Panasonic Lumix DMC LX7 Review
- Fastest lens in the category
- Leica lens is exceptionally sharp for compact form factor with physical aperture dials
- Excellent video bitrate along with stereo sound
- Focusing can be a little daft at times
- Archaic menu system that is a pain to browse through
The Panasonic Lumix DMC LX7 is a little known camera simply because it didn't ship out of the house of Canon or Nikon. What is little known about this camera is that it not only sports a Leica lens, but also the fastest lens in a point and shoot camera. With a maximum aperture of f/1.4-2.3, there isn't a situation that the LX7 technically can't handle. It also boasts of a burst speed of 11 fps and an incredible video bitrate of 28 Mbps. But do the impressive numbers translate into impressive quality? We find out.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC LX7 is a camera that became an instant sensation the minute it was announced. What set it apart was its Leica branded lens, which sports a 24-90mm focal length, with an aperture range of f/1.4-2.3, making it the fastest lens yet in a point and shoot camera. However, does an impressive lens make this camera good enough to occupy a permanent spot in your kit?
Well, we got a hold of the LX7 and put it through a rigorous test routine, and by that we mean giving our DSLR a break and making the Panasonic Lumix DMC LX7 our primary camera. Does it live up to the task? Well, read on to find out.
Build & Ergonomics
The first thing you should know about the Panasonic Lumix DMC LX7 is that it is one deceptive piece of work. It is rather compact for a camera with such impressive optics, but if you’re looking for something that you could just slip into your pockets and forget about, this is not that camera. Even though the body itself is quite slim, the lens design causes the assembly to protrude quite noticeably out the front. This is probably to accommodate a real-time aperture ring along with an aspect ratio switch right on the front. There’s even a focus selection switch that toggles the AF between Macro, regular and manual modes. Three controls at the finger-tip, we like it.
The ergonomics on the Panasonic Lumix DMC LX7 are based on a very simple point and shoot design, so besides the unique lens ergonomics, everything else is pretty standard. The back has the usual circle of four buttons with one in the middle that takes care of such as ISO, White Balance, Drive mode etc. What we liked was the light horizontal jog dial on the back that is perfect for operating with the thumb. Panasonic added a nifty little toggle for ND filter, which comes in rather handy when trying to shoot at f/1.4 in broad daylight. The toggles and dials work beautifully, however, we can’t really say the same about the build of the buttons. A lot of the times, we couldn’t register enough feedback from the buttons to know whether they registered our press or not.
As far as the build goes, the lens on the Panasonic Lumix DMC LX7 is Leica-made and the rest of the body is made of solid plastic with metal reinforcements in parts. We wouldn’t be too concerned about babying this camera, especially given that it takes care of our primary concern, the front element of the lens. The Leica glass comes with a lens cap which must be removed prior to operation. In fact, if the lens cap is still on, the camera will not power up, which is in some respects annoying, but we understand the thought behind this feature. Another design feature we really like is the physical on/off toggle. Normally one would find a tiny button on top that would either bring the camera to life or put it to rest, but Panasonic has always preferred using a left/right switch for the purpose. There is also a hot shoe on the camera, in front of which is placed a stereo microphone. In what we consider a very unique design call, Panasonic has included a proprietary port of sorts right above the rear LCD which serves as a connection point for an electronic viewfinder accessory.
Overall, the build and design of the Panasonic Lumix DMC LX7 feel very premium, despite the fact that the front of the camera is entirely made of plastic. The aperture ring along with the focus and aspect ratio toggles are quite good, with clicks that register very distinctively.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC LX7comes with a very modest set of features, including a 10.1 megapixel CMOS sensor complemented with Panasonic’s Venus Engine image processing chip. The pixel count is somewhat on the lower side, and the sensor dated, given how most cameras in this category have at least a 12 million pixels on a Back-Side Illuminated (BSI) sensor. The lower pixel count does help the sensor keep noise levels low, but we would have loved to see at least a BSI sensor in here.
While the sensor may leave a little more to be desired, the Leica lens more than makes up for it. The Panasonic Lumix DMC LX7 takes advantage of the Leica tie-up that Panasonic has in place. The Leica branded 24-90mm lens on the LX7 boasts of the fastest aperture range in this segment, with a very impressive f/1.4-2.3 range. The closest competitor the Panasonic Lumix DMC LX7 has is the Samsung EX2F, which is not only short by 10mm on the telephoto end and has an aperture range of f/1.4-2.7 – it is also not available in India.
Other features on the Panasonic Lumix DMC LX7 include full HD video recording at 60 fps with stereo microphones (the LX5 only did 720p video) and a host of scene modes for shooting stills. Did we mention that the LX7 can shoot full resolution RAW files at a blazing 11 fps?
Visit page two to check out the Panasonic Lumix DMC LX7's Image and Video Performance, and Verdict...