Martin, I purchased the Panasonic Lumix LX3
for work, and I really love it. The pictures it takes are amazing for a point and shoot. It has a Leica F/2 lens the makes all the difference. It also boasts a much larger CCD than most small cameras. The price
is $100 less than when I bought it a month ago.
Here's what sold me on it: DPReview's 2008 holiday prosumer Enthusiast digital compact comparison
. Here was their conclusion:
The Panasonic LX3 gets so many things right that we knew before we started it would be the camera to beat in this group. It's not that it has the highest measurable resolution (the Canon G10 wins that one) or the biggest zoom range (in fact its one of the smallest here), or even that it offers the most intuitive controls (never going to be the case with a camera so small). No, what's so impressive about the LX3 is that Panasonic has actually produced a camera aimed at photographers, not one designed by a marketing department. So instead of going for the easy option of adding even more megapixels and beefing up the other headline specs, the designers concentrated on the things that actually matter to a photographer.
Thus we get a fast zoom with a real wideangle, a superb screen and excellent image quality, including high ISO performance puts most competitors to shame. The LX3 is positively understated compared to some of its competitors, which loudly proclaim the 'bigger is better' rather than 'less is more', and it's a far, far better camera for it. It's small enough to carry anywhere, fast and subtle enough for street photography and good enough to produce a decent 8x10 without the need to use raw.
Of course it's not perfect; the controls are pretty fiddly (as it's so small) and there's no telephoto to speak of, but if you want telephoto you're not going to be considering this camera. If you want more SLR like controls and a longer zoom - and don't mind the bulk - go for the Canon G10. Me personally? By that point I'm using an SLR. For a carry anywhere 'walk around' camera I'd go for the LX3 every time.
I love my big Nikon D200, but the LX3 fits in my coat pocket. I pretty much have it with me where ever I go.
If you want to try it, I'll bring it to the next RS meeting.
Edit: I added a picture of the Leica version for comparison.