20 September 2007

Panasonic DMC-L10

by Anton Piatek

DMC-L10 I had the pleasure of going to the the a special event for the Panasonic DMC-L10. The event was run by Panasonic, and held in the Tower of London and they had several bloggers along to review their new entry level SLR.

The DMC-L10 is a 10 mega pixel (effective) SLR, with flip out 2.5″ lcd screen with live mode and up to 3fps.The kit lens supplied is a Leica D 14-50mm (28-100mm 35mm equiv) f3.8-5.6 Optical Image Stabilized lens and the camera boasts supersonic wave filter sensor dust cleaning. The optical viewfinder has a 3point auto focus and 95% view area, giving a camera that is not immensely exciting – that is until you get to the live mode.

Tthe new Canon 40D’s live mode requires the user to turn it on via a custom function, then turn on auto focus via another custom function – leaving you with a live mode that you press a button to focuse, the mirror flips down, focuses and then flips up and the image resumes. The Panasonic DMC-L10 however gives you the same live mode as their whole range of Lumix point and shoot cameras. Not only do you now get a 100% view, 9 point contrast autofocus and the same exposure data as through the viewfinder, but you also get the most of the intelligent Auto (iA) mode.

Intelligent Auto is the range of functions in the Lumix cameras that try to make photography simper. This starts with auto ISO, which will adjust the iso between 100 and 800 to get enough light for your photo, but you also get face detection. Face detection is used to find up to 15 faces in a photo, and then use them to not only focus, but to set the exposure. If you had a back lit photo, the face detection will find the face, and set the exposure so that the face is correctly exposed, and not left in shadow. Other features of iA include motion detection, where the camera will detect movement in the frame and increase shutter speed and ISO to avoid blurring. Automatic scene detection is also used, to choose shooting profiles based on what the camera is pointed at. And the final part of the iA range is the optical stabilizing which is across the whole Lumix range.

Playing with the camera – it feels much like a Canon, with the controls in similar places and similar icons. The face detection certainly works, and even did expose backlit photos correctly that my Canon s SLR would have have underexposed the subject unless I specifically chose a different metering mode. The flip out screen is great, and the one thing I really miss from my G2, and the fact that the live mode is fully featured (as opposed to the Canon 40D where it is rather limited) is a real bonus. Scene selection is something I have never really used, on any camera I have had so I am not sure of the benefit of it, but it sounds like it will make more unusual photos come out for an amateur.

DMC-L10 The camera is due out on 1st Nov, and is priced for £899. So the question is who is the camera aimed at? Experienced photographers will be buying an SLR to get the manual control, and certainly for someone who already knows what they are doing most of the features on this camera will probably be turned off in favor of more manual control. So the camera is aimed at beginners and amateurs who want an SLR? Probably. Certainly if you want a more featured manual camera, and interchangeable lenses then this would fit the bill, and if you already make use of the scene modes in other cameras you will find this an easy move, but I cannot help but feel that there are actually better choices available if this is what you are looking for. Specifically the dmc-fz18 which features 28-504mm (35mm equiv), or 18x zoom!