It seems Panasonic has been looking to the halcyon days of the ’40s and ’50s for its camera inspiration. One stroke of the LX3 in its optional leather case and you can almost imagine Robert Doisnaeu wielding it on the streets of Paris.

The LX3 has no optical viewfinder – but there is an optional one available that slots into the hot shoe. Another option is an old-school leather “ever-ready” case. Nice. Less nice is the lack of a built-in lens cover – retro, but a pain.

Like a Leica

The choice of just a 2.5x zoom lens also perhaps harks back to those days of photojournalists using a Leica with just a 35mm lens and a sharp eye. It starts at a 24mm-equivalent wideangle, and the very short zoom does mean it maintains a super-fast maximum aperture of f2.0-f2.8 throughout the zoom range, so you’re less likely to need the flash.

But there’s no getting away from the fact that a slightly longer lens would have made this Panasonic much more versatile, especially for intimate portraits.

Images lack punch

There’s further disappointment when it comes to image quality. The photos have accurate colours and reasonable detail, but aren’t as punchy as those from the likes of the Canon PowerShot G10 and Nikon Coolpix P6000 – and there’s noticeable purple fringing.

Operation is fast, though – you won’t be waiting around like you would with some cameras – but the controls are a convoluted nightmare, with buttons and switches everywhere.

On reflection, it seems very tough to justify that substantial price tag.

Stuff says... 

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3 review

Overpriced and overcomplicated, it’s a case of ‘what might have been’ for the stylish little LX3