Panasonic's second DSLR has some fierce competition, so how well does it put up a fight?....
At ISO 100, the L10 is capable of some lovely smooth tones, with little or no noise visible. Up the gain a little to ISO 200 and things deteriorate slightly, but things start to really worsen from ISO 400. The noise has a hard speckly look, and is visible in all colour channels, which is typical of Panasonic’s noise patterns. On a positive note the differences between ISO 400 and 1600 are slight.
Tone And Contrast
Generally the camera handled most scenes well, with even the most tricky subjects maintaining a full range of tones. I was especially impressed with the camera’s ability to handle bright whites in very contrasty winter sun, with rarely recourse to use exposure compensation. The contrast is slightly lower than I would like, but this has the benefit of maintaining the highlight and shadow detail, and a few tweaks in Photoshop soon bring the pictures up to par.
Colour And White Balance
In all the shots I took, the camera impressed me with its white balance control, and, on the whole, Raw files required very little adjustment to balance properly. To push the limits, I shot a still-life with fruit and few grey and white areas for the WB to pick up on, and the camera struggled with this slightly, but manual WB helped to smooth out any problems.
Default colour is pretty impressive too, if a little flat, though there are stacks of colour options within the camera to adjust this to your own taste. The Film Modes are one such way and I particularly like the Vivid and Smooth modes, while the B/W Smooth mode also produces pleasing tones, especially when shooting portraits.
Sharpness And Detail
In combination with the Leica optics, the 10MP sensor can produce crisp and impressive resolution, with good detail and sharp edges. The Mega OIS helps to keep camera shake at bay, though care still needs to be taken to maintain pin-sharp results. As an aside, the Leica 14-50mm f/2.8-3.5 lens produces some lovely defocused backgrounds.