It may look like a relatively minor update over its predecessor, but Panasonic’s latest enthusiast-focused compact is still an excellent camera
Panasonic Lumix LX100 II: Body and Design
In terms of design, the LX100 II is essentially unchanged from its predecessor, which is no bad thing at all. Its robust, metal-shelled body feels like it should shrug off minor knocks with ease, while the rubberised finger grip and thumb hook give a secure hold. The key controls are also all well placed for shooting with the camera to your eye.
However it’s the traditional control layout that really marks the LX100 II apart from its fast-zoom peers. Dedicated dials for shutter speed and exposure on the top plate are joined by aperture and focus rings on the lens; the latter acts as a stepped-zoom in autofocus mode. Large switches on the barrel set the focus mode and aspect ratio, while the d-pad on the camera’s back gives direct access to ISO, white balance and drive mode. Finally the user-customisable onscreen Q Menu gives control over other key functions. As a result, there’s barely any need to enter the menus after initial set-up.
So far this is all much the same as the original LX100, but the new model has two major improvements. Firstly the screen is now touch-sensitive, with Panasonic’s excellent interface providing large, well-spaced onscreen buttons that perfectly complement the camera’s physical controls. Secondly, more of its external controls are customisable, giving you greater scope to configure the camera as you prefer. As with its other recent models Panasonic has favoured giving direct access to its various 4K modes out of the box, but holding down any of the Fn buttons for a couple of seconds lets you re-assign them to any function you might find more useful.
You’re expected to use the touchscreen to move the focus area, not only when you’re shooting with the LCD, but also with the EVF. This will probably work fine for most photographers, but if like me you don’t get on with this approach for viewfinder shooting, it’s possible to reconfigure the d-pad buttons to move the focus area directly. You can then re-assign their usual settings to the various Fn buttons – for example I placed ISO onto Fn1 on the top-plate, drive mode onto Fn3 and white balance onto Fn4. Configured like this, I found the camera an absolute joy to use.
At heart the LX100 II is a camera for enthusiast photographers, but pressing the top-plate iA button sets it to Intelligent Auto mode so it can be easily used by non-experts. There’s no built-in flash, but a hot-shoe centered with the lens accepts external units. A tiny slide-on flash is included in the box, with a fixed forward-facing tube and a guide number of 7m at ISO 100.
The DMW-BLG10E battery is shared with a number of Panasonic cameras, and is rated for up to 340 shots per charge using the LCD, or 270 with the EVF; switching to the ‘Eco’ 30fps viewfinder setting increases this to 320 shots. It’s charged via the standard Micro USB socket, which can also be used for both transferring images to a computer. A micro HDMI connector behind the same cover allows connection to a TV for viewing your images and videos.