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Panasonic LX100 review: Still a compact tour de force

Ben Pitt
17 Jul 2019
Expert Reviews Best Buy Logo
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
699
inc VAT

Coming top for image quality, performance, video quality and controls the LX100 is a top compact contender

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IMAGE QUALITY

Image quality from the LX100's 12-megapixel JPEGs was excellent, but there were a few areas where it didn't quite match our towering expectations. It struggled slightly with dense textures, with a digitised quality and a hint of noise even in brightly lit scenes. Focus was pin sharp in the centre of frames but it softened at the edges. However, these were problems that we only spotted because we went looking for them. It's hard to imagine them making a significant impact in normal use.

The LX100 really proved its worth when shooting in low light. The bright lens meant we could often shoot indoors at the minimum ISO 200 speed, allowing the camera to deliver its best possible image quality. When diminishing light pushed the ISO speed up, image quality remained excellent with print-quality results at ISO 1600. Brighter and sharply focused areas of frames tended to look better than other areas at fast ISO speeds, so the results depended as much on the subject matter than the camera settings. However, the combination of a bright lens and big sensor produced some stunning results.

 ^ We can't fault the focus in the centre of the frame but the dense foliage doesn't quite have the crisp smoothness we'd hope for. Focus towards the edges of the frame is a little soft. (1/200s, f/5.6, ISO 200, 24mm equivalent)

 ^ This shot has come out better. The engraved text is crisp and the ivy looks detailed and natural. (1/125s, f/2.8, ISO 200, 37mm equivalent)

 ^ Details are pin sharp in this telephoto shot, although focus falls away a little at the edges. Shadows and highlights are expertly handled. (1/1,000s, f/5.6, ISO 200, 75mm equivalent)

 ^ The wide-aperture lens allows for indoor shots at the base ISO 200 setting. There's a hint of noise in the skin tones but we wouldn't lose any sleep over it. (1/60s, f/2, ISO 200, 24mm equivalent)

 ^ ISO 1600 and noise is still understated, although it's a little worse in the out-of-focus parts of the frame. (1/100s, f/3.2, ISO 1600, 50mm equivalent)

 ^ Shaded skin and areas of block colour look messy at ISO 6400. Then again, few cameras can capture moving subjects in very low light as well as this. (1/125s, f/2.1, ISO 6400, 28mm equivalent)

 ^ Selecting a 1/250s shutter speed to freeze motion in low light, image quality remains impressively high at ISO 8000. (1/250s, f/2.7, ISO 8000, 50mm equivalent)

CONCLUSION

Factor in the superb viewfinder and controls, breakneck performance and 4K video mode, and the LX100 sets a new standard for compact cameras. The Sony RX100 III is smaller and lighter but the LX100 is hardly bulky and we much prefer its controls and superior image quality in low light. Its only significant limitation is the inability to switch lenses. Then again, there is no interchangeable lens that matches this one's specifications. The only CSCs that can match the LX100 for image quality without the added expense of multiple lenses are the full-frame Sony A7 series and the Fujifilm X-E2 and Fujifilm X-T1. The Fuji X-T1 and Sony A7 cost £1,200 but the X-E2 is currently available for £830. It matches the LX100 for physical controls but not for performance, video quality or compactness.

Originally launched at £700 it was a lot to pay for a compact camera, but considering the quality on offer, we thought it more than a fair price. Since its release the price has dropped as low as £619 for the silver version of the LX100, which is a great price for a great camera. 

Hardware
Sensor resolution12.8 megapixels (effective)
Sensor size17.3x13mm
Focal length multiplier2.2x
ViewfinderElectronic (2,764,000 dots)
Viewfinder magnification (35mm-equivalent), coverage0.7x, 100%
LCD screen3in (921,000 dots)
ArticulatedNo
TouchscreenNo
Orientation sensorYes
Photo file formatsJPEG, RAW (RW2)
Maximum photo resolution4,112x3,088
Photo aspect ratios4:3, 3:2, 16:9 1:1
Video compression formatMP4 (AVC) at up to 100Mbit/s, AVCHD at up to 28Mbit/s
Video resolutions4K (3840x2160) at 24/25fps, 1080p at 24/25/50fps, 720p at 25fps, VGA at 25fps
Slow motion video modesN/A
Maximum video clip length (at highest quality)15m 0s
Controls
Exposure modesProgram, shutter priority, aperture priority, manual
Shutter speed range60 to 1/4,000 seconds
ISO speed range100 to 25600
Exposure compensationEV +/-3
White balanceAuto, 5 presets with fine tuning, manual, Kelvin
Auto-focus modesMulti, flexible spot, pinpoint, custom multi, face detect, tracking
Metering modesMulti, centre-weighted, centre, face detect
Flash modesN/A
Drive modesSingle, continuous, self-timer, AE bracket, HDR, panorama, 4K Photo
Lens
Optical stabilisationYes
Optical zoom (35mm-equivalent focal lengths)3.1x (24-75mm)
Maximum aperture (wide-tele)f/1.7-2.8
35mm-equivalent aperturef/3.7-6.2
Manual focusYes
Closest macro focus (wide)3cm
Closest macro focus (tele)30cm
Physical
Card slotSDXC
Memory suppliedNone
Battery typeLi-ion
ConnectivityUSB, AV, micro HDMI
WirelessWi-Fi, NFC
GPSVia smartphone app
HotshoePanasonic TTL
Body materialAluminium
AccessoriesUSB cable, neck strap, detachable flash
Weight407g
Size (HxWxD)67x126x70mm
Buying information
WarrantyOne year RTB
Price including VAT£699
Supplierwww.parkcameras.com
Detailswww.panasonic.com/uk
Part codeDMC-LX100EBK

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