This 10.2MP beauty is perfect for DSLR owners looking for a lightweight
alternative with lots of control.
Panasonic Lumix LX2 Noise Analysis
Based on test results and graphs from DxO Analyzer 2.0 software, you can see that noise levels at low ISO 100 are significantly higher than you would find on most DSLRs, and signal to noise ratio is lower. That's to be expected from a CCD sensor with so many pixels that are far smaller than those found in a DSLR. As a result, there is already some signal boosting going on to increase the base ISO to a tolerable ISO 100. From the ISO 100 through 200 graphs you can see that the red channel has significantly higher noise levels while green has the lowest, a contributing factor to the excellent resolution rating of this camera at ISO 100 (most detail is found in the green channel). RGB curves respond in a similar fashion across the grayscale until the blue channel shows slightly higher noise in highlight areas and red channel noise drops. Therefore, if you want to apply any kind of noise reduction in post processing to images taken in this ISO range, target the Red channel especially in the mid-tones and shadows.
At ISO 400 signal-to-noise ratio and standard deviation averages show some signs that noise reduction has kicked in, but this is very evident in the channel curves at ISO 400 and higher. Notice how the RGB curves are now grouped much closer together across the gray scale, a sign of very intelligent noise reduction. Signal to noise ratio remains acceptable all the way up to ISO 1600, and grain size and shape remains tolerable and symmetrical -- albeit at the expense of resolution and sharpness.
Panasonic ships a very powerful RAW converter program with the LX2: SILKYPIX Developer Studio 2.0 SE. It only opens and converts images from the Lumix LX2 (unlike the full version available here for $139) but that should thrill owners of this camera. We found that images shot in RAW mode and converted to 16-bit TIFF files showed up to 15% higher resolution and improved image quality compared to JPEG files captured and stored in the camera. The SILKYPIX software also gives you an amazing amount of controls, including curve adjustment, chromatic and lens aberration correction, perspective adjustment, and noise reduction fine-tuning.