It’s been rumored for a very long time, and today Panasonic and the Micro Four Thirds world have launched their direct competitor to the large sensor point and shoots. The Panasonic LX100 is not only directly squared against the other high end point and shoots out there, but it is also the company’s dueling sword to Fujifilm’s X100T.
At its heart is a Micro Four Thirds size sensor (the same 12.8MP sensor in the GX7) with a lens that starts at f1.7 (24mm) and ends at f2.8 (75mm) in its zoom range. The lens has Power OIS too–which is very typical for Panasonic. The camera has has the same processing engine as the GH4–which makes is truly a composite camera.
We got to spend some time with the LX100 at Panasonic’s New Jersey headquarters earlier this month. And trust us, it’s a reason to get hyped.
Gx7 sensor with a micro four third sensor
Engine as the GH4
24 to 75 f1.7 to 2.8
30p and 24p video
Raw processing in camera
Multiple aspect ratios
No mode dial
Aspect ratio switch on top of lens
Two ED lenses
Flash bundled with the camera
DFD tech for contrast AF
Price is around $899 availability start of November
The LX100 is surely a camera to get very excited about. While controls on the front of the camera are very scant, what you can find though are lots of controls around the lens. First off, note that it is a zoom lens–which we didn’t really expect from Panasonic to begin with. The controls around the lens have to do with the aspect ratio, focusing and the aperture control.
Moving to the top of the camera we can see more controls in the form of an exposure compensation dial, shutter dial, shutter release, drive switch, and the hot shoe. In real life use, all of this feels very much like operating a Leica–and we couldn’t be more pleased with it.
The back of the camera has even more controls in the form of a big central dial, video record button, menu, the EVF and the LCD screen. Honestly, working with this camera almost makes us think of the Leica CL–which on a personal note is like coming home since I was trained on one. Obviously though, the shutter dial is in a different spot.
Think of the LX100 almost like a smaller version of the Fujifilm X100 series of cameras. It feels very metallic, solid and beautiful in the hands. But with that said, part of what we like about the Fujifilm variants is that they feel so great in the hand due to their size. The LX100 could easily feel a bit too small.
Panasonic tells us that there is a leather half case that can be used with the camera–which can surely fix some of the problems. But otherwise, this small size could help to make it one of the best cameras ever for street photography. Of course, we will need to give it a much more thorough testing first.
Ease of Use
Be warned: this isn’t a camera for a complete newbie or someone looking to just get into photography. Indeed, the company has made something for the more bourgeoisie amongst us. There is absolutely no automatic mode with the exception of program auto. Otherwise, you can shoot in aperture priority, shutter priority or fully manual.
What we’re also very hyped about is the leaf shutter–which means that it can achieve high speed sync speeds with no problems at all.
The very basic test that we were able to give the camera in Panasonic’s offices involved getting awkwardly close up to Jim Fisher of PC Magazine. And unfortunately, we weren’t able to give the camera a proper test in the streets. Given the small(ish) sensor and the wide angle though it shouldn’t exactly be a slouch when it comes to capturing street scenes.
Despite the fact that the camera houses the same sensor as the GX7, we were not allowed to put an SD card in the camera at all. Still, we are told that it more or less has the same image quality. Beyond that, we collectively think that that camera had the best color rendition of nearly any Micro Four Thirds offering out there.
Of almost any camera being announced at Photokina 2014, you should know that the one we are most excited about is the LX100. It’s small, has a Micro Four Thirds sensor, retro styling, and what promises to be top notch image quality.
Seriously, what’s not to like? We’re waiting on our review unit with baited breath–but know that even at the price point we may even consider purchasing one.