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Old Mar 17, 2009, 3:02 AM   #1
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I am thinking of getting an LX3 as a 'pocketable' street camera for when I don't want the bulk of the FZ50.

Has anyone compared the IQ of the LX3 with the FZ50, at an ISO of say 200 and at a optimal aperture. I realize that the LX3 can stretch to better images beyond the FZ50 due to it's fast lens, but when compared at their best setting how they compared?

I would appreciate any contributions on this one?
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Old Mar 20, 2009, 1:12 PM   #2
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Hi Joggerman,

The image quality of the lx3 is better than that of the FZ50. Took them both to a concert recently, and the LX3 performed best by much, but the zoom ofcourse ;-)

With the FZ50, you'renot happyto push the iso; I've always considered it to be a 'nice weather - outdoors camera'. Perhaps true for most all ccd compacts. With the LX3there's no worry. And that's worth a lot.

I have uploaded a comparison at my picasa albums with similar shot's at all available iso settings from both the fz50 and lx3. All photo's are out-of-the-cam. I didn't own the lx3 at my Nepal trip, so don't look for it there ;-)


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Old Mar 21, 2009, 10:36 AM   #3
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Hi Greenbaron,

Thanks for the response.
Great comparisons, but... I still think they both look good, which is my main concern.

Once again, it's mainly the photographer not the camera which makes really great pictures.

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Old Dec 13, 2009, 5:50 AM   #4
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Default Thoughts about my LX3 as compared to my FZ50

I have taken a couple hundred RAW+JPG shots with my new DMC-LX3. Have also post-processed some JPGs and RAWs. While it's not (primarily) a "distance camera" in itself, I am very impressed with the camera's potential for user adjust-ability and it's markedly improved JPG image quality (in terms of detail and a somewhat improved dynamic range) relative to what the FZ30/50 offered in their day.

The auto-focus is not quite as good as the FZ30/50 in lower light levels (smaller lens opening) - but it is effective and solid. Noise (with NR and Sharpness controls at the minimum setting of -2) under "ISO 200" is simply not an issue, and the image detail easily meets or exceeds my nostalgia for my old (foolishly traded) FZ30. Finally! And all it cost me was nearly $500 ...

In terms of JPG quality and post-processing-ability (for close-up to intermediate distance work) I am very impressed and pleased. However, I find the ".RW2" files (compressed to 60% size relative to Panasonic's ".RAW") to be a disappointment. I believe that the camera is performing mandatory pre-RAW noise reduction that loses low-level detail/contrast. Have even found evidence (posted as a reprinted revue by Panasonic themselves) that the on-camera "NR" and "Sharpening" settings may affect the content of the ".RW2" output. See:


"The .RW2 files can be converted to more common formats like TIFF or JPEG with the supplied SilkyPix RAW image-processing software, but the result wasn't as good as expected. This can probably be attributed to the software, and not the lens. We experimented several ways to get around this problem and found a better method of capturing superior-quality pictures. In the Film Mode settings, we reduced the noise reduction and sharpness level to -2, and then processed the RAW image in SilkyPix to TIFF format."

The results of my own post-processing a few of these ".RW2" files in Silkypix DS 3.x has been neither highly successful or encouraging. Low-level detail and contrast is likely being thrown out in order to effectuate the 60% compression. With memory cards so large in capacity and inexpensive these days, this is (in my mind) a big mistake on the part of Panasonic ... Why neuter RAW?

Looking on the bright side (regarding JPG generation), the LX3 is for JPGs what the FZ50 (with its wretched Venus III JPGs) could (and rightly should) have been. 10 Mpix, usable, adjustable, and rather nice, indeed. Bravo!

While I am pleased to now have a worthy hand-held JPG machine from Panasonic without some significant major flaw attached, there are a few subtle but interesting "catches" (of sorts) about the LX3, however, that exist as "hidden placebos" included in it's marketing image:

(1) The signal to noise ratio of the 1/1.63" sensor is reported to have been improved by 3dB (1/2 stop) over previous efforts. I'm all for that genuine substance; but

(2) The LX3 under-exposes by 1/2 stop on the average. This deliberate under-exposure reduces the *impression* of noise in the user's mind - BUT between +1/3 and +2/3 stops of exposure compensation typically required is required, after all, anyway. This (unfortunately) forces the user allow the live luminance Histogram to *clip*, and to then "guess" when they have overdone it on the JPG limits and/or exceeded the extra head-room in RW2 mode (which is, itself roughly 1/2 stop greater than the JPG limit); and

(3) The (actual, independently measured) ISO when the LX3 tells you it is at ISO = 80, 100, 200, and 400 appears to (instead, in reality) be ISO = 53, 65, 130, and 259 (respectively). See:


Note: Select the "ISO Sensitivity" test results graph for documentation of the above stated test results.

That's an (average, in stops) "fudge factor" of 0.61 stops less than than the sensitivity that Panasonic marketing would like you to think that you have at your disposal. Once again, another (mere) "placebo" to make the user feel like they have a camera with less noise. Obviously, the "make-up" gain to achieve accurate ISO sensitivity (also) increases the noise by 0.61 stops ... Hmmmmm.

Although being caught (twice) administering mere placebos to the user (for marketing reasons) in order to make the user "feel good" about the LX3, as well as neutering ".RAW" into the compressed (and seemingly inferior) ".RW2", are, indeed unfortunate transgressions, and despite the fact that the LX3 cost me as much as the FZ50 (nearing $500 with memory card, etc.), I can say with certainty that, on balance, the LX3 implements much improved Venus IV Engine JPG image quality (and post-process-ability) relative to any known previous efforts on their part.

RAW is great. I dig it. For distance and/or landscape shots with large depth of field - unavoidable. However, post-processing RAW images can be as complicated as it is versatile in form. Potentially rewarding, but sometimes approaching a time-consuming and near masochistic profession ... Post-process-able JPGs represent a welcome adjunct to the RAW "full-monty"!

There is a valuable place in my heart for a compact and adjustable camera that can generate good quality JPGs that are amenable to rapid (non-lossy) post-processing (i.e., brightness, color histogram stretching/balancing, saturation, highlight/midtone/shadow, edge enhancement, etc.) using Photoshop, PaintShop Pro, etc.

CONCLUSION: I think that I will stick to the higher quality RAW files that my FZ50 generates. However, for JPGs (if that is an important issue to the user), the LX3 wins hands-down - as long as one is willing to pay nearly as much as the FZ50 cost in it's day for a compact hand-held JPG camera (as the ".RW2" files appear inferior to the larger-sized ".RAW" files generated by the FZ50).
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