The Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100 camera is the most recent model to the LX line. The LX100 has an advanced suite of features, including a long zoom lens and updated sensor that rivals mirrorless cameras for larger sensors. Whilst it might be a more tempting buy for those shooting video, you should consider other cameras instead. Our editors’ choice, the Sony Cybershot DSC-RX100 III beats it in photo quality and is still pocketable enough to bring on any trip.
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A review of the Panasonic LX100 The cameras share similar features-they cover a similar zoom range at a wide aperture, both have an EVF, and they both have larger sensors than you would find in most compacts. The LX100 includes a flash, but it does not have the option of an external one; the RX100 III lacks the facility for hot shoe mounts.
Note: The Leica version of the similar LX100 is called the D-Lux (Typ 109). The D-Lux was used for these sample images.
The Sony Cybershot DSC-RX100 IV sports a 20-megapixel 1-inch (13.2 by 8.8mm) sensor, while the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100 sports a 16-megapixel Four Thirds (17.3 by 13mm) image sensor. While the Sony camera has a higher pixel density and a slight advantage in image resolution at low ISO sensitivities, it cannot compete with the LX100’s true multi-aspect ratio design – limiting its file output to 12 megapixels. The LX100 shoots at 3:2, 16:9, 1:1, or 4:3 ratios.
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Although the lens collapses in to the body when the camera is switched off, it still sticks out and detracts from how compact it can feel. However, Panasonic has designed a 24-75mm f/1.7-2.8 zoom that covers the Four Thirds sensor with traditional functions in addition to digital ones which is impressive. It offers physical aperture that can be changed by rotating the ring along with two different computerized settings and also third stop detents from 1.7 all the Panasonic’s LX100 camera lacks an in-camera neutral density filter, but there is a shutter speed option that could fire as quickly as 1/16,000-second to allow for shooting at a wide aperture in bright light. The lens offers good macro capability, focusing from as close as 1.2 inches at its widest angle to 11.8 inches fully zoomed in
The camera has a hot shoe, shutter speed dial, On/Off switch, Shutter release with integrated Zoom rocker and EV compensation dial. The normal mode dial is omitted; instead, Panasonic has managed to make it easy for novice videographers to change into fully automatic mode with a push of the button. Both aperture ring and shutter speed dial can be set to A(utomatic) in order for fully automatic behavior similar to that of Program mode when using this feature.
The EVF is at the very top left of the camera. There are several buttons under it: Fn3 (which toggles between EVF and LCD functions by default) and Fn2 (another button that activates Wi-Fi by default). The thumb rest is slim and perfect for the range of buttons above it. The controls include Q.Menu, Fn1, and playback capabilities.
A rear control dial with Menu/Set button and four directional controls is found at the heart of every function. It defaults to focus point adjustment, ISO modifications, white balance adjustments, and drive mode adaptation; furthermore it can be set to directly adapt the active focus point through menu accesses. I chose the Single Area focus point, but you can customize one of four different modes depending on your preferences. There is Pinpoint AF (similar to a 1-Area), Custom Multi for your own pattern selection, 49-Area Pick (which automatically selects) and Tracking which keeps a moving target in focus. We also have Face/Eye
The Q.Menu is used to change many settings while taking a picture. It has the following options by default: the video quality, image size and format, focus mode, focus area, metering pattern, ISO ratings (meaning how sensitive it is), and white balance But you can also customize the menu to add only the features that you use most often.
The LX100 sports two options for framing photos- an EVF and a rear LCD. The EVF is high resolution (2,764k dots), similar to the Lumix DMC-GX7 . Its 16:9 aspect ratio matches the widest images that the LX100 can capture, and works quite nicely for capturing images at 3:2 as well. But if you are shooting at 1:1 or 4:3 you might find it to be a little bit smaller than desired. Sony has a pop-up OLED EVF in the RX100 III, and while I found GX7 to be larger than my eye level, if you don’t need the size of an SLR or interchangeable lenses than it may not be worth paying for that built-in protrusion.
The LCD can’t be angled, and it lacks touch input capability which is found on most Panasonic cameras. The 3-inch display has a resolution of 921k dots; however, I wish it tilted just a little to make waist-level shooting easier. I was happy to see that the LX100 didn’t have any notable scratches, until I looked at a few of it and felt several myself while my fingers ran along its surface.
I also think that adding some more thickness will make this camera even better because not everyone wants a compact point-and-shoot camera without a protruding lens. The camera spent some occasional amount of time in a padded bag, but was mainly kept in my jacket pocket when on trips. The LX100’s fraternal twin, the Leica D-Lux (Typ 109), found similar light scratches in normal use. The LCD cover is a major concern here, so it’s probably not a bad idea to buy an excellent Schott Glass screen protector to keep the LCD looking its best. I use a Giottos Aegis screen protector on my own camera and have been quite pleased with the protection it adds.
The LX-100 has a Wi-Fi module built in that allows for copying JPG images to your smartphone or tablet when you are away from home, uploading images on your own home Wi-Fi network or using Panasonic’s Lumix Club service. Compared to other smartphone apps, the Panasonic Image App is better for controlling those settings I mentioned above. However, in spite of this shortcoming, clear manual controls are present on the Lx100
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100 runs at 10 frames per second for continuous shooting, and can focus on a subject in about 1.4 seconds even working beneath dim conditions with its AF assist beam. Panasonic’s LX100 is faster when it comes to start-up time and focus speed, but the Sony RX100 III matches its performance in dim light.
The LX100 is quick when shooting in bursts as well. It racks off shots at 11.3fps with fixed focus, and may continue that pace for 22 Raw+JPGs, 24 Raws, or 96 JPGs captures. Enabling continuous AF slows things right down to about 5.4fps when shooting at maximum aperture, and There is nothing that explains why the burst rate slows down at narrower apertures, but this happened constantly in testing with both LX100 and its twin, the Leica D-Lux (Typ 109). Despite the slowdown, LX100 keeps pace with another big-sensor compact, the Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark II when shooting; unlike
I used Imatest to check the sharpness of images captured by the LX100. We prefer to see center-weighted scores of just 1,800 lines per picture height, and the LX100 dances for this number throughout its zoom range when the lens is defined at it’s maximum aperture. At 24mm f/1.7, the lens produces pictures on the soft side – scoring 1,528 lines per picture height when tested in the middle of our frame. The mid-sections of shots are somewhat soft and edges not as sharp with a score of just 1,087 lines. The 20-megapixel Canon PowerShot G7 X, a model with a 1-inch image sensor, manages 2,508 lines at its widest angle and aperture.