[Review] Panasonic LX3 0.45x Wide-Angle Lens Kit

The Panasonic LX3 is one of the most proficient compact cameras around, due in part to it’s excellent 24mm lens. This relatively wide-angled lens allows for a large field of view and sense of scale when taking photographs, especially handy with large buildings, groups of people, landscapes and so on, without having to backpedal to fit the whole picture in. Personally I find the wide-angled nature to allow for photos to have a more ‘dramatic’ feel (in my own amateur terms). For a while I’ve been contemplating a further wide-angle addon, since the LX3 allows for add-on lenses. Recently I ordered one from eBay from ‘Fototalia’ which arrived just today.

The lens itself comes in a few parts, there is the adapter tube with a 46mm thread, allowing mounting to the camera itself. This preserves the camera’s ability to zoom fully, onto which the macro lens and wide angle lens (62mm thread) screw onto, with the entire assembly weighing around 126gm, adding roughly 50% more to the weight of the camera itself. The macro lens can be used by itself to aid close-up shots, onto which the wide angle lens attaches to. The 0.45X wide-angle brings the effective lens width to around 11mm.

The macro lens by itself I found to be of limited use, it adds some field of view to the image, but I found the minimum focusing distance not substantially changed from standard. Here’s Donkey Kong with (above) and without (below) the macro lens. You will notice the bottom picture has a more ‘fisheye’ effect and slightly poorer depth of field.

Onto the wide-angle lens then: here’s a sample of before (above) and after (below). You will notice the substantially wider viewing angle, some fisheye effect, and strange artifacting in the corners.

Marvellous, the ability to fit much more into the picture is great, useful for both closeups and bigger scale shots. It’s definitely something that has a specialised use, limited mostly by the size of the lens, as we will see later. Also, notice two artifacts in the second picture. The first is the presence of chromatic aberration in the corner, specially the upper right. This is caused by the distortion of the lens causing different colors to have different focal points. I believe this is due to the nature of the wide angle lens, not due to manufacturing issues. The second is that the corners of the lens can be seen in the shot, very slightly, once again due to the wide angle nature of the lens and the overhang of the lens hood. Here is a close up of the aberration:

As you can see, the various colors are causing a ‘fringing’ effect on the picture. Of course this is not very noticeable in the original picture, only when you look closely. In addition, Photoshop CS5 has chromatic aberration adjustment, which for most part works quite effectively.

Some more close up shots elsewhere show some good results, allowing for very close up macro shots, but still allowing for a large field of view to capture more details and no zoom being used. In these cases, the wide-angle lens was less than 1cm away from the objects in question.

Success then, yes definitely. The wider the better. I look forward to finding some ways to use the wide-angle lens. However, the large size of the lens itself poses an inconvenience, as it nearly triples the depth of the camera itself, defeating the portability of it. However, the kit does include a small carry pouch for the wide angle lens, which will definitely come in useful. Here is a picture of the monstrosity in it’s entirety.

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