Panasonic DMC-LC1 Impression

Previous cameras

To put into perspective where I came from, here is a list of the cameras that I owned in reverse chronological order:

  • Panasonic DMC-LC1, a prosumer-level point-and-shoot that is the Leica Digilux 2 twin.
  • Canon A610, an excellent compact point-and-shoot camera.
  • Fujifilm F10, an outstanding lowlight performer that can pump the ISO to 1600 while maintaining resonably low noise.
  • Panasonic DMC-FX7, one of my favorite: small, image stabilization, 2.5″ screen, excellent picture quality.
  • Fujifilm S2Pro, a DSLR that I still own. It has excellent picture quality, hard-to-beat skin tone.
  • Nikon Coolpix 5000. I have too many thowaways with this camera. It works well for somebody, but not me.
  • Nikon Coolpix 995. I quickly sold this one to get the Coolpix 5000: I did not like the swivel lens.
  • A Kodak 1MP camera whose model has long escaped me. This was my first digital camera.

Of the ones in the list, the cameras that I currently still own are: LC1, A610, and S2pro. I keep the A610 in the car most of the time for those quick captures. My wife loves the S2 despite its large size and chunky lens. I hope the LC1 will replace my S2 for most situations.

First Impressions

My first impression of the LC1: it is heavy on the left side so one-hand operation is difficult, but not impossible. The camera is well built, I am impressed at the quality of the doors and hinges, especially the battery door: it is the best battery door among the P&S I have encountered. I get confused between the zoom and focus rings; time will fix that. The menu is not the easiest to use–just enough to get by. I prefer the A610’s and S2’s menus.

The white balance is not consistent; my Canon A610 leaves the LC1 in the dust in this department. If I only move the camera just an inch, my picture might go from perfect white balance to a warmer (or colder) tone.

The lens barrel has three rings: the zoom, the focus, and the aperture ring. Since I spent a good deal of time on my DSLR, I am used to operating the zoom ring. In fact, I prefer this method over zooming with the thumb or index finger. To enable autofocus, lock the ring to the AF or AF-Macro positions. For people who used the good old film range finder cameras, the aperture ring should be familar.

These are my first impressions. I will update this page regularly. Please send me any comments you might have.

2006-02-11 Update

Today, I took the kids to the park and brought the LC1 to test outdoor pictures. Unfortunately, I forgot to bring my 1GB SD card and had to get by with a puny 16MB one. Thus, I set the picture size to 1280 which is one size larger than 640; I also set compression to the most agressive. That allowed me to take more than 30 pictures.

To my surprise, they are very vibrant and I do not think I have any problem with 4×6 prints. Overall, I think the color is excellent: warm, bright, and vibrant. The only complain I have against the color is the LC1’s sky seems to be lighter than what I got from my Canon A610. In the future, I might bring both cameras out and test my theory.

While I do not usually take photos at wide angle, I found myself dialed to 28mm as often as 90mm. What set the LC1 apart from the other cameras is how intuitive it is. To zoom, just turn the ring. Need flash? Pop it open. Need aperture priority mode? lock the shutter dial to A (automatic) and dial the aperture ring. My wife, on the other hand, dislike the camera’s large size. She said she would rather use our even-bigger Fujifilm S2 because after all, it is an DSLR.

A second complain I have against the LC1 is the shutter lag. There are some instances when I try to capture a running kid and ended up taking the picture sans kid. This is the problem that prompted my wife and I to purchased our DSLR in the first place.

2006-02-12 Update

Today, I took the camera out for more pictures. I found the LC1’s auto white balance works better in the sun than in the shade. In the shade, the automatic setting renders the picture with a blue cast. My Canon A610 has no problem in this situation. I am sure that if I custom set the white balance, the colors will be dead on. However, custom setting might not be practical because I constantly switched between the sun lit and shade areas; it would be a pain to remember switching the white balance settings accordingly.

2006-02-25 Update

Yesterday, I took the camera for a walk where I frequently step between the sun lit and shaded areas. I found it hard to view the pictures on the 2.5″ LCD, so I switch to the electronic viewfinder (EVF) and found it not very clear. Before I purchase the camera, I was aware of this limitation. However, as I now experienced it, I found it annoying.

The square lens hood add very little weigh and dimension to the camera, but it helps to shield the lens from flare. For that reason, I keep it on most of the time. I recommend you do the same. At least, keep the hood and the square cap in your camera bag so you can use it outdoor.

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