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Panasonic Lumix LX3

panasonic_LX3Part of my holiday planning routine involves looking at the photo and video equipment I will be taking. A Canon HF100 HD video camera is doing an excellent job so that will be going on my next trip, but the photo capturing position was unfilled. On my last trip I took a £100 Panasonic DMC-FS3, an 8 megapixel compact that gave acceptable results in bright sunlight and poor quality pictures in anything else. My Nikon D50 performs well in most situations, but a Digital SLR is a burden to carry for anything active. The announced-but-not-reviewed-yet Canon S90 looks interesting, but some of the few sample shots I have seen have not impressed. The combination of compact size and quality images seemed elusive.

One camera that is claimed by many reviewers to offer both reasonable size and decent quality is the Panasonic DMC-LC3, a 10 megapixel compact with a bright f2 lens and a limited zoom range. These have been difficult to come by with every retailer I checked over the past few weeks being out of stock. The few that claim to have stock are known in many forums to be less than honest, so are best avoided. Around a week ago Play.com showed the camera available for immediate dispatch, and since they are one of the retailers I trust to be honest I placed an order.

The camera has impressed so far, with all the manual control I could want and a usable automatic mode. The version 2 firmware for the camera was released a couple of days ago, adding 1:1 shooting and some speed improvements. So far the biggest problem is that neither Mac OS 10.5 or 10.6 support the RAW format of the LX3. The previous LX1 and LX2 models work fine, but for a camera that has been available for approaching a year it’s strange that RAW support has not yet been added. Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom work with LX3 RAW, and the supplied Silkypix software does a great job of RAW editing and conversion so it’s only a minor problem.

UPDATE 1st October 2009

Panasonic has today withdrawn the update citing problems with the custom shooting mode if you had stored settings from the previous firmware. The temporary fix is to reset the camera and re-enter the settings in custom mode, or wait to 20th October when an updated version should be available.

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