Panasonic Lumix DMC LX7 Full Review - Cameras For Photographers
Specifications 2:

Type:
compact

Weight (inc. Battery) [?]:
298g

Wide Angle [?]:
24mm

Max. Focal Length [?]:
90mm

Zoom Range [?]:
x3.8

Sensor Size:
1/1.7"

Low Light Support [?]:
well lit rooms

Image Stabilization [?]:
Optical

Raw Format Support [?]:
yes

Manual Exposure [?]:
yes

Video Resolution [?]:
1080p

Optical Zoom In Video [?]:
yes

Stereo Sound [?]:
stereo

Battery Life [?]:
330 shots

Flip Lcd [?]:
none

Touch Screen [?]:
none

Viewfinder [?]:
optional

Freeze / Water / Shock - Proof [?]:
no

Dimensions (w-h-d) [?]:
110.5 x 67.1 x 45.6 mm

Macro Distance [?]:
1 cm

Built-in Wireless [?]:
none

Built-in GPS [?]:
none

Direct Video Button [?]:
yes

Panorama [?]:
sweep panorama

Rank: [?]
76.2

Initial Price:
$499 (change: $202, 40%)

Last Price Change:
$18 (6%) (Sep 29th)

Last Lowest Price:
$347 $297

The Panasonic Lumix DMC LX7 is on a $50 rebate!





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Last Lowest Price: $297 ($18)

Panasonic Lumix DMC LX7 - Full Review



The Panasonic Lumix DMC LX7 is on a $50 rebate!
- order now via the links in the box.
The Panasonic Lumix LX7 makes you want to photograph. And that's the highest a camera can go.
lx7
      
Panasonic Lumix DMC LX7 (photos: Panasonic)
Important Note: the LX7 was replaced by the Panasonic Lumix DMC LX100 (compare ).

The LX7's Price Watch:



Strengths & Improvements


The Lumix LX5 was a true photographer's camera, but it lacked some mojo which could have made it popular as well. It seemed that in every area there was at least one competitor that outperformed it, whether in sensor size, aperture settings, body size or zoom range, it was never the ultimate option when buying decision time came about.

The LX7, on the other hand, is different. Not that it's better than all other cameras in each and every aspect, not at all, but it passes a critical bar of excellence, an invisible level of wholesomeness, if you will.

Critics could (and would, and will) beg to differ, saying for instance that its 90mm reach is not much of a tele. That's true, of course, it could be a downer for some people, but it's enough for street and family photography, for landscape and for architecture.
However, none of those critics could argue the same about its aperture - since it has f/1.4 at 24mm down to just f/2.3 at 90mm - anyone wanting more than that is asking for trouble.

The fact of the matter is that the LX7 makes it very easy to get creative, to think of your composition, of the image proportions, depth of field, etc., and on top of all that, still fits in the front pocket of your jeans (hardly, but it does!) or more comfortably in your jacket pocket.

Build Quality & Handling


The solid metal body of the LX7 feels like it could carry on for many years without a dent or a bruise. It's small enough to sit cozily in one hand, but not too small as to feel like a toy (did anyone say S110?).

Speaking of one-handedness, the LX7 has a price which must be paid for its size and lens characteristics - and that price comes in the shape of a lens cap. No room for an internal automatic cap, you must take it off (with your left hand) before you turn on the camera, otherwise you get a friendly reminder message on the screen.

Note that if you leave the cap on, turn on the camera and at the same time half-press the shutter, the autofocus system goes out of sync until you turn the camera off and back on again.

Performance


Focus & Zoom Speed: The bad news is that the zoom starts irritatingly slow, only to pick up speed throughout the focal range. That's acceptable in video, but when shooting stills, it's a turn off. Not a huge one, but it's there.

Autofocus, on the other hand, is plenty quick, practically instant in most cases, naturally being the fastest in shorter focal lengths and in brighter conditions. Even in low light conditions, it takes up to one second in full zoom. It takes longer only in extreme conditions like truly dim rooms, with the AF assist beam turned off and aiming at low-contrast objects.

Operation: Surprisingly, one of the most clever nuances of the LX7 is not its dedicated aperture dial on the lens, but rather it is the one right next to it - the aspect ratio switch.
It makes you think about your photo's proportions and allows direct and immediate selection of the one you prefer. It is the most creativeness driving feature of this camera.

Furthermore, you can evade aprioric selection by using the aspect ratio bracketing, which saves four photos using all available proportions (1:1, 4:3, 3:2, 16:9). When using this feature, the camera shows colorful frames on the screen for your composing pleasure.

It is evident that Panasonic put a lot of effort into this issue both in software and in hardware, as they have built the LX7 around a 12.8 megapixel sensor which provides roughly the same effective resolution of 10 megapixels in every aspect ratio (except for 1:1) in order to maintain the same diagonal field of view in all of them.


Aspect Ratios:


See what the various aspect ratios available by the LX7 look like:

Scroll your mouse over the thumbnails to view the images, then click on the images for full size versions.




Another switch placed on the lens, which makes life a bit easier to bear, is the AF mode selector that includes manual focus, auto focus and auto focus in macro mode. The manual focus mode is supported by yet another button, placed on the back of the camera, which controls the focus, When setting the focus manually, the camera zooms in, in order to provide a better view of the focusing area, and also displays focusing meter with a helpful depth of field indicator.

So, yes, there's a dial for controlling the aperture. But it's not thrilling and that's perhaps its true greatness - it feels natural to use to the point where you don't consider it a gimmick. In aperture priority or in manual mode, your hand just goes there. No redundant concentration is required.



Image Stabilization: The LX7 shares Panasonic's top-notch Power O.I.S (Optical Image Stabilization) mechanism as most of the company's flagship compacts. It allows handheld shutter speeds as low as 1/2.5 seconds at 90mm, equal roughly to 5 stops, though you need to hold your breath in order to get a sharp image at those speeds. This is very good any way you look at it but at the same time not overwhelming, considering today's technology and this camera's positioning.


Image Stabilization Capabilities:


Here's an example of the same image taken with and without image stabilization:

Scroll your mouse over the thumbnails to view the images, then click on the images for full size versions.




Battery Life: Taking into account the fact that this is a compact camera, its official 330 shots per charge doesn't sound so bad. If you compare you see that in most cases it's similar or better than its competitors (X20 - 270 shots, XF1 - 300 shots, G15 - 350 shots, S110 - 200 shots).

Moreover, real life usage shows that the actual figure is much higher, especially when using little to no flash - well over the 400 shot mark.

Image Quality


Colors & Contrast: The default colors of standard jpgs produced by the LX7 could be considered too saturated for some people. For those people, the LX7 offers a battery of color modes, tweaks, and settings by which anyone and everyone can easily make it play their tune.


In-Camera Custom Colors:


Here are examples of the custom colors available:

Scroll your mouse over the thumbnails to view the images, then click on the images for full size versions.




Dynamic Range: Although this should come as no surprise, the dynamic range exhibited by this camera leaves something to be desired. Better than the vast majority of compacts, you can't avoid the fact that it's a compact camera with a compact camera's imaging sensor.

It has some tricks up its sleeve, such as HDR mode and dynamic range enhancement, but those can't and don't replace the abilities of larger sensors, so don't expect to get fully detailed photos when taking shots of shaded objects on sunny backdrops.


Dynamic Range Enhancement (in %):


See what effect different dynamic range settings have on the images:

Scroll your mouse over the thumbnails to view the images, then click on the images for full size versions.




ISO Range: The 1/1.7" CMOS sensor of the LX7 show good flexibility in terms of sensitivity and noise. It's smaller than the LX5's 1/1.63" sensor, and it uses less than all its surface (for the aspect ratios), but still - its output remarkably good in high sensitivities.

Images are smooth and colorful up to ISO 800 with noise visible at ISO 800 only when peeping at 100% crops. ISO 1600 shows some noise but still perfectly usable for on screen viewing and some printing. ISO 3200 is the limit which prints shouldn't cross, but is still ok for sharing and emailing.

ISO 6400 and 12800 are there if you need them, but should be used with the knowledge that their output is noisy and low on detail.

Auto-iso mode tends to select relatively low iso levels even when the implication is a low shutter speed. Intelligent iso, however, does a better job at detecting movement and using higher iso's when necessary - so take this into account when selecting your modes.


High ISO Performance:


See how the LX7 performs in various ISO sensitivities:

Scroll your mouse over the thumbnails to view the images, then click on the images for full size versions.




High ISO Performance - 100% crops:


Here are full size crops of the images above:

Scroll your mouse over the thumbnails to view the images, then click on the images for full size versions.




White Balance: More than how the auto white balance of the LX7 behaves under artificial light (i.e., very good), what really stands out is how easy it is to control the white balance and set it to your preference.

In addition to the usual preset white balance settings, there is an easy to use compensation menu which allows byasing the colors towards a certain hue, and there are two manual placeholders which you can use for any lighting circumstances.

These are also intuitive to use, mostly thanks to the fact that you don't have to press the shutter to set the manual settings. This procedure is confusing in many cameras, but not in the case of the LX7. Not at all.

Video Quality: The LX7 offers Full HD (that's 1920x1080 or 1080p) and supports both AVCHD (60p) and MP4 (30p). Video shooting comes with full controls - manual, aperture or shutter priority, exposure compensation, single auto focus or continuous, etc.

Video quality is very pleasing to the eye, auto focus speed during video is very good, and image stabilization is excellent - to the point where if you're careful, you can hand hold the camera while walking (see example below).

Slow mode is available at up to 120fps at 720p / MP4 - that's x4 slowness (viewed at the MP4's 30 fps) at HD quality. Note that the wind-cut capabilities are disappointing, so don't count on shooting videos in windy conditions, unless you care little about your sound recording.

Advanced Features


Sweep Panorama: The most fast-spreading feature since video-with-sound is the sweep panorama mode. Its pioneers and best performers are Sony, from which Panasonic still need to learn.

The sweep panorama of the LX7 works well most of the times, creating beautiful, smooth images just as long as you don't blast them to full size looking for the edges and the seams between the automatically stitched photos.

Occasionally, it produces useless output with visible seams or variations in exposure - this happens in extreme lighting differences in the scene or when tackling the camera with long straight or diagonal lines.

The panorama mode works in all directions (up, down, right, left) and there's no setting of the angle of view - it keeps shooting and stitching as long as you keep pressing and panning.

For more usable image proportions - use the up/down angles and pan the cameras across the view while tilted on its side - the result is far richer in pixels and not as thin as when swiping from side to side with the camera up-right.


Sample Panorama:






Continuous Mode: Suiting a camera of its stature, the LX7 offers impressive frame-per-second rates, the highest being 11 fps at full resolution. On top of that, you could prefer the lower rate of 5 fps which would grant you continuous auto-focus between shots.

Two higher rates are also offered at lower resolutions - 40 fps will cost you half the resolution and 60 fps will leave you with just a quarter of the resolution (but would catch a single eye-blink over 10 images).

Time Lapse: The LX7 includes many other features and controls, but the most significant is the time lapse mode - set it to take photos at intervals between 1 and 30 minutes (it should have had 30 seconds as well!) for 10 to 60 shots - that's between 10 minutes 30 hours.

Here's as example of such a time lapse taken every minute for two hours and condensed into 9 seconds:



Neutral Density Filter: In order to fully utilize the large aperture of the LX7 (for shallow depth of field, for instance), it is sometimes necessary to reduce the amount of light going through the lens.

Panasonic not only armed the LX7 with a built-in ND filter, but also made it extremely easy to use. The manual focus rocker switch on the back of the camera doubles as the ND filter on/off button - a click of your thumb sets you back three stops. Piece of cake.

Artistic Filters: Every camera must provide funny or artsy filters these days, and the LX7 adheres to that rule with conviction. There are 16 (!) effects to choose from, some of them being truly useful, some really funny, and some useless (this is subject to personal taste, of course).


In-Camera Effects:


The LX7 offers these creative effects, see what they look like:

Scroll your mouse over the thumbnails to view the images, then click on the images for full size versions.




The Competition


Today's market offers more and more high-end compact cameras, explicitly differentiating them from mobile phone cameras. This means that the LX7 has many competitors to beat, including the spoken-of-by-everyone Sony Cyber-shot DSC RX100 (compare ).

The LX7 could fit in your jeans pocket but not very comfortably. The RX100 and the Canon PowerShot S110 (compare ), on the other hand, do. The LX7's advantage over both of them is its much larger max aperture, of one stop at the wide end and of two stops at the long end. The RX100, however, offers a much larger imaging sensor on top of its compactness, but requires about 50% more in terms of its price tag.

Closer rivals are Canon's G15 (compare ), Fuji's X20 (compare ) and XF1 (compare ) and te Olympus XZ-2 (compare ), all of which lack the LX7's wide 24mm lens. The G15 and X20 are somewhat larger in size, but offer a built-in viewfinder (the X20's includes shooting data), while the LX7's is an optional accessory like that of the XZ-2.

For comparing all these cameras' features and parameters - see this comparison page.

In the whole, the LX7 offers a very convincing package of image quality, handling and ergonomics, compactness and price, and is expected to hit high on consumer demand.

Score:


Image Quality: 9
Performance: 9
Build & Handling: 9
Advanced Features: 9
EyalG's Total: 9

Last Lowest Price: $297


Zoom Capabilities:


Images are shown from the shortest focal length (wide angle) to the longest (telephoto).
Digital Zoom is shown by 'x' factor:


Scroll your mouse over the thumbnails to view the images, then click on the images for full size versions.




Depth of Field Performance:


See what Depth of Field the LX7 is able to create:

Scroll your mouse over the thumbnails to view the images, then click on the images for full size versions.




Video Example:






Optical Zoom During Video:






In Your Hand:












Rank:

Automatically compared to similar cameras, based on specifications:

Low Light:
 

Wide Angle:
 

Zoom Range:
 

Weight:
 

Other Features:
 

Price:
 

Total Rank:
76.2


 
Panasonic Lumix DMC LX7 Eyal Gurevitch June 09, 2013 $297 76.2 100

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