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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Performance

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100 Review – Performance

P1640270 lightenedWith its four thirds sensor, the Lumix DMC-LX100 has one of the largest imagers in any current zoom compact. Because larger sensors generally give better quality at any given ISO setting, this means the LX100 produces unusually good images for a camera of this type. I found it produces good-looking JPEG files straight out of the camera at sensitivities up to ISO 1600 at least, with low noise and excellent levels of detail.

Thanks to the exceptionally fast lens and effective image stabilisation, I could keep sensitivities surprisingly low a lot of the time. This is a real advantage, as it means you can use lower ISOs compared to shooting with an SLR and a slow kit zoom, reversing any advantage of a larger sensor.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100 sample imageThe lens is a decent performer, although not surprisingly it is a little soft towards the edges at large apertures, so you’ll want to close the aperture down a stop or two when sharpness across the frame is paramount. Its can give intense purple flare in some situations, which could be a concern if you like to shoot into the light.

Colour rendition has not historically been Panasonic’s strong point. However, the LX100 brings something of a change to all that – it renders skies in a richer blue, and brings more natural-looking skin tones. The auto white balance gets things right more often than not, and if it doesn’t, a well-implemented in-camera raw-conversion module lets you produce corrected versions without needing a computer.

The LX100 is a remarkably fast camera in most respects. The one small fly in the ointment, though, is start-up time. I found that the camera takes a second or two to fire up and be ready for shooting. Compounded by a slightly awkward positioning of the power switch, this could possibly result in some missed shots.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100 sample imageBudding movie-makers will be pleased to hear that the LX100’s video quality is excellent, giving exceptionally detailed footage in 4K mode. Indeed, it’s disproportionately better than the camera’s full HD output, meaning you’ll get better 1920×1080 movies by shooting in 4K and downsampling. The specialist 4K Photo mode works well, too, recording at the user-selected aspect ratio, rather than just 16:9, and providing an easy-to-use interface for extracting still images.

Autofocus

In a way, there’s not much to say about the Lumix DMC-LX100’s autofocus system, simply because it works very well indeed. Focusing is fast and silent, and focus tracking on moving subjects works unexpectedly well for a fixed zoom camera, aided by Panasonic’s DFD (depth from defocus) technology. The photographer can move the focus area manually to almost any point in the frame and change its size to match the subject. Overall I found the AF system never gets in the way of shooting.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100 sample image

  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 3 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