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DCRP Review: Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX2
by Jeff Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: September 27, 2006
Last Updated: February 7, 2008
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX2 ($500) is an upgrade to the DMC-LX1 from last year (read our review). That camera was unique for its 16:9, "widescreen" CCD and 28 mm lens. On the LX2 Panasonic has added several new features, some good, some not-so-good. They include:
Some features that haven't changed include the wide-angle 28 - 112 mm lens, optical image stabilizer, full manual controls, and support for the RAW image format.
Ready to see how this "wide" camera performs? Find out now in our review!
Since the two cameras share so much in common, I'll be reusing large portions of the DMC-LX1 review here.
What's in the Box?
The DMC-LX2 has an average bundle. Inside the box, you'll find:
Keeping with the trend of late, Panasonic has built memory into the LX2 instead of bundling a memory card. The LX2 includes a paltry 13MB of onboard memory, which holds just one image at the highest JPEG quality setting. That means that you'll want to get a memory card -- and fast. The LX2 supports SD and MMC cards, plus the new SDHC format as well, and I'd suggest a 1GB card as a good starter size. A high speed card is recommended (50X or faster).
The DMC-LX2 uses the same CGA-S005A lithium-ion rechargeable battery as the LX1. This battery packs 4.3 Wh of energy, which isn't much these days. Here's how the LX2's battery life compares to some other wide-angle cameras:
As you can see, the LX2's battery life numbers are 25% better than the LX1 before it. In the midsize, wide-angle class as a whole, the LX2 is above average in terms of battery life.
The usual caveats about proprietary batteries apply here. First, they're really expensive -- an extra CGA-S005 battery will set you back $50. Secondly, if you're ever in a jam, you can't just pop in some alkaline batteries to get you through the day like you could on an AA-based camera.
When it's time to charge the battery, just place it into the included external charger. It takes just over two hours to fully charge the CGA-S005 battery. I should add that this is my favorite type of charger -- it plugs directly into the wall.
Panasonic includes a lens cap and retaining strap with the camera, so that nice Leica lens will be protected from the elements.
There are just a few accessories available for the LX2, none of which are particularly exciting. The most interesting is probably the DMW-AC5 AC adapter ($70 -- ouch), which lets you use the camera without draining your battery. Otherwise it's just camera cases. Panasonic offers three (models DMW-CLXA1, DMW-CDTA1, CMW-CTH1.
Lumix Simple Viewer for Windows
Panasonic includes several software products with the camera, though only one of them is Mac compatible. The first one is Lumix Simple Viewer (Windows only), which does just what it sounds like: it imports and views photos. You can't do any editing -- just rotation, printing, and e-mailing. The version of Simple Viewer that came with my LX2 could NOT open RAW images.
PhotoFunStudio for Windows
For slightly more complex tasks there's PhotoFunStudio, again for Windows only. This can do all the things Simple Viewer can do, plus it can also resize and rename images, and it can also convert RAW images to JPEG format.
SilkyPix Developer Studio for Mac OS X
If you want to manipulate the RAW images produced by the LX2 then you'll want to use the included SilkyPix Developer Studio software. While this software won't win any awards for its user interface, it does let you edit plenty of RAW properties, including exposure, white balance, sharpness, tone and color, and noise reduction. I found its processing speeds to be quite sluggish on my dual processor Mac Pro.
The Camera Raw plug-in for Adobe Photoshop was not compatible with the LX2 at the time this review was written.
The RAW format, by the way, is a lossless image format consisting of raw image data from the CCD. Because of this, you can change things like white balance, sharpness, and saturation 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, though they're smaller than TIFF files (which aren't supported on the LX2 in the first place).
I'm not a huge fan of Panasonic's camera manuals. They're not terribly easy to read, with lots of "notes" on every page. You will get your question answered -- you'll just have to work a bit to find what you're looking for.
Look and Feel
The DMC-LX2 looks exactly like its predecessor, save for the larger LCD on the back. Its a midsize camera made almost entirely of metal and, for the most part, it feels pretty solid. Despite not having much of a right hand grip, I did find it easy to hold the camera using just three fingers. The important controls are within easy reach of your fingers.
|Images courtesy of Panasonic|
Like so many cameras these days, the LX2 comes in multiple colors. You can choose from traditional silver or the more "pro-looking" black.
Now, here's a look at how the LX2 compares to some other cameras in terms of size and weight:
(W x H x D, excluding protrusions)
Canon PowerShot S80
4.1 x 2.2 x 1.5 in.
13.5 cu in.
225 g Canon PowerShot SD800 IS
3.5 x 2.3 x 1.0 in.
8.1 cu in.
150 g Kodak EasyShare P880
4.5 x 3.8 x 3.6 in.
61.6 cu in.
500 g Olympus FE-200
3.9 x 2.4 x 1.1 in.
10.3 cu in.
155 g Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX07
3.7 x 2.0 x 1.0 in.
7.4 cu in.
132 g Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX1
4.2 x 2.2 x 1.0 in.
9.2 cu in.
185 g Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX2
4.2 x 2.2 x 1.0 in.
9.2 cu in.
187 g Samsung Digimax L55W
3.9 x 2.2 x 1.1 in.
9.4 cu in.