Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5 Digital Camera Review$499.95
The Panasonic DMC-LX5 fared well in our noise testing, boasting an average noise level of just 1.16% across all ISO levels in bright light. There was certainly an increase in noise during our low light testing, but the change was impressively little. We usually see a large jump in noise at 60 lux, but the jump was quite minor for the LX5. Average noise in low light was just 1.25%. More on how we test noise.
That low-light noise performance is really what sets the LX5 apart; as you can see from the chart below, the camera did not fare particularly well in bright light. It did score significantly better than the less expensive ZS3, but it was just a bit noisier than its primary competitors, the Canon G11 and Samsung TL500. As impressed as we were with the LX5's noise performance in low light, the bright light results were a bit disappointing.
There is no significant spike in noise at any particular ISO, though ISO 3200 does show a jump. Instead, the LX5 noise levels were a tad bit high across the board. What you can see in the crops below, however, is how incredibly clear captured images are at 60 lux. Most cameras have significant trouble in such dim lighting conditions.
The Panasonic DMC-LX5 has a healthy range of ISO options from ISO 80 to ISO 3200. As it turns out, this is pretty much exactly what we expect from a camera in this price range. The simpler and more affordable Panasonic DMC-ZS3 does not offer the ISO 3200 option, but most comparable cameras do. The LX5 also offers a great deal of flexibility for those wishing to shoot in Auto ISO mode: an ISO limit option allows you to cap the ISO at 200, 400, 800, 1600, or 3200. For even more versatility, you can choose to tweak the ISO in 1/3-stop increments instead of regular full ISO increments.
For those that are looking for extended ISO options, the LX5 does have ISO 6400 and ISO 12800, but these are only available at reduced resolution. (Pictures taken with this sensitivity setting have a maximum resolution of 3MP.) We can't really recommend these settings, as the pictures are so low resolution and full of noise that their best use is taking controversial UFO photos.
You can see the camera's full-resolution ISO options in action in the table below.
NOTE: The images above are not used in our testing or scoring, but are included here to show real-world examples of the differences between cameras at the various ISO settings.