Monday, December 22, 2008

10 ways Panasonic can improve the LX3

The Panasonic Lumix LX3 is an incredible compact camera. Having used it for about two months, I think I have roughly understood this high-end P&S. I brought it with me on my China holiday in beautiful Yun Nan this month, and the LX3 performed well beyond my expectations. In fact, because of its size and ease of use, I find myself shooting more with the LX3 than my 400D in China.

Despite how good it is, there is always room for improvement. Here are my top 10 improvements I would like to see in the next version of this series.

1) Longer zoom (more than 3X)
The current 2.5 times zoom is fine for landscape, but for things like portraits a longer focal length is greatly appreciated.

2) Built-in lens cap
The current SLR-like lens cap is annoying to take on and off when shooting, and increases the size of the already huge lens. Without attaching the cap to the camera body, it can be lost easily. But when attached with the provided string, it dangles about dangerously and may hit against the body. A built-in cap is more convenient and practical.

3) Wrist strap
This is a minor problem. The LX3 does not come with a wrist strap; it only has an SLR-like neck strap, which is long and cumbersome. To solve this, use a wrist strap from your old compact cam.

4) Better high ISO performance
As it is, the LX3 is one of the better low light compact cams I've seen. However, it is still incomparable to high ISO performance even on the entry-level dSLRs, such as the Canon 1000D. On the LX3, anything above ISO 800 is unusable because the noise reduction obliterates any details. If you're printing large prints, ISO 400 is about the limit for retaining image quality. Nonetheless, I must say that at ISO 80/100, image quality is astoundingly good, producing noiseless photographs.

5) Better WB performance
In daylight conditions the white balance is generally fine. However, in tricky or low light situations, white balance tends to go horrendously off without flash, as with compact cams generally. Shooting in RAW definitely helps to counter this problem.

6) Stiffer mode dial
This is really me being anal-retentive... but I would like the mode dial to be stiffer so I don't accidentally turn it.

7) Scratch-proof screen
I passed the LX3 to my sis for 2 days and it came back with many surface scratches on the large 3 inch screen. Would really appreciate a scratch-resistant screen (like the iPod touch).

8) Better video recording format
Video on the LX3 is recorded in the old Quicktime motion JPEG format (.mov), which produces very huge files (though quality is good). Would appreciate a more compatible file extension such as .mpeg4 and smaller file sizes.

9) More powerful flash
I noticed that the flash could be more powerful, especially when taking wide angle group shots in low light. However, for fill flash in backlit conditions, the flash suffices.

10) Sturdier battery/SD card door
This is another small issue that only anal people like me bother about. The rectangular door housing the battery and SD card is a bit flimsy. I would appreciate a stiffer and sturdier door.

Having listed my 10 ten improvements, I hope the next revision of the LX series will get better and these complaints (some very minor) will be addressed. Do bear in mind that this list does not in any way suggest that the LX3 is inferior, for indeed this is one heck of a camera that really impresses.

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