Holiday Gift Guide 2008: Best high-end compact cameras (Canon G10 vs. Panasonic Lumix LX3)

Holiday Gift Guide 2008: Best high-end compact cameras (Canon G10 vs. Panasonic Lumix LX3)

Summary: Holiday shoppers looking for a high-end compact camera this year are likely to be choosing between two hot cameras: the Canon PowerShot G10 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3. Both cameras list for $499.95 and can be found selling for about $420 this holiday season.

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2008 ZDNet Holiday Gift Guide Holiday shoppers looking for a high-end compact camera this year are likely to be choosing between two hot cameras: the Canon PowerShot G10 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3. Both cameras list for $499.95 and can be found selling for about $420 this holiday season. While the competition between their predecessors wasn't much of a battle--with the Canon G9 handily outshining the LX2--it's a lot harder to choose between the G10 and the LX3 (though there are some significant differences). First, a quick chart to sort out the specs:

Canon PowerShot G10 Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3
Resolution 14.7 megapixels 10 megapixels
Sensor Size 1/1.7 inch 1/1.63 inch
Lens 28-140mm equivalent, f/2.8-4.5 24-60mm equivalent, f/2.0-2.8
ISO Range 80 to 1600 80 to 3200
Continuous Shooting 1.3 fps 2.5 fps
Movie Mode 640x480, 30 fps/ 320x240, 30 fps 640x480, 30 fps/848x480, 30 fps/ 1,280x720, 24 fps
LCD 3 inches; 461,000 dots 3 inches; 460,000 dots
Optical Viewfinder Yes Optional
RAW Support Yes Yes
Dimensions 4.30x3.06x1.81 inch 4.28x2.34x1.07 inch
Weight 12.3 oz 8.08 oz
With that out of the way, let's take a look at each camera individually. First up: Canon's PowerShot G10.

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2008 ZDNet Holiday Gift Guide

Canon PowerShot G10

The best high-end compact camera: Canon G10 vs. Panasonic Lumix LX3Following in the footsteps of its predecessor the G9 (which has been the compact shooter of choice among many pro photographers, including my husband), the G10 has a lot to live up to.

The benefit of bumping resolution to 14.7 megapixels (up from 12) is arguable , but probably the most significant spec change is the switch from a 6x zoom lens (35- to 210mm equivalent, f/2.8-4.8) to a wider but shorter 5x zoom lens (28- to 140mm equivalent, f/2.8-4.5). Canon also updated the processor to its new Digic 4 and switched to a higher-resolution (but still 3-inch) LCD.

Most reviewers have found that while image quality is hard to beat at base ISO settings (some even argue it's indistinguishable from the image quality of a $40,000 Hasselblad), at higher ISO it doesn't match the lower-resolution LX3 (which doesn't have to cram as many pixels on a roughly same-size sensor). Still, most agree that it's an extremely well-built and usable camera, with excellent ergonomics, intuitive controls, and a top-notch feature set.

[read the review] [compare to similar models] [check prices]

Related: Canon PowerShot G9 [review] [compare] [prices]

More reading: Check out in-depth, hands-on reviews at: dpreview.com, DigitalCameraReview.com, CameraLabs.com, and CNET.com.

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2008 ZDNet Holiday Gift Guide

Panasonic DMC-LX3 The best high-end compact camera: Canon G10 vs. Panasonic Lumix LX3Though Panasonic's LX2 was never much competition for the Canon G9, the LX3 is giving the G10 a run for the money. The LX3 smartly maintains its predecessor’s 10.1 megapixel resolution, but uses a new-and-improved “ultra-sensitive” sensor that bumps maximum ISO sensitivity up to ISO 3,200 (vs. the LX2’s ISO 1,600 max).

The wisdom of this choice plays out in the hands-on reviews which universally agree that the LX3's high-ISO image quality beats the G10's hands down. The other big change is the wider but shorter 24-60mm, f/2.0-2.8 lens (vs. the LX2’s 28-112mm lens).

The G10 is more versatile at 28- to 140mm equivalent, but some may prefer the ultra-wide lens, which is a rarity in compact cameras of this caliber.  The LX3 sports a slightly larger, higher-resolution 3-inch LCD than its predecessor, and adds an optional optical viewfinder which will be a welcome addition to those who didn’t like the LCD-only viewfinder of the LX2 (of course, you don't have to pay more for this in the G10).

What I personally like most about the LX3  is its sleek retro design. The LX3's use of a separate lens cap mystifies me, though--you'll either lose the cap or you'll have to attach it with the included string, leaving it dangling obtrusively and ruining the sleek effect. Still, it's slimmer and lighter than the G10, and a more attractive camera overall.

To see the LX3 in all its glory, check out this clever "video" review created by PopSci creative director, Sam Syed.  (Full disclosure: my husband helped shoot the still images that Syed used to build the slick animation sequence.)

[read the review] [compare to similar models] [check prices]

More reading: For in-depth, hands-on reviews, check out: dpreview.com, DigitalCameraReview.com, and CameraLabs.com.

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7 comments
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  • Good Luck Finding an LX3

    I think another great advantage for the LX3 is the maximum aperture of the lens. It's very bright, helps a lot in low light.
    I've been waiting over a month for the LX3 I ordered from
    Provantage to ship. The camera is very hard to come by,
    G10s are all over the place.
    photoguy622
  • LX3 stands ahead

    I'd love to have an LX3. The canon g10, while a great legacy, simply is another pursuit of more megapixels at the expense of low light sensitivity.

    The LX3 is a clear winner. Super fast F2.0 lens, bigger photo sites (10Mpix and larger sensor) provides better low light - the real reason to get this. I think the wider angle at the expense of shorter zoom is terrific.

    Overall, a better camera spec wise and to boot, is smaller, lighter. Good job, Panasonic.
    Prognosticator
    • G10 is sharper

      Go to http://www.flickr.com/photos/peterlueck/sets/72157608358929292/

      see for yourself, let me know what you think..
      wksoh
  • RE: The best high-end compact camera: Canon G10 vs. Panasonic Lumix LX3

    I don't understand the separate lens cap on the Panasonic. I hated it on the other Lumix I had and sold.
    The lighter weight of this Lumix (over the Canon) is great, but that cap is the deal breaker for me.
    jtimouri
  • RE: The best high-end compact camera: Canon G10 vs. Panasonic Lumix LX3

    I just bought a Lumix DMC-FX150 which is 14.7 megapixel. Found this on Amazon. It seems to be a very good camera. Anyone had any experience with this one?
    he89726
  • RE: The best high-end compact camera: Canon G10 vs. Panasonic Lumix LX3

    While I might be able to learn to live with the LX3's very short zoom, the deal breaker for me is the lack of a built-in viewfinder. Online prices for the optional optical viewfinder range from $145 to $200 -- which is to say, over 1/3 of the street price of the camera itself! To people like me, who *hate* holding a camera at arms' length to take a picture, that puts the LX3 in another price class altogether from the G10.
    Now if only Canon would have enough sense to cut the pixel count in half when the G11 comes out...
    cruncher47
  • RE:Holiday Gift Guide 2008: Best high-end compact cameras (Canon G10 vs. Pa

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