I’ve been using my Panasonic DMC-LX5 for quite some time now, more or less exclusively. Do I miss my Nikon D300, that waits for me in a bag in Vienna? Not at all. I still have no strategy for when to use one and when the other, I will definitely not sell my Nikon gear, but the moments when I really feel that I would need the DSLR are extremely rare. Maybe it’s because on the D300 I mainly use the same range of focal lengths, maybe it’s because I am no action shooter at all.
But then, in the end it is all about image quality, right? Well, of course at base ISO all cameras should make images as good as their lens allows, and the Leica-branded lens on the LX5 is pretty darn good. Indeed, this small camera does not disappoint our expectations at all. The images are as good as 10 megapixels can be. I don’t particularly like colors in the JPEGs right out of the camera, but when I convert from RAW myself, the results are pretty impressive.
Black and white conversions are especially critical, because when we do that, we often stretch the limits a tad more than we would do in color. Take this image, taken Saturday a week ago. It was taken at noon on a sunny day at the edge of a forest. Well, you can imagine the enormous contrast, and for B&W I have lightened the shadow regions substantially.
I do see some noise. The important fact is though, that it is not worse than what I’d see in a file from the D300, that had been taken through the same steps. It’s just good enough.
So, is the LX5 good enough for B&W work, given that we are satisfied with the 7.5 megapixels of a square image? Yes, indeed!