The Canon Powershot G10 and Panasonix Lumix LX3 offer advanced compact capabilities in a package small enough to carry on you at all times. But which is best – G10 or LX3?

You could be forgiven for thinking that the rise and rise of the entry-level DSLR effectively meant the downfall of top end compacts. After all, all reports we hear at the moment point to the fact that more people than ever are entering the market at the starter DSLR price point. And, with bargains such as the Nikon D40 on the market, it’s not hard to see why.

However, in what may be as a consequence of buyers getting the bug for advanced photography but still wanting a compact companion, the advanced compact market is as prosperous as ever before. Now in its eighth incarnation, Canon’s ‘G’ series – the Canon G10 – is one of the forbearers of offering DSLR-like functionality and specification in a more compact body, and the G10 has proved as popular as any before.

Panasonic, on the other hand, is relatively new to the field, with the Panasonic LX3 being the latest in a short line of the type. So, how exactly does the veteran Canon G10 fare against the new boy Lumix LX3, and do either offer such a proposition that could allow you to drop the DSLR altogether?

Panasonic Lumix LX3 vs Canon PowerShot G10 – Features

Panasonic Lumix LX3 vs Canon PowerShot G10 – Features

While both the Canon G10 and the Panasonic LX3 offer similarly impressive, high-end specifications that dwarf most other compact cameras on the market, there is enough differentiation within the pair’s specification to view them in isolation. To begin with, it’s clear that Canon and Panasonic have taken very different approaches to how best specify an advanced compact’s sensor.

Canon has no real concerns about cramming a relatively large amount of megapixels onto a relatively small sensor, as the Canon G10 boasts a 1/1.7in CCD sensor with an effective 14.7MP count. Perhaps weary of the perils that a combination of high megapixels and small sensors can present, or merely happy to take a step back from the megapixel race, Panasonic has adopted an entirely different approach – not only does the Panasonic LX3 have a sensor that boasts
fractionally more real estate, measuring in at 1/1.63in, but also has
an effective megapixel count of 10.1MP, over 4MP less than the Canon.

The Canon G10 and Panasonic LX3 also vary fairly dramatically with regards to lens implementation as well. Canon opts for a 5x optical zoom with the G10, offering a 28-140mm equivalent focal range and a maximum aperture of f/2.8-5. Alternatively, Panasonic utilises its ongoing partnership with Leica to incorporate a Leica 3x optical zoom with the LX3, one which offers a 24mm wide angle and equivalent focal range of 24-60mm. What’s unique about the lens on the LX3 is that it offers a maximum aperture of f/2-2.8 – one that is exceptional amongst its class and affords lots of creative options including quicker shutter speeds at lower ISO settings and a shallower depth of field.

So, with the major differences between the pair established, it’s worth considering
the similarities. Both the G10 and LX3 offer 3in LCD screens with an impressive 460k-dot resolution, albeit with the G10 also offering a small viewfinder as an accompaniment, and both of the aforementioned lenses are bolstered by optical image stabilisation.

As you’d hope from a camera that’s competing for your attention amongst its DSLR rivals, both the G10 and the LX3 offer full manual control over shutter and aperture, alongside scene modes and auto capture, while offering Raw image capture for those looking to take on the task of post-production.

Despite these similarities, there are still further differences between the pair. For example, while both models offer motion picture output, only the LX3 does at 1080p Full HD quality, complete with a direct HD output. The pair also offer differing ISO sensitivity – The Canon G10 offers ISO sensitivity from 80-1600, while the Panasonic LX3 offers a greater range from ISO 80-3200, with the option of an increased ISO up to 6400 at a reduced resolution.

One nice feature of both models is the range of accessories you can add to the pair. For example, Canon’s G10 is compatible with a range of the brand’s Speedlite flashguns, while a conversion lens adapter can also be fitted to allows for a tele-convertor to be fitted to the lens, in turn increasing the focal range of the camera. Panasonic’s LX3 offers a similar array of accessories – a conversion lens adaptor allows the attachment of a wideangle lens convertor, while an external optical viewfinder can be added via the camera’s hotshoe, or alternatively use the hotshoe for the conventional external flashgun.

Panasonic Lumix LX3 vs Canon PowerShot G10 – Design

Panasonic Lumix LX3 vs Canon PowerShot G10 – Design

What’s striking on first impressions of both the G10 and LX3 is their relatively ‘retro’ design. The Panasonic LX3 is available in both silver and black, though the black version we tested seems the more appealing thanks to its understated nature and an overall finish which suits the models features, and which is also the default colour of the robust G10. Another facet that adds to the pair’s retro feel is a range of manual controls on the cameras bodies. For example, rather than a button or assortment of buttons, as is conventional on a compact, the G10 sports attractive manual dials for control of both ISO setting and exposure compensation.

While the LX3 offers controls over ISO and exposure compensation in the conventional manner, it too sports its own manual controls – the camera’s houses switch for both focus, on the side, and aspect ratio, on the top. While these represent by no means a wholesale manual control set-up, it’s a nice gesture that makes the pair refreshing to use and a nice break from the continuous wave of compact cameras difficult to distinguish one from another.

The size and weight of the Panasonic LX3 varies only slightly from a conventional compact, with the only real difference being a noticeably protruding lens. The Canon G10, on the other hand, is generally larger and heavier than most compacts on the market – in fact, the G10 weighs in at 350g, just 30g lighter than an Olympus E-420 DSLR.

This difference in size and weight characterises the difference between the two cameras – where the LX3 feels like a creative compact camera which would be a worthy companion for your DSLR, the G10 feels more like a model that’s competing to be a viable alternative to a DSLR. While the LX3 could relatively comfortably fit in your pocket, at around 50% larger heavier, the G10 would probably be best suited to a dedicated camera bag or shoulder strap.

Panasonic Lumix LX3 vs Canon PowerShot G10 – Performance & Value

Panasonic Lumix LX3 vs Canon PowerShot G10 – Performance & Value

One thing that thee Panasonic LX3 and Canon G10 share is that they are both excellent performers. They are an absolute pleasure to use, and with the additional, albeit relatively minimal,
manual controls offer something different to the standard compact camera market.

However, if you’re looking for a camera with a lightning-fast frame rate, then neither the G10 nor LX3 is likely to be the option for you – Canon’s G10 offers capture at a fairly slow 1.3fps at full resolution, while the LX3 offers a differing range of frame rates at varying resolution, the fastest being 6fps which, although quick, only utilises 3MP of the camera’s sensor.

While speed may not be overwhelming with regards to continuous shooting, the rest of the pair’s functionality displays an impressive swiftness. Both models offer a prompt start-up time, and in general use are intuitive enough to offer no obstacles to quick navigate. Auto focus is also impressive for both, though the Lumix LX3 is a touch quicker in most circumstances.

Both the LX3 and the G10 display small quirks with their metering. For example, Canon’s G10 has the slight tendency to overexpose, and as such highlights can appear a touch washed out. The LX3, on the other hand, has a slight propensity to underexpose, but as such highlights are better maintained and images offer an overall better tone.

It’s also worth noting that both cameras offer both Raw and JPEG capture. Now, this is somewhat of a bugbear for many in looking to get a creative compact camera. Most manufacturers have realised that the kind of photographer purchasing a creative camera is going to want full manual control over shutter speed and aperture, as they’re also realising that Raw capture is a welcome addition. After all, if you’re buying either the G10 or the LX3 to accompany  your DSLR, chances are that you’re going to want the same kind of capture options your DSLR presents. As such, it’s welcome that both the G10 and the LX3 offer Raw capture.

One final point of note with the pair is fringing. While the Leica glass on the LX3 performs excellently in displaying little or no noticeable noise, the same cannot be said of the G10. Fringing is noticeable in any area of contrast or bold light, and although it’s by no means the worse display of the image quality flaw ever seen, it’s much more pronounced than the LX3.

 

Panasonic Lumix LX3 vs Canon PowerShot G10 – Value

Considering the range of similarities between both the G10 and LX3, analysing their respective values throws up some interesting results. The RRPs vary significantly – the Panasonic LX3 hit the market with a price tag of £399, while, with the recent rise in Canon prices, the RRP for the Canon G10 sits at £569. However, as is always the case with a camera being on the market for any substantial period of time, the pair sport street prices of £340 and £380 respectively – a fair amount less than the suggest retail prices…

Owing to the relative similarity of the pair, the £40 price difference is understandable, and while that places both cameras at a price point approaching and entry-level DSLR, the combination of advanced functionality in a compact package mean that both the G10 and LX3 are still a good value proposition.

Panasonic Lumix LX3 vs Canon PowerShot G10 – Image Quality

Panasonic Lumix LX3 vs Canon PowerShot G10 – Image Quality

LX3 vs G10 – Exposure and Tone

Both the Canon PowerShot G10 and Panasonic Lumix LX3 have mild quirks with regards to exposure, with those of the Canon slightly more to the detriment of the look and feel of the images. Panasonic’s LX3 has a tendency to underexpose, but only to the slightest degree and, if anything, the underexposure helps general tone of the image. On the other hand, Canon’s G10 more often than not errs on the side of overexposure – the images h ave a slightly washed-out feel, lacking real tone and contrast. While this is easy to correct with a slight curves adjustment in post-processing, it must be said that images from the LX3 are more usable straight from camera.

 

Panasonic LX3 vs. Canon G10 image quality comparison 2
Panasonic’s LX3 (right) has a tendency to underexpose, but not to the detriment of image’s tone. Click on the image above for more sample shots taken with the LX3 and G10

 

LX3 vs G10 – White Balance

One area that both the LX3 and G10 excel in is the accuracy and reliability of white balance. In most shooting conditions, both models offer accurate results with very little variation from shot to shot. If anything, images captured on the G10 appear a little warmer, though this is due more to the propensity of the G10 to display saturated colours.

 

LX3 vs G10 – Detail and Sharpness

Considering the fact that the G10 possesses over 4MP more than the LX3, the pair display a very similar amount of detail when closely examined, and certainly enough so as to be noticeable unless images are to be excessively enlarged.

 

Panasonic LX3 vs. Canon G10 image quality comparison 1
Canon’s G10 (left) displays marginally more detail thanks to the extra four megapixels. Click on the image above for more sample shots taken with the LX3 and G10

 

LX3 vs G10 – JPEG and Raw

The most noticeable difference between Raw and JPEG files with the G10 and the LX3 is the way in which the pair handle noise at high ISO settings. When comparing Raw and JPEG files at high-ISO settings on the G10, the difference is stark – Raw files features more detail and more accurate colour, though noise is pronounced, whereas JPEG files lack the same detail and colour accuracy as a sacrifice for limited noise. Raw and JPEG files are similar on the LX3, and as such post-production noise control is the preferable option.

 

LX3 vs G10 – Noise

Both the G10 and the LX3 handle noise well, but display noticeable differences in the way in which they process it at high-ISO settings. At lower ISO settings, say up to ISO 400, both cameras handle noise well, though it’s fair to say that the LX3 is the ‘noisier’ of the pair. At ISO 800 and 1600, again the LX3 is best described as the nosiest of the two, but what is noticeable is that the noise reduction of the G10 is pretty aggressive, especially at ISO 1600 where the drop off in both detail and colour accuracy is particularly noticeable.

Panasonic Lumix LX3 vs Canon PowerShot G10 – Verdict

Panasonic Lumix LX3 vs Canon PowerShot G10 – Verdict

There’s no doubt that there is an awful lot similar about the Panasonic LX3 and the Canon G10. Both feature pleasing manual controls for camera settings, harking back cameras of yore, while full PASM control means that the pair are definitely worthy offerings in the ‘creative compact’ category. Add to that the good image quality – the LX3 more reliable with tone and exposure, while the G10 performs better with noise control – and it’s hard to separate them.

But, it’s in the differences that one must look to pick a preferred option – the Canon G10 offers a wider focal range, more megapixels and a viewfinder (albeit a limited use viewfinder). These extra features, however, come at the expense of the compactness a creative compact should offer. Not only is the G10 nearly 100g heavier than the LX3, but its dimensions make it appear almost 50% larger in the hand than the Panasonic LX3.

The sensible conclusion is that each camera has its merits. If you’re looking for a creative compact and don’t already own a DSLR, nor have the intention to own one in the near future and instead have a creative compact as your sole shooting device, then the  Canon G10 is probably the camera for you. However, if you’ve already got a bag of DSLR gear and are instead looking for a creative compact to take out with you at all times, yet aren’t prepared to make any sacrifices on either functionality nor image quality, then the more compact and lightweight Panasonic LX3 is the one to go for.

 

Individual What Digital Camera Reviews:

 – Canon Powershot G10 review

 – Panasonic Lumix LX3 review

  1. 1. Introduction
  2. 2. Panasonic Lumix LX3 vs Canon PowerShot G10 - Features
  3. 3. Panasonic Lumix LX3 vs Canon PowerShot G10 - Design
  4. 4. Panasonic Lumix LX3 vs Canon PowerShot G10 - Performance & Value
  5. 5. Panasonic Lumix LX3 vs Canon PowerShot G10 - Image Quality
  6. 6. Panasonic Lumix LX3 vs Canon PowerShot G10 - Verdict
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