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

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
2.0
Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II
0.2
0.4
1.2
1.2
1.4
Panasonic Lumix LX100
0.2
0.2
0.4
0.5
2.5
Panasonic Lumix LX10
0.2
0.1
0.5
0.5
2.6
Sony RX100 IV
0.2
0.3
0.2
0.2
2.1
Panasonic Lumix ZS100
0.1
0.6
0.6
0.6
2.3

Legend:

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
2.1
Panasonic Lumix LX100
4.1
Panasonic Lumix LX10
4.6
Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II
5.6
Sony RX100 IV
5.7
Panasonic 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.

panasonic-lumix-lx10-05.jpg

The camera has a clicky manual aperture ring.

Sarah Tew/CNET

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.

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.

Lori Grunin/CNET

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 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)
Focal-length multiplier 2.7x 2.7x 2.0x 2.7x 2.7x
OLPF Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
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
Hot shoe No No Yes No No
Autofocus 31-area
Contrast AF
49-area
Contrast AF
49-area
Contrast AF
49-area
Contrast AF
25-area
Contrast AF
AF sensitivity n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
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
Metering n/a n/a 1,728 zones n/a n/a
Metering sensitivity n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
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
Audio Stereo Stereo Stereo Stereo Stereo
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
Flash Yes Yes Bundled optional Yes Yes
Wireless flash No No No No No
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

Best Digital Cameras for 2020

All best cameras

More Best Products

All best products