Panasonic LX10 Field Test

There's a new premium compact on the market and it's excellent

by Jeremy Gray | Posted 11/22/2016

26.3 (72mm equivalent), f/4.5, 1/200s, ISO 125
Click for full-size image.


The premium compact camera market is as crowded as ever and all its combatants bring to the table distinct features on top of very similar 20.1-megapixel 1-inch type sensors. In a market where usability and features make or break a camera, the Panasonic LX10 offers a lot to be excited about. It has a very sleek, functional camera body; tilting touchscreen display; fast 24-72mm eq. f/1.4-2.8 lens and 4K UHD video and 4K photo features. Does the $700 camera deliver on its solid specs and features list? Read on to find out.

Key Features and Info

  • Sleek compact camera body
  • Tilting 3-inch touchscreen display
  • 24-72mm equivalent f/1.4-2.8 lens
  • 20.1-megapixel 1-inch sensor
  • 125-12,800 ISO range expandable to 80-25,600
  • 49-point DFD autofocus system
  • 4K UHD video
  • 4K Photo
  • Built-in Wi-Fi
  • 5-axis Hybrid OIS+ image stabilization
  • US$700 list price

Panasonic LX10 is a sleek, compact camera

As a "premium compact," the Panasonic LX10 should have a premium feel, and it achieves this through its interesting design and fabrication process. The camera has a seamless metal profile, which means that the top panel is part of the front panel. This leads to a smooth, sleek appearance. In fact, the camera is perhaps too smooth. Whereas the Canon G7X II has a textured grip finish, the LX10 (and RX100 series) does not. The Panasonic LX10 has a very small front grip, which doesn't do much to provide security when holding the camera, so I highly recommend always using the included wrist strap.

The press-forged body (rather than injection molded, which is much more the industry standard) is quite compact. It's slightly smaller than a Canon G7X II and slightly larger than a Sony RX100. The LX10's dimensions are 4.15 x 2.36 x 1.65 inches (105.5 x 60 x 42 millimeters) and it weighs 10.9 ounces (310 grams) with the battery. Despite being small and light, it feels very solid in my hand.

Speaking of rugged design, the tilting 3-inch touchscreen LCD has a robust tilting mechanism that manages to maintain a slim profile. The touchscreen display has 1,040,000 dots and can tilt up 180 degrees to act as a selfie screen. It doesn't tilt downward or swivel, but it's still a nice display. I found that the LCD's visibility was good in all lighting conditions. It has four brightness settings: automatic, 1 (brightest), 2 (standard) and 3 (dimmest). I left it at "2" in all but a few outdoor shooting situations, when I had to turn up the brightness to see better. The screen wasn't too reflective either.

Looking at the rest of the back of the LX10, there aren't a lot of buttons. They are all small and sit very close to the camera body, making them somewhat difficult to find without looking at the camera, at least until you get used to the LX10's body.

Unsurprisingly given its price point and size, the Panasonic LX10 does not have an electronic viewfinder or hot shoe, but it does have a built-in flash on the top of the camera (more on that later). Looking at the rest of the top panel of the camera, there's a shutter release, which has a nice, springy feel, a zoom lever, mode dial, on/off switch, video record button and rear dial. There's a second command dial on the Lumix LX10, but it's around the barrel of the lens. Similarly, there's an aperture dial on the lens itself which has a good feel, but it requires just enough force to rotate that it's easy to overshoot your desired aperture setting. All the dials and buttons on the LX10 have a good tactile feel.

Although not unusual for a compact camera, the card slot for the Panasonic LX10 is on the bottom of the camera inside the battery compartment. This means that if you are using a tripod plate, it must be removed to access the memory card. However, you don't need to worry about removing a tripod plate for charging the battery as the LX10 supports internal charging via the USB port on the right side of the body.

Overall, the Panasonic LX10 body feels very nice and is well-designed. It looks great; very sleek and modern. However, it has a slippery metallic finish and lacks much of a front grip for you to grasp. Nonetheless, it's a solid-feeling, easy to use camera.

Fast 24-72mm f/1.4-2.8 lens performs well in many situations

The Panasonic LX10's 24-72mm equivalent lens has a maximum aperture of f/1.4-2.8 across the zoom range, which is very fast for a compact camera (about 3/4 stop faster than the f/1.8-2.8 lenses found on the Canon G7X II and Sony RX100 IV at the wide end). When the camera is powered off, the lens is very small, its entire length is essentially comprised of the control ring and aperture ring. Despite being small, Panasonic still managed to pack in a whopping 11 elements in 9 groups, including 4 aspherical (dual-sided aspherical), 2 aspherical ED (dual-sided) and 1 UHR element in the LX10's Leica-branded DC Vario-Summilux optic. In case you're wondering, the 3x zoom lens' actual focal length is 8.8-26.4mm.

One issue that I ran into with the LX10's built-in lens is that it doesn't have a built-in neutral density filter. Sure, you can use the electronic shutter when shooting during the day, but if you want to use the lens at f/1.4 during the day with the mechanical shutter, you're out of luck as the mechanical shutter is capped at 1/2000s at f/1.4. You need to stop down to f/3.2 or more to get the top mechanical shutter speed of 1/4000s.

Macro capabilities

The Panasonic LX10 can close focus to 1.2 inches (3 cm) at the wide end of the lens, which is 2 centimeters closer than both the Canon G7X II and Sony RX100 IV. It's an impressive level of macro capability for a premium compact camera, but it does come at the cost of severe softness in the corners of the image. This is not unusual in my experience with compact cameras and macro photography, but it is worth keeping in mind if you intend to use the camera for macro photography.

8.8mm (24mm equivalent), f/1.4, 1/1300s, ISO 125
Click for full-size image.

How changes in focal length affect image quality: Weaker at the wide end

When shooting at 24mm equivalent, particularly wide open at f/1.4, there is a considerable drop-off in sharpness towards the edges of the frame compared to the center. This improves quite a bit by stopping down to f/2.0, but generally persists into the range of diffraction. Speaking of diffraction, that starts as early as f/4.0 in my test shots. At 72mm equivalent, the frame is more consistently sharp when shooting wide open, although there is softness in the extreme corners of the frame. The LX10's lens is also prone to pretty severe purple fringing, particularly when shooting wide open, although I found it can occur at any aperture.

Center crop from an image taken at 8.8mm (24mm equivalent), f/1.4, 1/200s, ISO 125
Click for full-size image.
Right edge crop from an image taken at 8.8mm (24mm equivalent), f/1.4, 1/200s, ISO 125
Click for full-size image.

Diffraction sets in quickly with the LX10

Speaking of aperture changes and image quality, I already mentioned the issue with diffraction at moderately low apertures, but what about the LX10's built-in diffraction compensation? It does technically work, although it works by increasing sharpness beyond default levels, which can introduce issues with over sharpening.

Diffraction Compensation ON: Center crop from an image taken at 26.4mm (72mm equivalent), f/11, 1/125s, ISO 125
Click for full-size image.
Diffraction Compensation OFF: Center crop from an image taken at 26.4mm (72mm equivalent), f/11, 1/125s, ISO 125
Click for full-size image.

I also encountered another issue when stopping the Panasonic LX10's lens down, particularly at wider focal lengths. When stopping down, purple ghosting would appear just beneath the center of the frame. I don't know what causes this issue, but you can see it below.

Spot issue: Center crop from an image taken at 8.8mm (24mm equivalent), f/11, 1/3s, ISO 125
Click for full-size image.

If you are interested in the maximum aperture of the Panasonic LX10 at its stepped focal lengths, at 24mm the maximum aperture is f/1.4, of course, but it becomes f/2.5 at 28mm and f/2.8 at 35mm.

Surprisingly good bokeh results from a compact camera

With the LX10, Panasonic has put an emphasis on creating a built-in lens that offers high-quality bokeh. The lens has a 9-bladed aperture diaphragm and it has been specially-engineered to offer smooth, creamy bokeh. It can't quite rival a DSLR's much larger sensor, but at f/1.4, the LX10 can deliver a pretty impressive out-of-focus area. At the telephoto end, despite a maximum aperture of f/2.8, the LX10 can produce a pleasing out-of-focus area as well.

26.4mm (72mm equivalent), f/2.8, 1/200s, ISO 125
Click for full-size image.

Overall: A very good built-in lens for the premium compact Panasonic LX10

Not without some issues, the Panasonic LX10's built-in lens still provides excellent results for a very fast, compact zoom. Distortion is well-controlled at 24mm, even if the edges of the frame are soft, and the frame is consistently good at the telephoto end. You do need to be wary of diffraction when shooting with the LX10 as it starts to rear its ugly head early in the aperture range. Despite the typical issues compact cameras show when shooting macro shots, the Lumix LX10 nonetheless manages to impress. Further, Panasonic's emphasis on creating pleasing bokeh has paid off as the LX10 can create silky smooth backgrounds given the right conditions and provide results that are particularly nice for a camera with a 1"-type sensor.

We'll have a lot more to say about the LX10's lens performance once we post our full set of lab results, so stay tuned!

Reliable and common 20.1-megapixel sensor works well in Panasonic LX10

20.1 megapixels is a very popular megapixel count for premium compact cameras which utilize a 1-inch sensor. Canon uses it, Sony uses it and Panasonic is using it in the LX10 and other 1-inch models. Compared to the LX7's 1/1.7-inch sensor, the LX10's sensor has about a three times larger effective image area. Additionally, the LX10's pixels are about 1.6 times larger and the camera gains an additional stop of high ISO sensitivity over the LX7. The 20.1-megapixel 1-inch Live MOS sensor provides quality results across a wide range of ISO speeds that certainly place this camera in direct competition with the impressive image quality found with the G7X II and RX100 IV. In fact, any dramatic differences in image quality would be the result of differences in processing and built-in lenses rather than the sensor itself.

15.4mm (42mm equivalent), f/2.8, 1/160s, ISO 125
Click for full-size image.

Image quality: Detailed JPEGs, but perhaps overly sharpened

JPEG images are very sharp at low ISOs from the Panasonic LX10 and full of lots of fine detail. On the other hand, RAW images are soft and somewhat dull straight from the camera, requiring more extensive sharpening than I am used to having to apply to RAW files from the different cameras I've tested. Nonetheless, RAW images contain a good amount of data and are easy to work with.

100% crop from an image taken at 26.4mm (72mm equivalent), f/2.8, 1/2000s, ISO 125
Click for full-size image.
100% crop from an image taken at 26.4mm (72mm equivalent), f/2.8, 1/2000s, ISO 125
Click for full-size image.

Image quality at high ISOs: Panasonic LX10 offers good high ISO performance for its sensor size

While images, JPEG ones in particular, are very sharp and detailed at low ISOs, beyond ISO 400 there is a noticeable decrease in fine detail. At ISO 800, JPEG images remain quite clean, showing low amounts of noise, but the very fine details present in images shot at lower ISOs are gone due to the increased noise reduction processing taking place. Unsurprisingly, the situation gets worse at ISO 1600, but images are still clean and very much usable. At ISO 3200, not only do you lose additional fine detail, but a fair bit of noise and artifacts appear. ISO 6400 and 12,800 are both very soft and muddy, with an unpleasant digital appearance due to the noise reduction.

Panasonic LX10 Noise Comparison 100% crops from JPEG images captured with Standard Picture Style and otherwise default settings. (Click for full-size images.)
ISO 125 Full Scene
ISO 125
ISO 200
ISO 400
ISO 800
ISO 1600
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
ISO 12,800

Considering RAW images, at ISO 400 you start to see some noise, particularly in shadow areas. At ISO 1600, noise is quite noticeable and beyond ISO 3200, the files are noisy enough that they're not worth the effort, in my opinion.

Panasonic LX10 Noise Comparison 100% crops from RAW images converted with default Adobe Camera Raw settings. (Click to access the .RW2 RAW files.)
ISO 125 Full Scene
ISO 125
ISO 12,800

Overall, I am quite impressed with the high ISO JPEG images that the Panasonic LX10's 1"-type sensor produces. For its relatively small sensor size -- although still much larger than the LX7's image sensor -- it produces strong results.

Panasonic LX10 user experience: Very good overall, although performance can be lacking


Metering performance was very good in a wide array of situations with the LX10. The camera offers intelligent multiple (which works excellently), center-weighted and spot metering options. When shooting with a single AF point, spot metering is tied to the focus point, otherwise it is locked to the center of the frame.

10.4mm (28mm equivalent), f/4.5, 1/640s, ISO 125
Click for full-size image.

Autofocus: Quick in good light, but not so great with moving subjects

The LX10 uses Panasonic's Depth From Defocus (DFD) autofocus technology. While the description is tailored to the autofocus system in the Panasonic GH4, you can learn a lot about DFD technology in Dave Etchells' article here. What is most important in the case of the LX10 is that its contrast-detect autofocus system offers up 49 autofocus areas and proved to be very speedy in my testing, at least in good light. Low-light autofocus performance is good too, although the decrease in focusing speed is noticeable, and the LX10 tends to hunt for focus in low light when using AF-F or AF-C.

The camera also offers face/eye detection and tracking autofocus modes, although I thoroughly enjoyed using the single-point AF mode and using the touchscreen to move the point around the frame. If you're looking to capture action, continuous autofocus works well, although shooting speeds are limited to 6 frames per second with full AF-C (you can shoot full-res images at up to 10fps with AF-S selected).

26.4mm (72mm equivalent), f/2.8, 1/1600s, ISO 125
This image has been modified. Click for full-size image.

Plentiful shooting modes

Offering a variety of shooting modes, including the standard assortment of program, aperture priority, shutter speed priority and full manual modes, the Panasonic LX10 has something for everyone. It includes scene modes and special creative filters to add a distinct touch to your photography. It also has a panorama mode, which works well, provided you are capturing steady images of stationary subjects.

In-camera Panorama

Image Stabilization

With 5-axis Hybrid OIS+ -- at least when shooting stills and Full HD video -- the Lumix LX10 allows for impressively stable shooting. I could shoot sharp stills at 24mm with shutter speeds as slow as 1/2.5s and at 72mm with shutter speeds as slow as 1/5s. Everyone's technique varies, so your results may end up different than mine, but the LX10's image stabilization system impressed me. Unfortunately, when shooting 4K UHD video (or High-speed video), image stabilization is limited to the lens' optical stabilization, but that isn't unusual for cameras that can record 4K video.


One of the best and worst aspects of using the Panasonic LX10 is its touchscreen user interface. The touchscreen display works well for tasks such as moving the focus point or navigating the camera's primary menus -- although sometimes my touches of the back button in the bottom left corner of the display didn't register -- but it struggles with the camera's potentially very useful Q. Menu. The Q. Menu, accessed by pressing the Fn3 button on the back of the camera, has many useful functions including movie and image quality options, focus mode, metering, drive mode, exposure compensation, ISO and white balance. Many of the options work well with touch, but ISO doesn't. The arrows to change ISO are tiny and it is frustrating to be slowed down while out in the field by a menu that could very easily have been made more user friendly. With that said, the camera's Auto and Intelligent ISO settings both work well, and you can always assign ISO to a function button and then use the rear dial or directional buttons to adjust it instead.

Performance is good for JPEG shooting, but RAW buffer disappoints

Performance is good with the Panasonic LX10, at least regarding overall speed. However, buffer depth was not nearly as impressive during my testing. I tested the LX10 with a fast SanDisk Extreme Pro 8GB UHS-I SDHC card capable of 90 MB/s write speeds.

When shooting in High Speed burst mode, the Panasonic LX10 can capture full-resolution images at up to 10fps, but 10fps speeds are only achieved when focus mode is set to AF-S (focus is fixed at the first frame of a burst). If you want continuous autofocus, speeds decrease to 6fps. There are also Middle Speed (7fps) and Low Speed (2fps) modes. A Super High Speed mode is also available which can shoot up to sixty 5-megapixel JPEGs at 50fps using AF-S and the electronic shutter, as well as 4K Photo Burst mode which of course shoots 4K (8-megapixel) JPEGs at 30fps (more on that below).

What about buffer depths? When shooting in High Speed burst mode, the RAW + JPEG buffer was a mere 13 frames, RAW was 14 and JPEG was 80 frames. Buffers cleared in about 12, 9 and 6 seconds respectively. See our Performance page for details.

26.4mm (72mm equivalent), f/4.0, 1/125s, ISO 125
This image has been cropped. Click for full-size image.

It's safe to say that if you want the ultimate speed from the LX10, 4K Photo is the way to go. If you want full-resolution RAW files with full autofocus capabilities, the camera slows down dramatically and is much less impressive, with only 6fps shooting speeds and a less than impressive buffer.

Built-in flash has impressive flash sync speeds

Flash performance is interesting with the Panasonic LX10. First of all, you cannot use the built-in flash with the electronic shutter. Further, the max flash sync speed matches the fastest allowable mechanical shutter speed, which means you can get very fast flash sync, up to 1/4000s, but that means that the aperture has to be f/3.2 or slower. Between f/1.4 and f/2.8, the maximum shutter speed is 1/2000s and therefore the maximum flash sync is also 1/2000s. The built-in flash has a claimed range of 0.5 - 12.1 meters (wide) and 0.3 - 6.0 meters (telephoto) with Auto ISO. The LX10 doesn't include a hot shoe.

26.4mm (72mm equivalent), f/5.6, 1/60s, ISO 125
Click for full-size image.

No NFC, but the wireless capabilities of the LX10 are quite impressive nonetheless

Panasonic's wireless features are very good. The LX10 has built-in Wi-Fi, although it doesn't include NFC or Bluetooth technology. The connection process is straightforward on iOS devices, requiring the user to turn Wireless on via the camera, connect to the device in the iOS internet settings menu, accepting the connection on the camera and then opening the Panasonic Image App iOS application. An Android version of the app is also available.

Screenshots from the Panasonic Image App iOS application.

Once connected, you have access to a very good remote control feature. You can control every important setting on the camera for both stills and video recording, including file quality, metering, focus mode, drive mode and much more. Changing the focus point includes a slight delay in the live view and the live view preview quality isn't high enough for precise focus checking, Overall, though, the LX10's wireless features are impressive.

Panasonic LX10 4K UHD Video is impressive

The Panasonic LX10 can record 4K UHD video at 24 or 30 frames per second. During my testing, the LX10 worked quite well with 4K video and recorded high-quality footage. With that said, continuous autofocus had a slight tendency to hunt, but it wasn't bad. Regarding the field of view, the LX10 doesn't utilize the full width of the sensor when recording 4K video, as you can see in the comparison images below. At maximum wide-angle 24mm equivalent for 3:2 stills, EXIF reports 25mm equivalent for Full HD, and 36mm equivalent for 4K video.

Full HD video frame (FL=8.8mm, 25.0mm equivalent)
4K UHD video frame (FL=8.8mm, 36.0mm equivalent)

Full HD video also has the advantage of being able to be recorded in Panasonic's 4K Live Cropping mode. By utilizing a 4K frame, you can pan and zoom a Full HD video frame around inside the 4K frame. By using the feature when the camera is steady, you can record a smooth panning motion as well. It's a neat feature that works well. It is worth noting as well that Full HD video recording supports the LX10's 5-axis image stabilization whereas 4K UHD video recording only uses the built-in lens' optical image stabilization. In addition to stabilization, Full HD video can be recorded with automatic levelling.

Panasonic LX10 4K UHD Video Sample: Focusing Speeds
3840 x 2160, 30p, ISO 125
Download Original (308.9 MB .MP4 File)

On the technical side of things, the LX10 records 4K video in the .MP4 file format for up to 15 minutes and Full HD video can be recorded in .MP4 or AVCHD and has a time limit of 29:59 with AVCHD but no time limit for the .MP4 format. Panasonic recommends using a UHS Speed Class 3 card for recording 4K or High Speed videos, but a Class 4 card will suffice for Full HD and HD video in either AVCHD or .MP4 format.

Panasonic LX10 4K UHD Video Sample: High ISO
3840 x 2160, 30p, ISO 1600
Download Original (125.6 MB .MP4 File)

When recording High-Speed video (Full HD at 120p), which is a good feature to have, there's no audio, the focal length is locked and you have very limited control over exposure, which is somewhat frustrating. Otherwise, the LX10 offers the user a lot of control over shutter speed, aperture and much more in other video recording modes.

Panasonic LX10 Video Sample: Low-light AF & Zoom
1920 x 1080, 60p, ISO 250
Download Original (41.9 MB .MP4 File)

Regarding focus, the touchscreen works well for moving the focus point during video recording and autofocus is very quite, however some noise can be heard while zooming.

Panasonic LX10 High-Speed Video Sample
1920 x 1080, 120p capture / 30p playback, ISO 125
Download Original (69.2 MB .MP4 File)

4K Photo: Array of fun photo features

Panasonic's 4K Photo modes are very cool. While you cannot capture RAW images in 4K Photo mode and the images themselves are only 8 megapixels, the mode allows for a lot of flexibility and speed that you cannot achieve when shooting RAW or full-resolution image files. Using 4K Photo Burst, you can shoot at up to 30fps, which is impressive. To capture action, there's a burst mode that starts firing shots as soon as you half-press the shutter and then continues with a full-press, automatically deleting some of the pre-press images.

If you have access to a tripod, 4K Post Focus is a fun shooting mode. Particularly well-suited for still life scenes, 4K Post Focus captures a burst of images at different focus points and then allows you to select the desired frames after the fact. By moving the focus point around the frame, you can select the corresponding frame. If you want to have a scene with everything in focus, you can do that too by having the camera stack all the Post Focus images into a single frame. This process is a little slow, but it's particularly useful for macro photography.

4K Photo Focus Stacked image

Overall, 4K Photo is a great feature that helps set the LX10 apart from non-Panasonic cameras. It is worth noting that the mode utilizes the electronic shutter rather than the manual shutter, so you may experience some rolling shutter and other artifacts in certain situations.

Panasonic LX10 Field Test Summary

The Panasonic LX10 is a premium compact camera in terms of features and performance

What I like:

  • Compact, sleek camera body
  • Very fast built-in lens performs well overall
  • Lens can focus closer than average in macro mode
  • Good image quality
  • 4K video and 4K Photo features are strong

What I dislike:

  • Camera has a slippery finish and a small grip
  • No integrated ND filter
  • Lens is soft in the corners at 24mm equivalent focal length at wide apertures
  • Small buffer when shooting RAW files
9.9mm (27mm equivalent), f/3.5, 1/80s, ISO 1600
This image has been modified. Click for full-size image.

Overall, thanks to impressive imaging quality, autofocus and a very good variety of 4K photo and video modes, the Panasonic LX10 is a terrific premium compact camera, with a wealth of features and solid performance.

12.8mm (35mm equivalent), f/3.5, 1/80s, ISO 320
Click for full-size image.


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