|Home | Reviews | Q&A | Links | Gallery | Free Photo Hosting|
DMC-LS1 - Digital Camera Review
Panasonic have this to say about the camera:
"With Panasonic's Lumix digital camera, simple point-and-shoot operation does not mean sacrificing quality or performance. New model DMC-LS1 is an easy-to-use marvel that offers 4-megapixel resolution and 3x optical zoom along with sophisticated features like MEGA O.I.S. (Optical Image Stabilizer)."
The Camera: It's
compact and made out of silver plastic.
Size Comparison: Compared to a Pentax PC-550 35mm automatic.
Specifications / Features:
Average box contents - 14mb is an average size memory card for a 4 megapixel camera.
Battery usage: Up to 215 images with supplied Oxyride batteries according to Panasonic. I would recommend you buy high power rechargable batteries and a charger, ie. 2300+mah ni-mh batteries. Battery life seemed good. The camera also has an economy mode which should increase battery life.
Menu Options / Modes: The camera mode is selected using the rotating dial.
Photo mode/menu: The menu button brings up the menu screen as shown on the right below:
Screen / LCD display in photo mode: (shown on the left) The screen is a fairly decent resolution, and updates smoothly - the colours appear accurate. There is a live histogram available and the screen is clear and the text and menus are easy to read. Optical Viewfinder: There is no optical viewfinder.
Menu options are: White balance (including custom), Sensitivity, Picture size, Quality, AF mode, Slow shutter, Digital zoom (on/off), Colour effect (Cool, Warm, Black and White, Sepia), Picture adjust (Natural, Standard, Vivid).
Scene modes: (shown on the left, above) Portrait, Sports, Scenery, Night scenery, Night portrait, Fireworks, Party, Snow.
Setup menu options: (shown on the right, above) Battery type, Monitor, Auto review, Power save, beep, clock set, no. reset, reset, USB mode, video out, scene menu, language.
Playback (Review) mode/menu: The menu button brings up the menu screen as shown on the right, below:
Playback mode: Scrolling through the photos is quick. The zoom is quick up to 16x.
Playback menu options: Rotate disp, Rotate, Protect, DPOF Print, Slide show, resize, trimming, copy (allows you to copy from internal memory to memory card and vice versa), format.
Picture Size / Quality: The camera takes the following size pictures, and the following number of images will fit on the 14mb memory provided with the camera:
You can fit a small number of images on the built in memory - a larger memory card is definitely recommended, unless you want to use the lower image sizes / higher compression options in order to fit more pictures in memory. There is a very good choice of image sizes, and there is a good choice regarding image compression.
A larger memory card is relatively cheap, and highly recommended, I would recommend at a bare minimum a 128mb or 256mb memory card, and preferably a 512mb memory card, or larger, especially considering the relatively low prices - the larger the memory card, the more photos you will be able to take. If you are likely to go on holiday then the largest memory card you can afford would definitely be worth investing in, as you don't always know when you will next be at a computer. Listed below are links to memory cards that will work with the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LS1:
128mb SD memory card
Speed: The camera is fairly quick to switch on and take photos - however the camera can occassionally 'hunt' for the focus in darker indoor conditions. The screen updates are quick and smooth (in good light). The playback mode is also quick. Playback mode allows you to zoom as close as 16x. The camera has a very quick (4fps!) continuous shooting mode. The camera shutter response seemed quick when pre-focused.
Ease of use: The camera is easy to use, although the camera does have quite a lot of options and features. The controls on the back of the camera are fairly easy to use - the menus are responsive and easy to read. The camera is very compact for a digital camera that takes AA batteries. The menus are also easy to use, and the options are big enough and easy enough to see clearly. The modes are easy to access, quick and simple - there's even a basic mode for simple point and shoot operation.
Ergonomics and Buttons: (Feel, placement, labels, etc) The buttons are fairly easy to use, and they are in a good position. There seems to be the right amount of buttons. The buttons feel okay, the shutter release is quite decent. The buttons are labelled fairly well. I thought the camera felt very good ergonomically, and was the correct weight - it seemed lighter than it looked, but not too light. The hand grip seemed good, without making the camera too big or bulky. The only design problem, which is a fairly minor one, is the location of the tripod mount, which is quite close the the edge of the camera.
Image Quality: Here are some sample photos/video(s) taken in various settings, such as Inside, Noise, Outside, Zoom, Macro, Movie to demonstrate the quality of pictures taken and also show different features of the camera. Larger versions of these photos, plus more photos are available in the new gallery!
Inside: The camera has very good colour - it is the only camera out of 3 other well known brands that managed to correctly record the colour of the orange person on the right - other's recorded her as either too red, or too yellow! It also took one of the best "Heather and Flower" photos. It has a powerful flash, and copes well with group photos. The camera did a good job at focusing the majority of the time. Red-eye didn't seem to be huge a problem.
Noise: Noise is generally a bad thing - it removes detail, and gives a grainy effect over the image. With digital cameras noise can be a real problem as digital camera noise is often made out of blue, red or green dots. As the ISO setting increases, pictures tend to have more noise. Noise is most noticeable in dark areas of photos. The camera has an Automatic mode for ISO levels, and manual ISO settings (ISO64, 100, 200, and 400) - below you'll find the noise test image, plus actual pixel crops from the image taken at different ISO settings.
Noise levels appear low at ISO64 and ISO100. At ISO200 noise becomes more noticable but is still acceptable, at ISO400 noise seems high.
Outside, again the camera had excellent colour, with good contrast and saturation. There was good detail. Noise seemed well controlled. I didn't notice jpeg artefacts in the images. The usual Unisys building photo can be found in the gallery.
Zoom: This camera has a 3x optical zoom lens and a built in 4x digital zoom - in the case of this camera the digital zoom basically takes a smaller area of the photo and enlarges it using software blurring the image so that it is not pixellated. Generally it's best to avoid using digital zoom as it degrades the quality of the image and, often, better results can be obtained by using a photo package such as Adobe Photoshop. I've included examples below to show what the 3x optical zoom and 4x digital zoom is capable of.
Lens noise and zoom: The lens is fairly quiet. The lens is quick at going from wide to telephoto - there are about 9 steps between wide and telephoto to count! This gives you good control on how you frame your subject.
Other Image Quality issues: I did notice purple fringing in some photos, i.e. the clock tower photos, however it is still quite low.
Macro: To use this camera in macro mode, you switch to macro mode - you can use the macro mode at wide angle, all the way to telephoto. You can use the flash in macro mode. The camera can be roughly as close as 6cm away from the subject from the front of the lens.
The macro mode is very good - the camera is okay, but not brilliant of toning down the flash, and colours and detail are very good.
Movie: 320x240 at 30fps without sound. The movie is recorded as an .MOV file. Unfortunately you can't use the optical zoom whilst recording videos. The quality of the movie(s) is quite good, colour is good, the camera also does a good job in low-light. The frame rate is good.
Summary: The Panasonic Lumix DMC-LS1 is a very good digital camera! The camera has an impressive stabilised 3x optical zoom lens that captures a lot of detail with the cameras 4 megapixel sensor. The camera has a very good macro mode. The camera has very good image quality, with especially good colour. However the camera is let down by noise, and lack of sound on videos. The Panasonic offers very good value for money as an easy to use, quick and powerful digital camera that regularly produces good results.
What I like:
What I don't like:
Remember to have a look at the test photos in the new gallery.