It’s been about 4 years since Panasonic tipped the LX100, a point-and-shoot digicam with a Micro Four Thirds picture sensor and a vivid, mounted zoom lens. In that point we have seen a surge within the variety of opponents with bodily smaller, however greater decision picture sensors, most notably the Sony RX100 and Canon G collection. The Lumix DC-LX100 II ($999) does not make numerous adjustments on the surface—the lens and controls are the identical as the primary model. But its picture sensor ups decision from 12MP to 17MP, placing it extra according to the competitors. Other facets of the digicam appear dated now, particularly its field-sequential EVF and glued LCD. It’s a sensible choice for lovers who need a compact digicam with bodily controls, however shoppers searching for a high-quality compact might be higher served by the Sony RX100 III or Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II.
Emphasis on Physical Controls
The LX100 II seems identical to its predecessor. Available solely in black, it measures 2.6 by 4.5 by 2.2 inches (HWD) and weighs 13.9 ounces. The physique is pretty slim, however does embrace a hand grip—it makes the digicam extra snug to carry, and does not lengthen previous the lens. Still, the LX100 II is slightly too cumbersome to be thought of pocketable for many denims or pants, however for those who’re a fan of cargo shorts or put on a jacket with bigger pockets, the digicam can discover a snug dwelling in both.
The Micro Four Thirds sensor is about twice the dimensions, when it comes to floor space, because the 1-inch picture sensors present in a lot of the competitors. The LX100 II’s sensor is a bit totally different from the usual, although—it is a multi-aspect ratio design, which implies that the quantity of floor space used, and the picture decision, varies based mostly on the side ratio you select. You get essentially the most, 17MP, when capturing at 4:3, and fewer at 3:2 (16MP), 16:9 (15MP) and 1:1 (12.5MP).
The lens is similar mounted 10.9-34mm f/1.7-2.8 optically stabilized zoom utilized by the LX100. In full-frame phrases, it covers an angle view that is roughly about the identical as a 24-75mm zoom—the usual 2x conversion issue is a bit off right here because of the LX100 II’s multi-aspect sensor design.
The unique LX100 was additionally offered underneath the Leica banner because the D-Lux (Typ 109). This model is the D-Lux 7, which is priced at $1,195 and could be had in silver or black variations. It’s the identical digicam inside, although. Spending further on the Leica version will get you bragging rights, a leather-based strap, and three years of guarantee protection—Panasonic features a single 12 months of guarantee with the LX100 II.
Leica’s affect is actually seen within the LX100 II’s design. The controls are extra Leica than Panasonic in idea. The lens has a bodily aperture ring, with an A place for computerized management and handbook settings from f/1.7 via f/16. The lens additionally sports activities a handbook focus ring and a change to vary between the totally different side ratios at its prime, and one other change to vary between autofocus, handbook focus, and computerized macro deal with its aspect. Unlike different compact cameras, the LX100 II has a filter thread round its lens, so you’ll be able to simply add a 43mm polarizing or impartial density filter.
On the highest plate you will discover a scorching shoe for the included flash—the LX100 II omits an in-body strobe, however features a small add-on. It’s small, and powered by the digicam’s battery, however you will have to recollect to deliver it with you.
The shutter pace dial sits simply to the fitting of the shoe, with the On/Off change nested to the fitting of that. The shutter launch is within the anticipated place on the middle of the zoom rocker. There are additionally two management buttons—iA, which toggles the Intelligent Auto capturing mode, and the programmable Fn1—in addition to a devoted dial to set EV compensation. The EV dial helps +/-3EV adjustment in third-stop increments.
On the again you will discover the EVF on the prime left nook, full with a watch sensor and diopter adjustment dial. The Fn5 button that sits on to its proper is programmable, however switches between the viewfinder, rear show, or computerized switching by default. It’s joined by Fn4, Record, and AF/AE Lock, all operating in a row alongside the highest of the LCD.
There is a small thumb relaxation on the prime proper nook. Below it’s Fn2, which prompts the on-screen Q.Menu by default, and Play. The rear management wheel occupies the area straight beneath them. The flat dial turns repeatedly and in addition helps presses within the 4 cardinal instructions. Starting with the up place and shifting clockwise, they modify ISO, White Balance, Drive/Self-Timer, and Focus Area. Below which can be Fn3 (Delete) and Display.
The rear LCD is mounted, which I discover limiting in a digicam of this sort. A compact digicam is simply that—compact—and one of many benefits is having the ability to squeeze it into locations larger cameras cannot go to get extra attention-grabbing angles. But and not using a tilting show, you might be typically capturing blind when taking a picture from a low angle, except you need to get down on the bottom your self.
The 3-inch show now helps contact, and is a bit sharper—1,240okay dots versus the 921k-dot show from the unique LX100. You can navigate on-screen menus by tapping on the show, or contact a part of the picture to maneuver the energetic focus level. The LX100 II additionally helps TouchPad AF, so you’ll be able to proceed to make use of the LCD to maneuver the main focus level round whereas framing photographs utilizing the EVF. As a left-eyed photographer, I merely needed to flip this characteristic off—my nostril was as more likely to transfer the main focus level because it was to attract breath.
The EVF is huge—its 0.7x magnification is on par with what we see in interchangeable lens cameras, and sports activities 2,784okay dots of decision. I discovered it to be adequately sharp for framing up photographs, however there may be one disappointing side. The underlying panel know-how is LCD, of the sector sequential selection, which implies that it’s refreshed line-by-line. While my eyes aren’t delicate to the impact, many photographers will discover that this kind of LCD can show a rainbow coloration tearing impact when panning.
There’s a built-in intervalometer, so you’ll be able to seize a collection of pictures to merge collectively right into a time-lapse video, both in-camera or utilizing post-production software program. The LX100 II does help USB energy supply, however not whereas working—you’ll be able to maintain its battery topped off over very long time lapses with an influence financial institution, because the digicam hibernates between pictures when the interval is about to 31 seconds or longer. But for those who go for a shorter period between photographs, you will be restricted by the digicam’s battery life.
Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are included for file switch and distant management. Panasonic sells a easy Bluetooth distant as an add-on, however you can too use your cellphone to manage the digicam by way of a Wi-Fi connection. With the Panasonic Image App, a free obtain for Android and iOS, you are capable of absolutely management the digicam, set a spotlight level, and switch pictures and movies to your handset.
The reminiscence card slot is housed subsequent to the battery. A door on the underside plate opens to disclose each. The LX100 II helps SD, SDHC, and SDXC reminiscence at UHS-I speeds. Its capturing buffer is pretty deep, although, and I by no means felt the necessity for sooner UHS-II reminiscence.
As interesting because the LX100 II is as a journey digicam, you need to undoubtedly take into consideration a spare battery, whether or not it’s one which goes contained in the digicam or a superb USB energy financial institution to maintain it topped off on journeys. You ought to have the ability to get via a day of capturing—CIPA charges the digicam for 240 photographs utilizing the EVF or 300 photographs utilizing the LCD—however capturing video and transferring pictures and flicks to your cellphone will definitely minimize into the determine. The battery is just good for about 35 minutes of 4K recording per cost.
A Speedy Pocket Camera
The LX100 II is not absolutely the quickest pocketable point-and-shoot we have seen—latest Sony fashions, together with the RX100 VI, help 24fps Raw seize with focus monitoring. The LX100 II manages 11fps, though that’s with focus locked after the primary shot. It drops to about 6fps when adjusting focus from shot to shot, however does not provide an excellent hit charge when making an attempt to maintain topics shifting towards or away from the lens in focus—a few third of our check photographs have been out of focus in our customary check, during which a goal shifting towards and away from the digicam is captured in burst mode with steady focus enabled.
See How We Test Digital Cameras
The capturing buffer is ample. You can handle 34 Raw+JPG, 39 Raw, or 105 JPG photographs when capturing at 11fps, and the JPG buffer extends to about 300 pictures when dropping the burst charge to 6fps. It can take some time to clear the buffer to a reminiscence card—35 seconds for Raw+JPG or JPG format, and about 20 seconds when capturing in Raw solely. The LX100 II stays responsive because it writes pictures to the cardboard.
There is a delay when turning the LX100 II on. Its lens has to increase from its physique to get able to shoot, which suggests you will wait about 1.6 seconds between turning the digicam on and making a picture. Focus pace could be very fast. The contrast-based system locks on in nearly no time in vivid gentle, and manages to seek out focus in about 0.3-second in very dim situations.
In addition to conventional picture seize, the LX100 II helps 4K Photo mode. It leverages the video system to report 8MP JPG pictures at 30fps, and do neat tips like various the main focus level between every shot—to make macro focus stacking simpler. Continuous focus is obtainable, but it surely’s very sluggish to reply—you will be higher off utilizing the usual 6fps seize mode to maintain up with shifting targets.
Better Sensor, Same Lens
The picture sensor is similar one used within the Panasonic GX9. It’s 20MP in decision and omits the optical low go filter (OLPF) from its design to maximise element. Its lowest native iSO is 200 and it ranges as much as 25600 in customary mode. You can shoot at ISO 100 or 51200, however each are thought of prolonged modes.
Despite utilizing the identical zoom, the LX100 II delivers pictures that present extra element in our customary Imatest decision analysis. The further pixels are to thank right here, upping the rating on the widest aperture and angle from the 1,528 strains we noticed on the unique LX100 to the 1,722 strains we see right here. That rating is slightly low for a 17MP sensor, however not terribly so. You’ll have the ability to see a bit extra positive element when pixel-peeping 20MP pictures from the Sony RX100 III (2,494 strains), however the LX100 II’s bigger sensor offers the digicam an edge in dim gentle.
Image high quality stays regular at 10.9mm (24mm-equivalent) f/2 and f/2.8, earlier than ticking as much as a crisp 2,024 strains at f/4, 2,005 strains at f/5.6, and a pair of,077 strains at f/8. Edge efficiency is rarely nice, even vast open, with the most effective peripheral outcomes coming at f/8 (1,600 strains) and the worst outcomes at f/1.7 (1,023 strains). Diffraction turns into a problem at f/11, dropping the rating to 1,743 strains, and is worse at f/16 (1,358 strains). In common, it is best to keep away from stopping down past f/8. If it’s good to make longer exposures, contemplate including a impartial density filter.
At the midpoint of the zoom, 22.7mm (about 50mm in full-frame phrases), the utmost aperture has dropped to f/2.7, however we see good outcomes (2,072 strains) averaged throughout the body, albeit with smooth edges (1,399 strains). At f/4 there’s an uptick throughout the body (2,343 strains) and edges sharpen properly to 2,050 strains. Image high quality stays regular at f/5.6 (2,389 strains) and f/8 (2,203 strains) earlier than dropping off at f/11 (1,855 strains) and f/16 (1,409 strains).
The most zoom is 34mm, roughly 75mm in full-frame phrases. Here the lens opens as vast as f/2.8 and reveals robust decision (2,247 strains) throughout the body, with edges which can be simply shy of two,000 strains. Image high quality is comparable at f/4 (2,238 strains), f/5.6 (2,200 strains), f/8 (2,169 strains), and even f/11 (2,204 strains). You ought to keep away from utilizing f/16 for those who can (1,478 strains).
The LX100 II sports activities a multi-aspect ratio sensor, which suggests it may seize pictures with the identical body width at a 4:3, 3:2, or 16:9 side ratio. Our assessments have been completed in 4:3, which places essentially the most stress on the corners of the lens. If you are in search of an edge-to-edge sharp panorama shot, undoubtedly slender the aperture if the sunshine permits for it, and contemplate switching to the 3:2 mode. You’ll nonetheless be utilizing the identical left and proper edge, however the weakest space of the lens, the corners, will not be as obvious in your picture.
The Micro Four Thirds picture sensor is bodily bigger than any smartphone imager by a large margin, and larger than 1-inch chips discovered in lots of competing cameras. As such it does a greater job controlling picture noise than different small cameras. When capturing in JPG format you’ll be able to push the digicam all the best way to ISO 25600 with out coping with an excessive amount of noise, however you additionally do not get a ton of element.
In apply, anticipate to make use of as much as ISO 1600 with little or no detriment to picture high quality. Modest blur turns into obvious at ISO 3200. It will increase at ISO 6400, however pictures are nonetheless very usable. At ISO 12800 and 25600 particulars are smudged and blurred away.
If you do have to shoot at excessive ISO, take into consideration Raw seize. You’ll have to post-process pictures (we develop check photographs in Adobe Lightroom). Raw pictures present crisp element and never an excessive amount of grain via ISO 3200. At ISO 6400 and 12800 the grain turns into very obvious, however element holds up. Results are noticeably rougher—the grain will get bigger and coarser in texture—at ISO 25600, however outcomes are worlds higher than what you get from the JPG engine on the identical setting.
Panasonic makes among the greatest interchangeable lens cameras for video within the type of the GH5 and GH5S. The LX100 II does not have all the professional video options you discover in high-end fashions, however is a really succesful 4K video digicam, full with a vivid, stabilized lens.
You have the choice of recording 4K at 24 or 30fps at a robust 100Mbps compression charge. Details are very crisp, and whilst you can see slightly little bit of skew from the rolling shutter impact when panning shortly, it is sometimes not a problem. Autofocus works when recording video, and whereas the contrast-based system could be a little too fast to try to reacquire focus for those who set the digicam to steady mode, it does make good, clean racks when adjusting the main focus level. I discovered that I bought the most effective outcomes by leaving the digicam in AF-S mode for video, and tapping the LCD if I wanted to regulate the main focus level throughout a clip.
You may also report at 1080p at as much as 60fps, for those who do not feel the necessity for 4K seize. You lose the choice of capturing at 24fps when rolling 1080p in MP4 format, however the body charge is there for those who change to AVCHD compression. I might have favored to see 24fps added for MP4, in addition to a 120fps possibility for sluggish movement.
The inner microphone is serviceable, selecting up voices clearly in a house surroundings. But it isn’t appropriate for skilled work. The LX100 II does not have a microphone enter, nor does it provide a flat coloration profile, uncompressed HDMI output, or the opposite options we have come to anticipate from pro-level Panasonic cameras.
Great Images, Disappointing Fit and Finish
To get the most effective, most versatile digicam on the market, you will need to spend a pair thousand on a full-frame, interchangeable lens mannequin. But you do not at all times need to carry a heavy rig with you, and severe photographers is probably not pleased with the outcomes, or ergonomics, provided by fashionable smartphone cameras.
That’s the place premium, pocketable fashions just like the Panasonic Lumix DC-LX100 II enter the image. It offers severe photographers a small, go-anywhere digicam that does not skimp on bodily controls, and whereas it will not match a full-frame digicam, it is aggressive in picture high quality with Micro Four Thirds and entry-level SLRs.
The premium compact market is crowded, although, so it takes a bit to face out. The LX100 II betters many others on this class by providing bodily shutter, aperture, and EV management, but it surely additionally falls brief on premium match and end. The LCD is mounted, which might make getting low-angle photographs a ache, and the EVF includes a dated design that is susceptible to displaying odd coloration artifacts.
There’s additionally no climate safety, though that’s under no circumstances a typical characteristic on this class of digicam. Panasonic has said that there are new inner seals to scale back the prospect of mud getting on the picture sensor, a problem that LX100 homeowners have found after spending a pair years utilizing the unique version of the digicam.
I’ve little question the LX100 II will make some photographers very completely satisfied. But if, like me, you yearn for a tilting LCD (and a greater viewfinder), take into consideration a latest Sony RX100 mannequin as an alternative. You will not have the identical tactile management expertise, however you will nonetheless have two management dials. The RX100 III is our Editors’ Choice, because it balances options and worth fairly properly, however does prime out at 1080p for video. If you need 4K, contemplate the RX100 IV, and if you need bells and whistles like 24fps Raw seize and 960fps sluggish movement, the RX100 VA (a minor replace to the discontinued RX100 V) is value a glance.