Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2003/09/06

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Subject: [Leica] I've quit the Lika Leica club
From: Peter Klein <>
Date: Sat, 06 Sep 2003 19:52:33 -0700

You may recall that I recently bought a "Lika Leica" Panasonic Lumix LC5. 
Well, I sent it back to the seller and got a full refund.

The LC5 I received had five glaring hot pixels arranged in a diamond around 
the center of the image.  Plus, the seller had claimed it was a U.S. 
model.  It turned out to be a European model, which meant that I couldn't 
get the firmware upgrade which would have given the camera somewhat less 
aggressive image processing.  The seller agreed to take it back on that basis.

Meantime, I'd tested the camera, and here are my impressions.  I shot the 
LC5 with Sharpness set to Low and Contrast usually to Low.  I tried 
Saturation both at Low and Normal.  Others here recommended setting 
everything at Low, which I heartily agreed with after trying a few shots at 
different settings. Contrast Normal did help in dull light where highlight 
blowout wasn't a danger.

With all due respect to those that own and love the LC5, it is not the 
camera for me. The noise and posterization problems are just too great. The 
LC5 was noisier at ISO 200 than my N*kon Coolpix 990 is at ISO 400. At ISO 
400, the LC5 is pretty much useless. Even at ISO 100, there is a little 
visible noise, but here, it almost looks like fine film grain.  The latter 
is not objectionable at all, in fact I kind of liked it.

To be fair, Panasonic says that the LC5 is optimized for printing, not 
screen viewing.  My opinion:  The image processing does something that 
*looks* like "just under the visible threshold" details when printed up to 
5x7.  This gives an impression of a very sharp image on paper.  But blown 
up any bigger, you can see that it isn't real detail, and this impression 
comes before the image breaks up into individual pixels. It looks more like 
the artifacts of overprocessed edges.

Furthermore, everything looks a bit oversharpened, even with sharpening at 
the lowest setting. The interaction between the aggressive processing and 
the noise leads to random "speckles" at all ISOs, getting worse in shadows 
or at higher ISOs.  It looks like the effect you get when you oversharpen a 
low-quality JPEG, and the JPEG artifacts start to pop off the screen.

There were color shifts when going to higher ISOs than 100. Even at ISO 
100, colors were off sometimes--slightly cyan skies, overly ruddy 
faces.  Highlights in human hair were sometimes rendered as a mushy tone 
that was neither highlight nor normal tone, but something in between.  I've 
seen other digicams do this, but not as much.

One very good thing:  At the low contrast setting, the LC5 appeared to have 
about 1/2 stop more dynamic range than the Coolpix. I got less blown 
highlights outdoors than I do with the Coolpix.

I didn't notice any worse noise with the LCD display turned on. But at 
higher ISOs, the LC5 was very sensitive to the presence of electrical noise 
or RF interference. Using it near a computer, or in the same room with an 
electrical fan, resulted in more noise, and sometimes a horrible vertical 
"banding."I honestly think the design has a shielding issue.

Conclusion: Very fast focus and almost no shutter delay.  Handles and 
shoots like a dream. But for me the pictures just don't cut it. At ISO 100, 
with plenty of light, a very usable camera. Other than that, marginal at 

I've no axe to grind. I really wanted this camera, so at least I've now 
experienced it firsthand and know it's not for me.  It was worth the 
shipping costs to learn this.

Again, all due respect to those of you that have done such nice work with 
the LC5 or Digilux 1.  Note that the Digilux has less aggressive image 
processing, which may mitigate some of the issues I've raised here.  It's 
also possible that the LC5 has wide sample variation, and I just got a bad 
one.  However, also note that many user comments and reviews raise the same 
issues I have.  I'm just reporting what I observed for the benefit of the 
rest of the LUG.  Your mileage may vary.

- --Peter Klein
Seattle, WA

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Replies: Reply from "Red Dawn" <> (Re: [Leica] I've quit the Lika Leica club)
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