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
Build and handling
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100 Review – Build and Handling
With a price tag of around £700, the Lumix DMC-LX100 is clearly a premium product, and fortunately it both looks and feels the part. The construction quality is excellent, with most of the body and controls crafted from metal. It feels solid in the hand and built to last, without being overly heavy. It’s not really small, though; it will fit into a coat or jacket pocket, perhaps, but not a shirt pocket like the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 Mark III or the Canon PowerShot G7 X.
With dedicated dials for shutter speed, aperture and exposure compensation, the LX100 positively encourages you to experiment with the main settings, and all their effects can be previewed live on screen or in the viewfinder, including image brightness and depth of field. The camera can even preview motion blur from the selected shutter speed, by enabling the constant preview setting.
The slight caveat here, though, is the viewfinder, which isn’t as good as it could be. It’s sharp and detailed, but much too contrasty, and colours are oversaturated and inaccurate. I found I had to occasionally force myself to ignore the EVF’s rendition while taking pictures, and trust my judgement that certain images which looked wrong in the viewfinder would actually turn out OK.
In contrast, the rear LCD is much more true to the image that will be recorded. However, it’s a little disappointing that the screen is fixed, compared to the tilting units found on the LX100’s competitors. It’s also not touch-sensitive, which would be useful for moving the focus area and changing settings.
Many of the controls can be customised to the photographer’s preferences. For example, I set the four-way controller to move the AF point around the frame directly, which I found worked better with the camera to my eye. I then reassigned the manual-focus ring to control ISO (at least while the camera was set to AF), and set up the on-screen Q menu to give quick access to other functions. The camera offers enough flexibility that most photographers should be able to set it up to their liking. For when you’d rather point and shoot, the iA button on the top-plate sets the camera to Intelligent Auto mode.