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Panasonic Lumix LX100

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What's Hot: Excellent image quality, large sensor for a compact camera, fast and sharp Leica lens, decent battery life, superb ergonomics, sharp EVF.

What's Not: No touch or tilt LCD, flash is a separate piece, a bit large for the pocket.


Reviewed March 9, 2015 by , Editor in Chief (twitter: @lisagade, Instagram lisagadeMTR)

Panasonic Lumix LX100

Despite murmurings and stark declarations, the dedicated digital camera like the laptop, is far from dead. Rather good camera phones, just like tablets, have helped elevate the camera and PC: we appreciate the portability and basic competence of the more affordable offerings, but they've made us appreciate what a good camera (or PC) can accomplish. For those who want optical zoom because a camera phone's fixed wide angle lens allows for only so much creativity, or improved detail or shallower depth of field, only a standalone camera will do the trick. Of course the quality has to be better than the iPhone 6 or Samsung Galaxy S5 to make the deal complete, and that's why low end point and shoots are a dying breed while higher end models thrive. For those who want better looking photos and zoom to capture distant subjects, high end pocket cameras like the excellent Sony RX100 mk III and Canon PowerShot G7X are perfect. Though they offer manual settings if you dig a little bit, they're perfect auto mode cameras that will take great shots with little effort. They're also incredibly tiny and will fit in most pockets (if you don't mind your $700-$800 camera mingling with pocket lint and spare change).

Panasonic Lumix LX100

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100 has auto mode too, and it does indeed do a great job helping you take excellent photos with little photographic know-how. But the point and shoot crowd isn't its intended audience. The LX100 is for experience photographers and those who want to learn more about how to shoot better photos using manual control. If you're a veteran dSLR photographer and even an old school film photographer, the little Lumix will impress. I've waited years for a highly portable counterpart to my dSLRs that didn't sacrifice depth of field, a fast lens and manual control. No, I'm not too weak to carry a big camera, but it has its drawbacks. You're on vacation and that big gear bag and 4 lbs. of camera around your neck aren't supposed to be the focus, are they? You want to shoot street photos or candids in public places without your subjects noticing you (or punching you in the face). The Lumix LX100 is a little bigger than the diminutive RX100, but smaller than the Canon PowerShot G1X mk II, Sony a6000 and Micro Fourth Thirds fixed lens and ILCs (Interchangeable Lens Cameras) that the LX100 also competes with. Throw a good lens on the A6000 (except a fixed wide angle) and you've got something that's certainly smaller than a Canon 5D mk 3, but big enough to spoil candid street shots. I've tried with my Sony a6000 and 16-70mm Zeiss f/4 zoom, and everyone says "look at the lady with the camera"... moment lost. That said, you'll need a jacket pocket or roomy cargo pants for the LX100. Me personally? It's an $800 camera, so I won't put it in my pocket anyhow and as a woman I have this handy thing called a purse. But for you guys who want to throw it in your 501's, well it's probably not the camera for you.

Panasonic Lumix LX100

The Lumix 100 is also sold as the Leica D-LUX (Typ 109), and it speaks well of the camera that Leica is willing to put their name on it. The two cameras are identical in terms of hardware and Leica lens (same sensor, same everything). Leica changes the body styling a bit: the surface texture is different and they sadly remove the grip. The Leica version sells for $300 more, but it does include a lifetime license for Adobe Lightroom. I'm price-sensitive and already have Lightroom, so I'd opt for the Panasonic version, but you aren't me, are you? What makes the Lumix LX100/D-LUX 109 stand out beyond the manual controls and ergonomics? It has an even larger sensor than the RX100 and Canon G7X 1" sensors. Panasonic uses their 16MP Micro Four Thirds sensor, cropped to 12.8MP (we'll explain that later). That larger sensor (1.33") gathers more light and has larger pixel sites for better low light shooting and more depth of field. It has a lovely Leica f/1.7-f/2.8 24-75mm zoom lens that combined with the larger sensor yield more dSLR-like photos.

Panasonic Lumix LX100

Ergonomics and Controls

The Panasonic Lumix LX100 has a dense aluminum body that weighs 13.6 ounces and is available in all black or silver with a brown grip. It's an atavistic camera with an aperture ring on the lens, a shutter speed dial up top, an EV dial on the right top corner where it should be (+/- 3 EV in one third increments) and a traditional focus/zoom ring on the lens. The ergonomics are delightful with the controls not feeling as maddeningly tiny as on the RX100 and Canon G7X, and each control has excellent tactile feel and response. Our only complaint is that the aperture ring is in front of the zoom/focus ring, which is the reverse of normal. If you're old enough or artsy enough to have shot with film cameras, the controls will feel very familiar, and you'll never have to look at the manual to figure out how to shoot in Av or shutter priority mode. Simply turn the aperture ring from A to your desired aperture, and shutter speed works the same way. You want to shoot in Program mode? Set both the Aperture ring and shutter dial to A. There's no PASM mode dial here, because it's not needed. The only catch is that you'll have to remember to turn off iA (intelligent auto mode) using the handy iA button up top. For those who enjoy filter effects, there's a filter button on the top and you'll use the 3" 921K dot LCD and rear control ring to select your desired effect. The rear LCD is bright and accurate, but it doesn't tilt nor does it support touch, which is a shame. There's a very bright EVF with 1024 x 768 resolution and it's plenty sharp and well sized (I personally find the Sony RX100 III's too small). It's not perfect though- if you move the camera quickly you may see motion tearing, and the colors and contrast are so high that they don't accurately reflect the scene. Still, it's a godsend for those of us who are accustomed to composing with the viewfinder rather than an LCD.

Panasonic Lumix LX100

The camera has the usual metal tripod mount in the center, and the battery/ SD card slot are beside it under a door that's nearly impossible to open when the camera is mounted on a tripod (that's true of most tiny cameras). The grip--yes, it has a grip! And it's a good-sized grip at that, at least relative to a camera this small. If you opt for the Leica-branded equivalent, you'll get a nice looking camera but you'll lose the grip. I find it very easy to hold the LX100 with my right hand and to shoot quickly one-handed thanks to the grip. Sorry, Leica. There's a focus illuminator lamp on the front and LVF and WiFi buttons on the rear that also function as Fn2 and Fn3, and an AE/AF lock button (yes, must have!). The rear controls are standard stuff: playback, display, a control ring with standard settings, and both menu and quick menu buttons. Speaking of WiFi, the companion apps for iOS and Android are a pleasure to use for image transfer and camera remote control. NFC aids pairing for Android devices, but Apple doesn't allow 3rd party access to NFC so you'll use a square barcode for iOS pairing.

The camera design apparently left no room for a pop-up flash, so like the Sony NEX-5, the Panasonic includes an accessory GN7 flash. The flash fits into the camera's hot shoe, and you can use larger Panasonic flashes if you wish. The included flash is rigid so there's no bounce flash, not even the pull it back with a finger and wing it sort of thing you can do with the Sony RX100 III. Since it's not an absolutely tiny flash, it works up to 21 feet, but it does look a bit like a baby Cyclops eye when on the camera.

Leica Lens

Panasonic and Leica have teamed up again for the custom designed LX100 lens. It offers a fairly standard 24-75mm zoom range and you can zoom via lever on the body or lens ring. It's a smooth zoom that works well for video, but some photographers might wish it were a bit faster. We'd love to see a longer zoom range as with the Canon G7X--a true portrait 90mm or 100mm reach would make this camera even more versatile, but then it would also make the lens even larger. The lens certainly isn't small, nor could it be to cover the sensor and offer the f/1.7 aperture at the wide end and f/2.8 from 50 to 75mm. In fact, we suspect that Panasonic went with their cropped sensor solution in order to keep the lens a manageable size. The lens openning's diameter is actually smaller than the sensor--the bigger the sensor the larger (wider in terms of dimensions) lens you need. The cropping does allow for the unusual hardware switch that lets you change aspect ratio without altering field of view. It's a pretty cool and creative tool--you can switch between 16:9, 4:3, 3:2 and 1:1 aspect ratios.

Panasonic Lumix LX100

The lens is extremely sharp at the center and corners aren't terribly soft. As with all compact zooms at the high end, the camera compensates via software for barrel distortion, and corners look good considering this. Unless you're shooting landscapes where pin sharpness across the entire field is a must (and you're pixel peeping at 100% magnification to carefully check), the lens will likely impress.

The lens has a side switch for AF, manual focus and macro. If you switch to manual, the lens ring handles focus rather than zoom. Macro mode is very good: you can get quite close and capture some supremely sharp macro photos. It's head and shoulders above the RX100 and G7X for macro. There's no built-in ND (neutral density) filter, and the 1/4000th mechanical shutter speed and 1/16,000th electronic shutter speed help ameliorate this for photography. For video where you certainly don't want to use such high shutter speeds, screw on an ND filter (the lens has 43mm threads).

Deals and Shopping:

Panasonic Lumix LX100 Video Review


Image Quality

Image quality is simply wonderful for a camera this small. In fact, I'd wager that many folks would have difficulty discerning its images from larger Micro Four Thirds ILCs and permanently attached lens cameras like the lovely and more expensive Fuji X100T. It can even rival the APS-C Sony a6000 with kit 16-50mm lens (in part because that kit lens is so mediocre and doesn't have a wide aperture). In the Lumix's favor vs. the 1" sensor competition (and remember, a 1" sensor is already large compared to less expensive point and shoots) is it's a 1.33" cropped Micro Four Thirds sensor. The larger the sensor the more light the sensor gathers and that correlates with better image quality and better low light shots. The larger sensor combined with inherently larger pixel sensors and the very fast f1.7- f/2.8 lens means you get photos that look more like a MFT or APS-C camera, with discernable depth of field and some bokeh at the long end of the zoom range. While I admire the photos one can take with the RX100 III and Canon G7X, two cameras I've shot with extensively, they look flatter thanks to the wide area that's in focus (wide depth of field), and I can generally spot a photo taken with either of these cameras as a result. To be fair, the G7Xs longer zoom range allows for some decent bokeh at the extreme telephoto end thanks it its longer zoom, but that doesn't ameliorate that flat 'everything's equally in focus look at other focal lengths. The Canon G1X mk II has an even larger 1.5" sensor, but its technology is outdated and that shows in the lesser image quality.

Sample Image Gallery

Panasonic Lumix LX100 sample image gallery

The Lumix LX100 has Panasonic's thoroughly modern MFT sensor and Venus Engine processor (the same used in the Panasonic GH4) that yield very sharp photos with plenty of detail despite the lower megapixel rating vs. the RX100 III and Canon G7X. Yes, you can't crop in as much given the 12.8MP equivalent sensor size, but I wouldn't worry about that unless you're looking to make 20" x 30" prints. We do wish Panasonic and Leica had been able to design a longer zoom to help with cropping, but that would have made the camera even larger. Is 12.8MP enough for high quality work? Case in point: the 12.2MP Sony a7s is one of the more popular full frame mirrorless cameras on the market and it's more expensive than the 24MP megapixel Sony A7. In our photo examples, we have two cat portraits with a black background, and those are 100% crops--I bet you'd never guess if I hadn't told you. Photos are detailed, have excellent contrast and there's plenty of dynamic range for shadow and even a little highlight recovery in RAW. Powered OIS (optical image stabilization) significantly reduce blur and jitter caused by camera shake.

Panasonic does a good job with JPEG mode, and it's neither over-sharpened nor are the colors excessively saturated. You'll certainly be able to recover more fine detail if you work in RAW mode, and for those who prefer JPEGs, there's HDR and iDynamic if you're using iA auto mode for shooting. White balance is generally spot on, and you can save several custom white balance settings should you prefer to tweak things. This is one of the few compact cameras to offer in-camera RAW processing. If you use the creative filters, you can set the camera to save a normal mode JPEG alongside the filter-effect rendition (in RAW + JPEG you'll already have an unaltered image). As you'd expect with a higher end camera, you can shoot JPEG in a variety of quality settings, RAW or RAW + JPEG. I always shoot RAW + JPEG and found shot times didn't suffer. The camera is very quick and accurate to focus, even in low light. Setting the focus point manually isn't a charming affair without a touch screen (Canon G7X scores a win there), but at least you can repurpose the 4-way dial on the back to handle direct focus.

4K Video

So yeah, this little bugger can shoot 4K video (3840 x 2160). I know... you're not impressed because your Samsung Galaxy Note 4 or Nexus 6 can do that too. Trust me, the quality is better here, much better without the blockiness and motion tearing you see in 4K camera phones. Panasonic knows something about 4K video in cameras--their GH4 is hard to beat for 4K video recording. The little LX100 can't do 4K as well as the larger and more expensive GH4, but it does share the sensor and processor, so it can do a darned fine job. The LX100 can shoot video at a standard 28Mpbs 1080p @ 60fps in AVCHD like many cameras. It can also shoot 4K at 30 fps (100Mbps) in MP4 format with AAC audio. Panasonic recommends a UHS-I class 3 card, and those are hard to find and more expensive. I've used UHS class 1 cards and they've worked fine, though if the card gets more than  full, it might not be able to keep up, especially if you're using Panasonic's nifty 4K photo mode that captures buckets of 8MP photos while also recording 4K video. How do the 4K stills and video look? Really, really good. Colors pop, contrast is excellent and detail is exquisite. Even if your end product is 1080p, it's worth shooting in 4K and converting down to get more detail in your footage. The camera can shoot stop motion and time lapse video, which is quite fun.

On the downside, the stereo mics are sensitive and in quiet settings they'll pick up the zoom motor (zoom is fluid and excellent for video). There's no mic in or headphone out nor can you output clean HDMI to a recorder. The camera's HDMI port is simply there for playback to a TV or monitor, and the USB port handles image transfer.


No surprise: the Panasonic Lumix LX100 isn't perfect. Nothing is of course, especially not tech products. But it's nonetheless a miracle of technology that allows me to forget the technology and focus on creativity. The direct manual controls, excellent ergonomics, EVF, reliable and fast autofocus with easily accessible manual focus, good zoom range and fast lens plus large sensor let me take photos I'd never dreamed of with a camera this size. Sure, I'd like a touch LCD, a longer zoom and a built-in flash, but the camera gives me so much to work with easily that I'm not overly bothered. It gets out of the way and lets me take fantastic photos and really lovely 4K video that I haven't seen matched in any other compact camera with non-interchangeable lens. If you're an enthusiast or pro photographer looking for a small companion that doesn't sorely compromise on image quality and creative control, I can't recommend the LX100 enough if your pockets, literally and figuratively, are deep enough.

List Price: $799


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Panasonic Lumix LX100


Panasonic Lumix LX100



Panasonic Lumix LX100

Above: the Canon PowerShot G7X, Sony a6000 with 16-70 f/4 lens and the Lumix LX100.

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Dimensions: 114.8 x 66.2 x 55.0 mm/(4.52 x 2.61 x 2.17 inch)

Weight: 393 g with Battery and SD Memory Card (0.86 lb)

Camera Effective Pixels12.8 Megapixels

Sensor: 16MP 4/3-inch High Sensitivity MOS Sensor

Lens: LEICA DC VARIO-SUMMILUX/11 elements in 8 groups/(5 Aspherical Lenses/8 Aspherical Surfaces/2 Dual-sided Aspherical Surface ED Lenses). 24-75mm focal length. F1.7 - 2.8 aperture. 9 Diaphragm Blades.

Digital Zoom: 6.2x

Optical Image Stabilizer: POWER O.I.S.

Focus: AFS (Single)/AFF (Flexible)/AFC (Continuous)/MF/Normal/AF Macro, Quick AF On/Off (on in Intelligent Auto), Low Light AF, AF/AE Lock Button, AF Area Select, AF Tracking, Eye Sensor AF, Focus Peaking, One Shot AF (Set the Fn button in custom menu to AF-ON).

Shutter Speed: Still Image:/Approx. 60 - 1/4,000 sec (Mechanical Shutter)/Approx. 1 - 1/16,000 sec (Electronic Shutter)/Time (Approx. 120 sec)/Motion Picture:/Approx. 1/30 - 1/16,000 sec/Approx. 1/25 - 1/16,000 sec (in 24p recording)/Approx. 1/2 - 1/16,000 sec (M Mode/MF Mode).

Viewfinder: 0.38" LVF (Live View Finder) (2,764k dots equivalent), Field of View: Approx. 100%/Magnification: Approx. 1.39x/0.7x (35mm equiv.), Eye Sensor.

Rear LCD: 3.0" (7.5cm) TFT Screen LCD Display (921k dots), AR Coating/Field of View: Approx. 100%, Wide Viewing-angle.

File Formats: Still Image: JPEG (DCF/Exif2.3)/RAW, DPOF/Motion Picture: AVCHD, MP4.

4K Video: 3840 x 2160 pixels, 30p (4K: 100Mbps/MP4) (Sensor Output is 30fps) (AAC)/3840 x 2160 pixels, 24p (4K: 100Mbps/MP4) (Sensor Output is 24fps) (AAC).

1080p Video: 1920 x 1080 pixels, 60p (FHD: 28Mbps/AVCHD) (Dolby)/1920 x 1080 pixels, 24p (FHD: 24Mbps/AVCHD) (Dolby)/1920 x 1080 pixels, 30p(FHD: 24Mbps/AVCHD) (Dolby)/1920 x 1080 pixels, 60i (FHD: 17Mbps/AVCHD) (Sensor Output is 60fps) (Dolby)/1920 x 1080 pixels, 60p (FHD: 28Mbps/MP4) (AAC)/1920 x 1080 pixels, 30p (FHD: 20Mbps/MP4) (Sensor Output is 30fps) (AAC)/1280 x 720 pixels, 30p (HD: 10Mbps/MP4) (AAC).

Light Metering: Intelligent Multiple/Center Weighted/Spot.

ISO: Auto/i.ISO/100 (Extended ISO)/200/400/800/1600/3200/ 6400/12800/25600/(Changeable to 1/3 EV step).

WiFi + NFC: IEEE 802.11b/g/n/2412 MHz - 2462 MHz (1-11 ch)/WPA/WPA2/Infrastracture Mode/WPS/Wi-Fi Direct/Wi-Fi Button. Apps for Android and iOS.

Ports: micro HDMI and micro USB 2.0.

In the Box: camera, flash, battery, external charger, neck strap and printed guide.


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