Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7 review
Price as reviewed
- Star rating
- Overall Score
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7 at a glance:
- 1/1.7in (7.6x5.7mm) multi-aspect-ratio MOS sensor
- 10.1 million effective pixels
- ISO 80-6400 (extendable to ISO 12,800)
- 4.7-17.7mm (24-90mm equivalent) f/1.4-2.3 DC Vario-Summilux Leica lens
- 11fps high-speed burst mode
- Street price around £450
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7 review - Introduction
Panasonic's LX series has long been at the forefront of the 'expert' compact camera sector. Now more than ever, though, this market is fiercely contested by most of the top camera brands. Just this year we have seen the release of some excellent cameras with solid build and intuitive handling from the likes of Canon, Fujifilm and Sony. Panasonic's latest flagship compact camera, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7, arrives two years after its predecessor, the Lumix DMC-LX5, and in that time much has changed.
The point of focus of this change seems to be the use of a large imaging sensor. A large sensor provides, among other things, a greater ability to collect light (and therefore improved performance in low light) and more control over depth of field, which makes it easier to blur a background. It comes as something of a surprise, then, that the imaging sensor in the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7 is actually smaller than that in its predecessor, and therefore some of its direct competition, too, such as the Olympus XZ-1. The size difference of the sensor in these models is fractional, with the LX7 using a 1/1.7in (7.6x5.7mm approx) sensor compared to the 1/1.63in (8.1x6mm approx) unit of the Olympus XZ-1. However, there are compact cameras available that have significantly larger sensors, among them Canon's PowerShot G1 X, Fujifilm's X10 and Sony's Cyber-shot DSC-RX100.
So why use a smaller sensor? The main reason is that Panasonic aims to build on the strengths the LX series already has - fast lenses in compact bodies - rather than push the newest model into new realms. The LX5 had a fast f/2 lens, but now the LX7 has a class-leading 24-90mm f/1.4-2.3 Leica optic (the Samsung EX2F also has a f/1.4 lens, but it is reduced to f/2.7 at its longest, 80mm focal length). To work with such wide apertures, the LX7 features a built-in, 3-stop ND filter, which means the f/1.4 setting can still be used in bright sunlight. Needless to say, the lens is the standout feature of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7, but I'm going to look at just how much the camera benefits from its class-leading features, and how it fares against the competition.