Basic Specifications
Full model name: Panasonic Lumix DC-LX100 II
Resolution: 17.00 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 sec
Max Aperture: 1.7
Dimensions: 4.5 x 2.6 x 2.5 in.
(115 x 66 x 64 mm)
Weight: 13.8 oz (392 g)
includes batteries
Availability: 10/2018
Manufacturer: Panasonic
Full specs: Panasonic LX100 II specifications

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17.00
Megapixels
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Panasonic LX100 II Review -- Now Shooting!

by Mike Tomkins
Preview posted: 08/22/2018

Updates:
10/29/2018: First Shots posted
10/31/2018: Performance posted

Almost four years ago, Panasonic made its debut in the large-sensor, compact camera market with the LX100, a coat pocket-friendly beauty that paired very good image quality with great performance. We came away from our LX100 review thoroughly impressed by what the company had achieved with its first entry in a brand-new category. Although we felt it could perhaps have been a little smaller and was left a little wanting in the resolution department, the LX100 had excellent ergonomics. It also boasted a great lens and viewfinder, and some really unusual features such as a true multi-aspect ratio design and support not just for 4K video capture, but also for extracting high-res stills in-camera. (4K capture capability is now commonplace in the market, but Panasonic's cameras are still just about unique in their philosophy as regards aspect ratio. We'll come back to that in a moment, though.)

Fast-forward to the current day, though, and while it has remained on sale for an extremely long time -- and still at an impressive 2/3 of its original list price, at that -- the LX100 is nevertheless starting to look a little long in the tooth in some respects. It was clearly about time for a replacement, and Panasonic has come through with a successor in the form of the LX100 II. While the two cameras are near-indistinguishable when placed side by side, the LX100 Mark II builds upon its predecessor's design with improvements in several key areas.

LX100 II (left) vs. LX100

What's new in the LX100 II?

Externally, the most obvious difference between the two cameras (which are nearly identical in size and weight) is to be found in their handgrips. Where that on the LX100 was beveled towards the camera body at its top, that on the LX100 II now ends more abruptly with a sharp right-angle. And while the textured inlay on the handgrip is still faux-leather rather than the real thing, it now has a larger grain pattern that makes it look more natural.

And that's about it for the visual differences, other than changes to the model number, silk-screening for a couple of buttons, and the absence of the 'L' (for Lumix) badge which used to sit tucked beneath the left side of the lens (when looking from the rear). The button labeling changes, meanwhile, repurposing the previous Filter and Wi-Fi buttons on the LX100 with two additional customizable Function buttons on the newer camera.

Our call for more resolution has been answered!

It's on the inside where you'll find the really important changes. First of all, there's a brand-new, higher-resolution 4/3 image sensor, answering one of our few quibbles with the earlier camera. The new chip has a total pixel count of 21.77 megapixels, although the corners of the image sensor extend beyond the image circle of the lens, and so the actual image dimensions vary on both axes, depending upon the aspect ratio chosen. The highest resolution is around 16.8 megapixels in the 4:3 aspect ratio, and even the 1:1 aspect ratio mode offers up to 12.6 megapixel resolution. Native 3:2 and 16:9 aspect ratios are also available.

Output from the new image sensor is handled by Panasonic's latest Venus Engine image processor which should yield improved JPEG image quality, and despite the significant increase in resolution from the 12.7-megapixel maximum image size of the earlier camera, the LX100 II nevertheless offers up the same ISO 200-25,600 sensitivity range as did its predecessor. And just as in the earlier camera, there's an extended sensitivity of ISO 100 available at the bottom end.

And together, the new image sensor and processor still allow burst capture at the same maximum rate of 11 frames per second, again despite the significant increase in pixel count. Enable continuous autofocus and that rate will fall to 5.5 frames per second, again just as in the earlier camera. However, a significant increase in buffer capacity means that despite the unchanged capture rates and higher resolution, you'll now be able to capture over 50% more raw frames before the camera slows. (The LX100 was limited to about 20 raw frames in a burst, versus 33 frames for the LX100 II.)

The same lens we know and love

There's one element of the imaging pipeline which remains unchanged, however, and that's good news because it was a point which drew praise in our review of the earlier camera. The Panasonic LX100 II still offers up a Leica DC Vario-Summilux branded 24-75mm equivalent zoom lens on its front deck. As we saw in the LX100, this lens has a very fast f/1.7-2.8 maximum aperture across the zoom range, a 9-blade circular diaphragm, and can focus as close as 3cm (1.2 inches) at wide angle.

And given that it's the same lens, we can expect the same good optical performance and swift depth-from-defocus autofocus technology that we saw in the earlier camera, too. For those of you not up on your jargon, Panasonic's depth-from-defocus tech is an alternative to the more common phase detection, contrast detection or hybrid phase/contrast detection-based autofocus systems.

Like phase detection, it can quickly determine the distance and direction in which to focus, avoiding focus hunting that can be an issue with contrast-based systems. (Although these days, good CDAF systems can compete surprisingly well against alternatives.) The depth-from-defocus system uses detailed information about the bokeh characteristics of the LX100 II's fixed lens to determine that focus info without the need to either have a separate focusing sensor or on-chip focus pixels in place of imaging pixels on some parts of the main image sensor.

The LX100's DFD autofocus was very swift and confident indeed, and we're expecting the same to be true of its successor.

All the latest mod cons

As well as the overhauled imaging pipeline, the Panasonic LX100 II also brings with it some modern conveniences which are now relatively commonplace, but weren't so when the previous model launched four years ago. These include support for USB charging, a slightly higher-resolution 1,240k-dot 3.0-inch LCD panel that now has a touch-screen overlay, and an additional Bluetooth radio alongside the existing Wi-Fi module for quicker and easier pairing and sharing with smartphones as well as allowing for automatic GPS geotagging. NFC connectivity has however been dropped.

The LX100 II now allows much longer exposure times of up to 30 minutes, where the LX100 was limited to just two minutes. There's also a wider exposure compensation range of +/-5 EV, although everything beyond the previous +/-3 EV range must be accessed from the menu system, rather than the physical exposure compensation dial on the camera's top deck.

Plenty of firmware tweaks, as well

Other changes are predominantly to be found in firmware. Panasonic has also added five virtual function buttons which can be displayed as on-screen soft keys, allowing you to customize the camera to your tastes even more than ever before. There are also two new black and white photo styles with adjustable grain effect, dubbed L. Monochrome and L.Monochrome D.

Panasonic has further added post focus and focus stacking functions as seen in other recent Lumix models, and made it possible to bracket both focus distance and aperture values. There's also a new Live View Boost function which uses a slower frame rate for a brighter live view display in low light conditions, and a 20 times manual focus assist function which is self-explanatory.

And as if that wasn't already plenty, there are also several new functions to make the Panasonic LX100 II's 4K Photo mode easier and more powerful, including auto marking, sequence composition and bulk saving tools.

The same viewfinder we already know

Another thing that's not changed from the original LX100 is its electronic viewfinder. The Panasonic LX100M2 uses the same very high-resolution 1,280 x 720 pixel, 0.38-inch field-sequential panel as used previously in cameras including not just the LX100, but also the GX7 system camera. In plain English, every single pixel in a field-sequential display provides all three colors -- but only one color is actually shown at any given time. By cycling through the colors repeatedly, your eye gets the impression of a sharp, full-color image. The downside with field-sequential finders is that they can sometimes show rainbow "sparkle" effects on edges of subjects in motion, or when you move your eye quickly or blink.

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 adjacent LVF button. The LX100's viewfinder yields a generously-sized image for its class thanks to a 1.39x magnification (0.7x 35mm equivalent), and field of view is manufacturer-rated at 100%.

Much the same creative options as before, too

With the exception of the aforementioned longer maximum exposure time of 30 minutes and the new photo styles, creative options are largely unchanged. Shutter speeds under automatic control range from 60 seconds to 1/4,000 second with a mechanical shutter, or 1 to 1/16,000 second with an electronic shutter.

Exposures are metered with a 1,728-zone intelligent multiple metering system with center-weighted and spot modes on offer, and a top deck flash hot shoe caters to external strobes. There's no built-in flash, but a tiny bundled external strobe has a guide number of 23 feet (7m) at ISO 100, which equates to 33 feet (10m) at the camera's actual base sensitivity of ISO 200.

Storage, power and ports

Images are stored on SD, SDHC or SDXC cards, with support for UHS-I types for better performance.

Power comes courtesy of the same proprietary, rechargeable 7.2V, 1025mAh DMW-BLG10 lithium-ion battery pack used by the LX100. In the LX100 II, it's rated for 340 shots when using the LCD monitor and 270 shots with the EVF, or 300 shots with the monitor and 240 shots with the EVF when using the bundled flash, tested to CIPA standards. An eco mode which reduces refresh rate increases battery life with the EVF to about 320 and 280 shots respectively.

The Panasonic LX100M2 is equipped with a Micro-B USB 2.0 port instead of the LX100's combined AV/USB 2.0 port, and thus composite AV output is no longer supported. As mentioned previously, the USB port now supports convenient in-camera battery charging. An AC adapter and USB cable are included in the bundle, instead of a dedicated battery charger which can be purchased separately. Like the LX100, a Micro-HDMI (Type D) port is also provided, however we don't know yet if it supports clean HDMI out for external recording (the LX100's didn't). Like its predecessor, the LX100 II does not offer external microphone or headphone jacks.

Panasonic LX100 II price and availability

The Panasonic LX100 II is slated to go on sale from mid-October at a suggested retail price of US$999.99, which is about a $100 premium over the LX100 at its launch.

 

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