Panasonic has announced the DMC-LX3 as an addition to its popular Lumix LX range of high-end compact cameras.

The LX3 comes 2 years after its predecessor, the LX2, was released and further improves on all the things that made the LX2 so popular.

Panasonic has limited the LX3 to 10.1 megapixels with a large 1/1.63-inch CCD specially developed for the new model. This helps reduce the picture noise, in particular in low-light parts of an image.

Panasonic also redesigned the peripheral circuits and other components to further minimise noise generation. The company says these enhancements greatly improve imaging performance, boosting both sensitivity and saturation by around 40% compared with ordinary 10-mexapixel compact cameras.

The CCD in DMC-LX3 can reproduce images shot with the lens set from 24mm to 60mm in any of three aspect ratios; 4:3, 3:2 or 16:9. The newly added Multi-aspect bracketing mode allows the camera to take a picture in all three aspect ratios simultaneously, allowing the photographer to choose the one that best takes the advantage of the scene after shooting.

The LX3 features a F2.0 24mm ultra-wide-angle Leica DC Vario-Summicron lens which represents a major step up from the LX2. The F2.0 lens is about twice as bright as the previous F2.8 lens and means the LX3 can shoot at higher shutter speeds and capture sharp, blur-free images even in lower lighting conditions.

The LX3 boasts a large 3.0-inch LCD with a 3:2 aspect ratio and high 460,000-dot resolution. For those who want to get a bit more serious with this compact, there is the option to add on the GN22 Compact Flash.

The camera is available in black or silver, and is a good compact partner camera for those who own SLRs.

No price information as yet, but we'll get it to you when we have it.