The Panasonic DMC-LF1 is a more portable version of its flagship LX7. They both use a 1/1.7-inch CMOS image sensor, so image quality is comparable.
But the LF1 has a lens with a longer zoom range from 28mm to 200mm, compared with the LX7's 24mm to 90mm. The longer zoom range is more versatile, allowing you to zoom in closer to the action.
However, LF1 has a maximum aperture of only f2.0, while LX7 has a bigger maximum aperture of f1.4. So the LX7 has an edge when shooting in low lighting.
On the plus side, LF1 is about 100g lighter and 17mm thinner. Slightly bigger than your average business card, this camera can be easily slotted into your pocket.
It also sports an automatic lens cover that closes when the lens is retracted after shutdown. So, you never have to worry about losing the lens cap.
While LF1 does not have a hot shoe like LX7, it does have a built-in electronic viewfinder (EVF). Although the 0.2-inch EVF offers a 100 per cent field of view, it is really small. The 200,000-dot resolution is also not high enough to give a clear image.
But what is more irritating is the lack of a proximity sensor, which should automatically switch to the EVF when your eye is near the viewfinder. Instead, you need to press a small button situated beside the EVF to activate it.
That said, the EVF still comes in handy when shooting photographs in very strong sunlight.
Despite the lack of a curved grip, the LF1 does not feel uncomfortable when you hold it. This is probably due to its rounded corners and smooth metallic finish.
All the buttons and dials are within easy reach of your thumb and fingers. There is a Mode Dial on top, which is beside the shutter release, for you to change shooting modes quickly.
In addition, a rear clickable wheel dial and a control ring around the lens allow you to change shutter speed and aperture effortlessly.
The camera is quite fast - taking 1.6sec to start up. But it takes about 3.7sec to shut down. Comparatively, the competitors of the same class usually take about 2sec for both start-up and shutdown.
Autofocusing (AF) is fast. In bright sunlight, it is instantaneous but sometimes, the LF1 takes about half a second for it to lock on to a focus. In dim lighting conditions, it takes nearly 2sec to focus with the aid of AF assist light.
Image quality is good, with sharp rendition of pixels and nice saturated colours. However, the noise performance is not as good. At
ISO 400, you can see luminance noise artefacts creeping in. I recommend using ISO 800 at most with the LF1.
The camera takes good quality full high-definition videos with stereo sound and fast AF. However, it does pick up a fair bit of wind noise.
Battery life is slightly below average at around 250 frames on a full charge.
With its built-in Wi-Fi, you can transfer photos from the camera to your smartphone or remotely control the camera using the Panasonic Image app (available in Android and iOS).
It also has Near Field Communications (NFC) for automatic pairing with NFC-enabled smartphones.
For those looking for a pocket-sized lightweight prosumer compact camera with a versatile zoom range and a built-in EVF, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LF1 will be a good bet. Just keep the ISO number low.
By Trevor Tan
Image sensor: 12.1-megapixel, 1/1.7-inch CMOS
Lens: 28-200mm f2.0-f5.9
Screen: 3-inch fixed LCD with 920,000 dots, 0.2-inch electronic viewfinder with 200,000 dots
Shooting speed: Up to 10 frames per second
Sensitivity: ISO 80 to 12,800
Weight: 192g (with battery and memory card)
Value for money: 8/10
Battery life: 6/10
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