The $800 Panasonic LX100, with a large sensor and 4K video, promises to be a great enthusiast compact

It's been a while since Panasonic updated its enthusiast compact line, and it comes back with a vengeance for the LX100.

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
Lori Grunin
4 min read
Lori Grunin/CNET

Now this is the enthusiast compact that LX-series fans have been waiting for. The Lumix LX100 takes on Sony's formidable RX100 Mark III at the same $800 price (), finally doing away with the tiny 1/1.7-inch sensor and replacing it with a long-expected Four Thirds version. It costs AU$1,199 in Australia and £700 in the UK.

The LX100's Four Thirds sensor is much bigger than the 1-inch sensor in the RX100 series, though just a hair smaller than the 1.5-inch version in Canon's higher-end PowerShot. Lori Grunin/CNET

The sensor and EVF are the same as the GX7's, and the LX100 uses the same imaging engine as the GH4, including the ability to record 4K UHD video at a reasonably high bitrate. The lens doesn't have a terribly long zoom, but at 24-75mm it's bigger than the RX100 III's and just as fast at f1.7-2.8, with a 9-bladed aperture. At least in the preproduction model I touched, the lens sounded a bit noisy during zooming, though.

Panasonic LX100 gets the design right (pictures)

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Although the autofocus system didn't feel noticeably zippy, it's faster than the LX7's, and the camera supports a continuous-shooting rate of 6.5fps with autofocus; that's fast for a camera of its size.

In addition to 4K video, the LX100 introduces a new feature, 4K Photo Mode, which allows you to extract 8-megapixel stills from the high-resolution video, as well as a stop-motion-animation mode.

My take

I really like the design of the LX100; it's compact but not too small, and with shutter and aperture dials, provides the same all-manual shooting experience as the higher-end Fujifilm X models. There's no built-in flash -- the optional bundled version goes in the hot shoe -- but I think it's probably a better move than building in the flash and punting the hot shoe, like Sony did. On the other hand, I really miss the LCD.

The LX7 is remaining on the market, and now the price is where it should be given the camera's tech vintage. The LX100 seems like a really worthy successor, and should please all the LX series fans who've been waiting patiently for a modern update. It will be really interesting to see how it fares against the similarly priced PowerShot G1 X Mark II and the RX100 III.

Comparative specifications

Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark II Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7 Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100 Ricoh GR DSC-RX100 III
Sensor effective resolution 12.8MP HS CMOS 10.1MP MOS 12.8MP MOS 16.2MP CMOS 20.2MP Exmor R CMOS
Sensor size 1.5-inch
(18.7 x 14mm)
(7.6 x 5.7 mm)
Four Thirds
(17.3 x 13mm)
23.7 x 15.7mm
(13.2 x 8.8mm)
Focal-length multiplier 1.85x 4.7x 2.0x 1.5x 2.7x
OLPF Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Sensitivity range ISO 100 - ISO 12800 ISO 80- ISO 6400 ISO 100 (exp)/ISO 200 - ISO 25600 ISO 100 - ISO 25600 ISO 80 (exp)/ISO 125 - ISO 12800
Lens (35mm equivalent) 24 - 120mm
24 - 75mm
24 - 70mm
Closest focus 2.0 in/5 cm 0.4 in /1 cm 2 in/3 cm 3.9 in/10 cm 1.9 in/5 cm
Burst shooting 3fps
(5.2fps with fixed focus)
5 fps
12 JPEG/ n/a raw
(11fps without tracking AF)
(40fps with electronic shutter)
unlimited JPEG/4 raw
(10fps with fixed exposure)
(mag/ effective mag)
Optional EVF
Tilting TFT
(EVF-DC1, $299; est £284)
0.4 in/10.2 mm
2.764m dots
100% coverage
Reverse Galilean
(GV-1, est $230; £150; AU$300)
1.44m dots
100% coverage
Hot shoe Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Autofocus 31-area
Contrast AF
23 area
Contrast AF
49 area
DFD Contrast AF
Hybrid AF
Contrast AF
AF sensitivity n/a n/a n/a 1.5 - 17.5 EV n/a
Shutter speed 61 - 1/4,000 sec 30 - 1/4000 sec 60 - 1/4,000 sec (1/16,000 electronic shutter); bulb to 2 minutes 30 - 1/4,000 sec; bulb; time 30 - 1/2,000 sec; bulb
Metering n/a 23 area 1,728 zones n/a n/a
Best video H.264 QuickTime MOV
AVCHD 1080/60p @ 28 Mbps MP4 UHD/30p, 25p, 24p @ 100Mbps; 1080/60p, 50p Motion JPEG AVI
1080/30p, 25p, 24p
1080/60p, 30p, 25p, 24p; 720/120p
Audio Stereo Stereo Stereo Stereo Stereo
Manual aperture and shutter in video No Yes n/a Yes Yes
Maximum best-quality recording time 4GB/29:59 minutes 29:59 minutes n/a 25 minutes n/a
Optical zoom while recording Yes Yes Yes n/a Yes
Clean HDMI out n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
IS Optical Optical Optical None Optical
LCD 3 in/7.5 cm
Tilting touchscreen
1.04m dots
3 in/7.5 cm
920,000 dots
3 in/7.5 cm
921,000 dots
3 in/7.5cm
921,600 dots
(plus another set of white dots for brightness)
3 in/7.5cm
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 None Wi-Fi, NFC None Wi-Fi, NFC
Flash Yes Yes Bundled optional Yes Yes
Wireless flash No No No No No
Battery life (CIPA rating) 240 shots 330 shots 300 shots 290 shots 320 shots (LCD);
230 shots (Viewfinder)
Size (WHD) 4.6 x 3.0 2.6 inches
116.3 x 74 x 66.2 mm
4.4 x 2.6 x 1.8 in
110.5 x 67.1 x 45.6 mm
4.5 x 2.6 x 2.2 in
114.8 x 66.2 x 55.0 mm
4.6 x 2.4 x 1.4 inches
116.8 x 61.0 x 35.6 mm
4.0 x 2.3 x 1.6 inches
101.6 x 58.1 x 41 mm
Body operating weight
19.5 oz
552 g
10.5 oz (est.)
298 g (est.)
13.8 oz (est.)
393 g (est.)
8.6 oz (est)
245 g (est)
10.2 oz
289.2 g
Mfr. price
£300 (est.)
Release date (US) April 2014 July 2012 November 2014 May 2013 June 2014