Ehi, you’re a photographer, why Panasonic Lumix LX100? I’ll explain here below, but keep in mind that this is just my point of view on the matter! Everything started a couple of years ago when I decided to find a camera smaller and lighter than my Nikons full-frame (read this, if you want to know something more about my Nikon wedding and portrait equipement) with which usually I work, to bring with me everywhere. Expecially, I wanted to find something with no exchangeable lens system and fast AF to pick quality family photos wherever I am.After some tests with fuji APSC system (X100S with wich, to be honest, I never find a nice feeling) I started searching for a camera with a bit of zoom…but damnit, it seems on the market is totally missing the right camera for me: good zoom range with great aperture and a big-enough sensor. The market was divided in two sides: on the first side the small sensor cameras with good zoom capabilities and large aperture (like Fuji X30 or Sony RX100); on the other cameras with good sensor equipped with a prime lens (usually a 35 equivalent focal length like Fuji X100s and X100t, sony RX1). Until this autumn, when Panasonic decided to present the Lumix DMC LX100, a quite revolutionary small-but-great camera.
For the ones who will be annoyed reading a boring review, read just here below:
The Panasonic Lumix Lx100 capabilities can be resumed in two specifications : 4/3″ sensor and an equivalent focal length of 24-75 F1,7/2,8. These two combined together at the moment make this camera really unique on the market. Great, isn’t it? It means a very small compromise both in terms of ISO performances and shallow depth of fields. Oh, I forget: the lens is Leica.
For all the others: you can continue reading.
There are some other interesting aspects of this camera to be considered. But before to talk about them, I want to give you a general overview; this camera is really well builded, it seems solid, and fit well in my hands (I have really big hands!). When you hold it on your right one the front grip and the rear thumb rest, both coated with a very tactile rubber, give you a great confidence and comfort. All the dials are easy to use and their positions are perfect. The aperture ring on lens barrel has two small handles on opposite sides and turns with the perfect degree of resistance giving you a very satisfying experience when using. Like some other “vintage camera” you can’t find the PASM mode dial, but you’ve to select your preferred mode with the shutter speed dial, and aperture ring. I like this, switching from Manual to Aperture priority (the two modes I cmostly use) is quick and easy. The sensor is a Micro Four Third equipped with 16mpx; but LX100 isn’t actually using the entire sensor, instead cropping it to allow for multi-aspect shooting. So, the effective area your using depend by the aspect ratio you chose for your photos: 4/3 corresponds to 12,7mpx, 3/2 to 12,2 mpx 16/9 to 11,3mpx and 1/1 to 9,7 mpx. I think around 12mpx is the perfect choice for an all-purpose camera like this.
Now that you know something more about how it is made, we can go through the aspects that made me choose this camera. First of all the dimensions are really small considering the relative big sensor and the large lens aperture mounted on this camera. You can fit it also in the rear pocket of your jeans if it is really needed (but not very comfortable!). To be honest, The LX100 may not be really pocketable, but it’s small enough that I’ve been able to take it always with me. To make a comparison: the Fuji X30, that has a sensor 4 time smaller in term of area (the same ratio you can find going from M43 to FF, but look the difference here below compared with D810 dimension!) and a 28-112 f2/2.8 eq. focal lengt, weights 423g and measures 119x72x60mm. The new Panasonic Lumix LX100 weights just 393g and is 115x66x55mm. Let me say: the work the Panasonic engineers did on this camera is impressive!
The other great skill of this professional toy is the autofocus system: it is A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. The 100% contrast detect autofocus system is incredibly fast and accurate, and choosing from a combination of various option (face/eye detection, Tracking, 49 areas, AFC, hybrid….) you can surely find the one will suite well for you. It uses a system called ‘Depth by Defocus’; this uses a profile of the lens’ rendering of out-of-focus regions to assess subject distance. And it’s hard to say but sometimes It can be faster then my Nikon D810.
Another function I love: the electronic shutter option for silent shooting. And believe me, it’s really silent and you’ve to press play to be sure you have got your photo! The electronic shutter will permit you also to shoot at 1/16000, very useful in case you are shooting a 24mm/f1,7 considering the ISO range starts from 200 iso. And it can compensate the missing of the ND filter you can find, in example, on the fuji X100S and X100T or Sony RX100.
I always shoot in RAW mode and I edit all my files; so what I immediately checked has been the dynamic range. It seems good, the files are well workable and you can work with the idea to save light and recover shadows later in post without any problem. Also the Iso performance are great: you can shoot easily until 6400 iso, pushing the camera until 12800 if it will really necessary, being confident to bring at home not-perfect-but-usable images.
The cons now. I’ve find mainly two. First one is that when you switch on the camera the lens barrel extends. So your subject can see that the camera is switched on. It didn’t happen with X100s, for example. The second one is that the zoom function is not manual but electronic. To activate it, there’s a zoom collar around the big shutter release. The problem is that it’s too slow if you’re in the action and want to change focal length quickly. You can also set the focusing ring to zoom in/out, but the speed don’t change.
There are a lot of other functionn on this camera of which we can talk about: good display, 11 fps continuous shooting, 4K video recording capability, In-camera Raw conversion, Wi-Fi with NFC…but I’m focused on the photos. Of course it’s nice to have all of these functionalities, but what about the photos I can make? I wrote this review as soon as I found something meaningful to show you! I had the possibility to make a real field test, taking with me the Panasonic LX100 for a short trip in China I did the past week. I was not there to making photograph, so I just had the camera with me, and I used it as often as I could. Here below some of my favourites from my short China Reportage; keep in mind that more of them are “point and shot” without looking at viewfinder or display, simply holding the camera in my hand.
Are you curious about seeing some more photos token by me with this camera? Enjoy my post about Street Photography in New York City! In conclusion I’m really satisfied about the results I got and most important I really enjoied using this camera. If you’ve some comments or questions please feel free to write them below this post, and I’ll be there to answer! Fore more details you can find all the Panasonic LX100 Specifiacations on the Panasonic official site. More images, opinions and tests could be found here and here, in these two very detailed reviews.