My (Nearly) Perfect Point-n-Shoot Pocket Digital Camera

Darwin has long been a fan of digital point-n-shoot cameras and, when he still had his Canon G11, he took it with him nearly all the time. I wasn’t so keen on that camera. Although I really liked the tilt-swivel LCD screen which made low and high angle photography easy, I wasn’t a big fan of the controls on the G11. I found there was no good place to grip the camera without accidentally bumping a button (especially with gloves on) resulting in constantly having to readjust settings. Also, some of the features that I like to use required pressing multiple buttons or pressing the same button multiple times — and that means missed shots! Perhaps if I could’ve pried the camera out of Darwin’s fingers more often I would have become more familiar with it, but I do appreciate a camera that not only has intuitive ergonomics (so I don’t have to memorize where a particular function is) but also ‘gets me to my shot’ as quickly as possible. No more did I feel the pain of a slow-handling camera than on a summer backpacking trip; by the end of that multi-day trip, I wanted to pitch the camera into the lake.

Maybe it’s too much to ask for a point-n-shoot camera with user friendly controls, raw file capability and passable file quality. I was even prepared to settle for a camera without a tilt-swivel LCD! I decided to not give up (or drown the G11) and started searching for a point-n-shoot that would meet my needs. Darwin and I tried out two compact digital cameras; the Fuji X10 and the Panasonic GX1. Both were wonderful cameras and we were impressed by them (see our review here), but neither fit my needs for a small pocketable camera (they were both too big for my needs). Several people wrote to us here on the blog and suggested we try the Panasonic LX-5 since it might fit the bill for a user-friendly pocketable point-n-shoot with raw file capabilities. Although the camera was introduced over two years ago, it is still widely used by many photographers especially more advanced photographers who appreciate the raw files and level of manual control.

Our good friend Alan Ernst of Aurum Lodge has owned and used a LX-5 for nearly two years. He swore by it not only for ease of control and logical layout but also because he loved how fast it was to switch formats from 16:9, 3:2, 4:3 or 1:1 ratios. Alan lent us his LX-5 to try and I gave it the ‘Sam’ test. If there is something that does not work well with a camera, I’ll find it!

I was pretty stoked to find that the controls make sense and I could access them quickly.  The camera makes fairly nice files with natural colours. Like Alan, I also came to appreciate the ability to quickly change formats so I can frame the scene with a format (square, rectangular or wide screen) that makes sense for the composition. The exposure compensation is fast and easy to use and the camera is small enough to take anywhere. The only think I didn’t like and apparently all point-n-shoot digital cameras suffer this problem is the fact that macro mode works best when the lens is at its widest setting. In macro photography I rarely want a wide angle view! I wish point-n-shoot digital cameras allowed macro focus even when the lens is extended to its longest telephoto setting. I don’t design ‘em, I just use ‘em, I guess.

In the end we bought the LX-5 from Alan (he replaced it with a GX1) Not only did we follow our own advice about the minimal upgrade (waiting and buying an older, used and proven camera model), I now have my own little pocket camera that I am happy to use. Now if I could just get Darwin to stop stealing my camera!

Pathway in Cochrane, Alberta, Canada

© Samantha Chrysanthou – Pathway in Cochrane

Aspen forest in Cochrane, Alberta, Canada

© Samantha Chrysanthou

©Darwin Wiggett – Samantha hamming it up for the camera.

©Darwin Wiggett – Foggy morning in Cochrane

About the Author

Photographing the incredible beauty of natural things, filming quirky videos, trying new foods with unpronounceable names, curling up with a good book, sharing ideas on how to live lighter on the Earth...these are a few of my favourite things!

9 Comments

  1. Mary Alston
    April 2, 2012

    I just upgraded to the LX5 from the LX3 and I agree that it is a great camera to take with you wherever you go. My only complaint is that it doesn’t have an optical viewfinder. In Colorado we get lots of sunshine and in some conditions, it is tough frame the shot. I love your foggy morning shots.

  2. Carolyn
    April 3, 2012

    I have this camera . . it too goes everywhere with me. Love it for foodies photography and for situations when the behemoth camera is just not kewl or socially acceptable.

  3. hiro
    April 3, 2012

    Sam. now you are Leica user (I guess if L lens or not is quite important for you, though). I saw a person using a polarizer on Lux in back-country. I like all 4 photos. Nice mood in these images. Do you see any differences between your Nikon and LX-5, image character wise?

    • Samantha
      April 4, 2012

      Hi Hiro,

      Haven’t really done a comparison yet. the LX-5 did seem to have a slight magenta colour cast to the files when put on the computer (see the foggy day shots above). The Nikon has always been pretty neutral.

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    April 3, 2012

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  5. Craig
    April 4, 2012

    Hey Sam,

    I am a bit confused here. ( very easy these days!) In your article you mention the LX5 does RAW images. However on Panasonic’s web site under the specifications for that camera, it does not mention a RAW file format. The FZ150 for example does show it will do RAW images under the specifications area. I looked at the review for the camera on dpreview.com and it also says it does RAW.

    Am I missing something here? Or do I just need more sleep ’cause 3 hours doesn’t cut it? :)

    • Darwin Wiggett
      April 5, 2012

      Well on the menu system of the LX-5 for image quality it has RAW as an option. that is what we pick!

      And when we bring these riles into Adobe Camera Raw they come us as .RW2 files which are the file designation for Panasonic raw files – http://www.file-extensions.org/rw2-file-extension

  6. Jay Gould
    April 7, 2012

    Hi D &S,

    Darwin, what are you carrying to replace the G11?

    Sam, is the fact that the LX-5 has a “slight magenta colour cast” one of the reasons it is not perfect and only “nearly perfect”?

    I have the G12; I am still looking for the “Perfect” point and shoot for Jackie – needs to be waterproof for snorkeling.

    • Darwin Wiggett
      April 8, 2012

      Sam and I share the LX-5 (gimme that camera Sam!).

      The magenta cast was only apparent on that foggy morning so far. A perfect camera would still have the tilt-swivel scree, never a colour cast, better macro and a little better files than current point-n-shoots but still be pocketable (asking too much?)

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