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The back panel also includes an autoexposure/autofocus lock button, a display info key that toggles the LCD between normal and power-saving brightness modes, and a trash button that cycles among the three burst modes.
While shooting, you'll need to access the simplified menu system only for less frequently used adjustments, such as white balance, ISO, metering and autofocus modes, and image size and quality.
Depending on the type of shooting you prefer, you'll probably single out one of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX1's three killer features as your favourite. The 28mm-to-112mm (35mm-camera equivalent) zoom lens features a relatively wide perspective usually available only in selected EVF models and digital SLRs. The wide-angle view is perfect for indoor photography and architecture, as well as landscapes where you want to emphasise the foreground, while the telephoto range is still adequate for anything this side of wildlife or outdoor sport photography. You have a choice of apertures between f/2.8 and f/8 (adjustable in 1/3-stop increments) at the wide-angle position, and f/4.9 to f/8 at the telephoto end, and shutter speeds ranging from 8 seconds to 1/2,000 second (60 seconds to 1/2,000 second in manual mode).
Happily, the LX1 achieves its 16:9 aspect ratio by using the full 8-megapixel area of the sensor, rather than cropping the top and bottom from the frame as most cameras do to achieve this wide format. Indeed, the cropping occurs when you change to one of the other proportions; the 3:2 setting produces a 7-megapixel image, while the 4:3 ratio reduces resolution to 6 megapixels. Clearly, Panasonic wants you to use the wide-screen setting as your default image size. All three aspect ratios are also available at comparably reduced resolutions, too, with the by-product of boosting the effective optical zoom to 5x.
Those who shoot in low light or who put this Panasonic's macro capabilities to work without a tripod will favour the optical image stabilisation (OIS) system. This feature shifts lens elements in response to camera shake or movement, allowing you to shoot in low light at, say, a shutter speed such as 1/8 second instead of the 1/30 second or faster that would normally be required. You can choose from Mode 1, which is active all the time, or Mode 2, which activates only when the shutter release is pressed, potentially offering a greater degree of stabilisation. OIS can be disabled when the camera is mounted on a tripod or to improve performance.
A candidate for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX's fourth drop-dead-cool feature in a snapshot camera is the full range of image file formats available with this camera. The usual JPEG option, with two compression ratios, is available, along with both TIFF and raw options.
The Leica DC Vario-Elmarit lens focuses down to 50mm in macro mode and can be switched from spot autofocus to single-point, three-point or nine-point autofocus zones. The manual or automated metering systems -- with evaluative, centre-weighted and spot -- zero in on correct exposures.
The menus offer a decent selection of user adjustments. For example, white balance can be set to Auto, Daylight, Cloudy or Tungsten (surprisingly, no Fluorescent options are available), but there are two user-definable settings that can be recalled at the press of a few buttons. Sensitivity can be set to ISO 80, 100, 200 or 400, and images you've shot can be resized, trimmed or adjusted for aspect ratio in the camera. Picture review can zoom 2x, 4x, 8x, or 16x using the zoom lever, while the LCD also displays a little navigator window representing the full image area, with a scrollable outline showing the part of the picture that's currently enlarged. It's also easy to display all the images in the camera in slide-show format or switch to an array of 9-, 16-, or 25-thumbnail previews.
With ISO set to Auto, the built-in flash is good out to 4m in wide-angle mode and 2.3m at the telephoto position. Flash settings include fill flash, flash off, red-eye and slow-sync, which is the perfect choice for use with image stabilisation and slow shutter speeds to balance ambient light with the flash.
Minimovie fans will love the ultra-high-quality 16:9 Wide VGA film-clip capability, which captures 848x480 sound movies at a smooth 30fps.
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