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Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5 Gordon Laing, October 2010

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5 results : Real-life resolution / High ISO Noise

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5 vs Canon PowerShot S95 Real-life resolution (default Program settings)

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To compare real-life performance we shot the same scene with the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5 and Canon PowerShot S95 within a few moments of each other using their best quality JPEG settings and lowest sensitivities.

The lenses were adjusted to deliver as close a field-of-view as possible. Each camera was set to Program mode without intervention to see how they performed with default settings, although we also tested both at every aperture value for reference.

The image above was taken with the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5 at 80 ISO with an exposure of 1/640 and the lens set to 8mm f4; the original file measured 4.38MB. As stated above, we allowed each camera to automatically select its own exposure in Program mode, in order to compare how they performed under default settings. Coincidentally both models selected f4 with an identical exposure of 1/640 at 80 ISO allowing a direct comparison; the Canon PowerShot S95 JPEG measured 3.10MB.

Both cameras share the same 10 Megapixel resolution (so long as the LX5 is set to capture 4:3 shaped images), but the relatively coarse zoom increments on the S95 prevented us from perfectly matching the coverage on this test shot. The S95 sample captured a fractionally wider view and hence its crops show a slightly larger area than those from the LX5, but they're still sufficiently close for a meaningful comparison.

Before starting though, a quick note about apertures. We additionally tested each camera at a variety of focal lengths with each of their available aperture settings to determine the optimum settings. Both cameras performed respectably at their maximum apertures, but enjoyed a boost in contrast and sharpness across the frame with their apertures closed by a stop. We'd say the optimum settings for each were between f2.8 and f4.0, so are satisfied to use the samples taken in Program at f4 as a fair comparison. Both cameras did however suffer from softening due to diffraction at f5.6 or smaller apertures though, so we'd only recommend using them if you absolutely need a larger depth of field.

Now on with the comparison. Starting with the first row of crops, the Lumix LX5 is clearly delivering a superior result from the mountain ridge with crisper details. Looking beyond this cropped area, the LX5 image also contained a little more tonal detail in the bright sky and snow at times when the S95 image was completely saturated. Since both images were taken within moments of each other and shared the same exposure, this certainly seems to confirm Panasonic's claims of an improved dynamic range. Don't get us wrong, it's not a huge difference, but it is visible and also gives you more margin for highlight recovery on RAW files.

Looking at the rest of the crops, the Lumix LX5 enjoys slightly crisper and more detailed results, which are most apparent on the roads and buildings. Viewed in isolation, the Canon PowerShot S95 image looks very good, but side-by-side with the Lumix LX5, it looks a little soft at times and lacks the ultimate detail of its rival. To be fair, the S95 image below captured a slightly larger area, giving the LX5 a small resolution advantage, but even with this taken into consideration, the LX5 is a little crisper.

It should however be noted the Canon PowerShot S95 suffered from less corner softening at maximum apertures than the Lumix LX5, so it's not a totally one-sided argument. But in this particular test, the Lumix LX5 enjoys the edge over its rival.

Scroll down to see a RAW versus JPEG comparison, or to check out the performance across its sensitivity range, head straight to our Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5 High ISO Noise results. Or if you've seen enough, head straight to our Verdict.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5
Canon PowerShot S95
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 80 ISO

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Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5: JPEG versus RAW

We photographed the scene pictured above using the LX5's RAW plus Large Fine JPEG mode, allowing us to directly compare images created from exactly the same data. Below are 100% crops taken from the original JPEG file alongside the RAW version, processed with the supplied Silkypix Developer Studio 3.1 SE; by default, the Unsharp Mask is set to zero in SilkyPIX, which unsurprisingly delivers a very soft result, so here we've increased the amount to 100 in order to accentuate fine details.

At first glance the results look quite similar with the default settings, but look closely and you'll spot some saturated artefacts on the RAW version, particularly around the reflection of the Sun almost in the middle of the image. There's also a few edge artefacts which look a little less natural on the RAW version, although again this could be down to the Unsharp Mask options selected.

The important thing though is having access to a wide variety of settings to tweak, along a higher dynamic range to play with. We used Silkypix to reduce the exposure by -3EV and managed to retrieve lots of cloud and snow detail across the entire top portion of the image which remained saturated on the JPEG. So there's definitely benefits in shooting RAW on the LX5 for protecting and retrieving highlight detail.

As always, it’s a case of experimenting with different settings (not to mention actual RAW converters) until you achieve the desired effect. Now let's look at how the camera performs across its sensitivity range in our Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5 High ISO Noise results.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5: JPEG
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5: RAW
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 80 ISO

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5 results : Real-life resolution / High ISO Noise

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