Unlike its predecessors, which use the 1/1.7-inch or smaller image sensors, the LX100 uses a 16-megapixel Micro Four Thirds (MFT) image sensor found in Panasonic's interchangeable lens mirrorless cameras.
This sensor is about twice the size of the 1-inch sensor found in premium compacts such as the Sony Cyber-shot RX100 III and Canon PowerShot G7 X. It is five times larger than the 1/1.7-inch sensor in many other compacts.
It has a Lecia 24-75mm f/1.7-f/2.8 lens, which has a focal range similar to the lens of the RX100 III and G7 X. Its modest zoom range means that you will not be able to capture football action up close from the stands, but it is good enough for travel and street photography.
The LX100 now has a built-in electronic viewfinder that gives you a real-time view of what you are seeing through the lens. It is one of the sharpest I have seen on a prosumer compact camera.
The LX100's 3-inch display is fixed and not a touchscreen. So you cannot flip it when taking selfies or swipe on it to browse your photos.
What sets the LX100 apart from its rivals is its control scheme. It lacks the commonly seen mode dial. Instead, camera functions are handled through a raft of individual controls. Among them are a shutter speed dial, exposure compensation dial, lens zoom lever, autofocusing selector, aspect ratio switch and a lens zoom/manual focus ring on the lens barrel. At the back, a wheel dial lets you adjust settings such as ISO and white balance.
So how does handling feel with all of those controls? In a word: Superb.
This camera starts up in a quick 1.5sec and shuts down in 2.6sec. Using an SD card with a writing speed of 45MB per second, I shot an impressive 22 RAW images in 1.8sec before the buffer ran out. Autofocusing (AF) is instantaneous in bright sunlight. In darker conditions, AF speed was about 1sec using the AF assist light.
Images I captured on the LX100 were of top-notch quality, full of detail and with colours accurately rendered throughout its focal range.
I saw no ugly noise artefacts until I hit ISO 1,600.
The camera captured 4K full high-definition videos with terrific sharpness. A nifty feature is the 4K Photo option, which allows you to grab 8-megapixel images from 4K videos you have shot. My video footages had ambient and wind noises but they were not overly intrusive.
All in, the LX100 is the best compact camera I have used. While its battery life is average for its class at 300 shots, everything else is superb.
Lack of a tiltable touchscreen display aside, it is the perfect prosumer compact camera.
Image sensor: 16-megapixel Micro Four Thirds
Display: 3-inch LCD with 921,000 dots; electronic viewfinder with 2,764,000 dots
Sensitivity: ISO 100-25,600
Lens: 24-75mm f/1.7-f/2.8
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Near Field Communication
Weight: 393g (body with battery and memory card)
Value for money 5/5
Battery life 3/5
This article was first published on Dec 10, 2014.
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