lumix lx5

While Panasonic's harping on about the wider dynamic range offered by the new tech inside the LX5, we were more immediately impressed by the lens.

While you obviously won't get f/2 throughout the lens's range, it's really great for bringing the depth of field right in. So the lens is a solid macro performer too, and the benefits of such a wide maximum aperture can't be overstated.

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COLOURS: In good light the camera rewards you with warm, well-exposed images

Zoom performance is reasonable too, though we did feel a tad short changed after using the monster-zoom Lumix FZ45. The Canon G11 still has a longer reach at 140mm at the telephoto end, so it would have been nice to be able to go in a bit further.

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EXPOSURE: The 'intelligent auto' function does a better job at judging exposure than most 'auto everything' modes

The image stabilisation system works well when zooming right in, so make sure it's turned on when you first set the camera up.

Lens distortion is well controlled, though not perfect - we did notice some distortion on the tower on Glastonbury Tor when shooting in 16:9 format.

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IMAGE STABILISATION: Make sure the image stabiliser is turned on when shooting at the telephoto end, it really makes a difference

In terms of overall sensor and image-processor performance, it's up to Panasonic's usual high standards. Colours are characteristically warm and vibrant without being garish, and edges are kept sharp in JPEG mode without it looking artificial.

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MACRO: That fast f/2 lens really comes into its own with close up nature work

In terms of ISO, keep it under 800 and you'll be impressed. Noise is well controlled at this level but as our ISO tests show, kick it up to 12800 and colour and detail really suffer. Still, even at this extreme level it's not a bad performance for the money, and this, combined with the effective pop-up flash, make the Lumix DMC-LX5 a convincing low-light performer.

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METERING: The metering system copes well with a variety of challenging light conditions

AF is generally unflappable and metering reliable, though as with many cheaper cameras, the LX5 has a tendency to blow out highlights in brighter light. So make sure you've got to grips with the slightly eccentric way of adjusting exposure compensation before heading out.

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SKIN TONES: Skin tones are accurate but the Lumix does have a tendency to blow out highlights in bright sunlight

As you'd expect, there's a full PASM dial mode, with the inclusion of Intelligent Auto (iA). iA's no replacement for learning how to adjust exposure yourself, but as an auto everything mode, it does seem more consistent – and indeed intelligent – than you'd first expect.

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WIDESCREEN: Note the distortion on the tower when shot at 16:9 format - it shouldn't lean in like that!

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ZOOM: While hardly a super zoom, the lens stays nice and sharp at the far telephoto end