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: Autofocus
As with other current Lumix cameras, the LX100 II uses the firm’s Depth from Defocus (DFD) technology for autofocus. This works by taking two measurements at slightly different focus distances, then using a knowledge of the lens’s out-of-focus characteristics be determine how to bring the image into sharp focus. This is considerably quicker than simple contrast detection AF, without needing the added cost and complexity of on-chip phase detection pixels.
A plethora of focus area modes is available. The camera can be left to select the focus point itself, using either a 49-area grid that covers almost the entire image area, or a user-defined subset of those points. But I suspect most users will prefer the 1-Area mode, which allows the focus point to be placed freely anywhere in the frame and resized in 15 steps. If this isn’t enough, there’s pinpoint AF for selectively focusing on a really small area, complete with an onscreen focus-check ‘loupe’. Subject-tracking and face detection options are also available, with the latter including eye detection. The latter works pretty well for shooting portraits, although it’s perhaps not quite as bulletproof as Sony’s version.
I found the LX100 II’s AF performance to be excellent, with the camera locking onto the specified focus point rapidly, decisively and completely silently. Autofocus also continues to work reliably in remarkably low light, for example in dimly-lit restaurants or bars. In a month or so working with the LX100 II, I only got a few images that were out of focus, and that was usually attributable to shooting subjects closer than 50cm with the lens set to the standard AF position. After a while I ended up leaving the camera in its AF macro setting, which maintains access to the full focus range.
One the very rare occasions that the AF system struggles, you can flick the switch on the side of the lens of MF. Rotating the manual focus ring then brings up a magnified display in the viewfinder or on the LCD, allowing precise focusing.