Panasonic’s Lumix DMC-LX100 combines a fast zoom lens and a four thirds sensor, in a stylish body with enthusiast-friendly controls and a built-in viewfinder. Andy Westlake finds out whether it lives up to its considerable promise

Product Overview

Overall rating:

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100

Features:
Build/Handling:
Metering:
Autofocus:
AWB Colour:
Dynamic Range:
LCD viewfinder:

Pros:

  • - Excellent image quality from Four Thirds sensor
  • - Intuitive dial-based controls
  • - Fast lens is useful for low light shooting
  • - Built-in electronic viewfinder

Cons:

  • - Fixed LCD screen that isn’t touch-sensitive
  • - EVF color rendition can be misleading
  • - Limited telephoto range

Product:

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100 Review

Manufacturer:

Price as reviewed:

£699.99

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Panasonic’s LX series is one of the most-loved lines of enthusiast compact cameras. Yet while the LX3 reinvented the sector in 2008 with a fast lens in a compact body design, by 2012 the line seemed to have lost its way, with the LX7 offering little to distinguish itself from the crowd. Now Panasonic has reimagined the concept using a much larger four thirds sensor and built-in electronic viewfinder. However the LX100 still manages to include a fast f/1.7-2.8 zoom lens with a 24-75mm equivalent range, plus a huge array of external controls. Almost every conceivable photographic feature has been thrown in, too.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100

Features

At the Lumix DMC-LX100’s core is a 16.84-million-pixel four thirds type sensor. This is larger than that used by almost any other camera with a built-in zoom lens, and should therefore offer better image quality, especially at high ISOs. The camera doesn’t actually use the entire sensor area at any given time, but instead has a multi-aspect ratio design that offers 16:9, 3:2 and 4:3 formats with the same diagonal angle of view (there’s also a 1:1 setting that’s a crop of 4:3). The effective resolution is 12.8 million pixels in 4:3 crop, and the standard sensitivity range runs from ISO 200-25,600. An ISO 100 setting is also available, but is more likely to clip highlight detail.

Continuous shooting speeds are particularly impressive, with the LX100 capable of 11 frames per second with focus and exposure fixed, or 6.5 frames per second with continuous autofocus and live view between frames. I found that these rates drop to if you shoot raw files as well as JPEGs, to around 8.7fps and 5fps respectively, but for a compact camera this is still pretty fast. Buffering is also impressive, allowing you to shoot 24 raw+JPEG frames in a burst, or to capture JPEG images indefinitely at 6.5fps.

The 24-75mm equivalent zoom range of the lens includes a very useful wideangle, but I often found that the long end was a little limiting. The remarkable f/1.7-2.8 maximum aperture, though, is a revelation – getting similar low-light capability from an interchangeable-lens camera requires either a bulky fast zoom or having to carry several primes. Combined with the LX100’s impressive optical image-stabilisation system, which I found allowed handholding at shutter speeds at least as low as 1/2 sec at wideangle, I was able to shoot handheld in low light, such as indoors or after sunset, without having to use high ISOs.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100This fast lens is also good for selective focus work, allowing increased background blur when shooting portraits compared to most similar cameras. Large apertures can even be used in bright sunlight, thanks to Panasonic’s clever hybrid electronic and mechanical shutter system, which enables speeds up to 1/16,000sec. Like other lens-shutter type cameras, the LX100 is also near-silent when shooting.

For videography, the LX100 is one of a select group of cameras that offers high-resolution 4K recording. However, the camera lacks an external microphone socket for recording sound, which limits its appeal for serious video use. The LX100 does have a new ‘4K Photo’ mode that’s designed to simplify the extraction of 8-million-pixel stills from video footage, which can be a useful tool when shooting subjects that are moving unpredictably.

Panasonic has also added a range of photographic features, including panoramic shooting, high dynamic range, time-lapse movie creation and even a stop-motion animation feature. I found all these easy to use, and they worked very well. The LX100 doesn’t have a built-in flash, though. Instead, Panasonic includes a tiny unit with a guide number of 7m @ ISO 100 that slides onto the hotshoe.

  1. 1. Features
  2. 2. Build and handling
  3. 3. Performance
  4. 4. Image Quality
  5. 5. Verdict
  6. 6. First Look
  7. 7. Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100 Review – Specification
Page 1 of 7 - Show Full List
  • Douglas Kerr

    It does! Look in the menu settings, select extended and there you go 24-90!

  • Seven_Spades

    I like this camera but I wish its lens went from 24-90 and I which the chrome version was chrome and black not brown. Whoever though that brown was a cool colour?

  • kaptink

    I bought one yesterday and love it already. Need to get some thinner gloves as operation with the current pair leads to pressing the wrong button. Part of the price to pay for it being so small. And living in the UK.

    I bought my LX100 to replace an ageing Canon S95. Of course, it’s not in the same league.Yesterday evening I replicated a night shot I took with the Canon last week in Covent Garden. The LX at ISO 1600 IQ easily outperforms the Canon at 800. The large aperture and rapid AF is great for street snapshots (a large part of why I bought it as the Canon S95 was constantly frustrating me with its limited aperture and slow AF) and, as I’ve found in a couple of short photowalks to and from the office, enables me to get shots that just wouldn’t have been possible with the S95. Using the LX reminds me of the ad campaign that Nikon ran in the lead up to the release of the Df.

    The choice of aspect ratio is also a surprising boon. This is also available on the Canon but you have to go through menus so I never took an interest. The easy availability of four choices right there on the lens does add another creative dimension to consider every time you see something to shoot. In fact this is one of the great things about it that sets it apart; everything you need is to hand using buttons or dials. And it has many features that are found on serious dSLRs; like focus or release priority, for example.

    And also AF-ON! This is what clinched it for me. I have a D700 and D300s and only ever shoot using the back button. It’s great that the LX can be configured to do this.

    This is going to be the ideal companion for a forthcoming weekend trip to NYC.

    (I didn’t have to sell the cat either (we don’t have a tortoise) or any of the kids. I haven’t told the wife. I tend to acquire equipment quietly and if she even notices she doesn’t say – though it was rather obvious when I got the D700 that I now had two large, pro bodies where there used to be only one; but she didn’t seem to mind…)

  • Thanks for the Review! I’d like to ask you if the iq of the LX100 is as good as the one of the X100s. I’m really interested in the Panasonic Lumix LX100 because of the zoom but i love my fuji x100s and the IQ is simply amazing there. So id change only if the IQ is equal. What would you say?

    Thanks for your reply

    Greetings

    Nils

  • Moose Borrowdale

    I have a Panasonic LX3 and it has been one of my favourite cameras. It was my first taste of a digital camera with manual controls. However, although the picture quality was brilliant for a compact, pushing up the ISO led to lots of noise that wasn’t particularly attractive. As the LX5 and LX7 arrived, I was tempted to upgrade but could never really justify it on a very limited budget at the time. However, in my quest for quality, manual control and love of street photography, I took the plunge with an inheritance and bought a Fuji X100s as there was nothing to touch it in my view in terms of quality, looks and ease of manual control. Until this one arrived.
    I loved my LX3 so much (and still do), I would seriously consider buying one of these beauties as a major upgrade. The zoom would be a bonus. It sounds like a great camera to carry round in your pocket and I can’t wait to try it out. However, I hope it’s rubbish so I don’t feel tempted to sell my tortoise to fund the purchase, even though I don’t need it. But I hear it talking to me in my dreams – fast lens, zoom, big sensor, small form, 4K.
    As a maths student and after some initial calculations I have come up with a formula which seems to work for me:
    LX100 + (want x 2) – tortoise + difficult explanation to wife = click Buy Now button