The Panasonic Lumix LX100 is a premium compact camera that incorporates a large Micro Four Thirds sensor. If you’re looking for a Panasonic Lumix LX100, See our Panasonic Lumix LX100 Review for all the details!
What is the Panasonic Lumix LX100?
The Panasonic Lumix LX100 could be thought-about a natural evolution of the Sony RX100 series. This, too, maybe a small compact that provides performance comparable to a compact system camera. Panasonic has moved the genre on by packing an even larger Micro Four Thirds sensor into a slightly larger body that offers much better manual control than on any camera of this large-sensor-in-small-body class.
At $597, it may seem expensive for what initially appears to be a normal compact camera. But rarely do you see small solutions like this that are so geared towards the real enthusiast. There are some problems Panasonic may solve in a very Lumix LX100 II – a number of them serious – however this is often the type of camera that would rekindle your love for photography.
Panasonic Lumix LX100 – Design and Handling
The Panasonic Lumix LX100 may be a small camera, but one that exudes far more credibility than your average Lumix compact. It’s metal-bodied, chunky and has the sort of manual control dials that are fairly rare in a camera of this size.
Some of you’ll be disappointed to listen to that the Lumix LX100 is noticeably, significantly larger than both the Sony RX100 III and Canon G7 X. Those are this camera’s two obvious rivals, and where they’re borderline pocketable, this one is slightly larger. Still tiny, yes, however you lose a degree of convenience.
The Panasonic Lumix LX100 appearance and feels a little bit more sort of a shrunken Fujifilm X100S, a wonderful fixed-lens APS-C model. Its proportions are very similar to the new Fujifilm X30, in fact. There are handling benefits to being a bit larger, though. First, there’s a handgrip. It’s a small one but offers a slightly more traditional feel that many of you may appreciate. It additionally makes room for the Panasonic Lumix LX100’s manual controls. On the highest plate are dedicated dials for exposure compensation and shutter speed.
Add to these the manual focus and aperture rings around the f/1.7-2.8 lens and you have everything needed to take full control over many of the camera’s most important settings. The level to which the Lumix LX100 lets you feel you’re getting your hands dirty with the mechanics of photography is simply fantastic.
The direct thunks and clicks of these dials offer a sense of mastery you just don’t get when you’re reduced to thumbing a D-pad through menus – like you are with most smaller cameras. Both the Sony RX100 III and Canon G7 X supply lens dials, but neither gets close to the pure physical joy of the Lumix LX100. You may are lured in by the promise of a bigger small Four-Thirds sensing element – the Sony and Canon each have 1-inch sensors – however, this manual handling is really the star of the show.
Panasonic Lumix LX100 – Sensor and Lens
The Panasonic Lumix LX100 uses a sixteen.8-megapixel Micro Four Thirds sensor, but it doesn’t use the whole sensor when taking shots. Instead, it offers a few different aspect ratios of a picture, each of which uses a slightly different chunk of the full sensor.
When shooting within the commonplace facet, you end up with 12.8-megapixel photos. It’s effectively a sensor of this resolution: don’t be fooled by the full resolution count. Why not use the full sensor? Next to the Sony RX100 III and Canon G7 X, you end up with fairly low-resolution shots that’ll limit how much you can crop into your photos without seeing compromise.
The Panasonic Lumix LX100 lens is quite remarkable. With a maximum aperture of f/1.7 when shooting wide open, you have great control over the depth of field for a camera of this size, and comparatively excellent low-light performance – on the lens’s part at least. We’ll look at high ISO performance later.
The zoom range is 24-70mm, which is spot-on what you get with the Sony RX100 III, but with a slightly greater maximum aperture at 24mm – the RX100 III is f/1.8 wide open. A telephoto star this is not, but for landscape, street and portrait shooting, the LX100 has it covered.
Maximum aperture drops down to f/2.8 at the further reaches of the zoom, but so do this camera’s main rivals. Having that further little bit of lens skillfulness at 24mm is ANother attraction for serious photographers trying to find an everyday shooter. The LX100 is perfect for those times – which are many if you’re like us – when you simply can’t be bothered to take out the DSLR with a couple of lenses.
Panasonic Lumix LX100 – EVF
Yet ANother sign that the Panasonic Lumix LX100 is dead set internet enthusiasts is that it’s an electronic eye viewfinder. It sits to the top-left of the back panel and has a rubbery outer part that means you don’t have to get quite as close to it as you do with the Sony RX100 III’s EVF. This was one of our criticisms of the Sony model, and another case of Panasonic valuing substance over style.
However, the performance of the EVF is disappointing. We find it is color accuracy to be fairly poor, with over-saturated colors and over-egged contrast making it a pretty bad way to judge how the LX100’s images will actually look. It’s good for basic composing only.
It’s a 2.36M-dot EVF, significantly better than the resolution of the 1.44M-dot Sony RX100 III model, so it’s disappointing to see Panasonic drop the ball quite this badly with the basics of the display’s calibration. Our guess is that it wanted to hide/mitigate its use of an LCD EVF rather than an OLED one, by misguidedly aping the screen characteristics of OLED: ultra-high contrast and vivid colors. It hasn’t worked too well.
Panasonic Lumix LX100 – Screen
The Panasonic Lumix LX100’s rear 3-inch show makes for a way better thanks to deciding what your photos can really find yourself looking like. It is color reproduction is far more natural, with the more relaxed shades we expect of an LCD panel.
The resolution doesn’t impress too much, though. It’s a 921k-dot LCD, fewer than both the 1.44M-dot screen on the Sony RX100 III and the Canon G7 X’s 1040K-dot one. However, it’s still a good display that we were pretty happy with quality-wise, especially after the disappointments of the EVF. It’s rather basic, though. There’s no bit operation and also the show is mounted – it doesn’t rotate or tilt a single degree.
Panasonic Lumix LX100 – Features
As you’d hope in a new compact camera that costs $597, the Panasonic Lumix LX100 has NFC and Wi-Fi, letting you transfer photos to a mobile device and control the shutter remotely.
However, it doesn’t have anything. There’s no built-in flash, for one, although you do get a unit that slots into the hot shoe. We’re content with that trade-off.
There’s no ND filter, either, however, there area unit measures in place to make up for it. Shutter speed goes up to AN unbelievably quick 1/16,000, meaning you should be able to use the f/1.7 aperture setting even in daylight. The Sony RX100 III solely goes up to 1/2000 of a second, although it does have an ND filter.
Add to this the larger sensor and you have an everyday workhorse camera that’s supremely flexible. For those who also enjoy the lighter side of photography, there are plenty of the creative modes you normally get in a compact, including HDR, time-lapse video, stop motion and panorama.
Panasonic Lumix LX100 – Performance and AF
The Panasonic Lumix LX100 offers excellent shooting performance in terms of burst shooting, but we did find that it’s pretty slow to turn on. Start-up takes a good couple of seconds. It may not sound like a lot, but it’s enough to mean we missed a few quick-fire opportunities in our testing.
Once you get started, things brighten up. The LX100 shoots at up to 11fps, which drops down to a still-impressive 6.5fps when using autofocus while shooting. Canon’s rival G7 X only shoots at up to 6.5fps or 4.4fps with autofocus, which is a huge difference.
You will plan as long as your memory card can handle once capturing JPEGs, or the buffer allows for 24 RAW plus JPEG shots. Solid shooting speed matched with good manual control makes shooting with the Lumix LX100 a lot of fun if you’re not after a simple point-and-shoot camera.
Panasonic Lumix LX100 – Image Quality
Despite a few hitches with the EVF and rear display, the Panasonic Lumix LX100 is an utter joy to use for the most part. But do its images match up? The camera arose several suspicions once, despite having a 16.8-megapixel MFT sensor, the images it captures as standard are merely 12.8-megapixel ones. As no mode uses the full sensor, it’s slightly misguided to think of this as a true Micro Four Thirds camera.
However, turn the tech pedantry switch off for a moment and you’ll be very happy, we think. Crucially, at the lowest ISO settings, we got a slightly better dynamic range than the 1-inch-sensor cameras that the Lumix LX100 is up against. For those who haven’t read this review from the start, that’s primarily the Sony RX100 III and the Canon G7 X.
The LX100 offers up to 14.3EV dynamic range, which is a minor, but still notable, increase over the 14.2EV of the Canon. This is the kind of performance we’d ordinarily expect from an honest compact system camera, not a compact.
The dynamic range keeps up a solid 10EV at ISO 1600, and there’s very little noise up to ISO 800. Performance is well in far more than the compact camera norm.
At ISO 1600, we’re beginning to see some luminance noise creep into the Panasonic Lumix LX100’s images, with more shadow noise seen at ISO 3200 and 6400. We suggest sticking out to ISO 200-6400 whenever potential and settings as high as ISO 1600 can produce excellent results.
The LX100’s native ISO range is 200-25600, so there’s a way to go above ISO 6400, but we think ISO 12800 and 25600 are best saved for emergency purposes, as they’re very noisy. This is predictable, of course, with the only serious niggle being the residual color noise at more ‘normal’ ISO settings. Colour reproduction is mostly natural-looking, with a slight blue-green emphasis that you can tweak in the Photo Style menu.
With a true resolution of 12.8 megapixels, the amount of fine detail captured is lower than the Sony RX100 III and Canon G7 X, but we never felt shortchanged. It’s only worth making this a major concern if you want to enlarge prints beyond A3.
There are some other, mostly minor, concerns. Highlights can suffer from purple flare, and the edges of images are a little soft when shooting at the widest apertures. However, we’d rather have the aperture to play with than make do with a lens not able to shoot as wide as f/1.7.
Panasonic Lumix LX100 – Video
As well as offering wider maximum aperture than the competition, the Lumix LX100 also boasts 4K video capture, something still being left out of many of the latest cameras. Excellent video detail is additionally exploited by a 4K image mode that permits you to extract 8-megapixel photos from 4K footage. It’s handy, especially for those one-off family get-togethers.
As impressive as it sounds, we still don’t think the Lumix LX100 will appeal to video enthusiasts in the same manner as the Panasonic GH4. Why? It doesn’t have an external mic input, meaning you’re limited to the built-in stereo mic.
Should I buy the Panasonic Lumix LX100?
The Panasonic Lumix LX100 maybe a camera we’ve enjoyed using enormously. Its combination of image quality, portability, and intuitive manual control will be a dream come true for many of you.
If old-school manual management is what you’re when the Lumix LX100 is the best of the three. However, others have benefits, too. The Canon is significantly cheaper, and both alternatives are smaller. The Panasonic is small, but not ‘carry it around in your jeans’ small.
Still, this is a design choice rather than a failing. And real failures are scant. Only the over-saturated EVF disappoints, but that’s something you can work around once you understand its foibles.
The Panasonic Lumix LX100 is the go-to compact camera for photo lovers who want to ‘go manual’ without trading portability.