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:
- Less boxy, more traditional design
- 10 Megapixel Live MOS sensor (versus 7.5MP on the L1)
- Lighter, slower, and less expensive kit lens
- Flip-out, rotating 2.5" LCD (the LCD was fixed
on the L1)
- Can autofocus in live view mode without "mirror-flipping",
though this only works with two lenses
- Intelligent ISO boost and face detection available in live view mode
- Nine scene modes (the L1 had none)
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
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:
- The 10.1 effective Megapixel Lumix DMC-L10K camera body
- F3.6 - F5.6, 14 - 50 mm Leica D Vario-Elmar lens
- DMW-BLA13 lithium-ion rechargeable battery
- Battery charger / AC adapter (see below)
- Lens cap
- Lens hood
- Lens storage bag
- Shoulder strap
- Eyepiece cap
- Magnifier eyecup
- USB cable
- Video cable
- CD-ROM featuring Lumix Simple Viewer, PhotoFunStudio,
SilkyPix Developer Studio, and drivers
- 159 page camera manual (printed)
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
||Battery life, live view off
|Canon Digital Rebel XTi
|Fuji FinePix S5 Pro
|Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1
|Panasonic Lumix DMC-L10
|Pentax K10D *
|Sony Alpha DSLR-A700
* Equivalent to the Samsung GX-10
Battery life numbers are provided by the camera manufacturers
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:
||The L10 supports all FourThirds lenses, with
a 2X focal length conversion ratio
||Protect the kit lens from dust, water, and
||Reduce reflections and glare, darken the sky,
|You'll get more flash power and less chance
of redeye with an external flash. These two models fully integrate
with the camera. You should be able to use the Olympus equivalents
(FL36/FL50) as well.
|Wired remote control
||Basically a shutter release button on a 1.5
||Power the camera without using your batteries
|Leather camera case
||Protect your camera and accessories from the
elements with this pricey case
|* Prices were accurate at time of publication
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 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
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 |
||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 |
||5.8 x 4.5 x 2.9 in.
||75.7 cu in.
||825 g |
||5.0 x 3.7 x 2.5 in.
||46.3 cu in.
||482 g |
||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 |
||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.
||690 g |