Writing a full review covering each and every one of the Lumix DMC-LX100’s features could fill an entire book, but nevertheless, I got to test-driving this powerful and compact point and shoot camera last month when Panasonic Canada invited me to take a look at what it could do.
Ahead of receiving the camera and its contents, I delved into the TWO PDF manuals (basic and advanced) to get a bit ahead of the game. I’d read that the LX-100 has a bit of a learning curve, and no doubt, I found that out once I tried to work with both Camera RAW and earlier versions of iPhoto, Photoshop and Lightroom.
It would be great if Panasonic included both user guides in the box (only the basic guide is included). Panasonic does include several Lumix online tutorials via YouTube.
My Macbook Pro’s headed into its fourth year of dutiful service, and without the latest OS 10.10 Yosemite installed, I hit a wall when inserting one of my Lexar Platinum II SD cards (Class 10, as I was also keen on checking out the LX100’s high-quality video capabilities).
I had two problems to solve: upgrading to Photoshop CS6 and Lightroom 5. Once I’d done both, I then realized that iPhoto WILL work when the SD card is installed, but only with jpg images. Lumix creates a .RW2 RAW file that’s only compatible with Apple’s latest OS, so until I upgrade to a new MBP, I’ll be using Lightroom 5 to import my images.
Lumix includes two software programs on the supplied DVD: PHOTOfunSTUDIO 9.6 PE and SILKYPIX Developer Studio 4.2 SE. For the purpose of really seeing whether the Lumix would work seamlessly with my already-installed Mac software, I chose not to install them for this review.
Some of the very cool filters will only work in jpg and not in RAW mode. Live cropping an image in order to send it to your computer or smart phone (Android, iPhone) will also only work with jpgs.
For a camera falling in the above-$1k price range, I’m loving the LX100’s numerous features, but puzzled at what’s not working: though I was able to get my iPhone to work as a remote, I haven’t yet succeeded in connecting the camera to my Mac via wifi. It’s also possible to upload and share your shots via social media accounts (this part requires a free LUMIX CLUB login ID).
The video quality is very good. Here’s an example of an indoor handheld shoot. The LX100 will also shoot 4k motion pictures, and work with the above-mentioned PHOTOfunSTUDIO for converting to a smaller size or copying to a DVD for viewing on a 4k Ultra HD TV. Aside from 4k, you can choose MP4 in either 1920×1080, 60p or 30p.
If you’re looking for a point-and-shoot camera with touch or tilt LCD, this one’s not for you. Instead, the Lumix LX100 is equipped with an eye sensor and adjustable diopter dial so you can look into the viewfinder AND use the LCD monitor! This makes me happy, as I can replicate the DSLR experience without shlepping heavy gear and lenses around. When your eye gets close the viewfinder, you can view through the glass; move your eye away and the LCD comes to life.
I see the value in travelling light and making the experience about enjoying my surroundings and not always focusing on the camera.
P (aperture and shutter speed settings automatically adjusted), A (Aperture-Priority), S (Shutter-Priority) and M (Manual Exposure) modes are all there as well as iA (Intelligent Auto Mode). You can also change the aspect ratio of still images (4:3, 1:1, 16:9, 3:2) in all recording modes.
Auto Focus can be switched to Face/Eye Detection, AF Tracking, 49-area-focusing, pinpoint focusing and more. The numerous option list continues with stop motion animation, time-lapse photography, wind noise reduction, auto bracketing, and the option to record movies while taking still images.
Some of the key features of the Lumix DMC-LX100:
– Video modes: 28Mpbs 1080p at 60fps in AVCHD, 4K at 30 fps (100Mbps) in MP4 format with AAC audio
– Shooting modes include JPEG (in a variety of quality settings), RAW or RAW + JPEG.
– Ability to save several custom white balance settings
– Fast Leica f/1.7-f/2.8 24-75mm zoom lens
– The lens has a side switch for AF, manual focus and macro
– By switching to manual, lens ring handles focus rather than zoom
– Accessory GN7 flash that fits into the LX100’s hot shoe and works up to 21 feet
– Front focus illuminator lamp, LVF and WiFi buttons on the rear that also function as Fn2 and Fn3
– AE/AF lock button
– Aluminum body weighs 13.6 ounces
– Focus/zoom and aperture rings on the lens
– 1024 x 768 resolution rear LCD screen
– Larger sensor than the RX100 and Canon G7X 1″ sensors
– iA (intelligent auto mode) as well as manual controls
– Good ergonomics and well-placed grip in front
– Shutter speed dial on top, EV dial on the right top corner
– ISO Sensitivity, metering mode, shutter type, burst mode, self-timer, panorama options
– Live level gauge helps align shots
– Competes with Canon PowerShot G1X MK II and Sony a6000 compact cameras
– Customizable sleep mode
Nice to see that many options can be enabled in all modes, including intelligent auto!
If you’re in the market for a feature-rich, fully customizable compact camera with a top-shelf lens, go for the Lumix. You’ll have some learning to do, but the images and video will reward you in the end. Just make sure that your software is relatively up to date.