Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100 Review
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100 is a premium compact digital camera which uniquely captures 12 megapixel images in multiple aspect-ratio while keeping the ultra-wide angle-of-view of its ultra-bright 3X optical-zoom lens. Using a Four-Thirds sensor with a reduced image-circle 24-75mm F/1.7-2.8 equivalent lens gives it high-image quality and unprecedented versatility.
The LX100 packs a powerful and fast processor which let it capture full-resolution images at 11 FPS and record 4K Ultra-HD video at 30 FPS. This processor operates a high-speed Contrast-Detect AF system which is extremely versatile. The sensor offers an ISO 200 - 25600 sensitivity-range, expandable to ISO 100.
This premium digital camera provides an unusually high number of controls, including direct aperture and shutter-speed dials, plus a dedicated EC one and rear control-dial. It has an customizable control-ring, numerous switches and buttons. Framing is possible via a 2.8 megapixels EVF with Eye-Start sensor or a 3" LCD with 920K pixels.
The LX100 is extremely feature-rich and unlike any previous Panasonic digital camera. While it shares a core sensor with the Micro Four-Thirds mirrorless range, it is used in a completely different way.
This in-depth digital camera review covers the capabilities, usability, performance and unique aspects of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100 Features
- 12 Megapixels Effective Resolution
- 2.2X Effective Crop-Factor
- 16 Megapixels Four-Thirds CMOS sensor
- Standard ISO 200 - 25600 sensitivity-range
- Expanded ISO 100 sensitivity
- Two Auto ISO modes
- 4:3, 3:2, 16:9 & 1:1 Aspect-Ratios
- PASM Exposure Modes, plus Timed
- 1/4000 - 60s Mechanical Shutter-Speed range
- 1/16000 - 1s Electronic Shutter-Speed range
- Timed Exposure, maximum 128s
- Exposure-Compensation, ±3 in 1/3 EV increments
- Multi-Segment, Center-Weighed and Spot metering modes
- Ultra-wide 24 - 75mm (3.1X) optical zoom
- F/1.7 - 2.8 Maximum aperture, F/16 Minimum
- 9-Blade Aperture, 1/3 EV increments
- Built-in Optical Image Stabilization
- 50cm Normal minimum focus distance
- 3cm (W) - 30m (T) Macro minimum focus distance
- Automatic, 5 presetsDaylight, Cloudy, Shade, Tungsten, Flash, Kelvin and Custom White-Balance, 4 memories
- WB Fine-Tuning, 19 steps along 2 axis
- White-Balance Bracketing, 3 frames, 3 increments
- Standard, Vivid, Natural, Scenic and Portrait colors
- Monochrome mode, 4 optional Color-Filters
- Adjustable Contrast, Sharpness, Saturation, Noise-Reduction, Shadow Curve and Highlight Curve, 11 steps each
- Dynamic-Range Adjustment, 3 levels
- JPEG, RAW or RAW+JPEG output
- Built-in RAW Conversion
- Optional Long-Shutter Noise-Reduction
- Single-Shot Drive-Mode
- Self-Timer: 2s, 10s or 3 shots @ 10s
- 11 FPS Mechanic-Shutter without preview
- 7 FPS Mechanic-Shutter with preview
- 6.5 FPS Mechanic-Shutter with AF-C
- 40 FPS @ 3 MP Electronic-Shutter without preview
- AEB, 7 frames, ±1/3 - 1 EV increments
- Auto HDR, 3 frames, ±1 - 3, optional Auto-Align
- Aspect Ratio Virtual Bracket, always 4 frames
- Sweep Panorama, 4 directions
- Time-Lapse, 1 - 9999 Frames, 1s - 99m59s, 0-23h59m Start-Delay
- Multiple Exposure
- AF-S, AF-C, DMF and MF Focus-Modes
- Normal, Macro and Manual Focus-Range
- Pinpoint, Area, Custom, Automatic, Tracking and Face-Detect focus-point selection
- Optional Quick or Eye-Sensor prefocus
- Optional Manual Focus Assist
- Optional Focus Peaking
- Optional AF Assist-Lamp
- Optional Face-Recognition
Display & Viewfinder
- 3" LCD, 920K Pixels
- 0.38" EVF, 2.8 Megapixels
- 100% Coverage, 0.7X Magnification
- Built-in Eye-Start Sensor
- Dual-Axis Digital-Level
- Adjustable LCD brightness, contrast, saturation, 13 steps each
- Adjustable LCD tint, 2 axis, 13 steps each
- 3480x2160 @ 30 FPS 100Mbps MPEG-4
- 1920x1080 @ 60 FPS 28Mbps MPEG-4 or AVCHD
- 720p & VGA Video @ 30 FPS
- AF-S or AF-C focus
- Stereo Sound, 4 levels
- Optional Wind-Filter, 3 levels
- Time-Lapse Video
- Stop-Motion Video
- Auto, Auto Redeye, Forced, Redeye & Slow-Sync Flash-Mode
- Front or Rear Flash-Sync
- Optional Redeye Removal
- Standard Flash Hot-Shoe
- Accessory Flash, 14.1m (W) - 8.5m (T) range
- 4K Ultra-HD HDMI output
- A/V (NTSC / PAL) output
- USB 2.0 connectivity
- WiFi, 802.11b/g/n
- NFC, ISO/IEC 18092
- Dedicated Aperture-Ring
- Dedicated Shutter-Speed Dial
- Generic rear control-dial
- 3 Customizable buttons
- Lithium-Ion battery
- SDXC memory
- Metal tripod-mount
Capability - What can it do?
The Panasonic LX100 is the most ambitious premium digital cameras to date. It embodies the archetype with a rich feature-set, numerous direct controls, built-in viewfinder and exceptionally large sensor. All that and it still manages to fit an ultra-bright ultra-wide-angle zoom lens in a moderately compact body.
This digital camera offers a complete set of manual-controls with a wide range of aperture, shutter-speeds and sensitivities. The electronic shutter can freeze fast action with a maximum 1/16000s shutter-speed, while the mechanical shutter can capture light trails for up to 128s. With a maximum ISO of 25600, the LX100 can be used in extremely low-light.
The Leica DC Vario-Summilux lens on the LX100 is exceptionally bright for one that covers a 2.2X crop-factor. At wide-angle, the maximum aperture is F/1.7 which narrows to F/2.8 at telephoto, which is still relatively bright. This makes it possible to isolate subjects from their backgrounds. At all focal-lengths, the maximum F/16 aperture maximizes depth-of-field, allowing expansive scenes to be captured without much softening due to diffraction.
The real treat of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100 is that it is the only large-sensor camera equipped with a larger-than-necessary sensor. This has crucial implications unique among premium digital cameras. While the camera features a 16 megapixels Four-Thirds sensor, which itself has a 2X crop-factor by definition, the lens covers an imaging-circle with 2.2X crop-factor. Thus, the output resolution of the LX100 is between 10 and 12.5 megapixels, depending on the chosen aspect-ratio. Ordinarily, much more would be lost to cropping.
More importantly than preserving resolution, what this digital camera does is maintain a nearly constant maximum diagonal angle-of-view. At 4:3, 3:2 and 16:9, the Leica 10.9-34mm lens on the LX100 is equivalent to an ultra-wide 24-75mm lens on a full-frame camera. At 1:1, this gets reduced to a wide 28-88mm-equivalent field-of-view. Along the long edge though, the angle-of-view of wide-formats gets larger, allowing to capture wider scenes than is usually possible. This is really nice for sweeping landscapes and imposing architecture.
The maximum reach of the lens makes it usable for portrait yet is too short for typical street and sport photography. Wildlife is out of the question too. Anything longer would make this digital camera significantly more bulky, particularly with such a bright aperture. The LX100 clearly provides a reasonable compromise by covering ultra-wide to normal focal-length in a compact large-sensor camera.
With an effective resolution around 12 megapixels, the Panasonic LX100 can produce moderately large prints. Considering this a Four-Thirds sensor, one can readily expect high image-quality. Performance page of this review describes it in depth.
The high-speed CMOS sensor has a fast read-out rate which lets it shoot extremely quickly. It can capture full-resolution images at 11 FPS or 3 megapixels ones at a whopping 40 FPS. In order to maintain a live preview, it must slow down to a respectable 7 FPS with AF-S or 6.5 FPS with AF-C. This output is also used to capture video up to 4K Ultra-HD resolutions at 30 FPS or 1080p HD at 60 FPS.
One key aspect of premium cameras is their compact size to serve as versatile photography tools when an interchangeable lens camera would be too bulky. The LX100 particularly is Medium size which is slightly larger than typical compact cameras yet smaller than most bridge cameras. While not pocket-size, the Panasonic LX100 is certainly easy to carry. At under 400g, it is currently the second lightest to record 4K video and one of the smallest.
The LX100 is equipped with an impressive feature-set. It offers built-in HDR, Time-Lapse Video, Stop-Motion Video, Multiple-Exposure and multiple types of bracketing. AEB takes up to 7 frames with 1 EV step increments, while WB Bracketing captures 3 frames along one of two axis with 3 possible step sizes. A unique Aspect-Ratio Virtual Bracket feature takes one shots and extracts all 4 possible aspect-ratios from it. Guidelines are provided to help with such complex framing.
The Micro-HDMI port on this Panasonic can output at 4K Ultra-HD resolution. This camera also offers built-in WiFi connectivity. It can be controlled remotely, transfer images as they are captured or send previously captured ones. Images can also be shared via NFC. A Smartphone with GPS can also be used to geo-tag images. Finally, the Panasonic Android app makes it possible to use the LX100 as home-monitoring camera.
Panasonic DMC-LX100 Facts
|12 Megapixels Fixed Lens||ISO 100-25600|
|3.1X Ultra-Wide Optical Zoom||Shutter 1/16000-60s|
|Built-in Stabilization||Full manual controls, including Manual Focus|
|0.38" Built-in EVF 2.8 Megapixels (0.70X)||Custom white-balance with 2 axis fine-tuning|
|Automatic Eye-Start sensor||Spot-Metering|
|2 Axis Digital Level||Hot-Shoe|
|11 FPS Drive, 8 Images||Lithium-Ion Battery|
|3840x2160 @ 30 FPS Video Recording||Secure Digital Extended Capacity|
|3" LCD 920K Pixels|
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