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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Image Quality

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100 Review – Image Quality

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100 sample imageThe Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100’s four thirds sensor is unusually large for a camera with a built-in zoom lens, and this confers a distinct image quality advantage, especially at higher sensitivities. Image quality holds up very well to ISO 1600, with noise and noise reduction artefacts starting to become obviously visible at ISO 3200. Even ISO 6400 is quite usable, but the highest settings of ISO 12,800 and ISO 25,600 are essentially best used for emergencies only.

With its 12.8-million-pixel effective resolution, the LX100 records measurably less detail compared to cameras that use smaller 20-million-pixel, 1in-type sensors, such as the Canon PowerShot G7 X and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 III. However, it’s still fully capable of making detailed A3+ (12 x 18in) prints. It offers less flexibility for cropping, though, which could be a concern given its short zoom.

The impressive dynamic range measurements of the LX100 match most interchangeable-lens cameras, and are slightly ahead of its competitors with 1in-type sensors. This means that overall the LX100 is right at the top of the class among fixed-zoom cameras. The ultra-fast lens helps  make the most of the sensor’s capabilities, too.

Resolution

Panasonic-Lumix-DMC-LX100-resolutionThe LX100 resolved a maximum of around 2800l/ph on our applied imaging test chart. Strong aliasing around the Nyquist frequency (the theoretical maximum the camera can resolve), along with false detail beyond it, suggest that the sensor has no optical low-pass filter. Resolution drops slowly as the ISO is increased, to around 2400l/ph at ISO 1600, 2200l/ph at ISO 12,800 and 2000 l/ph at ISO 25,600. This was tested at 60mm and f/4, which we found gave best results from the LX100’s lens.

Dynamic Range

Panasonic-Lumix-DMC-LX100-dynamic-range

Impressively for a fixed zoom compact, the LX100 gives an excellent dynamic range of 12.5EV at ISO 100. This holds up well to ISO 400, but then starts to drop, although ISO 1600 offers a still very acceptable 10EV. The very limited range at the top sensitivities, however, confirms their relatively poor image quality. Overall, though, this is slightly ahead of the LX100’s competitors, and Panasonic’s iDynamic function also helps users exploit this dynamic range to the full.

Colour

Panasonic-Lumix-DMC-LX100-colourThis 3D graph compares the colour shift from the reference colour to the photographed chart: the higher the peak, the greater the shift from the original colour. In the default JPEG colour setting, colours are rendered evenly across the range, with some degree of emphasis on the greens and blues, which should be good for landscapes. Colour settings can be adjusted in the Photo Style menu, with modes tailored for such things as scenery and portraits.

Noise

Panasonic-Lumix-DMC-LX100-noise-1The images above are printed at 300ppi, reflecting a full-resolution print size. The LX100 gives clean images up to about ISO 800, but at ISO 1600 luminance noise becomes clearly visible in its JPEG output. At higher sensitivities noise becomes increasingly visible and shadow detail blocks up, but ISO 3200 and ISO 6400 are still capable of giving acceptable results for non-critical purposes. The highest two ISOs are best avoided.

Adobe Camera Raw wasn’t capable of reading the LX100’s raw files, so we examined them using SilkyPix Developer Studio supplied with the camera. Colour noise starts to become visible in raw images at ISO 800, mainly in the shadows, and it becomes distinctly intrusive at ISO 6400. The top two ISOs are very noisy, underlining their status as emergency settings.

Panasonic-Lumix-DMC-LX100-noise-2The grey-card images above are JPEG files shot with the LX100’s default noise reduction and colour settings applied. The 300ppi images are shown at 100% magnification to reflect the noise that would be experienced when printing.

The results show that the LX100 gives clean images at its lowest sensitivities, with luminance noise starting to show in the JPEGs at about ISO 1600. Luminance noise becomes increasingly pronounced as the ISO is raised further, and is pretty overwhelming at the top settings. In raw, colour noise starts to show up ISO 800, and again becomes very intense at the highest sensitivities.

  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 4 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