Panasonic LUMIX LX100: A Point-and-Shoot that Rivals DSLRs [Review]
Highly coveted by many photographers since its release, The LX100 is a point-and-shoot camera with a fixed 24-75mm f/1.7-2.8 Leica lens. With a weight of just over 14 ounces, a relatively compact form factor, and classic rangefinder-style controls, you have one of the best bridges between a phone camera and an interchangeable lens mirrorless or DSLR. The fast, very sharp Leica lens is paired well with the 12.8 Megapixel sensor. It makes for a fun and precise shooting experience for most travel, street, and general photography. If you’re going out for the evening with friends, this is the camera to bring.
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Table of Contents
- MSRP: $799.99
- Sensor: 16.84 Megapixels (12.7MP useable) Micro Four Thirds type sensor sized at 17.3 x 13 mm. While many may scoff at the megapixel count, the sensor pairs amazingly well with the Leica lens. Images are incredibly sharp. Shallow depth of field is easily achieved on nearby objects for fantastic bokeh.
- Lens: Leica 24-75 mm equivalent f/1.7-2.8 (3.1x optical zoom)
- Minimum focus distance: 3 cm – 30 cm
- Aspect Ratios: 3:2, 16:9, 1:1, 4:3; selectable via switch on lens body. One caveat here is that each aspect ratio is in itself a different resolution, therefore more or less megapixels (up to 12.7) that you can use.
- Flash: You can attach the included external flash via the hot shoe.
- Aperture: Manual Aperture ring from Automatic, f/1.7 to f/16. The camera in high light situations will default to f/5.6, which is the sharpest aperture of the LX100’s Leica lens.
- Controls: Manual exposure compensation dial, shutter dial, and zoom button backed up with zoom ring on lens body. These manual controls are fun to use, fast, and lend themselves well to familiarity with older rangefinder cameras and early DSLRs.
- Continuous Shooting: Up to 11 fps
- Viewfinder: Electronic with a 1024×768 resolution
- Screen: 3″ LCD rear display (not touchscreen)
- ISO Range: 100-25,600
- Video Recording Capability: 4K 3840 x 2160 (30 fps), Full HD 1920 x 1080 (60 fps)
- Image Formats: JPEG (DCF/Exif2.3), Raw
- Video Formats: AVCHD, MP4
- Wireless Connectivity: Wi-Fi and NFC
- Battery Life (CIPA rating): 300 images per charge
- Storage: SD, SDHC, SDXC memory cards
- Weight: 405 g (0.89 lb / 14.3 oz)
- Dimensions: 115 x 66 x 69 mm (4.52 x 2.61 x 2.17 in)
The LX100, while petite, has an aptly-placed thumb rest on the rear right side of the body, and a palm-swell located on the opposite side of the body. Coming from a DSLR camera, the manual controls have a great feel and are rather responsive, with the zoom/focus ring being somewhat easy to accidentally move. There are independent controls for exposure compensation, shutter speed, aperture, and zoom. Additionally, the rear screen has a central dial with a central button, surrounded by four equally distanced buttons. One of which is re-programmable for functions other than the default. There are two more of these function buttons located to the right of the viewfinder, along with the AF/AE (AutoFocus/Auto-Exposure) lock and recording button for video operation.
The camera isn’t weather sealed, so we do not recommend any sort of exposure to the elements. That being said, it can handle splashes here or there. If you aren’t prone to ruining your electronics from water damage, you’re probably fine with a camera that isn’t weather sealed. It is a nice feature to have, but not required for most people.
What accessories should I buy?
First off, if you already have a Panasonic LUMIX LX100, or are planning on buying one soon, we highly recommend you also buy a 43 mm protective filter. A Clear UV Hazer B&W MRC filter is a good option, but most any 43 mm clear or ultraviolet filter is going to work fine. Protective filters help reduce dust, scratches, and moisture from damaging your lens.
While you can also buy other filters like neutral-density filters, nice carrying straps, etc, the camera out of the box with a protective filter is plenty. However, a neutral-density filter is great for waterfall photography to allow for a longer shutter speed.
Just by looking at the camera without using it, it’s clear that the LX100 was designed with the photographer in mind. Manual controls, a functional electronic viewfinder, aperture range on the manual dial in increments from f/1.7 to f/16, a dedicated shutter speed and exposure compensation dial, and a generous rear display, all shout for attention from the experienced photographer and beginner alike.
If you’re shooting at night, you’ll have the best luck using a wide-open aperture with the ISO set to intelligent dynamic. Manually, you may set the ISO to nine separate settings from 100 to 25600, with much past 1600 exhibiting too much noise to create good photos. RAW captures tend to look a bit better than their JPEG equivalents at the same ISO setting. So it’s best to shoot in RAW or RAW+JPEG.
If shooting in daylight or similarly bright conditions, the camera’s automatic aperture setting will default to f/5.6, which seems to be the sharpest. For fun with JPEG images, numerous Creative Controls and Photo Styles are available within the camera’s software, from monochrome to retro filters and more.
The camera includes an external flash that’s mountable to the hot shoe. This will help you capture those moments when bright conditions aren’t available.
With all the praise the camera deserves, there are definitely some drawbacks with the LX100 that may steer the potential buyer elsewhere. The biggest drawback is the focal range, and that for not much more money, you can purchase an interchangeable lens mirrorless camera. With an interchangeable lens camera, you can buy a prime lens for daily use and swap it out for a macro or telephoto lens for other situations.
Another issue is the autofocus system in low light. Often, you’ll need to switch to manual focus in darker settings because the autofocus has trouble when not enough light is present.
Even with its drawbacks, the Panasonic LX100 is still a great camera. Its features, build quality, and price make for an excellent purchase. The only reason to look elsewhere is if you want the ability to swap lenses. But if you’re looking for a camera that you can pick up and start using today, then the LX100 might just be for you.
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