Saturday, 8 November 2008

Lumix LX3: reviews and reality

At Checkpoint Charlie, Berlin, October 2008
Lumix LX3, converted to B&W from RAW

Clearly I've bought the hot camera of the moment. Most of my recent traffic has been to read the stuff I've posted on the Lumix LX3, doubling my normal hit rate. It's winning in the RAWSumer poll. Michael Reichmann weighed in, as have dpreview. All round the conclusions are like mine: this is a great little camera producing real-world good results.

I've just read the latest from Laurence Kim, who's been writing some good stuff on the LX3 but I've a couple of issues with his latest post (apart from the garish colours he's using).

First up, DoF, aperture and diffraction. Yes, deep depth of field is nice which means larger apertures can be used, therefore faster shutters or lower light. But I take objection to the comment that the camera isn't as diffraction limited. Yes it is! Small pixels means lower diffraction limit - I bet the diffraction limit is somewhere around f/4-f/5.6 for this camera. As I said before, f/4 is (more or less, in practical terms) the equivalent of 35mm f/8. For modern DSLRs, diffraction limit is kicking in around f/11. No practical difference in diffraction limit versus DoF - as both phenomena are affected by sensor resolution, that's hardly surprising.

The second objection I have is about the metering. I find that the matrix metering is no better or worse than any other camera I own. The main limitation is in mixed light where highlights are over-exposed. I constantly have to dial in exposure comp in these circumstances, as I do with my other digital cameras. In even lighting, pretty much any camera I have produces decent metering results.

I do agree that out of camera jpegs are good, when it can get the white balance right and for decent lighting. Indoors or in low light, even at ISO400, the extra benefits of RAW are worthwhile. I'm not finding it onerous to do RAW processing, even via SilkyPix, so continue to shun jpeg. (I actually like the batch process feature of SilkyPix, which, despite what dpreview say, allows individual processing on each image in a batch, just like other batch converters.)

Last point - I much prefer separate B&W conversion to in-camera (photo with this post). My preferred B&W workflow is to do the conversion in Lightzone from either a converted TIFF or straight from RAW. With the LX3, my route is SilkyPix for base conversion, Neat Image (in Photoshop) for any noise reduction and then Lightzone for final black and white. This yields much more pleasing results for me than out of camera B&W mode.

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