Panasonic LX100 takes its own road: RX100-series rival boasts 4/3-inch sensor, blazing performance


posted Tuesday, September 16, 2014 at 8:03 AM EDT


Mark today's date in your calendar: The day the large-sensor, fixed-zoom camera market caught fire. Two years after the segment debuted with the Canon G1X and Sony RX100, we suddenly have two new entrants on the scene. We've covered the brand-new Canon G7X separately, and at the very same moment, the Panasonic LX100 launches with an entirely different solution to photographers' needs.

The Canon G1X and Sony RX100 were both incredibly exciting, but each had its shortcomings that were in large part a factor of their sensor and body sizes. Panasonic aims to address these with the Panasonic LX100, a camera whose sensor and body both slot neatly into the middle ground between Sony's RX100-series (and now the Canon G7 X as well), and the much larger Canon G1X series.


The Panasonic LX100 might not quite fit in a pants pocket, but it sports a much bigger sensor than its pocket-friendly kin. It's also noticeably smaller and a whole lot lighter than the Canon G1X cameras. Where its rivals are all based around 1"-type chips or 4:3 aspect chips with near-APS-C height, Panasonic has opted for the same 4/3"-type sensor size it uses in its mirrorless cameras, and that offers almost double the surface area of a 1"-type chip. The difference shows itself in a sensitivity range that tops out at a lofty ISO 25,600.

Coupled with Panasonic's Venus Engine and Depth from Defocus technology, performance is also impressive on paper. The LX100 will shoot 11 frames per second with focus and exposure locked, or 6.5 fps with AF/AE tweaked between frames. Enable the electronic shutter which tops out at 1/16,000 second  max, and you can boost this all the way up to a truly staggering 40 frames per second!


Panasonic is clearly aiming the LX100 at enthusiasts, shunning the Mode dial and consumer-friendly fluff like scene modes in favor of physical shutter and aperture dials with Auto positions. Nor is there any internal flash strobe -- instead, the LX100 has a hot shoe, with a compact flash strobe included in the kit bundle. And there's also a high-definition electronic viewfinder built-in, based around a field-sequential panel akin to that in the Panasonic GX7. Other noteworthy features include Wi-Fi wireless networking with NFC for easy pairing, and 4K movie capture.

The Panasonic LX100 will be available from the end of October 2014 in the US market. Pricing for the camera has not yet been disclosed. Want to know more about Panasonic's first entry in the large-sensor, fixed-zoom camera market? Read our hands-on Panasonic LX100 preview!