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No matter how much I try to come up with a recommendation about the Lumix LX10, I keep circling back to this enthusiast compact as a process-of-elimination choice. The LX10 is the camera to consider: If you don't want the pocketability of Sony's RX100 series; don't want to pay more for the better performance of the higher-end Sony RX100 models; don't need the long zoom lens of the Lumix ZS100; don't care about the better photo quality of the larger-sensor Lumix LX100; and don't care about the better battery life and viewfinder that most of them have. That's a lot of don'ts.
Panasonic's entry between the more consumer-targeted Lumix ZS100 (aka TZ100, TZ110) and the similarly priced Lumix LX100 just fails to stand out even among its Panasonic siblings. It combines the popular-size 20.1-megapixel 1-inch sensor of the ZS100 with a fast but short-zoom lens like the LX100; the latter has a larger but lower-resolution 12-megapixel Four Thirds-size sensor. But the LX100 still delivers the best photo quality in its price range and the ZS100 has the general-purpose-friendly (relatively) big zoom lens, making them easy choices. The LX10 does provide equal-or-better photo quality overall than competing 1-inch compacts from Sony and Canon. However, its not as fast at many operations as some other cameras, and though the battery life is terrible in a lot of enthusiast compacts, the LX10's seems shorter than I typically experience.
The LX10 costs $700 and AU$1,000; in the UK it goes by LX15 and runs £600.
Overall, photos look excellent for a 1-inch sensor compact -- they're better than the ZS100's and competitors, in part because of the LX10's better lens.
Low-light JPEG photos look good through ISO 1600; at ISO 3200 there's some color noise but still sharp detail in the areas of focus, and beyond that the photos get progressively noisier and muddier as you'd expect. Still, Even at its highest sensitivity level, the LX10's photos are reasonably good at small sizes, with a surprising among of detail.
On its default color-profile settings (Standard Photo Style) the camera tends to boost contrast, which makes blacks too dense, but shooting raw lets you recover some of the detail, and between about ISO 1600 and ISO 6400 you can get more detail and less smeariness if you're willing to accept some "grain." One of the nice aspects of the camera is that it doesn't look like it's doing a lot of distortion or fringing correction solely for the JPEGs -- it might be doing it before it writes the raw files, or there might not be much to correct -- which makes editing the raws a lot easier.
My biggest nitpick here is with the white balance, which looks too blue to me in daylight, and the auto white balance had some trouble with the light color of our test LED panels, rendering with a purplish cast; that's not unusual, but there are cameras which handle it properly.
The video is also very good. In very low light there's some noise, it clips highlights and shadows in the default photo Style and blows out areas in bright light like most cameras with the 1-inch sensor. There's a Natural option that's lower contrast and you can customize, but the LX10 doesn't have any of the advanced tonal options for video of the Sony RX100 IV and V.
The LX10's performance is similar to the LX100's, putting it somewhere in the middle of the pack. On the plus side, it has relatively fast and accurate autofocus, and its tested continuous-shooting speed of 4.6 frames per second is fine for general-purpose photography. That's with continuous autofocus but not autoexposure, so subjects moving in and out of shade, for example, will either be too dark or too light. Plus, it can be slower if the subject is moving fast. (Panasonic rates it at 6fps, but that's only when it's zoomed in and in what's called "release-priority" mode. That's a default, but basically it tells the camera to shoot even if it can't lock focus, which isn't very useful in a lot of cases.) Panasonic has faster continuous-shooting modes -- there's a 50fps mode with focus and exposure fixed on the first shot and 4K burst modes where it shoots video at special settings from which you can extract 8-megapixel frames.
During movie capture, the continuous AF works very well. While it snaps into focus a little abruptly, even if the C-AF is purposefully slower in 4K mode , it does a great job ignoring things moving between you and the subject -- as long as some oblivious tourist doesn't park himself right between you and the juggler. I did have some issues focusing in low light, though that's not uncommon.
It's held back by its shot-to-shot performance -- the shutter doesn't respond if you press it too soon after the preceding shot. That's not uncommon, but it can be annoying, and means that you have to be in continuous-shooting mode to take sequential shots quickly. All of these compacts also take a while to start up (that's usually determined by the zoom lens extending), and though many of them have short battery lives, the LX10 seemed to be worse than usual and has one of the lowest-capacity batteries I've seen in a while. I don't think it would make it through a day of vacation photos.
It's slightly less pocketable than Sony's models but should still fit comfortably in loose jeans. Most of the body is laid out like the ZS100; it has the same shallow grip that I find slippery and a movie record button that's hard to feel without looking. Otherwise, it pretty straightforward for most operations, and like other Panasonic models you can customize the quick menu.
The lens configuration is more like the LX100, with a manual aperture dial and a programmable ring on the lens (that defaults to zoom). However, since the lens doesn't stick out as much as that of the LX100, the focus mode options aren't controlled by a switch on the lens -- I miss that. The position of the aperture and zoom rings are reversed on the LX10, and they're narrower; despite the big grips on the aperture ring, I frequently caught its neighbor and zoomed while changing aperture.
The flip-up display lets you shoot from low angles, and its selfie mode is pretty full-featured, but I miss the ability to tilt down for overhead shots and to reduce glare. And unlike the other two models, it lacks a viewfinder. A lot of people don't miss one, but having a viewfinder really helps when shooting in bright sunlight. It's also missing a hot shoe, though that's common in many of these compacts. Panasonic does have a great app for wireless file transfer and remote shooting, so that's one way to get around the glare problem.
The most notable aspect of the LX10 is that its 24-72mm-equivalent lens starts at f1.4, wider than other cameras but not by a really meaningful amount. And that's *only* at 24mm. It does hit f2.8 at 33mm and can stay there through 72mm, which is a bit wider across those parts of the focal range than many other cameras.
You'll find the full set of Panasonic's features, which includes a broad set of customizable filters plus time lapse, stop-motion animation and various 4K-resolution modes for extracting stills from video. It incorporates the company's Post Focus mode with a direct-access button to toggle it on and off. And the short videos it creates, which show the focus changing, are cool in and of themselves. It also allows you to set up two focus areas via the touchscreen, and it will automatically shift focus from one to the other while recording (Pull Focus).
The Lumix LX10 isn't a truly consumer compact -- the ZS100 serves that purpose better with its bigger zoom range -- and without a viewfinder and lesser photo quality, it's not as good an enthusiast compact as the LX100.
By leaving out a viewfinder and a hot shoe, Panasonic manages to be cheaper at $700 than the current models in Sony's RX100 series which cost closer to $1,000, and which do have viewfinders. Its photo and video quality are excellent for the sensor size, but I don't know that a lot of people will find it more noticeably excellent than that of the competition.
Which brings me back to the LX10 as a camera that's very good, but which is really your choice after you've ruled out more distinctive alternatives.
|Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II||"Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX10 Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX15 (UK)"||Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100||"Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS100 Panasonic Lumix TZ100 (UK) Panasonic Lumix TZ110 (AU)"||Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 III|
|Sensor effective resolution||20.2MP HS CMOS||20.1MP MOS||12.8MP MOS||20.1MP MOS||20.2MP Exmor R CMOS|
|Sensor size||"1-inch (13.2 x 8.8 mm)"||"1-inch (13.2 x 8.8)"||"Four Thirds (17.3 x 13mm)"||"1-inch (13.2 x 8.8)"||"1-inch (13.2 x 8.8mm)"|
|Sensitivity range||ISO 125 - ISO 12800||ISO 80 (exp)/ISO 125 - ISO 12800/ISO 25600 (exp)||ISO 100 (exp)/ISO 200 - ISO 25600||ISO 80 (exp)/ISO 125 - ISO 12800/ISO 25600 (exp)||ISO 80 (exp)/ISO 125 - ISO 12800|
|"Lens (35mm equivalent)"||"24-100mm f1.8-2.8 4.2x"||"24-72mm f1.4-2.8 3x"||"24 - 75mm f1.7-2.8 3.1x"||"25-250mm f2.8-5.9 10x"||"24 - 70mm f1.8-2.8 2.9x"|
|Closest focus||2.0 in/5 cm||1.2 in/3 cm||2 in/5 cm||2 in/5 cm||1.9 in/5 cm|
|Burst shooting||"5.4fps 46 JPEG/n/a raw (8fps with focus and exposure fixed on first frame)"||"6fps n/a (50fps with electronic shutter and fixed AF/AE)"||"6.5fps n/a (40fps with electronic shutter and fixed AF/AE)"||"6fps unlimited JPEG/12 raw (10fps without AF; 30fps at 4K)"||"2.5fps (10fps with fixed focus and exposure) n/a "|
|"Viewfinder (mag/ effective mag)"||None||None||"EVF 0.4 in/10 mm 2.764m dots 100% coverage 1.39x/0.7x"||"EVF 0.2-inch/51mm 1.2m dots 100% coverage 2.6x/0.5x "||"OLED EVF 0.4 in/10.2mm 1.44m dots 100% coverage "|
|Autofocus||"31-area Contrast AF"||"49-area Contrast AF"||"49-area Contrast AF"||"49-area Contrast AF"||"25-area Contrast AF"|
|Shutter speed||250 - 1/2,000 sec; bulb||60 - 1/4,000 sec (1/16,000 electronic shutter); bulb to 2 minutes||60 - 1/4,000 sec (1/16,000 electronic shutter); bulb to 2 minutes||60 sec - 1/2,000 sec (1/16,000 electronic shutter); Time to 4 minutes||30 - 1/2,000 sec; bulb|
|Best video||"H.264 QuickTime MOV 1080/60p "||MP4 UHD/30p, 24p @ 100Mbps; 1080/60p, 50p||MP4 UHD/30p, 25p, 24p @ 100Mbps; 1080/60p, 50p||MP4 UHD/30p; AVCHD 1080/60p, 60i, 30p||"XAVC S 1080/60p, 30p, 25p, 24p @ 60Mbps; 720/120p"|
|Manual aperture and shutter in video||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Maximum best-quality recording time||4GB/29:59 minutes||15 minutes||15 minutes||15 minutes||29 minutes|
|Optical zoom while recording||Yes||n/a||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Clean HDMI out||No||n/a||n/a||Yes||n/a|
|IS||Optical||"Optical 5-axis hybrid"||"Optical 5-axis hybrid"||"Optical 5-axis hybrid"||Optical|
|LCD||"3 in/7.5 cm Flip-up, tilting touchscreen 1.04m dots"||"3 in/7.5 cm Tilting touchscreen 1.04m dots"||"3 in/7.5 cm Fixed 921,000 dots"||"3 in/7.5cm Fixed 1.04m dots"||"3 in/7.5cm Tilting 921,600 dots (plus another set of white dots for brightness)"|
|Memory slots||1 x SDXC||1 x SDXC||1 x SDXC||1 x SDXC||1 x SDXC|
|Wireless connection||Wi-Fi, NFC||Wi-Fi||Wi-Fi, NFC||Wi-Fi||Wi-Fi, NFC|
|Battery life (CIPA rating)||"265 shots (1,250 mAh)"||"260 shots (680 mAh)"||"300 shots (1,025 mAh)"||"300 shots (LCD); 240 shots (EVF) (1,025 mAh)"||"320 shots (LCD); 230 shots (Viewfinder) (1,240 mAh)"|
|Size (WHD)||"4.2 x 2.4 x 1.7 in 106 x 61 x 42 mm"||"4.2 x 2.4 x 1.7 in 106 x 60 x 42 mm"||"4.5 x 2.6 x 2.2 in 115 x 66 x 55 mm "||"4.4 x 2.5 x 1.7 in 111 x 65 x 44 mm"||"4.0 x 2.3 x 1.6 in 102 x 58 x 41 mm"|
|Body operating weight||"11.3 oz (est.) 319 g (est.)"||"10.9 308 g "||"13.9 oz 394 g"||"10.9 oz 308 g"||"10.2 oz 289.2 g "|
|Mfr. price||"$700 £623 AU$950"||"$700 £600 AU$1,000"||"$800 £530 AU$1,000"||"$700 £550 AU$1,000"||"$750 £800 AU$1,200"|
|Release date (US)||May 2016||November 2016||November 2014||March 2016||June 2014|