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Thread: Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100: A basic review

  1. #1

    Post Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100: A basic review

    Preamble
    When Wonglp asked if I was interested to help review the LX100 for CS, I agreed with some hesitation. I'm the kind of person who finds writing brief item reviews on Amazon purchases a fairly tedious process, and have never reviewed a camera. However, the LX100 was something I had been personally interested about since its launch, and I guess my curiosity eventually overcame my doubts. Wonglp kindly gave me some pointers too.

    I received the review unit last Monday, but fell ill that day, only recovered on Wed. Since I was stuck at home, I decided to make the most of it and explore the macro mode. Just in case anyone wonders why there appear to be quite a number of indoor/macro shots. Have been out a little bit more since, and will continue to add more images as I go along. To put this review in context, I've had the LX100 for 6 days so far. I did not want to rush into it, but took my time to explore the features and functions just like I would for a camera I purchased for myself. Consider this a evolving document. If my thoughts/opinions change, I'll update the review to reflect that. Feel free to pop any questions about the LX100, will try to check that out for you if I am able to.

    Oh yes, I should mention that there will be no shots of charts, in-depth technical analysis, or serious pixel-peeping, as I have neither the expertise/equipment/time to indulge in all that. There are better sites for that anyway. I'm just a person who enjoys making pictures, and this review will reflect that.

    Those who haven't seen it, do check out ed9119's earlier review of the LX100 for CS: Panasonic LX100 preview and review

    -------------------------------------------------

    LX100: A review
    by kowcher / kandinsky

    The DMC-LX100 (LX100) is the 6th generation of Panasonic’s LX high-end compact camera series. It makes its appearance with touches of classic styling, clearly influenced by the DMC-LC1, Panasonic’s first full manual compact digital camera released in 2004. 10 years on, we have the LX100.


    LX100: A Review by Kowcher /001 by kowcher, on Flickr

    Panasonic Press Release:

    The LUMIX DMC-LX100 with New Micro Four Thirds MOS Sensor and F1.7 LEICA DC VARIO-SUMMILUX Lens
    Featuring 4K Video Recording Capability

    To achieve even higher picture quality and multi-aspect capability, the LX100 incorporates the Micro Four Thirds High Sensitivity MOS sensor. It lets subjects stand out of the background impressively with a rich stereoscopic effect. By keeping the resolution at 12.8-megapixels*1, the amount of light is enough to improve the S/N ratio, making it possible to capture clear image with minimum noise even when shot at high ISO. The Venus Engine is also newly developed to feature multiple noise reduction systems such as Multi Process NR, Random Filter and Aperture Filter, to achieve high color reproduction and high image quality with natural description.

    A newly developed LEICA DC VARIO-SUMMILUX lens (35mm camera equivalent: 24-75mm) boasts F1.7-F2.8 high speed and high descriptiveness in detail and resolution to each corner. It also produces stunningly beautiful defocus together with the large MOS Sensor. In addition, newly adopted 9-blade aperture diaphragm help produce bokeh with a smooth, circular shape. The versatile zoom range of 24-75mm (35mm camera equiv.) is suitable for wide-ranging photography to portraits. Notably, landscapes can be captured in dynamic 24mm ultra wide angle in any 4:3, 3:2 or 16:9 aspect thanks to the multi-aspect sensor.

    The LX100 integrates a LVF (Live View Finder) with 2764K-dot equivalent high resolution and approx.100% color reproduction. This 16:9 Wide Screen LVF boasts approx.1.39x / 0.7x (35mm camera equiv.) magnification and 100% field of view. A variety of advanced functions are equipped with DMC-LX100 to spur potential of advanced photographers. It allows direct, intuitive control with dedicated rings and dials such as aperture ring, control ring, shutter speed dial or exposure compensation dial.

    The LX100 is capable of smooth, high quality video recording not only in Full-HD 1,920 x 1,080 60p (NTSC) AVCHD Progressive (MPEG-4 / H.264) format or MP4 at 60p (NTSC) but also in 4K (QFHD 4K: 3840x2160, at 30 fps(NTSC) in MP4). With this 4K video recording capability, Panasonic is proposing a new way of photo creation called “4K Photo”. By grabbing a 3840x2160 8-megapixel equivalent image from the 4K video footage it is possible to capture the spur-of-the-moment which is often missed in still photography. This functionality is now easier with the newly added Hybrid Photography 4K Photo mode.

    The LX100 is also superior in response. Featuring newly combined DFD (Depth From Defocus) technology made famous in the LUMIX GH4, not only accuracy but also speed is improved to achieve Light Speed AF of approx. 0.14 sec*2 to capture fleeting shooting photo opportunities. High speed burst shooting can be shot at 11 fps in full resolution. It also complies with max.1/4,000(mechanical) and 1/16,000(electronic) high speed shutter speed.

    For more creative freedom, Creative Control (Filter), Creative Panorama and Photo Style are available. Notably, aperture and shutter speed can be adjusted while applying Creative Control filter, to further inspire the photographers’ creativity. The LX100 integrates Wi-Fi® connectivity (IEEE 802.11 b/g/n) with NFC (Near Field Communication) technology camera to offer more flexible shooting experience and instant image sharing with easy operation. More practical functions including Focus Peaking, Level Gauge, WB (white balance) bracket, highlight/shadow control are also equipped. Now LX100 can develop RAW images into JPEG in camera. A compact external flash (GN7/ISO100・m, GN10/ ISO200・m) that goes with the body color of the camera is bundled to be mounted on the hot shoe.

    Other Features
    External Flash (Bundled), Highlight / Shadow Control, RAW data development in Camera, Focus Peaking, Level Gauge, Multi-Aspect Bracket, WB (White Balance) Bracket, iA (Intelligent Auto) Mode for Photo and Video

    via: http://bit.ly/1sz6lQV
    For the full specifications, check out Panasonic UK's product page: DMC-LX100 Specifications
    Last edited by kandinsky; 27th October 2014 at 11:05 AM.

  2. #2

    Default Re: LX100: A review

    First impressions

    LX100: A Review by Kowcher /002 by kowcher, on Flickr

    One of the first things I noticed upon picking up the LX100 is that it has a certain amount of heft to its all-metal build that belies its smallish size. It feels reassuringly solid in the hands. I personally like the no-nonsense aesthetic Panasonic has gone for with matte finishing and angular corners. Whether you consider it a 'true' compact really depends on what you're comparing it to. A cellphone or a slim compact camera with no protruding lens? This looks chunky. A GH3 + 12-35mm combination that it could potentially replace? Then the LX100 starts to look pretty compact.

    This is as compact as the LX100 gets. Once switched on, the lens barrel extends at least 28-33mm from the body, for a total thickness of 55mm (measured from LCD to front element). For those interested, the LVF protrudes 10mm on the rear.

    The grip and thumbgrip provided are not exactly substantial, but what you'd expect on a compact body. I have found my fingers getting tired if I'm handling the camera long enough. I'm sure there will be a good number of aftermarket solutions available.

    With an SD card and battery loaded, it weighs in at 393g (405g with the lens cap). Interestingly, using the optional DMW-LFAC1 auto lens cap accessory results in a marginally lighter configuration at 400g.
    Last edited by kandinsky; 22nd November 2014 at 09:21 PM.

  3. #3

    Default Re: LX100: A review

    Controls: Brief Overview


    LX100: A Review by Kowcher /003 by kowcher, on Flickr

    Top Plate
    Manual control dials characterize many of the classic/retro-styled cameras on the market today. On the LX100, we get a shutter speed dial and an exposure comp dial. Dials are well marked and rotate with a satisfying click. The On/Off switch is nested under the Shutter dial. Other controls include the iA and Filter buttons, the Zoom lever and shutter release.

    iA and Filter buttons
    Some reviewers have remarked that the iA button may be placed a tad too close to the shutter button, making it way to easy to accidentally activate iA mode. That hasn’t been the case for me. I actually find it in a pretty awkward place to reach with the index finger, especially in one-handed operation mode. The filter button on the other hand, has been fairly easy to activate when I want it. Needless to say, giving users the option to remap these as Fn buttons would be great. iA and built-in art filters are very low on my list of priorities, and I would very much like to remap these to ISO, WB and or Drive mode, for example, allowing me to use the rear control wheel, or as Panasonic refers to it in the menu, the ‘cursor button’, to select/move the AF points while shooting.

    That said, the convenience of the Filter button has led to me opting to use it more than I do on my GH3. The other reason is probably because LR can’t process rw2 files from the LX100 yet, so why not try some in-camera processing?

    Zoom lever
    It’s been awhile since I used a zoom lever, but this does what it’s supposed to do. The lever does feel like it could afford to be slightly longer, making it less necessary for your index finger to hunt for it. Users migrating from other compact cameras will feel right at home, I suspect. It doesn’t offer a great degree of control with regards to the speed of the zoom. One would be unable to rack focus with it, like you can with the zoom rockers on traditional video cameras and camcorders. I would suggest mapping the secondary control ring on the lens for that purpose.

    Shutter button
    LX100 features a flat shutter button with a fairly short travel. It’s quite sensitive and responsive, no complaints here.

    Lens
    Aperture Ring
    Full manual aperture control with hard stops. What’s not to like? Like the shutter speed dial, it features an engraved ‘A’ in red, with the rest of the marks printed in white. Those new to the LX range of cameras may be interested to know that the typeface used for the f-stop numbering is identical to that on its Leica brethren. There are two raised nubs with knurling for control, presumably to make it easier to differentiate the aperture ring from the control ring.

    Control Ring
    Next to the aperture ring, we have the control ring. It is mapped to focus by default, but it can be changed to manipulate Zoom, ISO, WB, Filters, or simply switched off altogether. While setting it to Zoom sounds like a good idea in theory, it being the usual control we have on a regular lens, the narrow width of both rings require pretty nimble fingers to control well. Perhaps those who use pancake lenses frequently will have the upper hand here.

    Aspect Ratio Selector
    A handy switch for selecting your preferred aspect ratio. Or, cover them all with every shot by turning on the [Aspect Ratio Bracketing] function. Note that this function works only with JPG output settings.

    MF/AF selector
    A simple three option switch allows you to toggle between MF / AF (Macro) / AF

    Rear panel
    Here’s where things start to get a little crowded, unavoidable on a compact camera I suppose.

    EVF
    I've read that the EVF is the same as that in the GX7. After 1.5 years with my GH3, I'm quite used to an electronic viewfinder. Looks great to me.

    LVF (Fn3)
    Toggles the LVF/LCD view

    Wi-Fi (Fn2)
    If you have a NFC capable phone, don't bother with a dedicated Wi-Fi button. You won't need it. Gladly set this to a custom Fn. Once you have set things up, all you have to do to connect your phone to the LX100 is to 1) Open the Panasonic Image App 2)Bring your phone close to the NFC detection area of the LX100. That's it!

    Video Record button
    This button is recessed, perhaps a little bit too much. I have missed activating it on a couple of occasions. I'll chalk it up to lack of familiarity for now.

    AF/AE Lock
    Logically placed, but really should have been a custom Fn button as well.

    Q.Menu
    Brings up a quick menu that offers access to frequently used settings like recording format, metering mode, etc.

    Control Wheel
    The rotating and clickable control wheel here is where most of the action happens. I recall being quite confused as to why I was unable to quickly select my desired AF points while shooting. I realized later that the default setting for the control wheel is set up for quick access for ISO / WB / Drive mode / and AF mode. It is possible to change the setting such that the control wheel behaves like an AF point selector on a full body setup, but doing so loses quick access to the other settings mentioned above. After 6 days, I realise I’ve gotten quite used to clicking Left > Down as a quick shortcut on the control wheel whenever I want to select/move AF points, such that it really doesn’t bother me anymore.

    The left of the camera has been left clean, with no buttons for your left hand to bother about. I would have liked a couple more customizable Fn buttons. Perhaps it would have been too crowded, and left no room for a place for one’s left thumb to rest.

    I did run into a minor ergonomic issue. In order to get sufficient leverage to adjust the exposure compensation dial one-handed, the inner part of your palm tends to depress the DISP button.

    Other standard buttons include Playback, DISP, and a Delete/Return button (Fn1).
    Last edited by kandinsky; 18th October 2014 at 09:27 PM.

  4. #4

    Default Re: LX100: A review

    Images

    Click-thru to flickr for exif info.


    LX100: A Review by Kowcher /004 by kowcher, on Flickr


    LX100: A Review by Kowcher /005 by kowcher, on Flickr


    LX100: A Review by Kowcher /006 by kowcher, on Flickr


    LX100: A Review by Kowcher /007 by kowcher, on Flickr

    Comments: 6 has a +1.25 exposure adjustment in LR, rest are OOC jpgs. IIRC correctly, 4 and 5 were with the Dynamic Monochrome filter. Also my first taste of the LX100's Aspect Bracket drive mode. After you release the shutter button, the LX100 generates four jpgs with different aspect ratios almost instantaneously.

    Here's an illustration that shows how the LX100 captures a scene with Aspect Bracket drive mode:


    LX100: A Review by Kowcher / diagram 001 by kowcher, on Flickr

    Verdict: Might be useful for those who love posting on the go, especially while travelling. I'm not too sure, but it feels like the additional processing will certainly take a hit on battery life, which is rated for 350 pictures (rear monitor) / 320 pictures (LVF) (when not using flash), 300 pictures (rear monitor) / 270 pictures (LVF) (when using flash, CIPA Standard).

    Practically speaking, while the LX100 displays guidelines for all crops while in this mode, it works best with subjects/scenes that are fairly focused around the center and symmetrical. It's not always possible to frame your shot for every crop, rendering some crops almost automatically useless due to odd POVs.
    Last edited by kandinsky; 27th October 2014 at 11:07 AM.

  5. #5

    Default Re: LX100: A review


    LX100: A Review by Kowcher /008 by kowcher, on Flickr


    LX100: A Review by Kowcher /009 by kowcher, on Flickr


    LX100: A Review by Kowcher /010 by kowcher, on Flickr

    Comments: 8 and 10 have been processed with VSCO in LR, 9 is a OOC jpg.
    Last edited by kandinsky; 27th October 2014 at 11:08 AM.

  6. #6

    Default Re: LX100: A review


    LX100: A Review by Kowcher /011 by kowcher, on Flickr


    LX100: A Review by Kowcher /012 by kowcher, on Flickr


    LX100: A Review by Kowcher /013 by kowcher, on Flickr

    Comments: All are OOC jpgs, 13 with Dynamic Monochrome filter.

    With the focus selector switch set to [AF Macro], the LEICA DC VARIO-SUMMILUX lens focuses as close as 3cm at 24mm and 30cm at 75mm. I'd forgotten how fun the macro mode on a compact camera can be! I've been tempted to pick up the Oly 60mm for my GH3, but haven't really had the need for macro capabilities with client work, so found it hard to justify a purchase.
    Last edited by kandinsky; 27th October 2014 at 11:08 AM.

  7. #7
    Senior Member ricleo's Avatar
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    Default Re: LX100: A review

    nice images so far! more please
    A7R3|V12|V15|FE28|MS17|MS35|MS50|50lux|50C|50Artis an|FD85L|FE85|90 cron|
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  8. #8
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    Default Re: LX100: A review

    Nice closeup shots, have to agree that it's tempting just to get this and leave the m43 bodies +Pana 12-35/2.8 or Olympus 12-40/2.8 at home. From Eddie's review shots and yours, I can see this is a winner camera, I should have played for a day with it haha.

  9. #9

    Default Re: LX100: A review

    Quote Originally Posted by ricleo View Post
    nice images so far! more please
    Thanks! More to come...

    Quote Originally Posted by wonglp View Post
    Nice closeup shots, have to agree that it's tempting just to get this and leave the m43 bodies +Pana 12-35/2.8 or Olympus 12-40/2.8 at home. From Eddie's review shots and yours, I can see this is a winner camera, I should have played for a day with it haha.
    Thanks LP. Yeah, especially for travel, or going out with family.
    You should! Will be glad to pass it over to you earlier, say Friday?

  10. #10

    Default Re: LX100: A review


    LX100: A Review by Kowcher /014 by kowcher, on Flickr

    Comments: I was still down with fever, so went around the home looking for more interesting textures. Found a willing (but unaware) subject. Haha. Dynamic monochrome filter, OOC jpgs with exposure +0.75 in PS.
    Last edited by kandinsky; 27th October 2014 at 11:09 AM.

  11. #11

    Default Re: LX100: A review


    LX100: A Review by Kowcher /015 by kowcher, on Flickr


    LX100: Cymbals by Kowcher /001 by kowcher, on Flickr


    LX100: Cymbals by Kowcher /003 by kowcher, on Flickr

    LX100: Cymbals by Kowcher /005 by kowcher, on Flickr

    Comments: One of my other favouritest things other than cameras. Lathe grooves and hammering marks make interesting textures. OOC jpg.
    Last edited by kandinsky; 27th October 2014 at 11:24 AM.

  12. #12
    Last edited by kandinsky; 27th October 2014 at 11:21 AM.

  13. #13
    Moderator rhino123's Avatar
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    Default Re: LX100: A review

    Great reviews and incredible photos make me almost regret my purchase of the G7X and suddenly... I feel like I want this gem.
    I am not a photographer, just someone who happened to have a couple of cameras.
    My lousy shots

  14. #14

    Default Re: LX100: A review

    Quote Originally Posted by rhino123 View Post
    Great reviews and incredible photos make me almost regret my purchase of the G7X and suddenly... I feel like I want this gem.
    Thanks for your kind words

    I saw your review of the G7X, pretty informative. It looks like good value for S$799 though. Whereas for the LX100, it looks like it will definitely breach the psychological S$1K barrier, at least S$1.2K perhaps? Looking at US/JPN launch prices (US$899 /¥100,110) as a point of reference.
    Last edited by kandinsky; 20th October 2014 at 02:21 PM.

  15. #15

    Default Re: LX100: A review

    These are the best photos I've seen of in camera review besides Ming Thein's. Great work!

    Could you comment on how you felt about the camera? Did you enjoy using it or could you "bond" with it? How or when would you use it if you were to get one?

    Thanks.

  16. #16

    Default Re: LX100: A review

    Quote Originally Posted by richwong21 View Post
    These are the best photos I've seen of in camera review besides Ming Thein's. Great work!

    Could you comment on how you felt about the camera? Did you enjoy using it or could you "bond" with it? How or when would you use it if you were to get one?

    Thanks.
    Wow, that's high praise indeed. Appreciate the encouragement

    I started out with fairly high expectations of the LX100, given all the hype and excitement about it since its launch at Photokina. While there was some initial frustration at the lack of dedicated buttons, coming from a GH3, once muscle memory kicked in from repeated use, the entire image making experience has been much smoother. I've definitely grown to enjoy it more as I've gotten more familiar with the controls.

    I see myself picking up the LX100 in place of my GH3 +12-35mm whenever I need the compactness of the LX100 more than the things I need the features I love in the GH3 — The full grip (better handling for long shoots), longer battery life (approx twice that of the LX100), MFT mount (ability to swap out lenses), fully-articulated LCD screen, audio input jack, more video output options (e.g., the LX100 has no 24p/FHD/MP4 option that I use most often).

    That probably covers most of my casual use like travel, family gatherings/outings, basically as an EDC (everyday carry) camera.

    In my subjective, unscientific opinion, the sensor + lens combination in the LX100 seem to perform quite beautifully together. "Trust" is probably the best way I can describe how I feel about the LX100. I trust that when I hit the shutter, it's going to capture the scene as I want it, and just as well as the other camera (the GH3) I could pick up. In some initial comparison shots with the GH3, it seems like the LX100 captures less detail, and appears softer, but I wonder if it might have been due to user error. I'll post those comparison shots later and try to see if I can do some comparisons indoors with constant lighting and the cameras locked down on a tripod.

    On the video front, I was quite excited about my first brush with a 4K capable camera. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to explore its video capabilities in much depth as I don't have any 4K-capable SD cards, so have been limited to very short 10-15s clips. Will definitely try to explore more of that before I have to return the review unit.
    Last edited by kandinsky; 21st October 2014 at 03:04 PM.

  17. #17

    Default

    can CS/pany consider a t-loan to non-moderator CS member this cam a day or two to play around with...? maybe via a draw or something.. kekeke..
    Lens for life.. Body for depreciation...

  18. #18

    Default Re: LX100: A review

    Thanks for the comments. Looking forward to your posts later.

  19. #19

    Default Re: LX100: A review


    LX100: A Review by Kowcher /019 by kowcher, on Flickr


    LX100: A Review by Kowcher /020 by kowcher, on Flickr

    LX100: A Review by Kowcher /021 by kowcher, on Flickr

    Comments: What do you do when you're stuck in a car and it rains? Play with the LX100. Processed in LR.
    Last edited by kandinsky; 27th October 2014 at 11:23 AM.

  20. #20

    Default Re: LX100: A review

    LX100: A Review by Kowcher /022 by kowcher, on Flickr

    Processed in LR. Lifted the shadows to reveal a little more detail and context.

    Here's the OOC jpg for comparison:


    LX100: A Review by Kowcher /022 (OOC jpg for comparison) by kowcher, on Flickr
    Last edited by kandinsky; 27th October 2014 at 11:23 AM.

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