We compare Canon's G12, Panasonic's LX5 and the Nikon's P7000 in real-life situations.
Like: The LX5 definitely takes the cake in the sleek and sexy category. It is by far the smallest and lightest of the three compared, coming in more than 4 ounces lighter than the other two. Its thin body makes it a pleasure to carry around. In fact, the LX5 is truly a master of disguise with its ability to look like any other point and shoot despite the fact that it has full manual controls and RAW capabilities.
Before we discuss what’s great about the LX5, lets talk about its f/2 Leica lens. Sure the G12 and P7000 offer apertures of f/2.8, but in the world or low-light photography, the difference between using an f/2 lens and an f/2.8 is literally night and day (get it?!). We were also big fans of the feature that displays equivalent focal lengths as one zooms in and out—something that is absent on both the P7000 and the G12.
Our favorite feature by far of the LX5 is the aspect ratio toggle switch on the lens. You can switch between a 1:1, 4:3, 3:2 and 16:9 ratios simply by throwing the switch one direction or another. The controls on the LX5 are fairly intuitive, although the buttons on the back are poorly marked and can make toggling setting extremely cumbersome, especially in low light situations.
Dislike: Of the three cameras compared, the LX5 gets the “most likely to slip out of your hand” award. Sure there is a small rubber grip on front of the camera, but Panasonic went ahead and made the camera so sleek and sexy that it is actually a little bit slippery. Also, adding some rubber to the back would help a lot.
The LX5 also has the shortest optical zoom (3.8x), although not by a whole lot (the G12 has 4x zoom). On a lesser note we found it to be odd, and somewhat annoying that the tripod thread located on the bottom of the camera is off-centered from the lens axis and completely off centered on the overall body of the camera. While the tripod thread on the G12 and P7000 are also off axis from the lens, they are, at the very least, centered on the bottom of the camera.
We also wanted to mention that we are not terribly big fans of the AVCHD lite video codec that the LX5 uses. We have found it to be particularly irritating to work with, especially on Mac.
Overall: The LX5 is packs a huge punch in a very small package and features all sorts of cool extras not found in similar compacts. While the G12 and P7000 have it beat in the zoom and rugged department, the LX5 is by far the easiest and most convenient to carry around.
Besides, what’s not to like about a camera with an f/2 Leica lens? Sure it doesn’t come branded with the coveted Leica badge, but if you look real close around the lens element, in teeny-tiny letters, it does say Leica. You'll just have to add your own red dot.
Again our testing will ultimately prove which of the three offers the best image quality, but regardless of which camera does the best, there is always room for improvement. Basically, what we are saying is don’t expect the LX5 to perform like a Leica M9. It won’t.