Basic Specifications
Full model name: Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100
Resolution: 12.80 Megapixels
Sensor size: 4/3
(17.3mm x 13.0mm)
Lens: 3.13x zoom
(24-75mm eq.)
Viewfinder: EVF / LCD
Native ISO: 200 - 25,600
Extended ISO: 100 - 25,600
Shutter: 1/16000 - 60 seconds
Max Aperture: 1.7
Dimensions: 4.5 x 2.6 x 2.2 in.
(115 x 66 x 55 mm)
Weight: 14.3 oz (405 g)
includes batteries
Availability: 10/2014
Manufacturer: Panasonic
Full specs: Panasonic LX100 specifications
12.80
Megapixels
3.13x zoom 4/3
size sensor
image of Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100
Front side of Panasonic LX100 digital camera Front side of Panasonic LX100 digital camera Front side of Panasonic LX100 digital camera Front side of Panasonic LX100 digital camera Front side of Panasonic LX100 digital camera

LX100 Summary

Panasonic's first large-sensor, enthusiast compact camera is here, and it's a beauty! The 12.8-megapixel Panasonic LX100 opts for a slightly larger body than most rivals, but that also frees up room for the same generous sensor size used in the company's Micro Four Thirds mirrorless cameras. Paired with a bright zoom lens and a powerful processor, the result is an enthusiast-grade compact that takes really great photos, day or night! Does the LX100 belong at the top of your wish-list? Find out now in our detailed Panasonic LX100 review!

Pros

Very good image quality; Great performance in most respects; Bright zoom lens with good macro performance; Photographer-friendly body easily fits in a coat pocket or small bag; Roomy, high-res built-in viewfinder; Decent battery life

Cons

Won't fit in a pants pocket; Relatively low resolution by modern standards; Zoom lens has only a modest telephoto; Soft corners at wide or tele positions; Aperture dial is too easily bumped; Bundled flash is fairly weak

Price and availability

The Panasonic LX100 began shipping in the US market at the end of October 2014, with a suggested list price of around US$900. Black or silver body colors are available.

Imaging Resource rating

4.0 out of 5.0

Panasonic LX100 Review

by
Preview posted 09/15/2014

Updates:
12/10/2014: Field Test Part I: An enthusiast compact head-to-head with Sony and Canon!
04/22/2015: Field Test Part II: Bright lens, big sensor: This compact street shooter adores the night!
06/24/2015: Image Quality Comparison and Print Quality posted!
: Sample videos added to Field Test Part II; Conclusion posted!

---

The Panasonic LX100 is easily one of the most impressive compact cameras we've seen come through our labs, which is why we gave it top billing in our best compact camera for $1,000 article. Check out the article to see your other options for compact cameras under $1,000.

---

Panasonic LX100 Review -- Front three-quarter view

In the first half of 2012, two cameras launched that were the start of an entirely new market segment. The Canon G1X and Sony RX100 were both incredibly exciting, pairing fixed zoom lenses with much larger sensors than in previous enthusiast compact cameras.

Each also had its shortcomings, however. It's these that Panasonic aims to address with the Panasonic LX100, its first entry in what has become a radically more competitive category almost overnight. (The same day that the LX100 launched, the competing Canon G7X also debuted.)

Sony's RX100-series cameras are pocket-friendly, but they opt for a much smaller sensor than that of the LX100, and either rely on a somewhat delicate-looking popup viewfinder, an external accessory finder, or forego one altogether. All but one model also skip basics like a flash hot shoe.

Canon's G1X-series cameras, though, go to the other extreme: They have a sensor that's almost as tall as the APS-C chips in most consumer and enthusiast DSLRs, and many mirrorless cameras. They also offer hot shoes, and one model even has a built-in viewfinder. The problem is that they're not even close to being pocket-friendly in anything other than a coat.

Panasonic LX100 review -- Front view compared to Panasonic GM5 and Sony RX100 III

Panasonic LX100 vs Panasonic GM5 and Sony RX100 III

The Panasonic LX100 strikes a middle ground between the two approaches. It's a fair bit bigger than an RX100-series camera or Canon's simultaneously-launched G7X, but it's also a fair bit less tall and thick than a G1X-series camera, and much lighter. On balance, it's probably more comparable to the pocket cameras in proportion, even if its a bit too deep to be considered pants-pocket-friendly itself.

Panasonic LX100 review -- Front view compared to Canon  G1X II and Fuji X100S

Panasonic LX100 vs Canon G1X II and Fuji X100S

And compared to its rivals that will fit in a pants pocket, the Panasonic LX100 sports a much bigger sensor. Where its rivals are all based around 1"-type chips, Panasonic has opted for the same 4/3"-type sensors it uses in its mirrorless cameras, and that offers almost double the surface area of a 1"-type chip. (Note, though, that the LX100 doesn't use all the available area for any single aspect ratio.)

The difference in sensor real-estate shows itself in sensitivity: Panasonic allows the LX100 to roam to ISO 25,600 max., when all of its rivals are limited to ISO 12,800 or below.

Panasonic LX100 review -- Side view compared to X100S, G1X II, GM5, RX100 III

Fuji X100S, Canon G1X II, Panasonic LX100, Panasonic GM5, Sony RX100 III

But it's not just the larger sensor at play here. Panasonic's Venus Engine performance is also impressive, and the company's clever Depth from Defocus technology -- first seen in the Panasonic GH4 mirrorless camera -- also helps a lot. The net result is a swift manufacturer rating of 11 frames per second with focus and exposure locked. Even with autofocus and exposure adjustment between frames, you'll still see a manufacturer-rated 6.5 fps.

If you're willing to accept the compromises still inherent in an electronic shutter -- and a greatly reduced three-megapixel resolution -- you can boost this all the way up to a truly staggering 40 frames per second!

In this respect, the Panasonic LX100 leads the large-sensor, fixed-zoom camera category. For better performance at full resolution, you need to look to a mirrorless camera or DSLR, and you'll lose the size advantage of the LX100. The autofocus system is sophisticated in other respects, too, and very point-dense with a 49-point array.

Panasonic also seems to have done a great job at aiming its body directly at enthusiasts, rather than feeling the need to handhold beginners as some cameras do. There's no mode dial here, nor any consumer-friendly fluff like user-selectable scene modes. The sole concession to beginners is Panasonic's Intelligent Auto mode, favored with its own dedicated button. Instead of these ease-of-use aids, physical shutter and aperture dials with Auto positions grace this camera, plus a physical exposure compensation dial.

Panasonic LX100 review -- Front right view

And that extends beyond the body design, too: You get a 1/4,000-second top shutter speed as in Canon's G1X-series cameras, not the 1/2,000-second limit of the RX100-series and G7X. Enable the electronic shutter, and the Panasonic LX100 will take you all the way to 1/16,000 second. Nor is there any internal flash strobe, a feature many enthusiasts treat with a measure of disdain. Instead, the LX100 has a hot shoe, something that among its rivals only the RX100 II and G1X series also offer. (A compact flash strobe is included in the standard camera kit.)

And there's also a built-in electronic viewfinder, a feature shared only by the RX100 III. (Although admittedly, the RX100 II and G1X-series can accept optional viewfinder accessories.) Nor is that all: The Panasonic LX100's viewfinder is a very high-resolution unit, based around a high-definition, field-sequential panel as used previously in the Panasonic GX7.

Admittedly, though, the LCD monitor is rather more basic, a standard three-inch VGA panel with no touch screen or articulation. Other noteworthy features include Wi-Fi wireless networking with NFC for easy pairing, and a 24/30p 4K movie capture function which also allows you to extract high-res 4K stills.

Let's take a closer look at Panasonic's first entry in the large-sensor, fixed-zoom camera market!

 

Panasonic LX100 Walkaround

by Mike Tomkins

Measuring 4.5 x 2.6 x 2.2 inches (114.8 x 66.2 x 55mm), the Panasonic LX100 is noticeably larger than its rivals, the Sony RX100-series and Canon G7X, but not unreasonably so given that it also boasts double the sensor surface area. The difference in mass is more noticeable: At a weight of 14.3 ounces (405g) loaded and ready to shoot, it's about a third heavier.

The difference in size and weight is such that -- unlike those cameras -- you won't be keeping it in your pants pocket, but it'd easily slip into a jacket pocket or modestly-sized purse.

Comparing in the other direction, the size and weight difference as compared to the larger-sensored Canon G1X and G1X Mark II are much more stark. While width differs only slightly, Canon's cameras are a third to two-thirds of an inch taller, and almost half an inch deeper. And again, those cameras weigh around a third more than the LX100.

Panasonic LX100 review -- Front view

Looking at the front of the Panasonic LX100, things are clean and straightforward. There's a small but worthwhile handgrip to give your fingertips some purchase, and above right of the lens (as seen from the rear) is an LED that serves as autofocus assist lamp and self-timer indication.

The lens itself, a bright f/1.7-2.8, 3.1x optical zoom beauty, not surprisingly takes center stage.

Panasonic LX100 review -- Top view

Seen from above, it's clear that this is a camera aimed at experienced photographers. There's no Mode dial on the Panasonic LX100; instead, Auto positions on both Aperture ring and Shutter Speed dial give you an intuitive way to switch between manual, priority and automatic shooting.

A second lens ring is also provided, and a switch atop the lens barrel selects between various aspect ratios. This might seem unusual, but makes sense once you learn that -- as the company as done in the past -- Panasonic has actually specified an image sensor slightly larger than the lens' image circle. None of the aspect ratio choices uses the full sensor area. Instead, they work to fit within the image circle while maximizing sensor area, giving you the ability to switch aspects without pixel guilt (but a fair bit lower resolution than the sensor could natively provide with a fixed aspect).

Atop the body, meanwhile, are a flash hot shoe -- a rare treat in this style of camera, but a necessary one given that there's no popup flash -- which sits centrally above the lens, and further right a profusion of controls. The Power switch sits beneath the Shutter Speed dial, and a zoom rocker encircles the shutter button.

The Intelligent Auto mode is the sole concession to beginners, and merits its own button; so to do digital filters. Finally, there's an exposure compensation dial within easy thumb-reach.

In front of the hot shoe are two ports for a stereo microphone, and at left you can see that the eyepiece for the camera's electronic viewfinder protrudes a bit beyond the rear deck.

Panasonic LX100 review -- Back view

Switch to the rear panel, and you'll see both a fairly straightforward fixed-position, 3.0-inch LCD panel (which, sadly, isn't touch-sensitive), and the electronic viewfinder at very top left.

This is a beauty of a finder, and quite similar to that in the Panasonic GX7. It sports a high-definition 1,280 x 720 pixel array, and uses a field-sequential design. In plain English, that means every single pixel provides all three colors -- but only one color at any given time. By cycling through the colors repeatedly, your eye gets the impression of a sharp, full-color image. Lining the right side of the viewfinder is a proximity sensor used to enable or disable the viewfinder and LCD automatically as you raise the camera to your eye, or vice versa.

This can also be accomplished manually using the LVF button adjacent to the finder. Other buttons in this row include Wi-Fi, Movie Record, and autofocus / autoexposure lock. Right of the LCD and beneath a small protruding thumbgrip are Quick Menu, Playback, Function1, and Display buttons. Two buttons in that top row also serve as function buttons, incidentally, the customizability being another indication that this is an enthusiast camera.

And finally, there's the Four-way controller surrounded by another dial, and with central Menu/Set button. Each cardinal direction serves double-duty as a Record-mode control -- ISO sensitivity, Focus area, White balance, and Drive mode. Directly beneath the Four-way controller, a tiny dimple indicates the location of the card access lamp.

Panasonic LX100 review -- Right view

The right side of the camera body is free of controls and features, save for a D-ring for a shoulder strap, and the cover over the HDMI high-definition video output. It's not marked on the door, but the combined USB data / standard-definition A/V output port also lives here. In the US market, this A/V output is NTSC-only.

Panasonic LX100 review -- Left view

The left side of the body is even more unencumbered, with only a metal D-ring and a curiously non-standard logo for the camera's NFC antenna, indicating where you should hold your smartphone or tablet to pair automatically.

Also visible is a switch on the side of the lens barrel with which to select the Focus mode.

Panasonic LX100 review -- Bottom view

And finally, we come to the base of the Panasonic LX100. At camera left is a nine-hole grille for the camera's speaker. Moving right, you come to a metal tripod mount, sadly situated off the lens' optical axis, a position less than ideal for tripod-mounted panoramas. (Although it's easy enough to source a bracket and reposition the camera over the tripod correctly, if you shoot a lot of panos.)

Lastly, the battery / flash card compartment sits beneath the hand grip, with a locking switch and a large rubber cutout to allow ingress for a dummy battery.

Panasonic LX100 Technical Insights

Learn what separates this enthusiast compact from the rest!

by Mike Tomkins | 09/15/2014

Panasonic LX100 tech section illustrationSensor

There's a lot that differs between the Panasonic LX100 and its nearest rivals, but the biggest differences all follow on from probably the most important one of the bunch: its sensor. Where all of its rivals opt either for a smaller 1"-type sensor (albeit still far larger than those of most compact cameras), or for a larger 4:3-aspect, near-APS-C height sensor, the LX100 takes a middle road with a 4/3"-type sensor like those used in Panasonic mirrorless cameras.

It's important to note, though, that the full sensor area -- roughly double that of a 1"-type sensor -- isn't actually used by any single aspect ratio on the camera. As Panasonic has chosen to do with quite a few models in the past, it has actually chosen a sensor that is somewhat larger than the image circle of the lens. This decision means that you can switch aspect ratios without guilt -- no matter which you choose, you're not throwing away data by cropping the image. Instead, you're simply changing the active area of the sensor within the confines of the image circle (well, except for the 1:1 aspect ratio).

Read on at the link below; find out what makes the Panasonic LX100 such an interesting camera!

Click to read the Panasonic LX100 technical info!

Panasonic LX100 Field Test Part I

An enthusiast compact head-to-head with Sony and Canon!

by Mike Tomkins |

Panasonic LX100 shooter's report photoEver since Sony launched its RX100-series camera line a couple of years ago, I've been a big fan of compact cameras with large sensors and zoom lenses. (In fact, truth be told I'd been asking the manufacturers to make just such a camera at every chance I got, for several years before the RX100-series hit the scene.)

The Panasonic LX100 takes that concept and runs with it, fitting in an even larger sensor than those of the RX100-series or Canon's G7X, yet still remaining at least coat-pocket friendly. To say that I wanted to get my hands on this camera was an understatement.

Compact is a relative thing

Sure, I had concerns about camera size: One of my favorite features of the RX100-series cameras is that I can slip them in a pants pocket and almost forget they're there. That's simply not possible with the Panasonic LX100: It's fine for a coat pocket or modestly-sized bag or purse, but except in the winter I don't wear a jacket, and I seldom carry a bag.

How does the Panasonic LX100 compare to the Sony RX100-series or Canon G7X?

Find out in the first part of my Field Test!

Panasonic LX100 Field Test Part II

Bright lens, big sensor: This compact street shooter adores the night!

by Mike Tomkins |

Panasonic LX100 shooter's report photoWhen I started my review of the Panasonic LX100 with my first Field Test, I found much to like about this capable enthusiast compact. (Not read it yet? You might want to start there first!)

Sure, it's not as small as rivals like the Canon G7X and Sony RX100-series, but I loved its approachable, intuitive controls and handy electronic viewfinder. And while it lags its rivals in terms of resolution, it still provides great daytime image quality and excellent performance.

It's at night that I really expected the Panasonic LX100 to be in its element, though. The smaller, higher-resolution sensors in the RX100-series and Canon G7X seemed to have their work cut out for them against the Panasonic LX100, even if it doesn't actually use the full real-estate of its sensor in any given aspect ratio.

We've spent the night together, but will I still love the LX100 come morning?

Find out in Field Test Part II!

Panasonic LX100 Image Quality Comparison

See how the LX100 compares to some of its competitors

by Zig Weidelich |

Panasonic LX100 image qualityWe've prepared crops comparing the Panasonic LX100 with the Panasonic GM1, Canon G7X, Fuji X100S, Nikon Coolpix A, and Sony RX100 III. All of these models sit at relatively similar price points and/or categories in their respective product lineups as compact enthusiast cameras.

NOTE: These images are best quality JPEGs straight out of the camera, at default settings including noise reduction and using the camera's actual base ISO (not extended ISO settings). Clicking any crop will take you to a carrier page where you can click once again to access the full resolution image as delivered straight from the camera. For those interested in working with the RAW files involved, click these links to visit each camera's respective sample image thumbnail page.

Read our Image Quality Comparison!

Panasonic LX100 Image Quality Comparison

Panasonic LX100 Conclusion

Finally, an enthusiast compact built with photographers in mind!

by Mike Tomkins |

With the LX100, Panasonic joins an elite club: It's now one of a small handful of manufacturers that can sell you a compact enthusiast camera with both a larger-than-average image sensor and a zoom lens. And believe us when we say that cameras like these are popular for good reason. They offer a really compelling advantage over the camera built into your smartphone, and without the bulk of an interchangeable-lens camera.

But with the LX100, Panasonic has made some very different decisions to those of its rivals, Canon and Sony. Where the Sony RX100-series and Canon G7X are small enough to fit in your pants pocket, the Panasonic LX100 won't. Yet it offers a significantly larger sensor than all of those cameras, helping it to gather more of the light which, after all, photography is all about capturing and preserving. The Canon G1X-series, meanwhile, has an even bigger sensor, but it's also quite a bit larger, pushing the boundaries of what can be considered compact. The middle ground, then, belongs to Panasonic, while its rivals opt for the headline-grabbing extremes.

Want our closing thoughts on Panasonic's first large-sensor compact camera?

Read our Panasonic LX100 Conclusion

 

In the Box

The Panasonic LX100 bundle contains the following items:

  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100 camera (black or silver)
  • DMW-BLG10 Lithium-ion battery (7.2V, 1025mAh)
  • DE-A98A Battery charger
  • VEK0V37Z1 External flash
  • Flash storage bag
  • USB cable
  • Lens cap
  • Lens cap string
  • Hot shoe cover
  • Shoulder strap
  • Software DVD (PHOTOfunSTUDIO 9.6PE / SILKYPIX Developer Studio/LoiLoScope (trial version) / Adobe Reader)

 

Recommended Accessories

  • Large capacity SDHC/SDXC memory card. UHS-I Speed Class 3 (U3) required for 4K recording in MP4 format.
  • Extra DMW-BLG10 battery pack (~US$40)
  • Panasonic DMW-FL360L or DMW-FL580L external flash (~US$230-US$510)
  • Camera bag

 

Comparison Shopping?

The premium compact camera market has heated up to the point you'll surely need our new camera comparison tool to help keep all the specs sorted out! Clicking on any of the following will take you there, where you can see features, specs, pros and cons listed for virtually any pair of cameras you'd like to compare. Here are a few obvious choices to compare to the Panasonic LX100 to get you started:

Panasonic LX100 vs Sony RX100 III

Panasonic LX100 vs Canon G7X

Panasonic LX100 vs Canon G1X II

Panasonic LX100 vs Fujifilm X30

Panasonic LX100 vs Fujifilm X100S

Panasonic LX100 vs Nikon V3

 

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