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Panasonic Lumix LX10 review: Lumix LX10, the middle child of enthusiast compacts

It's a nice camera, but it doesn't stand out from its more easily pigeonholed siblings.

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Lori Grunin
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Lori Grunin Senior Editor / Advice

I've been reviewing hardware and software, devising testing methodology and handed out buying advice for what seems like forever; I'm currently absorbed by computers and gaming hardware, but previously spent many years concentrating on cameras. I've also volunteered with a cat rescue for over 15 years doing adoptions, designing marketing materials, managing volunteers and, of course, photographing cats.

Expertise Photography, PCs and laptops, gaming and gaming accessories
6 min read

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.

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8.0

Panasonic Lumix LX10

The Good

Excellent photo quality for the money, a good lens and a broad feature set highlight the Panasonic Lumix LX10/LX15's strengths.

The Bad

Mediocre battery life, a slippery grip and hard-to-feel record button may annoy some people.

The Bottom Line

While it doesn't stand out in any particular aspect, the Panasonic Lumix LX10/LX15 is a fine camera to consider for everyday photography with advanced controls.

Panasonic Lumix LX10 full-resolution photo samples

See all photos

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.

Pretty pictures, zippy focus

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.

Analysis samples

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At low ISO sensitivities, JPEGs look very clean with sharp detail.

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In good light, you'll start to see a little softening by ISO 1600, and at ISO 3200 and higher JPEGs lose detail progressively.

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At its highest ISO sensitivities, the LX10 still retains some distinguishable detail, but there's significant color noise and smearing from noise reduction.

Lori Grunin.CNET
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Under our test lights, the LX10's automatic white balance produced a notably purple cast; in actual daylight it was a little blue. This isn't unusual.

Lori Grunin/CNET
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In daylight, the LX10 renders very pleasing colors, though the default Photo Style pushes the saturation a little too much for my taste.

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The lens produces nice, round out-of-focus highlights and reasonably smooth defocused areas.

Lori Grunin/CNET

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.

Shooting speed

Sony RX100 III 0.3 0.1 0.5 0.5 2.0Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II 0.2 0.4 1.2 1.2 1.4Panasonic Lumix LX100 0.2 0.2 0.4 0.5 2.5Panasonic Lumix LX10 0.2 0.1 0.5 0.5 2.6Sony RX100 IV 0.2 0.3 0.2 0.2 2.1Panasonic Lumix ZS100 0.1 0.6 0.6 0.6 2.3
  • Shutter lag (typical)
  • Shutter lag (dim)
  • Typical shot-to-shot time
  • Raw shot-to-shot time
  • Time to first shot
Note: Seconds (shorter bars are better)

Continuous-shooting speed

Sony RX100 III 2.1Panasonic Lumix LX100 4.1Panasonic Lumix LX10 4.6Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II 5.6Sony RX100 IV 5.7Panasonic Lumix ZS100 5.7
Note: Frames per second (longer bars are better)

A nice package

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.

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The camera has a clicky manual aperture ring.

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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.

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With Panasonic's Post Focus feature enabled, the camera takes a short 4K movie, focusing at different distances in the scene. You then choose which of the frames have the focus you like -- in camera -- and export them as JPEGs, or select several and merge them as a focus stack with and expanded in-focus area.

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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).

Torn between two users

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.

Comparative specifications

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 CMOS20.1MP MOS12.8MP MOS20.1MP MOS20.2MP 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)"
Focal-length multiplier 2.7x2.7x2.0x2.7x2.7x
OLPF YesYesYesYesYes
Sensitivity range ISO 125 - ISO 12800ISO 80 (exp)/ISO 125 - ISO 12800/ISO 25600 (exp)ISO 100 (exp)/ISO 200 - ISO 25600ISO 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 cm1.2 in/3 cm2 in/5 cm2 in/5 cm1.9 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)" NoneNone"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 "
Hot shoe NoNoYesNoNo
Autofocus "31-area Contrast AF""49-area Contrast AF""49-area Contrast AF""49-area Contrast AF""25-area Contrast AF"
AF sensitivity n/an/an/an/an/a
Shutter speed 250 - 1/2,000 sec; bulb60 - 1/4,000 sec (1/16,000 electronic shutter); bulb to 2 minutes60 - 1/4,000 sec (1/16,000 electronic shutter); bulb to 2 minutes60 sec - 1/2,000 sec (1/16,000 electronic shutter); Time to 4 minutes30 - 1/2,000 sec; bulb
Metering n/an/a1,728 zonesn/an/a
Metering sensitivity n/an/an/an/an/a
Best video "H.264 QuickTime MOV 1080/60p "MP4 UHD/30p, 24p @ 100Mbps; 1080/60p, 50pMP4 UHD/30p, 25p, 24p @ 100Mbps; 1080/60p, 50pMP4 UHD/30p; AVCHD 1080/60p, 60i, 30p "XAVC S 1080/60p, 30p, 25p, 24p @ 60Mbps; 720/120p"
Audio StereoStereoStereoStereoStereo
Manual aperture and shutter in video YesYesYesYesYes
Maximum best-quality recording time 4GB/29:59 minutes15 minutes15 minutes15 minutes29 minutes
Optical zoom while recording Yesn/aYesYesYes
Clean HDMI out Non/an/aYesn/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 SDXC1 x SDXC1 x SDXC1 x SDXC1 x SDXC
Wireless connection Wi-Fi, NFCWi-FiWi-Fi, NFCWi-FiWi-Fi, NFC
Flash YesYesBundled optionalYesYes
Wireless flash NoNoNoNoNo
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 2016November 2016November 2014March 2016June 2014
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8.0

Panasonic Lumix LX10

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 8Performance 8Image quality 8
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