view, e-mail, or print them. And that's it. It cannot view images recorded in the RAW format.
PhotoFunStudio for Windows - main window
PhotoFunStudio for Windows - edit window
Next up we have PhotoFunStudio, which is again Windows-only. This adds a few basic editing features, including brightness, contrast, color, and sharpness adjustment, plus redeye removal. There's also a one-touch image enhancement option. If you're looking for RAW editing (or even viewing) capability, you won't find it here -- keep reading.
SilkyPix for Mac
Panasonic provides SilkyPix Developer Studio 2.1 SE for all your RAW editing needs. This full-featured software for Mac and Windows lets you adjust virtually any RAW property, from white balance to noise reduction to color. The interface is archaic (to say the least), but SilkyPix gets the job done. Another option for RAW editing is Adobe Photoshop CS3 (with the latest Camera Raw plug-in), which has a much more sensible interface and superior performance.
The RAW format, by the way, is a lossless image format consisting of raw image data from the CCD. Thanks to this, you can change things like white balance, sharpness, saturation, and noise reduction without lowering the quality of the original image. So if you screwed up the white balance you can fix it -- it's like taking the shot all over again. The catch is that RAW files must be first processed on your computer before you can export them into more common formats such as JPEG. In addition, RAW files are considerably larger than JPEGs -- taking up more than twice as much space on your memory card.
Something you can't do with this camera is control it remotely from your computer. Most of the competition allows you to do this, though sometimes it requires purchasing extra software.
Long time readers of this site will know that I'm not a big fan of Panasonic's camera manuals. While the one included with the DMC-L10 covers everything in fairly good detail, the layout is cluttered and confusing, making for a rather unpleasant reading experience.
Look and Feel
In terms of design, the DMC-L10 is a mirror image of its predecessor, the DMC-L1:
|The boxy L1 versus the more traditional L10 (photos not to scale). Images courtesy of Panasonic.|
As you can see, the original L1 looked like a combination of a Leica and a brick. The L10's looks less "Rangefinder-ish", but it's a lot easier to hold in my opinion. While the L10's build quality isn't quite as good as the L1's, it's still comparable with other D-SLRs in its price range. The frame of the camera is made of a magnesium alloy, and it's covered with a sturdy plastic shell. Ergonomically speaking, the L10 is very good. The only things that really bothered me were the dual switches under the mode dial (one for power, the other for drive mode), which was confusing. Otherwise, the L10 is easy to hold, with controls that are fairly easy to figure out.
Now, here's a look at how the L10 fares against the competition in terms of size and weight (body only, of course):
(W x H x D, excluding protrusions)
Canon Digital Rebel XTi
5.0 x 3.7 x 2.6 in.
48.1 cu in.
510 g Canon EOS-40D
5.7 x 4.2 x 2.9 in.
69.4 cu in.
740 g Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro
5.8 x 4.4 x 2.9 in.
74 cu in.
830 g Nikon D300
5.8 x 4.5 x 2.9 in.
75.7 cu in.
825 g Nikon D40x
5.0 x 3.7 x 2.5 in.
46.3 cu in.
482 g Olympus E-3
5.6 x 4.6 x 2.9 in.
74.7 cu in.
810 g Olympus EVOLT E-510
5.4 x 3.6 x 2.7 in.
52.5 cu in.
470 g Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1
5.7 x 3.4 x 3.1 in.
60.1 cu in.
530 g Panasonic Lumix DMC-L10
5.3 x 3.8 x 3.1 in.
62.4 cu in.
480 g Pentax K10D
5.6 x 4.0 x 2.8 in.
62.7 cu in.
710 g Sony Alpha DSLR-A700
5.6 x 4.3 x 3.3 in.
79.5 cu in.