The Panasonic LUMIX DMC-LS1 is a compact digital camera that came out in the heady days of 2005. With its two AA batteries powering a four megapixel sensor, fixed three times motor zoom lens, and a massive two inch screen, this camera was my introduction to digital photography.
Being my first ever digital camera, there is a fair amount of sentimental value attached to my LS1. Lacking the barest of manual controls, it forced me to focus on learning composition, and improvising solutions to keep it working outside of its comfort zone. This was no more evident than in its nurturing of my then burgeoning interest in macro photography.
Early on, I discovered that the flash was too powerful at close range. Initially, I ran the exposure compensation a full two stops into the negative. However, realising that this was destroying most of the detail and atmosphere, I soon abandoned this method. My replacement method, was to fold up a piece of paper, or even a handkerchief, to diffuse the light coming out of the flash. This prevents overexposure, and gives a nice balanced light throughout the frame. Coincidentally, I still use this method with all my cameras.
Besides macro work, this camera has seen a lot of rain. A lot more rain than a non-weather sealed camera should. As a testament to its reliability and build quality, it has never had a single issue. I, on the other hand, have had several head colds as a result of this practice (NEVER go into the rain without a jacket; it took me five years to acknowledge that they exist for a reason!).
Yes, if you compare the images at full magnification, the LUMIX is worse than my Micro Four Thirds equipment: noisier, with a far narrower dynamic range. However, when you consider that it has one quarter to one third of the resolution, a much smaller sensor, and is strangled by a prohibitive control interface, that’s to be expected.
Expectations factored in, image quality is really rather good. It prints up to A4 easily, no doubt helped by a lens which (besides the obligatory chromatic aberrations) belies its entry-level status in the Panasonic range. Once you learn to live within its strict limitations, it’s a very capable camera.
Even though it’s a capable unit, I rarely, if ever, reach for this camera nowadays. Part of this comes from having better alternatives, but the crux of it stems from the sentimentality attached to this camera. I use it with trepidation, because breaking it would doubtless feel like breaking a part of me.