‘Preview review’: Canon S95 versus Panasonic LX5

This week Photo Counter is proud to offer our readers a ‘sneak preview’ comparison review of the Canon S95 and the Panasonic LX5, which will appear in the forthcoming edition of Photo Review magazine, out November 24 (with additional specification and rating comparison tables).

Ted’s and Camera House stores stock Photo Review and have become a valued channel for the quarterly photo specialist/professional’s publication. If any other retailers are interested in stocking the magazine, please contact Pauline Shuttleworth at [email protected] (02 9948 8600).

The huge resource of the Photo Review website camera and accessory reviews are available direct to Photo Counter readers via our homepage, and offer retail staff a valuable means of keeping up with the features of the latest releases. Photo Review is one of the most popular photo enthusiast’s websites in Australia, and the review section is the most popular of all (What’s more, it doesn’t lead Australian buyers off to overseas websites!)

And chances are, quite a few of the people who walk into your store ready to buy will have visited the page in the review section listing the latest ‘Editors Choice’ recommended cameras and accessories.

Canon S95 and Panasonic LX5:

In the middle of this year, two popular ‘shirt pocket’, raw capture-capable cameras were updated. Panasonic announced the LX5 on July 21, while Canon was three weeks later, releasing details of the S95 on August 10.

We received the S95 about 10 days after the LX5 and, since both cameras target enthusiast photographers and offer many similar features, we’re reviewing them together here.

Physically both models resemble their predecessors and both can use the new SDXC memory cards as well as SD and SDHC. The S95 is noticeably smaller than the LX5 and has a longer zoom range. The LX5 is more comfortable to hold and operate as the S95 lacks any kind of grip moulding, although it’s coated to improve slip-resistance.

The monitor resolution and screen size are identical in both models. Neither has a viewfinder but the LX5 will accept optional optical or electronic finders, which attach to the hot-shoe. The S95 lacks a hot-shoe.

HD video is new to both models. It’s not Full HD but 720p looks good enough on screen to satisfy most potential buyers. The LX5 uses the (slightly) more efficient AVCHD video format, while the S95 records in MOV (Image Data: H.264; Audio Data: Linear PCM Stereo) format. (As you can see in the table, there’s not much difference in recording times.)

Both models have effective image stabilisation systems that enable the camera to be hand-held at shutter speeds slower than 1/30 second. Both come with proprietary raw file formats which can be converted into editable TIFF or JPEG files with supplied software. (Only the LX5 was supported by Adobe Camera Raw when this review was written.)

Performance

For still shots, the Canon S95 delivered higher resolutions for both JPEG and raw files in our Imatest tests than the LX5. Edge softening was slightly less noticeable in shots from the S95 and shots taken in low light appeared less noise-affected than those from the LX5.

Lateral chromatic aberration was similar in both cameras and both cameras’ lenses were flare-prone in backlit situations. Both cameras had similar difficulties eliminating colour casts from shots taken in artificial lighting, although fluorescent lighting was handled equally well. Overall saturation was slightly higher in the S95, while the LX5 rendered colours at more natural-looking levels.

Video quality from both cameras was very good in bright lighting. Both cameras were susceptible to wind noise but, in still conditions, the stereo soundtracks recorded by the S95 were a bit clearer and more dynamic than those from the LX5.

The S95 was marginally quicker to power up but the LX5 was faster to focus. Image processing times were slightly faster with the S95, and its buffer memory for continuous shooting was considerably larger than the LX5’s. However, although the LX5 is restricted to three Large/Fine JPEGs per burst (where the S95 manages more than 10), its capture rate is slightly faster.

– Margaret Brown,
technical editor, Photo Review


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