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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First Look

Panasonic has historically been serious a serious player in the ‘enthusiast compact’ market, having revived the sector back in 2008 with its Lumix DMC-LX3 and thereby establishing a blueprint for small cameras with ultra-fast lenses and lots of manual control.

However in 2012 Sony’s RX100 changed everything, with its large 1-inch type sensor in a compact body, and along with its successors has led the market ever since.

Now Panasonic has struck back with the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100, which along with the Canon PowerShot G7 X is one of the first serious competitors to the RX100 series thanks to its fast lens and large sensor.

The LX100 uses a large Four Thirds-type sensor, but with a slight catch; it only ever uses a crop of the total sensor area, giving 12-million-pixel images from a 16-million pixel sensor. The advantage of this approach is that it can offer multiple aspect ratios (16:9, 3:2, and 4:3) with the same diagonal angle of view and approximately the same resolution.

The lens covers a 24-75mm angle of view, with a maximum aperture of f/1.7-2.7, naturally including optical image stabilisation. Thanks to the maximum shutter speeds of 1/16000sec, photographers using the LX100 will be able to shoot wide open in bright light.

It’s capable of burst shooting at up to 11fps, and uses Panasonic’s Depth From Defocus technology to deliver fast, accurate autofocus, using 49 AF points and (Panasonic claims) working in -3EV lighting situations.

The LX100 also features built-in Wi-Fi, including NFC for easy pairing with similarly-equipped smart devices.

Build and Handling

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100 fully embraces the current vogue for analogue controls, with a design that harks back to the company’s classic LC1 from 2004. It has dials for shutter speed, aperture and exposure compensation, along with a manual focus ring, and switches on the lens for focus mode and aspect ratio. Indeed in many ways it could be seen as a zoom lens alternative to Fujifilm’s much-loved X100 series, with essentially the same control layout.

Panasonic LX100

The LX100 lacks a built-in flash. Instead it has a hot-shoe for external units, and a small clip-on unit is included in the box. Of course a range of larger, more powerful units can also be used.

It’s worth noting that the larger sensor and the built-in EVF (more on that later) do make the LX100 a little bulkier than some of its rivals, notably the Canon G7 X. However in some respects this works in the camera’s favour; more bulk to the body means more space for a big battery, and accordingly the LX100 can pack a battery that’ll give it 300 shots per charge.

The LX100’s build  quality is superb, and in your hand it feels like a truly premium piece of kit. With its solid metal body it’s the kind of camera that simply begs to be picked up and used, and the wealth of analogue controls should encourage creative experimentation with the exposure settings.

LCD and Viewfinder

The LX100 has a fairly standard 921-thousand dot 3” LCD, but crucially it also includes a high quality electronic viewfinder. This is a 2.76-million dot unit that offers 100% coverage and an image size similar to the optical viewfinder of a full frame SLR (equivalent to 0.7x magnification).

4K video

Video is one area where the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100 has a clear advantage over its competition; it’s one of just a few cameras to offer 4K movie recording. Panasonic has also kitted it out with software tools designed to make it easy to extract 8MP still images from the footage, referred to as ‘4K Photo Mode’.

The manufacturer has also made it easy to switch from stills to video at a moment’s notice with a dedicated button on top of the camera’s body that lets you instantly start recording video.

Also available in Leica

Leica has had a long-running partnership with Panasonic, and announced its own version of the LX100 at photokina. The Leica D-Lux (Typ 109) shares identical specifications with the LX100, but with revised cosmetics and the ability to record Raw files in DNG format. Most notably it loses the handgrip, and the back buttons are rectangular rather than circular. The £825 price tag represents a small premium on the Panasonic version.

First Impressions

Panasonic LX100

The LX100 was certainly one of the most-admired cameras at Photokina this year, and it’s easy to see why. With its ultra-fast zoom lens and larger-than average sensor, coupled with built-in EVF and traditional analogue controls, it looks like it should be a great travel camera for enthusiast photographers. In particular that lens and sensor combination promises low-light capabilities beyond anything we’ve previously seen from a camera with a fixed zoom lens.

Given its potential to appeal to those with a penchant for analogue controls, we could see the LX100 being an enticing prospect to photographers who’ve been tempted by the Fujifilm X100 series, but would prefer to have a zoom lens. It should also be appealing to videographers, as the smallest ‘proper’ camera capable of recording 4K video.In any case, we’re definitely excited to see more cameras that finally promise some serious competition to the Sony RX100 series. Time to start saving.

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100 comes with a recommended price of £699.99.

  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 6 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