Grant McWilliams

Panasonic LX-2 comparison

Ok, so I've been looking for a camera to replace the SD500 as I said before. A wide angle lens is a must because I'm having a problem getting far enough away from buildings. I also want a small size with a good lens and at least equal pixels to the SD500 (7MP) and more manual controls. So far the race has come down to two contenders - the Canon S80 and the Panasonic LX-02. I'd buy the Canon this minute if it were not for one thing - no image stabilization. I don't know how many pictures I've taken have turned out blurry because there was no place for a tripod or I was on a boat. Image stabilization could have been what I needed to take a clean shot. The Panasonic has image stabilization and a wide angle lens, and more megapixels (10MP) and manual controls and a Leica lens and a wide screen mode. The last Panasonic LX also had horrendous noise which is why I'm dragging my feet on getting the LX2. I did however, find some LX2 photos on a Japanese website that compares the LX-1 with the LX-2. I've cut out small areas of the photos for better comparison which I'll show below.

ls1-lx2sunflowers

LX2 LX1

 

Click the image to see the full size version. If you look up close you can see the colors on the LX2 (left) are much better and it's significantly sharper. To show how much so just look real close at the greenhouse on the right and find the horizontal beam about half way up. Now look at the LX1 (right) photo and find the same beam. It's almost indistinguishable on the LX1.

lx1lx2_doll-ISO100

LX2 LX1 - ISO 100

Noise! The LX1 got a bad rep from the higher than average noise it photos taken with it. Panasonic tried to make things better buy using very aggresive noise cancelation in software but succeeded only in making the images blurry. These two photos bear that out. You don't even have to look hard to see the difference here. Both of these photos were taken at ISO 100 which is their best settings or very close. Look at the dolls hair in both photos. The LX1's noise cancelation is blurring the details in the photo. Also look at the sharp edge of the reflection in the dolls eye. On the LX2 photo it's nice and sharp and the black is black but on the LX1 photo it's very soft and the black is much lighter.

lx1lx2_doll-ISO400

LX2 LX1 - ISO 400

Ok, the same photo again but at ISO 400. We see the same thing but the noise in the LX1 photo gets really bad. I'd say that ISO 400 on the LX1 isn't good for anything other than taking a quick shot in low light levels. This photo is better than none but don't expect to win any contests with it. The LX2 photo suffers from noise too but it's much less pronounced. As a matter of fact if you compare the LX2's ISO 400 photo to the LX1s ISO 100 photo you'll see that the LX2 does better at ISO 400 than the LX1 does at ISO 100. The LX2 also has an ISO 800 and ISO 1600 mode. I don't know how useful they are as the noise level at anything over ISO 400 is too great for any practical use. Maybe you could take an ISO 800 image and clean it up in Photoshop or Gimp but still it's best to avoid it. Just as a side note the LX1 at ISO 100 does take better pictures than an LX2 at ISO 800 but it should (and if it didn't we'd be really worried).

I'm going to wait longer until some professional reviews come out but looking at these pictures the future looks good for Panasonic.