When we asked why Panasonic skipped number 4 from the LX3 to LX5, a Panasonic spokesman told us that anticipation for the new LX had built up so much over so long that they decided to skip a generation and go straight to the number 5.
Whether it's a marketing tactic or simple superstition (the number 4 sounds like the word for 'death' in Mandarin), it's true that the Panasonic LX3 has enjoyed booming success (a quick search on Flickr shows it's the most popular Panasonic in use). When it was launched in 2008, it created quite the stir by having an F2 lens in a compact body, which meant it could capture more light than ordinary compacts, so you don't need to bump the ISO as much and you get faster hand-held shots.
At the same time, it's been two long years since its release, in a competitive market that sees new camera models being rolled out once to twice a year. Since then, the LX3 has found itself in an increasing crowded space, having to compete with other prosumer cameras like the Canon S90, and encroaching competitors from mirrorless system cameras like the Sony NEX-5.
So it's high time that Panasonic has finally released its successor, the LX5. What's new? Under the hood, the camera sensor has been reworked. While it's still the same 1/1.63", it's been redesigned for improved dynamic range and noise performance. While the LX3 had a 24-60mm lens (35mm equivalent), the LX5 has a longer 24-90mm lens, all while keeping the F2-3.3 aperture.
Now that you know what's new, the real question is:- was the LX5 worth the wait? We'll answer that soon after our evaluation in the following pages.