Update: it is irritating that sensor sizes are always given in arcane language that nobody understands. In this case "1/1.63-inch CCD sensor". What the hell does that mean? It sounds like it's pretty big. But the lens is only a 5-13mm zoom, which makes the diagonal of the sensor 9mm. A quite small sensor. This limits what we can expect from this camera.
A new Panasonic compact camera looks interesting. It has a larger sensor than most compacts, a quite wide zoom, and claims to be aimed at the market for connoiseurs and to have good low-light capabilities, for instance the F:2.0 lens is very unusual for a compact. It certainly has a premium price, £400*, so it will be interesting to see if the picture quality and usability lives up to that.
* Some sources predict a price in the states of $500. If this is so, I am importing one, given the current two-for-one aspect of the dollar/Sterling!
Even if it doesn't, it's gratifying to see different companies trying for a good high-end compact camera, we're sure to get there some day.
... Lordy, it seems some people already have the camera. And it also seems that the image quality is really good, at least in good light. Other samples are more dubious, having noise suppression smear at merely 125 ISO. Not great.
"... the LX3 boasts its highest resolution in the sensor's native 4:3 format, although 3:2 and 16:9 aspect ratios are also available at a reduced resolution. A new 'Multi-Aspect Mode' also allows photographers to capture an image in all three aspect ratios simultaneously."
... One imagines this is for photographers who don't own a computer for cropping.
Bruce helps out:
"... the LX3 boasts its highest resolution in the sensor's native 4:3 format, although 3:2 and 16:9 aspect ratios are also available at a reduced resolution."
This is misleading. The sensor is oversize, which means each aspect ratio can use the full 24mm circle of light. For example, 16:9 images are wider than 4:3, but not as tall. Panasonic first used this oversize sensor trick in the TZ3.
Panasonic explains on this page.
On that page is a link to a couple of sample pictures. One of them, looks like a New Orleans street scene, is interesting in that it has a lot of very dark shadow areas, which I tried to lift in Photoshop, and I must say it responded well, got less noise and "mud" than many pictures from larger cameras. A good sign.