Panasonic has long been known for releasing excellent advanced compact cameras, but can no longer rest on the laurels of its LX series, thanks to other manufacturers jumping into the space.
Photographers looking for manual controls in a small body and, most importantly, with good image quality, have plenty to choose from. The LX7 enters the market at a reasonable price and with a strong set of features to reinforce its stature.
Design and features
The LX7 is a reasonably compact machine, though it would be remiss to call it pocket-sized. Its lens barrel protrudes just slightly out of the body, housing a f/1.4 Leica-branded lens, 24mm wide-angle.
Photographers who like to adjust settings and tweak shooting parameters will love the controls on the LX7. There's the traditional mode dial on top, which houses full PASM control. A ring around the lens barrel directly controls the aperture, with stops clicking into place nicely. Just behind this is the aspect ratio switch (you can choose 1:1, 4:3, 3:2 or 16:9) and the manual/automatic focus switch. Note that shooting in 16:9 or 3:2 reduces the resolution to 9 or 9.5 megapixels, respectively, while 1:1 is 7.5 megapixels.
Anyone familiar with previous generations of LX cameras will feel right at home with the LX7. Except when it comes to the inside, as Panasonic has replaced the CCD sensor of old with a 10.1-megapixel MOS unit, which is actually smaller than that found on the LX5.
Behind the lens, Panasonic has outfitted the camera with a 3-stop Neutral Density (ND) filter that can be selected using a dedicated ND/Focus control at the rear. The toggle also lets you tweak manual focus if it has been selected using the front switch.
Elsewhere, there are scene modes aplenty to choose from, as well as creative control covering filters such as expressive, retro, high key, high dynamic, cross process and more. An on-screen level can be switched on to help level shots, and there is a pop-up flash accessible on the top panel.
The 3-inch screen at the rear gets a bump to 920,000-dot resolution which makes viewing and composing images much more pleasurable. For video recorders, the LX7 takes footage at 1080p or 1080i (50 fps) in AVCHD, and 720p (50fps) in AVCHD Lite. When shooting in MP4, you get access to high-speed recording (120fps in NTSC and 100fps in PAL). Unfortunately, you don't seem to be able to switch between NTSC and PAL within the camera menus, so if you buy the camera in a PAL region and want to shoot 120fps, you're out of luck.
There's a hotshoe at the top, which can accept a flash, though there's no 3.5mm microphone input available for attaching an external microphone.
|Sony Cyber-shot RX100||Olympus XZ-1||Panasonic LX7|
|20.2-megapixel CMOS sensor (1-inch)||10-megapixel CCD sensor (1/1.63-inch)||12.1-megapixel CMOS sensor (1/1.7-inch)||10.1-megapixel high sensitivity MOS sensor (1/1.63-inch)|
|3-inch, 1.2-million-dot (VGA resolution) LCD||3-inch, 610,000-dot OLED||3-inch, 461,000-dot LCD||3-inch, 920,000-dot LCD|
|3.6x optical zoom, 28mm wide-angle||4x optical zoom, 28mm wide-angle||5x optical zoom, 24mm wide-angle||3.8x optical zoom, 24mm wide-angle|
|Aperture range f/1.8-4.9||Aperture range f/1.8-2.5||Aperture range f/2.0-5.9||Aperture range f/1.4-2.3|
|Full HD video (AVCHD/MP4, 1080p)||HD video (Motion JPEG, 720p)||Full HD video (H.264, 1080p)||Full HD video (AVCHD/MP4, 1080p)|
General shooting metrics (in seconds)
- Start-up to first shot
- JPEG shot-to-shot time
- RAW shot-to-shot time
- Shutter lag
- 220.127.116.11.3 Olympus XZ-1
- 18.104.22.168.1 Panasonic Lumix LX7
- 22.214.171.124.4 Canon PowerShot S100
- 2.5110.1 Sony Cyber-shot RX100
- 126.96.36.199.4 Canon PowerShot G1X
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Continuous shooting speed (in frames per second)
- 11 Panasonic Lumix LX7
- 8 Sony Cyber-shot RX100
- 2.5 Canon PowerShot S100
- 2.1 Olympus XZ-1
- 2 Canon PowerShot G1X
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
The LX7 has a number of continuous shooting modes. Using the mechanical shutter, it can shoot 2, 5 or 11 frames per second (with or without AF, except for the 11fps mode, which locks focus to the first shot). Using the electronic shutter, it can shoot 40 or 60fps at a 3.5-megapixel resolution. When shooting at the maximum 11fps setting, the LX7 can take 12 shots before stopping to process them.
Automatic bracketing is also available at intervals of +/-1/3EV. Panasonic rates the battery at 330 shots.