NAME: Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5

PRICE: $439

THE BACK STORY: We previously gave a heavy, heavy salute to one of the best premium compact cameras on the market, the Canon PowerShot S95. With an inviting, well-balanced mix of features, looks, and build quality, we thought it would have the game on lock. Then we got our hands on the new Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5. The follow-up to the awesome LX3 sports a larger zoom range, better lens and controls, an improved sensor, and a host of other additions that straight-up blew us away. According to Complex's own Jonathan Lees (@jonNothin), the LX5 is the "classiest, black-bodied-beauty of a RAW pocket shooter" he has ever laid his hands on. Melodramatic? Yes. Pocket camera of the year? Even more so.

Words by Jonathan Lees


Picture-perfect: The LX5 is able to produce images with great detail and contrast in light as well as dark areas of the image. The vibrant colors and high image quality you're able to capture look just as amazing in print as on a computer screen. Amazing.

Silent shooter: You know those times when you scope out the perfect shot, take your first image, and scare away who or whatever you were shooting by the oddly loud sound of your shutter? That won't happen with the LX5. This is like the silencer of cameras. Once you fiddle with the menus and turn off the volume, this stealthy assassin will pop shots with no one the wiser. Perfect for those "clandestine" activities.

Looks on the bright side: With a new, fast 2.0 lens, the LX5 goes one step further and keeps the aperture at 3.3 on the 90mm side of the lens, which means you'll get access to much more light than you would using certain competing cameras.

All buttoned-up: Sporting a dedicated ISO button (the function that determines how sensitive the image sensor is to light), the LX5 allows for quick, on-the-fly speed changes, a variable autofocus button that lets you choose what you want to focus on in the frame—or you can experiment with macro-photography up to 1 centimeter from your subject. Then, they got fancy with it and added a "Function" button so you can program whatever you damn well please.

Manual video controls: Panasonic takes video seriously. How do we know? Peep this feature that, to us, is mind-blowing in a camera of this size: full manual control of aperture and shutter speed. Filmmakers rejoice!

Clean maximum ISO: This may seem minor to some, but being able to set an ISO limit through the "Maximum ISO Setting" is paramount when you really want the shot but you don't want the noise (color speckles or artifacts in your image) that comes along with a super-fast ISO.



Purple screen of...: Pointing this camera at directly at the sun turns the screen into a purple light show, making it really hard to see what you're shooting. The good thing is that it doesn't show up on the photo if you compose it correctly while it's freaking out.

JPEG output: If you plan on buying this camera, now is the time to master the ways of the digital darkroom so you can edit your RAW images in Lightroom or your preferred software. For some reason, the JPEGs that came straight from the camera weren't stellar, but we found that they get better if you turn down the sharpening and noise reduction in camera options.

FINAL SAY: This may be the last of the great manual pocket cams since mirror-less, interchangeable-lensed, APS-C sensor portables are creeping on the come-up. But let's just ignore the future for a second and enjoy a classic. Even with some very minor flaws (that can hopefully be corrected with a firmware upgrade), this camera is one of those rare gadgets that stays with you and doesn't get traded out or sold one year down the line. It's, in our opinion, the best premium compact camera you can buy for the money. And we love it.

Click here to Buy It Now at Amazon, $439

Camera images below. To download the high-res, full-size versions of these images (to see grain and things like that) click HERE. All photos copyright Jonathan Lees.

Location: Astoria, Queens

Exposure: 1/30 sec at f2.0

ISO 640

Exposure: 1/500 sec at f3.2

ISO: 80

Exposure: 1/500 sec at f3.5

ISO: 80

Exposure: 1/640 sec at f5.6

ISO: 200

Exposure: 1/640 sec at f5.6

ISO: 400

Exposure: 1/60 sec at f2.0

ISO: 100

Exposure: 1/2000 sec at f2.0

ISO: 80

Exposure: 1/640 sec at f3.3

ISO: 80

Exposure: 1/800 sec at f4.0

ISO: 125

Exposure: 1/500 sec at f2.8

ISO: 80

Exposure: 1/500 sec at f3.2

ISO: 80

Exposure: 1/500 sec at f3.3

ISO: 160

Exposure: 1/400 sec at f4.0

ISO: 80

Exposure: 1/640 sec at f4.0

ISO: 80

Exposure: 1/640 sec at f4.0

ISO: 80

Exposure: 1/400 sec at f3.5

ISO: 80

Exposure: 1/500 sec at f2.8

ISO: 80

Exposure: 1/250 sec at f2.8

ISO: 80


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