Panasonic Lumix DMC LZ5 Camera review | Adjustments
The Panasonic Lumix LZ5 is primarily intended for those who wish to use a fully automatic camera. Consequently, this camera does not offer you the option to set aperture or shutter speeds, although you are able to adjust the white balance, ISO, focus area, resolution, compression, etc. In addition to this, the camera features built-in digital effects that allow you to influence the image. This can, for example, be done by giving the photo a slightly warmer tint, or by converting it to black-and-white. The pre-programmed scenes modes, 15 in total, each prioritise one particular part of the image. In practice, this proves easy to work with, although the difference between them can sometimes be tricky to recognise.
Panasonic Lumix LZ5 - 6x Optical zoom lens
The 6x optical zoom lens of the Panasonic LZ5 compact camera offers an attractive range of 37 - 222mm (equivalent of a 35mm camera). This range is in fact larger than that of the average compact camera, although it should be said the development in this area has far from come to a halt. Panasonic recently introduced the Panasonic Lumix DMC TZ1, which features a 10x optical zoom and a more compact size. We will soon cover this new model in one of our digital camera reviews. The quality of the optical zoom lens of the Panasonic LZ5 is excellent. The wide-angle images show a great deal of detail, whilst keeping the chromatic aberration to a minimum. In fact, upon zooming in lightly, it vanishes entirely, an impressive performance. The Panasonic Lumix LZ5 lens does show a little more distortion than average, mainly in the wide-angle mode. Once again, zooming in lightly proves the solution to produce an image that is virtually free of distortion. It has to be pointed out, however, that this distortion in wide-angle is far from unusual, and not at all bothersome in the majority of the captured images.
Panasonic LZ5 - Sharpness of the images
When looking at the sharpness of the images, we see it isn't the same in the entire image. The edges of the images turn out a little less sharp, which is mainly noticeable when working with enlargements of a crop or large size prints. When comparing the entire focal range, we see a very decent sharpness, which only falters somewhat in wide-angle. The Panasonic Lumix DMC LZ5 is able to focus from a distance of 5 cm (Wide-Angle) up to 50 cm (Tele). The macro images look great, and are both sharp and rich in detail. Consequently, the camera is perfectly suitable to explore the wonderful world of macro outdoors, provided sufficient light is present. The internal flash, however, is unable to effectively expose an image as it should. It requires a minimum distance of 50 cm, which means you need to make sure enough light is present when capturing a macro image.
Panasonic DMC LZ5 - Automatic white balance
The camera features an automatic white balance, which the majority of the users are likely to work with. This automatic white balance handles the majority of the images very well indeed. Although they are not entirely neutral, and tend to lean somewhat to a red tone, it easily suffices for a compact camera such as the Panasonic Lumix LZ5. The manual white balance proves to be the most neutral, but most users of the Panasonic Lumix LZ5 will be unlikely to resort to it. When working with overly present fluorescent light, the AWB (automatic white balance) may occasionally miscalculate, but a small correction via the appropriate white balance programme will help you prevent colour cast.
Panasonic Lumix DMC LZ5 - ISO values
Thanks to the excellent performance of the optical image stabiliser, the user will only rarely have to resort to high ISO values. And trust us when we say that is a good thing, as Panasonic could definitely improve when it comes to the signal/noise ratio. The low ISO values of 80 and 100 prove to produce superb results, whilst maintaining a great degree of detail. However, when looking at the results of the 200 and 400 ISO values, we see that Panasonic certainly aren't up to par with today's standards. Especially considering the fact that the other parts and features of the Panasonic LZ5 are in fact a lot more impressive. However, I still expect a future generation of Lumix LZ-series cameras to improve where the high ISO values are concerned. For now, the presence of the optical image stabiliser earns Panasonic the benefit of the doubt.
Panasonic Lumix LZ5 - Fast series of images
Despite the fact that the Panasonic Lumix LZ5 features a function to capture fast series of images, with 3 frames per second in fact, the camera does not offer such a speedy performance on all fronts. The standard single image setting offers a speed of approximately 2fps, which is average. The start-up speed isn't particularly fast; it takes the camera four seconds to be ready to capture your first image. The long charging time of the internal flash proves somewhat annoying; the 7 seconds that the Panasonic LZ5 needs for this is simply too long. Although the Panasonic DMC LZ5 performs quite decently overall, the camera does send somewhat of a mixed signal. On one hand, the camera wants to offer more speed, but on the other it requires quite a bit of time.
Panasonic Lumix DMC LZ5 - Multi/segment metering
The user does not have the option to adjust the light metering. The Panasonic Lumix LZ5 only features the multi-segment metering. It should be said, however, that this does suffice for the majority of the images. Although I did find myself wishing for spot metering on certain occasions, I can imagine the average owner of the LZ5 camera will not be familiar with the different forms of metering. The images show a good exposure, it is only in images with high contrast that the shadow areas tend to clog up somewhat, whilst the bright areas suffer from a slightly "bleached-out" effect. A small exposure correction may help at times, but the fact remains that too high contrast is often a particularly tricky situation for the camera.
Panasonic DMC LZ5 digital compact camera
When looking at all the parts and features of the Panasonic Lumix DMC LZ5 compact camera together, we may conclude that Panasonic offer the user true value for money. The surplus value of the optical image stabiliser is clear as daylight, and the fact that the user is provided with many handy automatic settings only adds to the fun. For an entry-level digital camera, the Panasonic LZ5 offers considerably high quality.