When I was telling people I wanted a compact camera which could perform well at a high ISO, I think many misunderstood. What I really should have said is, I want to be able to take low-light pictures without a flash. This picture was taken using my DMC-LX2’s intelligent ISO mode, which selected an ISO rating of 250. There is no reason for me to have wanted to go any higher with this shot — especially with all lights in the night market. With a shutter of 1/125 and optical image stabilization, a remarkable amount of detail is still preserved, the most important being the expression on the woman’s face.
Now, my old camera could do OK at ISOs up to 200, but it couldn’t go any higher. More importantly, however, the FX7 only took pictures at 100 or 200, while the LX2’s intelligent ISO setting fine-tunes the ISO at 125 or 250 etc. depending on the shot. It is smart enough to emphasize aperture speed for moving subjects and to lower the ISO for still subjects. This seems to be more important than the fact that the camera can theoretically do ISO 1600. Considering the noise you can already see in the above picture, I’d be hesitant to use anything above 300, but when you consider that most compact digitals on the market can’t do much more than 100 that’s pretty good, and even that extra 50 percent boost gives me a much wider range of options.
My guess is that 2008 will see much better ISO performance across the board, including the long awaited LX3, but if you bought your last camera a few years ago you will be pleasantly surprised and how much better the new cameras perform.
UPDATE: I rewrote the last couple of paragraphs after looking through my old photographs.