Panasonic Lumix LX100 - Big sensor, big potential
User Interface, Camera Performance and Conclusion
User Interface and Camera Performance
With the Quick Menu button, you can bring up a list of settings that you will commonly access during shooting. Accessing the Quick Menu will reveal that the settings are split between the top and bottom half of the display. The issue is that you will have to hit down on the D-Pad to access the settings on the top half of the screen, and hit up on the D-Pad to access the settings on the bottom half of the screen. You would think that pressing the Set button would let you access the respective settings, but it does nothing except confirming your choice after you enter the respective sub-menu like metering or focus mode.
While the camera uses the same 16MP sensor as the one in the Panasonic GX7, due to the aspect ratio available on the LX100, the highest resolution you can get from the camera is about 12.8MP. Resolution aside, as mentioned earlier, don’t forget that the larger sensor does help when shooting in low light and also giving photographs a larger dynamic range compared to smaller sensor models.
In terms of resolution, the Lumix LX100 2,400 lines per picture height of resolution (both vertical and horizontal). Due to its large sensor, the LX100 manages to keep noise to a minimum while retaining detail. You can see the image soften and smudge at ISO800, but it gets really noticeable after ISO1600. Comparatively, the Canon G7 X manages similar imaging resolution capability, but details get noticeably fuzzy from ISO800.
The Panasonic LX100’s produces colors that are pleasant but aren’t as punchy as the Canon PowerShot G7 X. The camera is also capable of 4K video, at either 25p or 24p. You can choose to record video in either MP4 or AVCHD formats. As expected, the resulting video files were quite large, though it’s still impressive that a compact camera is able to record 4K video. There's also Wi-Fi and NFC if you want to transfer images wirelessly, via the Panasonic Image app. You can also use your smartphone as a remote control or viewfinder via the app.
Below are sample photographs shot with the Panasonic Lumix LX100. The photos have not been post-processed and are copyright to SPH Magazines. They are provided for your reference only and we ask that you do not reproduce them elsewhere. Click for the full-resolution images.
We liked the Canon PowerShot G7 X for its ease of use, making it a good camera for those who want to let the camera do the brunt of the work instead. Even then, it still had manual controls to cater to the more advanced shutterbug. The Panasonic LX100 takes it a step further with the dedicated dials for shutter speed and exposure compensation. And with its Micro Four Thirds sensor, you get better low light performance and generally improved image quality. And Panasonic even threw in a 0.38-inch 2.76 million-dot EVF with eye sensor and 4K video recording.
But the camera isn't perfect though, as its dedicated controls may be too much for novice photographers. In fact, its Quick Menu user interface isn't as polished as what we would usually expect from Panasonic, and the lack of a touch-sensitive display does affect the camera's appeal. With so many touch-sensitive displays on other cameras, it now feels awkward and clunky to rely on the D-pad to set the focus area. Still, we can make do with these minor misgivings as the dedicated controls and larger sensor would really appeal to the enthusiasts. While its general performance is good, colors aren't as punchy as the Canon counterpart.
Features and performance aside, from a practical use point of view, the Panasonic LX100 is chunkier than the top 1-inch sensor compact camera contenders - namely the Canon PowerShot G7 X and the Sony RX100 III - and the lens doesn't fully conceal within the camera body. This makes it an unlikely pocket camera companion, but it's still handy enough to fit in small bags. While we've reasoned earlier on this is a limitation of a design choice to go with a larger sensor, not being able to pocket the camera narrows the general audience appeal further in addition to its professional user oriented controls.
Above all, we foresee its price being a major point of contention. While its pricing and availability in Asia has yet to be announced, we hear it can be had for US$899 (S$1,124), which makes it even more expensive than the already premium Sony RX100 III. This will also put it in the same price bracket as quite a few full fledged mirrorless system cameras, which offer the flexibility of changing lenses. It's a competent camera, but its overall proposition at its expected price point will see it having lots of competition and limiting its ready appeal.