digital cameras – Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100, 2017

The LX100 is a large-sensor compact that’s designed to appeal to enthusiasts. It features the dedicated physical controls for shutter speed, aperture and exposure compensation, as well as a built-in viewfinder that’s similar to what you’d find on a larger, interchangeable lens camera. While it remains fairly compact, it’s not what you would call pocketable.

Still Imaging Performance

The LX100 isn’t the best in any particular category, but it is incredibly well rounded. Like many other enthusiast-level compacts, it trades its pocketablilty for improved image quality and shooting ergonomics. Although this tradeoff doesn’t always work out for the best, we found its results more than justify its size. For these reason, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100 is our Top Ten Reviews Bronze Award winner.

The best compact digital cameras nearly always feature sensors that are considered relatively large for their class. Much like the megapixel race of days gone by, manufacturers are squeezing increasingly large sensors into ever-shrinking devices. Unlike the megapixel craze, however, sensors can actually make a big difference in image quality.

The LX100 features one of the largest sensors in our lineup and, unsurprisingly, it’s also one of the top performers in sensor testing. According to the independent test results at dxomark.com, it was rated at ISO 553 for low-light performance, 12.5 Evs for dynamic range and 22.3 bits for color depth.

These scores aren’t the best we’ve seen, but they are all securely above average. This means that you’ll be hard-pressed to find a compact whose sensor performs much better. In fact, there are only two cameras in our lineup that might – one is considerably more expensive, and the other is significantly lacking in other categories.

The Leica lens on this camera complements its larger sensor well, and its large maximum aperture helps to further improve low-light performance. At f/1.7, this lens exposes the sensor to more light than most other compacts, and it also allows you to narrow your depth of field for more focused, professional-looking photographs. This lens just makes images look good.

Design

If you enjoy macro photography, it’s important to note that this lens is also capable of focusing very close. Portrait-lovers, however, may be disappointed to learn that its lens falls just shy of the traditional 85-135mm portraiture focal length.

With a 24-75mm lens, image stabilization and a 49-point autofocus, this compact is among the best in our lineup for sports and action photography. The zoom lens, although not the longest on our list, allows you to get in close on the action, while the autofocus system and image stabilization work very well to keep your images sharp.

Its continuous shooting drive mode is also the second fastest on our lineup, coming in at 11 frames per second. Speeds like this, combined with its quick autofocus, means you’re more likely to get the right shot at the right moment.

This camera is designed beautifully; it’s simple, yet functional. Sure, it’s a little larger and heavier than average and its battery life, at 300 shots per charge, isn’t great compared to others. But when considering its sensor size, control layout and lens quality, it’s actually quite impressive that these issues aren’t worse.

This compact digital camera has a viewfinder, so you can shoot squint-free in any light. And thanks to sophisticated external controls, you can adjust settings, like shutter speed, aperture and exposure compensation, without having to lift your eye from the viewfinder to delve into complicated menus. If you prefer to take pictures point-and-shoot style with an LCD screen, you can do that too. However, you may find the screen’s inability to articulate limiting.

At first glance, it appears as though this camera has it all. There is, however, one thing missing from its seemingly flawless design: a built-in flash. While built-in flashes have never been exceedingly popular among photographers, sometimes they can mean the difference between a decent shot and a dark and blurry grain-fest. Although it loses some convenience points, Panasonic does include an external flash that slides into the LX100s hot shoe.

Features

The LX100 boasts great image quality and a solid design, but it doesn’t stop there. This compact also happens to be one of the most fully featured cameras on our lineup.

Built-in Wi-Fi is rapidly transforming from a novelty feature to an expected utility in modern compacts. And though the implementation of Wi-Fi is often sketchy at best, it can be useful. Like most compacts, the LX100 requires that you download a dedicated application to access its Wi-Fi functionality. Once downloaded, you can pair your phone or tablet with your cameras to transfer photos, adjust settings, record video and take photos remotely.

Help & Support

The camera also sports popular features like panorama, HDR and other creative exposure modes. Its video capture performance is perhaps its most impressive feature. No other camera in our lineup can outdo its 4k maximum resolution; most cameras, even cameras twice its size, are still limited to 1080p shooting.

Panasonic’s website is a great resource for information about your camera. The website has downloadable manuals, both basic and advanced, as well as a quick access guide. Despite having a FAQs section, however, we couldn’t find any FAQs for this particular model.

Fortunately, Panasonic has many avenues to contact the company with questions. Whether you prefer email, phone, social media or live chat, you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding answers.

The LX100 is a multifaceted camera that has many strengths yet no real specialty. For this reason, it is one of the most widely appealing cameras in our lineup. You can find more compact options, and you can even find cameras with better image quality. Yet few cameras balance size, controls and quality quite as well as the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100.

Summary