Sunday, October 25, 2009

Update: Panasonic LX3 Review

Courage Defined. Taken during The North Face Ultra 100 Singapore with a Panasonic Lumix LX3.

My criteria for choosing a compact ‘adventure’ camera is simple: I’m stretching my limits, both physically and mentally, and the camera has to give me the best quality image in a package that I’d be willing to carry (given the option of carry this or nothing at all).

Think of it like this: What camera would you be willing to carry for that once-in-a lifetime climb up the summit of Mt. Everest? You want a good camera to record your success, but at the same time, carrying too heavy a camera may jeopardize that very success.

Or what camera would bring while running the Marathon des Sable, a 250km foot race in the Sahara Desert where racers need to carry all their food and personal gear while racing for 7 days? Again, carrying too heavy a camera may affect your performance, making you less competitive, or even jeopardize your chances to complete the race.

The answer to both these questions, at least for me, is the Panasonic LX3. Light enough, with excellent and publishable image quality, in a compact, relatively easy-to-use package.

LX3 vs. Panasonic GF1
The GF1 offers more flexibility with its interchangeable lens system and may offer better image quality, but the GF1 will be both larger and heavier.

Choose the GF1: for less extreme adventures where weight and size matter less, and the photographer can benefit from the interchangeable lens system.

LX3 vs. Canon G10 (or G11)

These cameras are going to give me excellent image quality. I prefer the ergonomics and control layout of the Canons, and I think they would be easier to operate with gloves on. But it came down to which lens I preferred, and I preferred the wider, faster lens on the LX3.

Choose the G10 (G11): if you prefer the longer focal length and broader zoom range.

LX3 vs. Leica D-Lux 4
I’ve seen the image comparisons online, and the results are too close to call. It came down to the cost, and the D-Lux 4 will cost a lot more to replace if you break it. Plus the LX3 has the benefit of the tiny molded grip, which does make it a little better to hold… and probably less likely to drop.

Choose the D-Lux 4: if you’re a die-hard Leica fan.