Panasonic Lumix DMC-LS70 Digital Camera Review$149.00
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Testing / Performance
If you take your LS70 outdoors to enjoy the red tulips and green grass, you will want to know how accurately it can depict those reds and greens. To test this out, we photographed a GretagMacbeth color chart in optimal studio lighting. The image shown below is modified by Imatest to show pieces of the original chart (vertical rectangle in each tile), colors produced by the Panasonic LS70 (outer frame of each tile), and the luminance-corrected version of the ideal colors (inner square of each tile).
From this image, the colors look good. Imatest also output the image below to show how erroneous individual colors are. The ideal colors from the chart are represented as squares and the Lumix DMC-LS70’s colors are shown as circles.
Colors remain true, with the most error in the blue end of the spectrum. Saturation is nearly perfect at 101.9 percent. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-LS70’s mean color error came to 5.87, which is very good. For any model, the LS70 performed well. As a budget digital camera, the LS70 performed amazingly well.
*The Automatic White Balance setting isn’t always reliable. It was accurate when under fluorescent lighting, which is good because there isn’t a fluorescent preset offered. There is also no flash preset, and unfortunately the Auto White Balance didn’t handle it well: the chart was much too blue when the flash fired.
*The Panasonic LS70 doesn’t have a vast number of Preset White Balance modes, although it does allow for tiny adjustments to be made to the existing presets. Most of the presets are more accurate than the Automatic White Balance. Under tungsten lighting, the preset won out but still made the chart a yellowish green color. Under cloudy lighting, both the Auto and Cloudy settings performed accurately. Generally, users should choose the presets over the automatic setting, but the Manual White Balance is still the far better choice.
**Still Life Sequences
***Click on the thumbnails to view the full-resolution images. *
*This digital camera has a 7.2-megapixel image sensor that we tested by photographing an industry standard resolution chart. We shot the chart at several exposure settings because they often influence the sharpness of the image. After uploading the images to Imatest imaging software, they were sorted and the sharpest one found. It was shot at 16mm with an aperture of f/4.8 and its lowest ISO setting of 100.
Imatest output resolution results numerically in units of line widths per picture height (lw/ph). This unit describes the number of alternating black and white lines of equal thickness that can fit across the frame without blurring.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-LS70 resolved 1810 lw/ph horizontally with 3.6 percent oversharpening and 1746 lw/ph vertically with 8.6 percent oversharpening. These results are very respectable, especially considering this 7.2-megapixel camera sells for $149. The more expensive 7.2-megapixel Panasonic FX50 resolved 1342 lw/ph horizontally and 1232 lw/ph vertically. Overall, the LS70 performed well and will be able to enlarge pictures without too much worry.
We photographed a backlit Stouffer step film to test the dynamic range of the LS70. The film shows a row of rectangles that range from very bright to very dark and tests the camera’s ability to capture the many tones of the range in a single shot. We shot images of the test film at all ISO settings because the sensitivity generally correlates to the dynamic range. Below is a chart showing the manual ISO settings on the horizontal axis and the number of exposure values captured on the vertical axis.
The dynamic range is actually better at ISO 200 as opposed to 100, which is abnormal for a point-and-shoot. This has only happened with one other compact digital camera, also a Panasonic. The Panasonic Lumix TZ3 had better dynamic range at ISO 200 than 100, and its dynamic range was overall better than the LS70’s too – although it costs a lot more, as well. On the Lumix LS70, the jump is significant: there are almost 1.5 exposure values more at ISO 200 than 100. This may correlate to the amount of noise at those settings: the LS70 had more noise at ISO 100 than at 200, perhaps due to its noise reduction system.
The dynamic range at ISO 200 is excellent for a point-and-shoot digital camera. After ISO 200, however, the dynamic range drops significantly with each jump in ISO sensitivity.
*The Panasonic Lumix DMC-LS70 seems equipped to take pictures in low light with its high ISO sensitivity. Using a tripod and the ISO 1250 setting, we took pictures of the color chart under 60, 30, 15, and 5 lux. The 60 lux test is approximately equivalent to a room lit by two soft lamps. The 30 lux test mimics the amount of light that comes from a single 40-watt bulb. The last two tests are quite dark and won’t be used in many photography situations often but are used in this test to challenge the image sensor and see if it has any serious limitations.
The sensor does indeed have limitations. Images at 15 and 5 lux were increasingly underexposed. At 60 and 30 lux, though, illumination remained intact, along with saturation and noise levels. The mean color error even stayed below 10, which is quite good.
We tested the LS70 in the Auto mode during the low light test. It does have Night Scenery and Starry Sky scene modes that allow longer exposures but lock the ISO at 100. We test long exposures only at ISO 400, and when the camera was set to this its longest exposure came to a quarter-second.
Overall, the Panasonic LS70 doesn’t have many manual controls but does decently in low light as long as there is at least 30 lux. However, anything lit with less than a 40-watt bulb will be underexposed.
Noise – Auto ISO*(1.38)*
We let the Panasonic LS70 do what it wanted in the bright studio lighting. At 3000 lux, we set the camera to its automatic ISO setting and snapped some pictures. We analyzed the image and resultant noise, which came out to way too much. In this lighting, there shouldn’t be much noise. However, the LS70 selected an ISO that was a bit too high: ISO 160. That explains the awful 1.38 overall auto ISO noise score.
Noise – Manual ISO*(4.28)*
We shot images of the resolution chart at every manual ISO setting in optimal lighting and let our software program quantify the amount of noise in each picture. Below is a chart showing the results: the manual ISO settings are on the horizontal axis and the accompanying noise is expressed on the vertical axis as a percentage of the total image.
The lowest ISO setting of 100 starts out noisier than most digital cameras. The amount of noise actually drops at ISO 200, indicating some kind of in-camera noise reduction system. From there, the noise only climbs until it’s nearly 4 percent of the image at ISO 1250. These results aren’t very good: at best, 1.5 percent of the image is still lost to noise.
Startup to First Shot (6.9)
The Panasonic LS70 took 3.1 seconds to start up and take its first shot. This is quite leisurely, even for compact digital cameras. Start this camera long before any action may happen; there’s always a Sleep mode to save the batteries, and it’s easier to awaken from that and take a picture.
The LS70 has one Burst mode that takes a shot every 1.5 seconds until the memory card is filled up. This isn’t very impressive; even most compact digital cameras can shoot two or three frames per second. The fact that the burst can shoot to the card’s capacity is a plus, though.
Without the exposure locked, the camera takes a good 0.4 seconds to meter and focus before actually taking the picture. If you want a picture in no time at all, better have the exposure locked beforehand. This is inconvenient for those candid seat-of-the-pants shots, but works just fine for portraits and landscapes.
One shot takes one second to process. Easy enough. It's pretty slow though.
Video Performance *(4.75)*
Bright Indoor Light - 3000 lux
Under the same bright lighting that we performed the color tests, we videoed a colorful video test chart. Imatest analyzed the footage and output similar color error charts. The Movie mode is quite poor on this digital camera. The mean color error shot to 19.5, with warm colors looking the most erroneous. Colors were completely oversaturated at 128.6 percent. The average amount of noise in the video was 0.39 percent. These results are disappointing, but all too common on budget digital cameras.
*Low Light - 30 lux
*When the lights were turned low, the color error dropped to 15.5, which still isn’t great but is better than in bright lighting. The saturation reversed: this can be seen in the color chart below. The circles representing the camera’s colors seem to gravitate to the center of the image where it is unsaturated. Indeed, the saturation dropped to a dull 63.2 percent. The average amount of noise jumped to 1.67 percent, as well. Avoid shooting in lighting that is too bright or too dark to avoid the horrid saturation problems.
Imatest imaging software looked over the footage and analyzed its resolution in much the same way it looks at still pictures. The units of measurement are the same too. In the 640 x 480-pixel Movie mode, the Panasonic LS70 resolved 284 lw/ph with 13.2 percent undersharpening and 513 lw/ph vertically with 1.7 percent undersharpening. These results aren’t incredible, but aren’t bad for a $149 camera, either.
Like most digital cameras’ video, the LS70 had some stuttering with moving objects, especially when they were leaving the frame. This phenomenon occurred less frequently than in other cameras, though. There was also some moiré when objects moved, but there was great contrast and videos overall looked quite good outside.