LX5 RAW File Quality

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Click to access the detail in this full sized image from the LX5.

I think I have commented before that I like to review the web logs for my site to see what searches people used to find me. Well I am seeing quite a lot of people searching for details about the quality of the RAW files for the LX5. When I see searches such as this which I haven’t particularly addressed I feel I must provide an answer so here goes.

The first thing that occurs to me is the vast number of variables that go into something like RAW file quality. There is the dynamic range, signal to noise ratio, etc. etc. etc. and my head hurts so I stop thinking about it. It then occurs to me that people really can’t be all that interested in the technicalities or they would just go and look up the LX5 on the DXO Marks web site and feel disappointed. No, what I think people are really looking for is some sort of real world indication about how good a camera the LX5 is when you shoot in RAW format and this actually encompasses lost of factors such as the sensor, the lens, post production etc.

Now this is a little difficult for me to comment on as I am biased, thinking the LX5 is a phenomenal camera. So I am going to do something a little out of the ordinary and show you an image shot in RAW format, converted and saved as a JPG and provide the RAW file for you to download and play around with. I’m also going to point out a few of the things that impress me about the images captured on my LX5 in RAW along the way. And just to be absolutely clear, this isn’t what I would class as being a good image, just an example of a RAW file and since I took this my understanding of how to get more performance out of the LX5 has improved.

The first thing I will point out is that there is quite a lot of latitude in the RAW files in terms of exposure. I usually overexpose my images slightly but I didn’t bother with this one. If you are loading the RAW file you will find you need to increase the exposure slightly. I also didn’t bother using a ND Graduated filter which I would normally use for shots such as this but the scene seemed to have reasonable contrast levels so I didn’t bother.

Now for my favourite part, the detail and sharpness. Look at the foreground stone wall and the grass to see how well defined it is at 100%. Now look at the distant hills and you can see the rock in the rock face at 100%. Finally take a look at the detail in the barbed wire. This is impressive stuff from such as small camera.

The final acid test is if you scaled this image you would be able to print it at A3+ size without a problem. You would need to sharpen it but it would produce a very crisp detailed print. I suspect you would probably get away with printing it even larger.

I won’t go on much more other than to say make sure you click on the image above to see it at 100% (it’s about 7Mb) and download the RAW file (about 12Mb in DNG format) to play about yourself.

2 thoughts on “LX5 RAW File Quality

    Jacques Cornell said:
    October 8, 2012 at 9:35 pm

    Love the site and visit regularly. I, too, really enjoy shooting landscapes with an LX5. I find that I shoot more with it than when I bring my 1Ds Mark III, mainly because it’s so light and the excellent lens and selectable aspect ratios invite me to explore. I shoot at ISO 80, process carefully in Aperture, sharpen with Topaz Labs InFocus, and have made 16″x24″ prints that look sharp and detailed even viewed up close. Remarkable. The main technical limitation I’ve found in the RAW files is that there’s not much headroom for recovering blown highlights – maybe 1/3 of a stop. Inspired by your site, I’m considering a GX1 for a wider lens range and that little bit of extra detail in large prints. Thanks for sharing!

      thelightweightphotographer responded:
      October 9, 2012 at 7:15 pm

      Thanks for sharing your experience. It’s great that you are also able to produce large sized prints with detail from the LX5. I always like it when people can back up my claims. Topaz inFocus is also a great sharpening tool. The other tool I find useful for bringing out more detail in the LX5 images is Topaz Detail.

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