Lumix DMC-LX3, Canon G10

Seems like the decent prosumer compacts are here with the LX3

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3 Digital Camera – Review – The Imaging Resource!

The Panasonic LX3’s noise handling is significantly improved over the LX2. Noise performance was the single biggest issue with the LX2, its Achilles heel. On the Panasonic LX3, we’ve had a change of image processors but the detail and color the LX2 captured at ISO 200 is roughly equivalent to ISO 800 on the LX3. In both cases, that’s about where the detail starts to fall apart, although it’s still quite acceptable. If ISO 400 was the LX2’s limit, ISO 800 is the LX3’s, with ISO

It has a fast lense with little zoom 24-60mm equivalent. F/2-F2.8 which is awesome. It has a bigger 1/1.6″ sensor. It also shoots Raw.The Online Photographer: Canon G10 Review

Canon has done something amazing with all those pixels it crammed into that small sensor. In a well lit, well exposed photo taken at low ISO, the image quality is so good that I was caught off guard. I kept checking to make sure I was looking at the photos from the G10 and not my 5D or 1Ds. The images have plenty of detail, nice saturation, and definite “cropability.”

Final decisions on ultracompact cameras: Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX35 vs. Canon Powershot SD790 IS

!>http://www.trustedreviews.com/images/article/summary/8006.jpg! Well, unless you are going for a pro-grade compact camera like the soon to launch $500 Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3, probably your main criteria is being small and OK pictures which is what you are going to get. Overall, it is interesting how cameras have not improved much from my trusty “SD500”:http://www.dcresource.com/reviews/canon/powershot_sd500-review/ and Fuji “F11 and F10″:http://www.dcviews.com/reviews/Fuji-F11/Fuji-F11-review.htm. To set the basis, the SD500 is 3.4×2.2×1.0″ or 7.5 cu in and 170 grams with 3x F/2.8-4.9 zoom with 1/2.5″ sensor at 7MP and works at ISO100 and 2″ LCD while the F11 is 6MP and shoots well at ISO400 with a 2.5” screen.

Personally, I’d probably get the bulkier model with the better lense, but these are a pain to carry. So if you don’t like your 2MP camera phone, here are purse size choices. The image quality is pretty much identical, so it comes down to weight. The two choices are the Canon which is kind of the trusty dusty. I also looked that DMC-FX35, but it has noise problems. Other cameras in this range are pretty much ordinary. Canon is a little more expensive, but they are reliable. We’ve had an SD500 for years.

As an aside, both DCResources and “Trusted Reviews”:http://www.trustedreviews.com/digital-cameras/review/2008/09/15/Sony-Cyber-shot-DSC-T77/p1 seem to do the best technical job on image quality, but DCResources unfortunately doesn’t test too many compacts. “Imaging Resource”:http://www.imaging-resource.com/WB/WB.HTM has a good set of picks that are little dated, but useful. He likes the Panasonice Lumix DMC-LX2, but doesn’t mention the LX3 is coming out next month. Has the SD870 as well.

The hard part is that are so many “announcements”:http://dcviews.com/cameras/camera_news.htm all the time. You really have to check the new camera section of DCViews daily. Also there is really no difference in image quality between 8-12MP (or really 5-12MP because it is all about the lense really), so here are the picks. The main issue is the lines of cameras are really confusing. Only way to figure it out is to do a sort on “Panasonic”:http://www2.panasonic.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/vModelList?storeId=15001&catalogId=13401&catGroupId=75047&langId=-1&surfCategory=null&cacheProgram=11002&cachePartner=7000000000000005702&isSeo=true&orderBy=price home site to see what is going on.

h3. Canon

Canon sells lots of these cameras and compared to say an older SD500, the main difference is image stabilization and face detection. The image quality is roughly the same, but pixel count is higher. It is kind of the default choice. I like the 3″ screens and don’t think you need an optical viewfinder in normal shots anymore.

Actually Canon has three distinct choices in a confusing model line. There is the SD1100 (the SD770 is the same but with 10MP, so I’d just get the 8MP one), which has a 2.5″ LCD and is the samllest at 125-130g and 3.4×2.2×0.9iun. The rest of the Canons are 3.6-3.8 inches, so a little bit larger and 30 grams (or one ounce heavier). These tradeoff the 2.5″ smaller screen for an optical viewfinder which better in the sun. The main drawback is that like all Canon’s it is really only an ISO 100 camera in low light and in bright light, it works to ISO 200.

So the top picks in the family are:

# “Canon Powershot SD790”:http://www.dcresource.com/reviews/canon/powershot_sd790-review/ (“Imaging Resource”:http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEWS/1220662551.html). It is 10MP, 3x zoom, image stabilized and has a 3″ LCD. The lense really hasn’t changed since the SD500 is is 35-105mm F2.8-4.9 3x zoom but there is no optical view finder and the dimensions are 3.5×2.2×0.8 and 155g without the battery and is 6.3 cu in. It is fine in bright light at ISO 100 (just like the SD500). In low light, it is basically usable only with small prints with noise at ISO 100 (makes sense, compared with the SD500, there are lots more pixels and the sensor is smaller). It odes have barrell distortion and vignetting as well as blurry corners. In bright light, it is good through ISO200. It doesn’t have HD movies like the DMC-FX35, but it doesn’t have noise either 🙂
# “Canon Powershot SD870 IS”::http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/canonsd870is/ the SD790 is confusingly the 10MP version while the SD870 is the 8MP, “Imaging Resource”:http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/SD870IS/SD870ISA.HTM, “Camera Labs”:http://www.cameralabs.com/reviews/Canon_PowerShot_SD870_Ixus_860IS/outdoor_results.shtml). This is the same as most of the other models but has a 3″ LCD and no optical view finder. Dimensionally it is 3.6×2.2×0.8″ and 155 grams. These cameras have really improved their screens, so no optical is probably not that bad and 3″ is really great. It does quite a bit of in camera sharpening. In the lab, it is about 1950 lph in resolution, but again, noise is the real issue with all these cameras. It is nice that it has a 28mm semi-wide angle lense. The nice thing is that the screen is actually really good. It does have 1.1% (which is alot) of barrell distortion in wide angle but it does start at 28mm rather than 35mm.
# “Canon Powershot SD1100”:http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/canonsd1100is/ (“DCResource”:http://www.dcresource.com/reviews/canon/powershot_sd1100-review/. The main problems are the image quality isn’t so great, there are moire and other sharpetning artifacts. Resolution is 1625lph. Like all cameras, there is highlight clipping that is about average and the image quality is OK. Keep it at ISO 100 or 200 at most.

h3. Panasonic

“Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX35”:http://www.trustedreviews.com/digital-cameras/review/2008/06/27/Panasonic-Lumix-DMC-FX35/p1. (“Imaging Resource”:http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/FX35/FX35A.HTM “Camera Labs”:http://www.cameralabs.com/reviews/Panasonic_Lumix_DMC-FX35_FX36/, “Digital Camera Review”:http://www.digitalcamerareview.com/default.asp?newsID=3389, “Steve’s Digcam”:http://www.steves-digicams.com/2008_reviews/panasonic_fx35.html is the top choice. As a another example of false innovation, the FX37 just shipped and is 5x zoom which is nice, but the lense quality is way lower, so this is a 4x which works better and is cheaper too! It has a 28mm equivalent lense which is great. Wide angle is way more important that zoom. It like all the cameras noted here have OIS. It also shoots 720p movies. High lense quality and ISO 200 is the maximum. Compared with the very good quality Fuji F30 which in terms of image quality alone even at 6MP is still the benchmark (like the F10 and F11 I have). Interesting to see how in a “side-by-side”:http://www.cameralabs.com/reviews/Panasonic_Lumix_DMC-FX35_FX36/outdoor_results.shtml the two cameras had nearly identical resolution, so it ain’t about megapixels with these tiny lenses. It is about 2100 lph. It is really an ISO 100 camera with going to 200 ok. (Makes me just want to buy a used F30!). Its incamera sharpening is relatively soft (I personally like that). It is really great to get 25-100mm equivalent and the HD, but sadly the noise at ISO 100 makes it really impossible to buy.

Here is how the Panasonic model line works. The different models are confusing. LX seems to be for the top end and there is FS and LS at the low end, but in the middle the FX seems to be one under the LX line, FS means more stylish FX, FZ seem to be for EVF “bridge” cameras superzooms right below dSLRs and TZ seems to be travel size or very small.

# DMC-LX3. This is their top of the line $500 camera that has 10MP, but most importantly a F/2.0-F/2.8 lense. It is big though.
# DMC-FX150. 15MP so I’m betting at $400, it is 28mm and has a big zoom, so probably more of a megapixel war camera without really good quality
# “DMC-FX500”:http://www.cameralabs.com/reviews/Panasonic_Lumix_DMC_FX500_FX520/ this is like the FX35 mechanically, but has a touch screen and has full manual controls which is pretty great. For all that it is fatter than the FX35
# “DMC-FZ28″:http://www.trustedreviews.com/digital-cameras/review/2008/08/22/Panasonic-Lumix-DMC-FZ28/p1. This is really an EVF camera this is large and heavy and a competitor to low-end dSLRs. At 10MP with an amazing 18x optical zoom it is pretty decent, although if you want something like this you should probably wait for the micro-4/3rd camera.
# DMC-FX37 and DMC-35. 5x and 4x zoom respectively but main feature is a true 25mm wide angle. The FX35 is actually better because zooming really hurts image quality on the FX37. Main drawback is the 2.5” LCD and like all cameras in this range, it has poor low light performance and noise, but no worse than usual given the huge sensor density. As an aside, the APAC models of these are the FX38 and FX36 respectively. Competitively, imae quality is close the SD870 but it has a bigger screen.
# “DMC-TZ5”:http://www.trustedreviews.com/digital-cameras/review/2008/08/27/Panasonic-Lumix-DMC-TZ5/p1 and “dpreview”:http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/panasonictz5/ is big and heavy at 240g, but it means it is durable. The TZ although bigger uses the same sensor as the FX35. It has a 10x zoom and a 3″ screen that has 460k dots vs the 230k in the FX35. DPReview does not that there is quite a bit of shadow noise as did Trusted Reviews for the FX-35. Most of the time, you want to underexpose shots as the TZ5 and the other cameras in this line hightlight clip quite a bit. About 1/3 to 2/3 an EV.

h3. Best image quality in retro Fuji

Ironically, the “Fuji F30″:http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/fujifilmf30/ which is only 6MP is probably still the best quality camera around for the size. It has a 2.5″ screenwith 230 pixels vs the lower resolution 2.5″ of the F10 and F11. It is also huge at 3.6×2.2×1.1 and 195 grams, but the sensor is amazing 1/1.7” Super CCD HR. It is even cleaner than the F10 at ISO 400 which is pretty darn amazing. Note that the newer Fuji F50 as so forth don’t use this great sensor, so their quality is no better than average. It doesn’t have nifty features like image stabilization and is much fatter, but otherwise, its a great high quality camera. Hard to find anything better just from an image POV at the $250 street.

h3. Other brands

There are a host of other brands but most don’t have the image quality:

# “Casio Exilim EX-Z200”:http://www.trustedreviews.com/digital-cameras/review/2008/07/23/Casio-Exilim-EX-Z200/p1 which is their first image stabilized model. It shoots to ISO 200, but thre is a problem with blurring at frame corners at wide angle.
# “Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T77”:http://www.trustedreviews.com/digital-cameras/review/2008/09/15/Sony-Cyber-shot-DSC-T77/p3. Really ultracompact. It is too bad the picture quality is so poor. Main issues are the JPEG artifacts because they have the compression turned on way too high. It is a folded lense design so that makes it look cool visually even if image quality is just OK.

Less sophisticated but ultracompact

So it looks like the advanced compact cameras are really a turkey shoot between the Panasonic DMC-LX3 and the upcoming Canon G10. As an aside the 5MP camera we are replacing is a “Canon SD400”:http://www.dcresource.com/reviews/canon/powershot_sd400-review/ which is 5.7 cubic inches and 130 grams. So it would be nice to get something about the same size.

What about something without all the manual controls and fine lenses that is fine for daylight use but is incredibly small. What’s the smallest decent camera you can buy. “DCViews”:http://dcviews.com is useful for high-end cameras, but not for low end. I’ve found that “DCResource”:http://dcresource.com is one of the few sites that actually reviews these low-end cameras.

If you care about available light photography, then you have to go all the way back to the “Fuji F30”:http://www.dcresource.com/reviews/fuji/finepix_f30-review/ to get a decent camera. We have the F10 and F11 and they are remarkable. Nonetheless of the current crop, here’s a stack rank:

* “Canon PowerShot SD1100″:http://www.dcresource.com/reviews/canon/powershot_sd1100-review/index.shtml. It’s 8MP and 38-114MM F/2.-F/4.9 and with a view finder and 2.5″ screen at 3.4×2.2×0.9” and 125g. Canon has an incredible complicated line of PowerShots. But essentailly there is the very compact SD1100 ($237 street). Image quality is decent to ISO 200.
* “SD790″:http://dcresource.com/reviews/canon/powershot_sd790-review/index.shtml is a 10MP with the 3″ screen and no optical viewfinder. It is slightly wider 3.6″ and slighly thinner 0.8”. It also has a underwater case for $149. Image quality is decent upto ISO 200.
* “Panasonic DMC-FX35”:http://dcresource.com/reviews/panasonic/dmc_fx35-review/index.shtml. It has got a 24mm equivalent lense which is great. The main problem is that the image is quite noisy. Best to leave it at ISO 100 as you can see visible noise at 200.

Just going by size and weight, here are the leaders according to “DCResources”:http://deresource.com. Thos guys do the best compact camera reviews by the way. It is amazing how standard and incredibly high the features are. All of these have image stabilization and also are instant on and have 2.7″ screens without an optical viewfinder for instance. If you shoot for less than 7 cubic inches and 125 grams, you get. From the new section of dcviews, here are the latest and smallest cameras:

| Camera | Volume (cu. in.) | Mass (empty) | Comment |
| Canon SD1100 | 6.7 | 125g | viewfinder |
| Canon SD790 | 6.3 || 155g | 3″ ISO 200 |
| Casio EX-Z250″*”:http://dcviews.com/cameras/casio_news.htm | 6.6 | 119g | |
| Fuji Z20fd | 6.3 | 110g | |
| Nikon S520 | 7 | 115g ||
| Olympus FE-320 | 5.5 | 95g | Uses xD |
| Panasonic DMC-FX35 | 6.7 | 125g | 25mm, ISO 100 only |
| Pentax M50 | 7.3 | 116g |
| Samsung NV4 | 5.7 | 140g |
| Sony DSC-T700″*”:http://dcviews.com/cameras/sony_news.htm | 5.5 | 125g | 3.5″ memstick |

These models churn faster than milk into butter, so of course most of these have new models. I put an asterisk next to those. Some of these are easy to exclude. For instance the Olympus like uses xD cards which is why they are small, but these cards are really nonstandard.

Canon PowerShot G10 (G9 as a preview)

This is coming out in October, but is a pretty big update. A reason to wait before buying a LX-3, I think. “Popphoto”:http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1010&message=29122707 had the notice. The previous “G9”:http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/canong9/ did get very good reviews (it is 12MP vs. the 15MP in the new G10)

* 14.7 megapixels (wow!)
* 28-140mm 5x zoom
* 3 inch LCD
* RAW support

The biggest advantage of the Lumix, I think is the F/2.0 and F/2.8 lense. That means it will work better in available light. But hard to know with only a press release. The big tradeoff for this speed is the lense is only 24-60mm so it is pretty short.

“Canon PowerShot G9″:http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/canong9/ review which shows it is actually smaller than the LX3 and people who use it say it feels great. Definitely not an ultracompact, you can stuff it in your purse though. One nice thing is that you can actually use your professional flash on the thing. It has a standard Canon hotshoe. It does have a 0.75x wide convertor to get your from 35mm to 26mm equivalent.

* 12MP on 1/1.7” or 15mm wide
* F/2.8-4.8 lense
* Shoots RAW at 1 per second and 1.5/second for JPEG
* Shots are great to ISO 200 with ISO 400 usable

High Quality Compact Camera

Well here are the choices right now in rough order and the net is that if you can hold off, the Canon G10 is probably good. I’d say for quality the LX3 is probably going to give higher quality shot but be larger.

* Panasonic DMC-LX3. Good quality to ISO 400 and great Leica lense. Reasonably compact. But the main thing is that it is a true wide angle at 14mm so that you can get nice landscapes. It only goes to 60mm equivalent so no zoom shots though. But I’d trade that anyday. Main problem is that it is a big camera. The lense is so large it makes the camera about 50mm or 2 inches high vs the much slimmer G9/G10
* Canon Sureshot G10 which is coming shortly might be better but the Sureshot G9 is their current 12MP camera. Very professional. Good through ISO 200 without noise, but like the Ricoh, relatively slow lense.
* Ricoh GX200. A nice update, but only shoots to ISO 200 without noise and lense is relatively slow so Panasonic is nicer.

The ones that are rejected are:

* Sigma DP1. Has a big sensor but it is amazingly slow. Requires 3 seconds shot to shot!
* Nikon P6000. Nice and new, but requires Windows Vista proprietary software to read its raw format. Ugh. Has GPS and Wifi.

No Compact Camera for a prosumer? GX200, DP1, G9, SD950 compared

Well, been looking for a high end compact camera. When I was on film, used a Yashica which was compact, but had a great fixed focus lense and excellent quality. There really isn’t a good answer yet for digital. What do you need for a prosumer that is different from a point-and-shoot. Well, the ideal list is pocketable since the whole point is that you don’t have your point and shoot, good quality blowups to say 11×17 (which is to say 8MP or so), high ISO and low noise which usually comes from a big AP-sized sensor, full manual controls for aperture and shutter priority, RAW output so you can tweak, great optics even if it means less (or no) zoom and finally image stabilization to get those really low light shots. The low light is important because no compact. In short, no camera has all this, but here are the current choices:

* “Ricoh GX200”:http://dcviews.com/_ricoh/gx200.htm is sort of with RAW and full manual, but it isn’t fast enough only good to ISO 200 because it uses a tiny sensor.
* “Sigma DP1”: has all the features and a huge sensor so it has great image quality and low noise, but terribly slow from shot to shot so pretty unusable if you have to wait 7 seconds between shots.
* “Canon G9”:http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/canonG9/ which has full manual modes, but still has a small sensor and is really too big. It shoots RAW and really “best quality”:http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/canong9/page7.asp is at ISO 200. Above ISO 100, the noise reduction in JPEG is really big, so you want to shoot RAW. And with a small sensor, its exposure latitude is small.
* “Canon SD950 IS”:http://dcviews.com/_canon/sd950.htm but it doesn’t have manual controls although it does have image “stabilization”:http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/SD950IS/SD950ISA.HTM. It is really more of the top end of the point-and-shoot family. For instance it has “face detection”:http://www.steves-digicams.com/2007_reviews/canon_sd950.html. It is noisy above ISO 200 which is common for these small sensor (usually about 0.5″).

Three years ago settled on the Fuji F10 (and “F11”:http://dcviews.com/reviews/Fuji-F11/Fuji-F11-review.htm) which were only 6MP but had excellent low light performance. Great photos at ISO 400 which is pretty much impossible for most point and shoot today. Low light performance is really important because the flashes on small cameras just looks so bad and the lenses are slow. This camera is big and now obsolete, so what is a person to do.

The prosumer point and shoot has only a few choices with enough manual controls like aperture priority and low noise to be useful. The Canon Sureshot G9 is good but is kinda big. The Canon IS 890 is 12MP and decent quality at ISO 200. The “Sigma DP1”:http://www.photographyblog.com/reviews_sigma_dp1_2.php has terrific image quality and low noise up to ISO 400 is amazing, but it takes 7 seconds to shoot a single RAW image. It does use a Foveon image sensor, so it is nominally 5MP, but they market it as 14MP. With these small cameras megapixels aren’t nearly as important as low noise and a good lense. In this case Sigma is a fixed 24mm equivalent, so a little limited. But like my old Yashica which also has a fixed lense, really worth it. The tiny zooms are really amazing technological achievements, but I’d rather have a fast fixed focus for a compact camera.

The “Ricoh GX200”:http://www.photographyblog.com/reviews_ricoh_gx200_2.php doesn’t come to mind as a mainstream model. But it does do RAW and is now 12MP. Also has an electronic view finder option. Also has anti-shake too. The main drawback is that it is only good quality to ISO 200. It actually produces DNG files which is pretty cool. Also is has a 24-72mm effective lense, so it can take decent wide angle (more important than you think).

The sad thing is that it uses a standard sensor (the Fuji F10 does not nor does the Sigma DP1). You really want a big sensor to take care of noise. I really the Sigma DP1 was decent. Main issue with that camera is that it is simply so slow in taking photos.

Compact Cameras

For years I’ve used the Fuji Finepix F10 which took really great pictures with 5Mpixels but most importantly was fast enough to take ISO 400 photos. That camera still works really well but is not pretty big. Ideally you want a shirt pocket camera that:

* 8MP sensor and lense quality so you can get A3+
* ISO 400 quality so you can use available light most of the time
* Image stabilizer to future help you get those low light shots
* Aperture and shutter priority to control exposure
* Shirt pocket size

Here are the pro choices as “Luminous Landscape”:http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/cameras/shirt-pocket.shtml and “Steve’s Digicam”:http://www.steves-digicams.com/best_cameras.html reviewed:

* “Sony DSC-W300″:http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/cameras/shirt-pocket.shtml. It is a wolf in sheep’s clothes. It has a 13.6MP lense and a tiny 1/1.7” sensor but it looks good at ISO4. nice, but kind of big, so defeats the purpose a little bit. You really want something that is shirt pocket size. Most importantly it has an optical viewfinder. However, “Amazon”:http://www.amazon.com/review/product/B00153WWRK/ref=cm_cr_dp_all_helpful?_encoding=UTF8&coliid=&showViewpoints=1&colid=&sortBy=bySubmissionDateDescending found picture quality poor. “Steve’s Digicam”:http://www.steves-digicams.com/2007_reviews/sony_w200_pg5.html as ISO 200 images for earlier W200 (12 vs. 13MP) and was the ultracompact to beat. “Cameras.co.uk”:http://www.cameras.co.uk/reviews/sony-dsc-w300.cfm found nothing special about picture quality.
* “Ricoh GX100”:http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/cameras/ricoh-gx100.shtml is another no obvious choice, but this one does have a 10MP sensor, 24-72mm equivalent lense. It has a Raw mode but takes 5 seconds to write a single shot! It has a optional electronic viewfinder, so you its easier to aim. Main issue is it is noisy at ISO 400.
* “Sigma DP1”:http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/cameras/sigma-dp1.shtml might be a good choice because of its incredible image quality using a dSLR foveon processor. The main issue is that it has slow startup, slow shot to shot and is noisy above ISO 200, so really isn’t practical.