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Glen Pitt-Pladdy :: Blog

Waiting for Panny

I now have the money in the bank and the Fuji incident behind me. Then I tried to buy a Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3...

Sold out

No luck so far. Everywhere I could find was sold out, or asking insane prices for the stock they had. Even on eBay second hand ones are changing hands for more than new prices. I got onto the forums to look at what is happening and found themburning with speculation and rumours. Where has the Panny gone?

There had been rumours of being discontinued which would then leave only the very expensive Leica equivalent. I get the feeling that the cost of the Leica is simply for the name as there is very little difference (some extra options in JPEG mode that is irrelevant to RAW shooting and the removal of the grip for that retro Leica look).

It turns out that the LX3 had been selling very well - no surprise there. I think it walks all over other current high-end compacts with the possible exception of the Canon G10, but that's a big chunk of camera for a compact and not what I would class as "pocketable". Considering the LX2 and LX1 had poor sales, it is quite possible that Panasonic simply grossly underestimated the demand.Those familiar with Canon dSLRs would be familiar with the waiting lists for stock of newer models.

The more informed in the forums seem to confirm that Panasonic has deep back-orders of the LX3, and they still have it in their catalogue for the first half of the year, so it looks hopeful that it will be back on the scene. I have checked and there does seem to be some becoming available in the US, so hopefully stock will start appearing in the UK soon.

While you wait

I've been looking at what else is available and come to the conclusion that things are bleak for serious photographers who want a good compact.

A Canon with CHDK is always a temptation, but until I shell out money for a G10 or the like, unlikely to be a serious contender. All the A series and IXUS cameras from Canon have becomes so tightly aimed at the dumbed down consumer market that they lack real apertures (got a ND filter that can be moved in instead) and have tiny sensors which isn't great for noise. The possible exception with Canon compacts is the old S80. The lens isn't great though (not like the G10 or Panny), and there doesn't seem to have been the enthusiasm to implement a CHDK port for the camera.

I had a look at the old Panasonic LX2. Not bad in many respects. I'm not sure why they got so much stick for image quality. The RAW seems very similar to the new LX3, but I think the newer lens is better. They lack a flash shoe, but while it is nice to know I could stick a big flash on it, it does rather defeat the point of a camera to carry around everywhere if I am going to be dragging a bag of accessories round with it. Even without a flash shoe, I could get a slave cell with pre-flash suppression and put it with my existing Canon 550ex units on manual, and an IR filter over the built in flash.

Open Wide!

One thing that I had been concerned about with the LX3 was lack of long end on the lens. As is often the case, there is a simple test that can be done: graph up the distributions of my lens usage.

On my Fuji E900, my lens usage on everything I ever shot looks like I almost always shot wide:

Distribution of lens focal lengths

Then I did the same with all the photos from my old Olympus compact I used previously:

Distribution of lens focal lengths

A familiar pattern.... I shoot about 70-80% of the time with the lens as wide as it will go. Thinking about it, that isn't a surprise: When I am using a compact it's because I am out and about and shooting scenes more than detail. Reality is that the Panny LX3 is probably much better for me with the 24mm wide end than anything else.

I can't help wondering what the distributions look like for everyone else.

Something for now

Until Pannys become available again, I am going to keep my eyes out for a cheap second hand CHDK compatible Canon. I reckon I can pick something up for under £80 which will be a lot of fun to experiment with while I wait for the LX3 to come back into stock.

In light of my shooting habits I am going to see if I can get something with a 28mm equivalent lens since this seems to be where it's at with the way I use compacts. The 35mm or 38mm wide end on most compacts simply doesn't suit me well. That forces me to look at the IXUS range which seem to be the only place Canon still has some wide lenses without getting expensive, and from the noise point of view (but no wide lens) the A6x0 series seems interesting - 1/1.8" or 1/1.7" sensors!

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