Mar 262017
 

Today we have to report on more Panasonic Lumix camera problems. I have two Panasonic Lumix cameras; a DMC-LX5 and a DMC-LX7.

Panasonic Lumix camera failures. LX5 has faulty control wheel, LX7 has OIS system failure

The cameras are well taken care of, never dropped, handled roughly or been exposed to rain or snow. Both have now failed with less than two years of use. Keep in mind, these are not cheap cameras. They cost about $350 USD each when purchased. The LX5 lasted a couple years before the rear control wheel that changes shutter speed and aperture stopped working. The camera is now limited to operation in “Intelligent Auto” mode, something any cell phone or $100 camera can do.

Panasonic Lumix LX5 failed control wheel

Since repair quotes from Panasonic cost 2/3 the price of the camera, and thinking I was just unlucky and Leica has always meant “quality” to me, I bought a Lumix LX7 to replace it. After about two years, about the same as with the LX5, the LX7 started showing “System Error OIS” messages and the camera can no longer be used.

Panasonic Lumix System Error OIS

Both the LX5 and LX7 Lumix cameras failed at about the same age; two years. Both problems, the LX5 control wheel and the LX7 OIS System Error(the OIS is image stabilization) are hardware issues; either low quality parts or poor craftsmanship. Panasonic Customer Service is not known for it’s excellent customer support and it certainly is not cheap, especially since they are replacing poor quality original parts with other poor quality parts, this time with no warranty, looks like these two Panasonic Lumix cameras will be headed to the landfill because of $10 worth of mass produced electronic parts.

Information about Panasonic factory repair. The repair estimate for each camera is $232. The cameras cost $350 new. The Panasonic Support online chat does not work, there is no email address and each telephone call regarding repairs is $9. That is piss poor customer support.

What about all the five star reviews for Panasonic cameras on the internet? If Panasonic gave me a free camera and wrote a review after using it for a few weeks, I’d give it five stars, too. How about a review of a Panasonic camera that cost $350 of your own money and only lasted two years? That would be about one star. Maybe a half a star. Needless to say, this will be the end of the Panasonic products for me.

Like all the product reviews here at watermanatwork.com, we pay for all this stuff with our own hard-earned money. I burned $700 on poor quality, big name cameras. Think about that if are planning to purchase a Panasonic camera.

Nov 032013
 

We use a couple GoProHD Hero cameras for some of our POV video footage. You can read a full review of these cameras HERE although this model is older, the current GoPro cameras are the Hero3 models.
Anyway, after using the cameras for about three years without any problems, when I plugged one of the cameras into the USB port of my computer to charge the battery, instead of the red light on the front of the camera coming on indicating the camera was charging, the light began flashing weakly. I disconnected the camera from the computer and pushed the power/mode button on the front of the camera and nothing happened. I took the battery out and replaced it with a battery from another camera and powered it up, the camera turned on normally. I turned the camera off, waited a few minutes and tried it again and the camera did not power up. I took the battery that would not charge and put it in another GoPro, plugged it into the computer with the USB cord and got the weak flashing red light. I immediately unhooked it from the computer and pulled the battery out.
Clearly there was a problem, either with the camera or the battery. Since I got the flashing red light on two cameras with the same battery, I suspect the battery is defective, maybe a short circuit, and may have done some damage to the camera.
If the camera was still covered by the GoPro warranty, it could have been sent back to the factory and have them check it out. In this case, I would have sent the camera and the battery. Since this camera is beyond the warranty period, we would have to take care of the problem ourselves. We decided to try a “hard reset” of the camera and hope that would bring the camera back to life. If you have a problem like this with your GoPro, here’s how to do a hard reset:

GoPro Hero and Hero II

  • 1. Take the battery and SD card out of the camera. Let the camera sit this way for at least a few hours, overnight is better.
  • 2. Press the shutter button on the top of the camera and keep holding it down.
  • 3. With the shutter button still depressed, insert the battery.
  • 4. With the shutter button still depressed and battery in the camera, press the start/mode button the the front of the camera. Hopefully, the camera will power up and you’ll see a display on the LCD screen.
  • 5. Power off the camera and insert the SD card. Power the camera up and check the settings before using the camera.

  • GoPro Hero 3 and 3+

  • 1. Hold down the Shutter (S) button.
  • 2. Press the Power (P) button while holding the Shutter button.

  • GoPro Hero 4

  • 1. Press the Mode (front) button until you see the Setup Gear icon.
  • 2. Press the Shutter (top) button to select it.
  • 3. Press the Mode (front) button until Rest Cam is highlighted.
  • 4. Press the Shutter (top) button to select it.
  • 5. Press the Mode (front) button to highlight Reset.
  • 6. Press the Shutter (top) button to select it.

  • The “hard reset” may not work in every situation, but with a dead camera that’s out of warranty, there are not a lot of options. The battery that gave the weak blinking light when charging is going in the trash.

    We have become aware of a last ditch attempt to salvage GoPro cameras that appear dead. We have not tried this ourselves and recommend that you do not do any of this unless you have a GoPro camera that appears completely dead, you’ve tried everything else and the camera is out of warranty. You will also need to have some knowledge of Linux and be able to follow instructions. You can check it out here if you want to give it a try.

    Oct 192011
     

    If you’ve been to a ski resort or on a bike trail in the past year or two, no doubt you’ve seen many GoPro cameras attached to every part of a person’s body. While there have been a number of personal POV(Point Of View) cameras available at a relatively inexpensive price, including Contour and the more expensive and sophisticated V.I.O, the GoPro is the most popular with action sports enthusiasts. Here at WatermanAtWork, we have many years of experience with POV movie, video and still cameras and we’ve been using GoPros for some time now, so we are in a pretty good position to provide a review of the GoPro product line.

    GoPro HD Hero Naked

    User Profile and Cost
    Who would want a GoPro camera and how much do they cost? If you are an action sports/video/photography enthusiast, especially if your photos and videos are going to be used on the internet, the GoPro is a decent way to get into making basic POV videos. Keep in mind that you are not going to be making any full length video productions with the GoPro, they are basically there to record your own personal adventures. As with any ultra wide angle/fisheye camera setup, anything more than a few feet away is going to be very small and things close to the camera are going to be very large. Wide angle and fisheye lenses also flatten the perspective, so that giant wave or huge mountain bike cliff jump is not going to look as dramatic as it does in real life. That being said, at this price, the GoPro is as good as you can expect to get.
    GoPro cameras come in a number of basic packages. The HD Hero Naked is a GoPro HD Hero camera, waterproof housing and a few basic camera mounts, it retails for about $260USD. The HD Motorsports Hero comes with the GoPro HD Hero camera, waterproof housing, flat and curved adhesive mounts, suction cup mount and a pivot arm. As the name implies, this kit is targeted for automobile, truck and motorcycle enthusiasts who want to mount the camera on their vehicle or helmet. It retails for about $300USD. The HD Surf Hero is for surfers and other water based boardsport enthusiasts. It comes with the GoPro HD Hero camera, waterproof housing, board mount, FCS plug mount and leash. It retails for about $300USD. The HD Helmet Hero package comes with the GoPro camera, waterproof housing, head strap, vented helmet strap, curved and flat adhesive mounts and a three way pivot arm. It retails for about $300USD and it targeted for use by bicycle riders. It is also a pretty good all around package for other kinds of activities. GoPro also has the HD Hero 960. It comes with a GoPro Hero 960 camera, waterproof housing, headlamp-style head strap, helmet front mount, curved and flat adhesive mounts and a quick release buckle. The HD Hero 960 does not shoot in 720p @ 60fps or 1080p @ 30fps video modes and cannot be fitted with the GoPro BacPac LCD monitor or battery extension. It is cheaper than the standard HD Hero pacakages at about $180USD. All the camera packages come with a mini USB cable, component(HDTV) cable, composite video/audio cable, 1100 mAh lithium ion rechargeable battery and one year warranty. GoPro also sells a wide range of mounting hardware and accessories that will allow you to mount your camera just about anywhere your imagination will take you. GoPro also has a 3D Hero System to record 3D videos and photos, it costs about $100USD.

    HD Hero Front View

    The HD Hero Camera
    The GoPro camera has a fixed focus, f2.8 glass lens, a 1/2.5″ CMOS sensor and saves video with H264 compression in an MPEG 4(.mp4) format and mono audio in a 48kHz, AAC compression format. Automatic exposure control(center weighted or spot metering) and white balance.

    HD Hero Side View

    The GoPro HD Hero shoots in three HD video resolutions:
    1080p: 1920×1080 at 30fps NTSC(25fps PAL), 127° field of view, 16:9 aspect ratio, HD
    720p: 1280×720 at 30 and 60fps(25 and 50fps PAL), 170° field of view, 16:9 aspect ratio, HD
    480p(WVGA): 848×480 at 60fps(50fps PAL) 170° field of view, 16:9 aspect ratio, HD
    And one standard definition resolution:
    960p: 1280×960 at 30fps(25fps PAL), 170° field of view, 4:3 “Tall” aspect ratio

    HD Hero Side View

    The GoPro camera also has a 5 megapixel still camera that shoots photographs in Single Shot, at 2, 5, 10, 30 and 60 second intervals, self timer and 3 photo burst modes.
    The rechargeable 1100mAh Lithium-Ion battery will power the camera for just over a couple hours and takes about the same time to recharge via a USB computer connection or charger. There are also standalone battery chargers available.
    The GoPro HD Hero uses SDHC memory cards up to 32GB. There have been some compatibility issues with some SDHC cards, GoPro suggests Kingston or Patriot Class 4 SDHC cards, we use Kingston 16GB Class 4 SDHC cards; the 16GB cards are much cheaper than a 32GB card and we’d rather have two 16GB cards instead of one 32GB card for security reasons, and the Class 4 seems to be fast enough to capture even the highest resolution HD video, so no need to buy a more expensive, higher class card(higher class cards are faster).
    The camera is 1.6″(42mm)x 2.4″(60mm)x 1.2″(30mm)(H x W x D) and weighs 5.3oz.(150g) including the battery and 6.3oz.(179g) with the waterproof housing.
    The GoPro HD Hero has an expansion port to accommodate the LCD BacPac and Battery BacPac, but not both at the same time.

    HD Hero Case Front View

    Waterproof Camera Housing
    The HD Hero camera comes with a polycarbonate and stainless steel waterproof camera housing as well as a “skeleton” back that will allow better sound recording, but obviously will not be waterproof. The skeleton back is only to be used on dry land.

    HD Hero Case Side View

    The housing not only protects the camera from the elements, but it is what all the mounting attachments use to attach the camera to the various GoPro camera mounts. GoPro claims the waterproof housing has a depth rating of 180 feet(60 meters), personally, I would not go anywhere near that deep with it. Might want to take the housing down first without the camera in it to check it out.

    HD Hero Case Side View

    The housing camera control and case seals are very small; a grain of sand between the control shaft and rubber ‘O’ ring seal might cause the housing to leak and ruin the camera. The housing has a replaceable lens should it become scratched.

    GoPro Camera Accessories
    GoPro sells all kinds of mounting hardware to attach the GoPro camera to just about anything. Adhesive mounts, helmet mounts, wrist, chest and head strap mounts, suction cup mounts, roll bar and handlebar mounts; just about everything you can think of. Part of the challenge of using a POV camera is to design the mounts to get the perspective you want.
    GoPro also sells what they call “Premium Accessories”. They are the 3D Hero System; the stuff you need to shoot, edit and view 3D movies and photos, the LCD BacPac; an LCD viewer that allows you to see what you are shooting and playback footage and photos you have taken and the Battery BacPac that allows you to use two Lithium-Ion batteries simultaneously for extended recording time.

    LCD BacPac

    The LCD BacPac comes with the LCD viewfinder/monitor and comes with waterproof and skeleton camera housing backs(the LCD BacPac will not fit in a standard GoPro Hero HD housing). It has a control button and built in speaker. The LCD BacPac is pretty cool and can be helpful in situations where you need to see what you are shooting or to set up a shot.

    HD Hero LCD BacPac Side View

    There are a few things to consider with the LCD BacPac. It adds a little weight to the camera; this may not seem like a big deal, but in situations like on a helmet or surfboard, every gram makes a difference. When used in the waterproof housing, the extra heat of the LCD screen and faster discharging battery may cause condensation inside the housing.

    HD Hero LCD BacPac Side View

    Battery life is the major concern with the LCD BacPac; when using it, battery life is cut in half. If you leave the LCD on, the battery will only last about an hour or so. The LCD BacPac comes with waterproof and skeleton camera housing backs for the HD Hero and HD Wrist housings and costs about $80USD.
    If battery life is an issue, perhaps if you are using the GoPro for time lapse photography or shooting a lot of footage/photos between battery recharges, there is the Battery BacPac. It attaches to the back of the GoPro HD Hero camera and holds an additional 1100 mAh battery for extended shooting times. The Battery BacPac can also be used as a standalone battery charger. The Battery BacPac comes with an 1100 mAh battery, waterproof and skeleton backs for the camera housing, and a USB cable for about $50USD.

    Video Quality
    So what kind of HD video does this little camera produce? Overall, it’s not too bad, but there are a few things you will want to look out for to get the best video quality you can. As with all video and photography work, the lighting is the most important thing.
    The GoPro automatic exposure has a very slow response to changing light conditions, like if you are riding a bike through sunny, then shaded areas. This is really annoying and lets anyone who knows anything about video that you are using a consumer camera(professional videographers and photographers generally hate AUTO anything). Not much you can do about it in the editing process either. The GoPro does not do well in really bright, sunny conditions (overexposed, “washed out”) or low light (pixellated, video “noise”) conditions either. You have to have good lighting conditions to get the best footage. The ideal lighting for the GoPro would be sunny, with high, thin clouds so it would be fairly bright but without harsh bright or shadow conditions; “even” lighting would be a good way to describe it. The GoPro does allow you to choose between center weighted and spot exposure metering, sometimes that helps.
    The GoPro uses a CMOS sensor with a rolling shutter, also known as line scan. When the camera is moving, like with a typical POV situation, the rolling shutter will sometimes be distorted. This is called the jello effect. No real way to get around this, pretty much all cameras that use CMOS sensors are susceptible to the rolling shutter effect.
    There is also a blurring of the edges of the video when it is in the camera housing. That’s because the manufacturing process for the housing’s lens port plastic distorts the material at the edges and causes the blurring of the video. Not a deal breaker, but it is noticeable.
    The camera has a microphone to record audio, but it is pretty poor. Mono sound that is poor quality. Add in wind noise if you are using the camera while you are moving and you will quickly see why most GoPro videos have some kind of musical soundtrack.
    What can be done to get the best quality video? Being in tune with the lighting conditions as described earlier is the biggest thing. Shooting at 60fps will cut down on the jitters and jerkiness if the camera is moving around a lot. Try the center weighted and spot exposure metering, see if that helps.

    Video Viewing and Editing
    As with all HD video, you are going to need a fairly powerful computer to view the GoPro video and an even more powerful computer to do any meaningful editing. To view 1080p HD video, you will need a 2.4 GHz dual core processor, 2G RAM and at least a 256 MB Video RAM, 600 MHz video card. A 7200rpm hard drive or SSD is a big plus. You can view GoPro videos with recent versions of Windows Media Player and Quicktime, but we prefer the VLC Player (VideoLan).
    To edit and render the H264 .MP4 video files produced by the GoPro cameras, you will need a quad core processor; an Intel i5 might get you by, an i7 is better. 8G of RAM would be the minimum; we have 8G of DDR3 in our i7 video editing workstation, we are bumping it up to 16G of DDR3 1600 RAM for smoother operations with Adobe Premiere Pro CS4 and Sony Vegas 9. Of course, to use that much memory, you have to run Windows 7 64bit operating system, which we do. A video card with a minimum of 512MB 256bit DDR3 video RAM should do the job, if you can swing it, 1G would be better. A dual video card setup like Crossfire or SLI is not necessary unless you plan to do a bit of gaming with the computer as well as video editing. Definitely at least two hard drives; one 7200rpm drive for your programs and another “work/capture” drive. We’ve been running a 120G SSD as the program/boot drive and a 1G 7200 rpm work drive, it’s a sweet setup.
    All the top shelf video editing software like Adobe Premiere Pro, Sony Vegas and Final Cut Pro will handle GoPro video files. Results may vary with cheaper or free software, you might have to do some transcoding to get the files to work. We’ve found that MPEG Streamclip is very handy for lossless conversion of the GoPro .MP4 files if they don’t work natively.

    Sample Videos
    You can take a look at some video taken with the GoPro HD Hero; here are some road bike POV videos and here are some mountain bike videos. These videos were edited with Adobe Premiere Pro CS4 and rendered with the Adobe Media Encoder CS4. More videos are on the way.

    Final Thoughts
    Despite a few shortcomings, the GoPro is a pretty decent POV video camera. You really aren’t going to get much more at this price point. It’s fun to play around with and everyone likes to see themselves on video, but be prepared; the “big airs” are a lot bigger in your mind than on the video screen. One more thing; most of the gear you buy from GoPro has a one year warranty, which is a good thing. We have two GoPro cameras and an LCD BacPac; all three of them had to be returned under warranty because of manufacturing problems. GoPro is pretty good about replacing defective cameras, but the cost shipping the gear back to Half Moon Bay kind of jacks the overall price up and you are without your camera, so keep that in mind.

    As with all product reviews on WatermanAtWork.com, we do not get anything free, we pay for them just like you do, our reviews are made by people who need to get their money’s worth out of the things they buy. As we continue to use the GoPro cameras, this review will be updated accordingly.

    Aug 142011
     

    After leaving my digital camera on the roof of my truck and driving away from a mountain bike trailhead, I found myself looking for another camera. I have a nice Canon DSLR, but it is too big and heavy to carry around when I’m riding bikes or traveling light, so I needed a camera that was small and light that has excellent image quality and professional features like manual controls for exposure and focus and RAW format imaging.
    There aren’t many compact cameras with manual controls and RAW format images and I quickly narrowed my choices down to the Canon Powershot S95 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5. Both are excellent cameras with superb image quality so deciding between the two was going to come down to features and handling. Both cameras have a long list of features, deciding between the two of them was tough, especially since I am a long time Canon camera owner. Canon is well known for top quality cameras and lenses, but the Leica lens on the Lumix has a reputation for quality as well, so I decided go with the Panasonic this time around.
    When I got the camera, I was amazed at how small it was. Not a true “shirt pocket” camera, but very small and easy to carry around. The Lumix has a removable lens cap, which is kind of unusual for a compact camera. I’m used to dealing with lens caps from using an SLR, but if you are coming from a “point and shoot” digital camera, dealing with the lens cap may be a bit of a hassle. The lens cap must be removed before the camera is turned on(even if the camera is plugged into a computer to download photos and/or video from the camera) or the camera will show a “Remove lens cap and press any button” message on the LCD viewfinder. JJC makes an Auto Lens Cap for the LX5 that automatically opens and closes when the camera is turned on and off if the stock lens cap turns out to be too much of a hassle.

    Panasonic Lumix LX5

    When the camera is turned on(and the lens cap removed), the Leica lens extends from the camera. Even though the camera is small, it is well balanced and feels very solid. It has a rubber grip on the right side of the camera that helps the photographer to keep a firm grip on the camera.

    Lumix LX5

    Lumix LX5 Features
    Leica Lens – The Lumix LX5 has a fast, sharp Leica lens. The f2.0-3.3 24-90mm(35mm equivalent) is about is good as you’re going to get on a compact camera. The f2.0 speed is helpful in low light situations, especially since the on board flash has limited range and some photographers just prefer natural light as long as it’s available. The 24mm(35mm equivalent) wide angle lens is perfect on a small camera to get in close to your subject. If you are a photographer that prefers to stand back and use a telephoto, the LX5 may be a little shorter than other cameras in it’s class on max telephoto, but if you like to get into the action with a fast wide angle lens, the Lumix is a great choice. The auto focus in standard and macro modes is very fast and accurate, if it’s not good enough, there is manual focus as well. The lens is optically stabilized with Panasonic’s Power O.I.S(Optical Image Stabilizer).

    10MP MultiAspect CCD Sensor – It seems like camera manufacturers are backing away from more megapixels and focusing more on image quality. The Lumix 1/1.63″ CCD sensor has increased sensitivity to expand the dynamic range. The bright Leica lens and improved sensor produce sharp, beautiful images, especially in the RAW format. There is a manual control on the lens barrel that allows the user to change the image aspect ratio. The 4:3 ratio is standard, 16:9 is great for wide shots like landscapes, 1:1 is a square pixel format common with computer displays.

    Manual Controls – Serious photographers want control over their images, manual control is mandatory. The Lumix LX5 has a full range of manual controls; exposure, white balance, focus and more. There are many creative imaging modes, but to be honest, I’ve pretty much used the camera in Manual mode most of the time, shot in RAW format and do my image manipulation with Photoshop CS4. There are options to create custom menus to change commonly used camera settings. There is a knob on top of the camera, similar to a DSLR, for shooting modes and a control wheel on the back of the camera to change aperture and shutter speed as well as for manual focus.

    Lumix LX5 - TopView

    HD Video – Most DSLR cameras can shoot HD video, that technology has trickled down to compact cameras. Panasonic has a strong legacy in HD video and they have put that technology in the Lumix LX5. The Lumix can shoot 1280 x 720(720p) HD video as high as 17Mbps in AVCHD Lite format as well as Motion JPEG(MJPEG) in 1280 x 720, 640 x 480, 320 x 240 and 848 x 480, all at 30fps. It has pretty decent Dolby sound with a wind cut feature. The Lumix has a separate movie button on top of the camera to start recording. With the camera set in “Auto” movie mode, it’s super easy to go from shooting photos to movies with the push of a button. The Lumix also has full manual exposure controls for video and continuous autofocus while zooming. There are also plenty of creative settings in the video mode, haven’t got to many of them yet. The LX5 produces great HD video for such a small camera. The only negative here would be that the Lumix has a sensor bloom issue with some specular highlights. Not a major issue, but in certain situations it can be a problem.

    Lumix LX5 - Rear View

    More Features – The LX5 has a large, bright 3″, 460K pixel TFT LCD display that shows nearly 100% Field Of View. It has a hot shoe for external flash, something you don’t find too often on compact cameras. There is also an electronic and optical viewfinder available that mount to the hot shoe for situations where it might be hard to see the camera’s LCD display screen. Like most compact cameras, the on board flash is not going to be very effective at any distance, but up to about 23 feet(7m), the flash works pretty well. By manually adjusting the aperture and/or shutter speed, you can get pretty good looking fill flash shots.

    Lumix LX5 - Flash

    The LX5 uses an SD/SDHC/SDXC flash storage card. To be sure that there wouldn’t be any problems, especially with HD video, I use a Class 10 16GB SDHC card. You can probably use a Class 4 or Class 6 as well. A 32GB SDHC card would have been nice, but the 16GB card is more reasonably priced and it holds plenty of photos and videos. For security reasons, I would almost rather have two 16GB cards instead of one 32GB card. SDXC cards have higher capacity, but they are pretty expensive, have to wait a bit on those for the price to drop.
    The Lumix comes with a micro USB cable to hook up to your computer, it also has an HDMI port. My Windows 7 had no problems recognizing the camera, transferring files is copy and paste(or drag and drop). The Panasonic RW2 format files are not recognized by Windows or Adobe Photoshop CS4, from what I understand, they will work with Photoshop CS5. If you have an older version of Photoshop and can’t afford a new version every year, you can convert the Panasonic RW2 files to DNG with the Adobe DNG Converter without any loss in quality and you can open them in Adobe Bridge, Lightroom and Photoshop. There are DNG converters for Windows and Apple computers. Shooting HD video in AVCHD produces .mts files. You can view them on your computer with the VLC Media Player, Windows Media Player plays them as well. As with any HD video, to work with it, you are going to need a fairly powerful computer, the old Pentium 3 with 512MB RAM is not going to cut it. Adobe Premiere CS4 and Sony Vegas 9 are capable of editing native AVCHD files, there are a number of ways to transcode the video files to get them to work with other editing software as well. The Lumix comes packaged with PHOTOfunSTUDIO 5.0 and Silkypix Developer Studio 3.1, so if you don’t have any photo or video editing software, they should be enough to get you going.

    Accessories
    Although the LX5 is a small camera, it doesn’t have a small price tag, so you are going to want to take care of it. First thing I got for my camera was a protective case. The case I got is the CaseLogic TBC303. It fits the camera perfectly, has a separate zippered compartment for a spare battery and memory card, strong belt loop and twenty five year warranty. Only cost about $12. Case closed.

    Case Logic TBC303

    Since these compact cameras are so small, it is impossible to use AA batteries, so they all have proprietary lithium ion batteries. The Lumix LX5 comes with a DMW-BCJ13E Li-ion battery and charger. For a small battery, it holds a charge pretty well. Panasonic says 400 images, your mileage may vary, especially if you shoot photos and HD video. I’ve found that a fully charged battery will last nearly an entire day of shooting photos and AVCHD video. The battery did run out before I filled up a 16GB SDHC card. The stock Panasonic batteries are expensive, the cheapest I’ve found is about $35. You can get cheapo Chinese replacement batteries for less than $10 each, but they won’t have Panasonic’s proprietary microchip in them so there will be no battery power level readout. They also may not work at all. Both the eBay specials in the photo below gave a “This battery cannot be used with this camera” message when first installed, but after the original message, the battery on the right worked fine(without a power level readout) while the battery on the left did not work at all. Both batteries were purchased at the same time from eBay seller “atcsupplyusa“. They claim to be in Chicago, but it must be the Chinese part of Chicago because their emails are from China. There are several feedback cases that batteries from this company destroyed laptop computers or battery chargers melted, there’s a chance a battery from a company like this will ruin your camera. atcsupplyusa are textbook eBay scammers; cheap Chinese batteries with no quality control or testing, bogus positive feedback and worthless 60 day refund claims. Best to bite the bullet and cough up the money for a genuine Panasonic battery.

    Aftermarket Batteries

    So, who would be interested in the Lumix LX5? If you are a professional or serious amateur photographer looking for a top quality camera to take along when it’s not possible to carry your expensive and bulky DSLR, it would be a good choice. I shoot a lot out in the field; bicycle riding, camping, snowboarding and skiing, etc.; the LX5 produces images that are nearly as good as my DSLR as well as HD video in a very compact package. If you are getting into photography and can’t afford a DSLR and lenses, the LX5 would be a good starter camera that could become your backup when you do get a full sized camera. If you want an auto-everything point and shoot camera, the LX5 would be overkill, you’d be better off with a $100 P&S camera that will be easier for you to use.

    There you have it. As with all product reviews on WatermanAtWork.com, we do not get anything free, we pay for them just like you do, our reviews are made by people who need to get their money’s worth out of the things they buy. As we continue to use the Lumix LX5, this review will be updated accordingly.