Two years on from the Lumix DMC-LX5, Panasonic refreshes its flagship compact camera series with a class-leading fast Leica lens and 11fps burst mode. Read the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7 review...
The Lumix DMC-LX7 is the fifth in Panasonic’s LX series of compact cameras, and draws on some great design work. Each camera in the range has offered a solid build, a focal range ideal for everyday use and wide apertures suited for use in low light. Outwardly, very little has changed in this new model, and to a degree the same can be said for the specification, although this is by no means a bad thing. However, there are some key improvements that make the LX7 the best model yet.
Like its LX5 predecessor, the LX7 uses a multi-aspect ratio sensor, which means it is designed to maximise the number of pixels used by the sensor when switching between aspects. The sensor is 7.6×5.7mm (approx) in size and packs in 12.7 million pixels, with up to 10.1 million pixels (effective) being used at any one time. To encourage the use of the 3:2, 4:3, 1:1 and 16:9 aspect ratios (of which 4:3 uses the largest number of pixels), the camera has a switch on its lens that makes it easy to swap between them. What’s new here is that the sensor is no longer a CCD type, but rather a ‘high-sensitivity’ MOS unit. MOS types typically consume less power, which is useful given the higher resolution of the LX7’s LCD with its power-hungry output. The change in sensor size, as well as the wider maximum aperture value, also means that the lens has been reworked.
The continuous shooting modes in the LX7 are a big improvement over previous models. Full-resolution capture is possible at 11fps for 12 frames with the focus and exposure fixed (compared to 2.5fps in the LX5). A 5fps burst mode allows continuous tracking AF during capture, while up to a 60fps burst is also possible at a 2.5-million-pixel image size.
Image: Where conditions are dull and flat, the impressive art setting in the creative control adds drama to the scene
Other shooting modes include a creative control menu that contains a mighty 16 picture effects, such as impressive art, and a scene mode menu with another 16 options, including HDR and 3D. The camera’s Intelligent Auto (iAuto) function uses the scene modes to create an appropriate auto exposure. Furthermore, a time-lapse mode has been added, for which a start date and time can be selected along with shooting intervals of up to 30mins for a total of 60 frames.
While the LX7 has a strong feature set that builds on its predecessor, other firms have made more advances during the past couple of years. A few features are missing that could have helped the LX7 to stand out from the crowd, such as GPS, Wi-Fi, an articulated screen and even touchscreen functionality. Also, some people may find the relatively low count of 10.1 million pixels, which enable 12.2×9.1in prints at 300ppi, too modest for their printing needs. However, for a camera of its type I found it was enough, and perfectly sufficient for A3 prints.