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