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Review: Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5

I haven’t been this excited about a camera since the Nikon D1x. This little gem was just what I was looking for. It’s compact enough that I can easily carry it as a back-up to my DSLR kit, yet powerful enough that it can stand on its own. It is my Galen Rowell kit for going lite when I am hiking, running, and mountain biking.

I got a great deal on mine from B&H. Check their prices here.

Lumix LX5 Review - Size compared to Nikon D700 and D5000

Here is the Lumix LX5 compared to my Nikon D5000 and D700. See why it is such a great camera for mountain biking!

In Use: The ergonomics and layout of the camera is pretty slick. Here is a quick look at a couple of the menu items I use on a regular basis. Click on any of the images to see a larger version.

Auto Exposure Bracketing: If you are into HDR photography, you are always on the lookout for Auto Exposure Bracketing. The LX5 delivers! It can shoot up to 3 brackets in sequence up to 3 EV apart. Just set the Timer to 2 seconds, click the shutter release, sit back and let the LX5 capture 7 full stops of light.

Lumix LX5 Review  - Auto Bracketing

I have mine set up so when I push the FN (function key) the little menu pops up and lets me choose the EV spacing from my brackets. Slick for the HDRers out here.

Focus Point Selection: I wish my Nikon D700 had this feature. You can use the thumb selector to choose wherever you want your focus point to be. Endless (well almost) possibilities.

Lumix LX5 Review  - Focus Selector

If you want to change your focus point, all you need to do is click the 'Focus' button on the thumb selector then move the focus point to wherever you like.

The Quick Menu: It’s not a DSLR, so you don’t have all your shooting options at a click of a button or the turn of a command wheel, but the ‘Quick Menu’ button gets you close!

Lumix LX5 Review  - Quick Menu

One feature I really like is the 'Quick Menu' button. Just push it and you have access to most everything you would want to adjust for your photo (film type, white balance, etc...)

Grid Lines: No hot-shoe bubble level needed here.

Lumix LX5 Review  -  Grid Line Display

If you are like me, you could probably use the grid lines to level your horizons. Pushing the 'Display' buttons cycles your through the info view, grid lines view, and a clear LCD.

Things I Like:

  • Size – It’s perfect to take along as a back-up or put in my Camelbak for a mountain bike ride.
  • It shoots RAW, which means you can get as crazy as you like is post production!
  • Image Quality – I think it makes pretty darn nice images. They are sharp, colorful, and contrasty.
  • The Lens – It’s a Leica, what can I say?
  • Multiple Aspect Ratios – Right on the side of the lens you can change your aspect ratio from 3:2 to a square at 1:1. Again, you can do this in post, but it’s a neat feature to be able to test your creative vision in the field.
  • It’s Fast – With a maximum aperture of 2.0 of the wide-side, and 3.3 on the tele-side, low light images and portraits aren’t a problem.
  • It doesn’t come with it, but it has a cool electronic view finder you can add to the system.
  • It shoots 720 HD video with the click of a button. No digging around in the menu.
  • It brackets 3 images up to 3ev. Yep, this little guy can cover 7 full stops of light. Perfect for us HDR photographers.
  • Ergonomics – It feels great in hand. The new jog wheel on the back allows you to select your settings by pushing it down. This saves you from having to dive into the menu system.
  • Assignable Function Key – I set the function button on my LX5 to manage my exposure bracketing. If I want to bracket an images, all I do is push it, and turn the jog wheel to set the number of brackets and the EV spacing I want. Just like I have my DSLR configured.
  • Full manual control, as well as, Aperture and Shutter priority modes.
  • Full manual control while in video mode.
  • Creative Color Modes – Sure, you probably want to handle all your B&W conversion and color treatments in post processing, but sometimes its fun to try different things in camera because it might inspire your vision to look at a scene differently.

Things To Note:

  • The minimum aperture is pretty wide at F11. How does this impact your images? Well, if you are wanting to slow your shutter speed way down in order to capture moving water or clouds in the bright sun you are going to have a hard time doing it. They do make a 3 stop neutral density filter you can attach to it, but that might not even be enough in really bright situations.
  • It is only 90mm on the telephoto end, so you might find yourself wanting a little extra range.
  • Size – It is both and pro and a con. Unless you have hands similar to Prince Gerhardt, you will need to fine tune your dexterity a bit. Come on, you get it because it is portable.
  • Raw Format – I don’t believe the RAW format is supported by Photomatix yet, so single image HDRs aren’t possible.

What good is a review without some images? Check back because I will be adding sample images as I make them.


Panasonic Lumix LX5 Review

One Moment

Lumix LX5 Review

Lumix LX 5 Review - HDR Sample

Here is a quick HDR sample image shot by bracketing 3 images at 3ev apart. The Raw files were then converted to .tiffs and fed to Photomatix 4. I used Photoshop and Nik filters to put the finishing touches on it.


  1. Hey is this a LX5 a Micro 4/3 camera w/ interchangeable lenses?

    • Hans, I totally should provide a standard product shot. Nope, this replaces the LX3. It is not a Micro 4/3 camera. The lens is fixed and cannot be changed. You can purchase a wide angle adapter lens.

  2. Nice review. I know exactly what you mean about the LX5. I haven’t been this excited about a camera since I got my first Nikon 35 years ago! The dslr will be staying hone a lot more these days. I commute everywhere by bike now and the LX5 really makes that a lot easier. I’m looking forward to more photos by you!

    • Thanks much! I am a big Bike-Culture person as well, so it is the perfect commuter camera. It is much more manageable than the canon G or Nikon P series cameras. I love it!

  3. Great review. I love the camera. Where have you landed on the great case debate? I want a case I can pop open and shoot from, not a bag on my shoulder or belt, but the only good option I’m finding is the elusive official one (dmw-clx5-k), only available from seemingly questionable and very remote eBay sellers. Any thoughts?

    • Thanks! I haven’t found a case that I can shoot from. If you find it, please post back here. Currently I am using the Kata 406 just to protect inside my Camelbak. It is a very sung fit, so it wont work if you have a tripod plate on it. I kind of wished a got a size bigger. Let me know if you find the elusive one!

      • Riddley Walker says:

        I have the LX3 which I love. I just bought the LX5 for my Mum, and now I am envious! Re case, I got the “official” case for her. It’s OK, but still not as lovely as the old-fashioned ones. It opens from the back, and then folds over the front – a little counter-intuitive, really. My own set up is a Lowepro Rezo 50 which is a snug fit, and the pocket holds spare battery/card/cloth and that’s about all. The pocket kind of sticks out a bit, which is a small minus for this bag. On the camera itself, I have a 12cm wrist-strap, connected to the d-link on the camera body. I also have the lens cap on the right hand side, so al that just falls into my hand as I shoot, and keeps it out of the way. Best bet, go into a store and try out lots of bags!

        • Thanks for the heads up! Hope your mum likes it.

          • Riddley Walker says:

            It was mainly for a tour of gardens in Italy Swiss and France. Mum is not very tech minded, and I taught her to use iA and P, but on the trip she defaulted to iA for everything! Came back with 300 pics (which impressed me), and almost all were good, quite a few slightly overexposed, maybe iA needs a little tweaking for this, but that is easy fixed in PP. Also some really good pics in the mix as well.

  4. 4stopstime says:

    Hey Light I got a LX5 a few months ago I love it too. Its got it all pretty much. I wish I had more time to play with it. Mike

  5. Love this little thing. Still learning all the features – a hugh list. Trying to figure out how to keep the noise ‘low’ as many of my images (all RAW) have a lot of noise. Suggestions? Also, if you can, show us your ‘macro’ images. Thx.

    • Tried to reply on Facebook, but something might have gone wrong. Yeah, you will see noise for sure at the higher ISOs. It isn’t as gifted as my D700 at higher ISO performances. I do try to shoot as low as I can when I am out and about. I also always run Nik Define 2.0 on my images at the first step in my work-flow. As you learn the features, feel free to share any tips or tricks you might have. I sill surely share a ‘macro’ photo in the future. Spring is around the corner and the flowers will be in bloom!

  6. Thanks for a great review. I just bough one and you review on auto bracket was just what I need, plus other interesting features.
    Thanks Lou

  7. Thanks for the review. I just got this camera and now it doesn’t leave my side. Great for street photography. Love the fact that I can use it in combination w/ my Radio Poppers and Canon 580 EX.

  8. hi! nice review here :) can i ask if you used a telephoto with your LX5?

  9. can you tell me how can I take a picture in raw format?.. with LX5

  10. Milwood123 says:

    My LX3 died and didn’t have an extended warrantee plan, so I ordered a new LX5 – with plan. Love it! I use an after market automatic opening/closing lens cap instead of the original. Never have to worry about losing it. Also found a nice optical finder at a camera swap meet for $5.00 that works very well. Very nice having a built-in shoe. Anybody need some LX3 batteries and chargers at a great price? //don

  11. Nice review of the Lx5 and I couldn’t agree more. In fact, the more I use my Lx5 the more my D90 gets left at home. To add new information to your already informative review, the new 2.0 firmware update extends shutter speed to over 4 minutes! (other cool upgrades as well, check it out if you haven’t already)
    There are few situations that come to mind as I sit here where I wouldn’t use my Lx5. Event photography without a flash, ISO over 400 & dark settings >> lots of artifact, if I need a faster frame rate or of course photos exceeding the limitations of the lens reach. On the short end, macro photography is very good.
    As for the ND filter.
    I haven’t tried it yet for the same reason you posted however, I just read about a guy that was able to screw 2 – 4 stop ND filters together which gave him the equivalent of an 8 stop filter. I don’t know this as fact but my eyes did brighten up a bit when I read it. Nice photos by the way.

    • Interesting about he NDs, thanks for the info…also thanks for contributing your findings. It always helps build the review out. Much appreciated.

  12. Hello,

    Can you please explain how you set the timer and autobracket to shoot every two seconds with a different bracket number? I have set the limit of the bracket but how do you get it to shoot on a different setting three times?



    • @Gabriela,

      Go to “Auto Bracket” in menu. (Rec > #6) Starting from 0, scroll right until you get to the +/- 3 then “set”. I have both the Auto Bracket & Self Timer tied to my control pad so in 2 clicks it’s ready to go.

  13. Justin, have you figured out a way to put a protective filter over the lens?

  14. Larry Oien says:

    I have had my LX5 for a year and love it.. I’m still learning to use it though… here is a link to my photos on Flickr River ..comments on how I can use it better are appreciated..


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  2. […] Lumix LX5 (I love this camera, you can read why here) […]

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