Panasonic Lumix DMC-LF1 Review - Digital Photography School
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Panasonic Lumix DMC-LF1 Review

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LF1 Review.jpg

Over the years I’ve owned a number of digicams just like this one and each has been damned useful. Pop in the pocket. Pull it out. Shoot. And enjoy.

However, in the last 2-3 years they have become really fearsome beasts with tech specs that ring with power.

Not only can these more recent arrivals shoot big, big stills but some have enormous zoom ranges and all can shoot Full HD video.

So who needs a DSLR or a MILC?

This little number from Panasonic is a good example of shooting power but with a certain finesse.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LF1 BACK.jpg

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LF1 TOP.jpg

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LF1 Features

The lens in particular screams quality: an f2 Leica DC Vario-Summicron 7.1x zoom that equates to a 35 SLR optic of 28-200mm range. The only downer is that you cannot enjoy the full f2 all the way through the zoom range; it soon shrinks to f5.9. But it does mean you can enjoy limited focus effects at the f2 aperture.

Bokeh.JPG

This shot was made at full wide on the zoom and at f2. Notice the limited depth of field.

However, it would be easy to miss the standout feature of this diminutive picture maker: beside the large 7.6cm LCD screen at the camera’s rear, there is also an electronic screen tucked away on the camera’s left top corner (as viewed from the rear). This will win many hearts!

The LF1 offers Wi-Fi connectivity so that users can connect the camera to their smart phone or tablet with one touch to share an image. You can also use a smart phone or tablet as a remote shutter with a monitor.

The CMOS captures a maximum image size of 4000×3000 pixels, enough to make a 34x25cm print.

Video can be shot in either AVCHD or MEG4 formats at Full HD 1920×1080 pixel quality. You can shoot stills mid video recording at a reduced size. If you shoot in AVCHD the maximum recording time is 29 minutes and 59 seconds.
Menu.jpg

Scene modes.jpg

Creative Control.jpg

The control layout is very straightforward:

Top deck has the viewfinder mentioned earlier, with dioptric adjustment; then there’s the mode dial with positions for intelligent auto, PASM, two custom modes, panorama shooting, scene modes (16 in all) and creative control with 11 settings, including retro, old days, high and low key etc.

Pano 6.JPG

Panoramas can be shot laterally and vertically left to right, right to left, up or down and stitched in-camera. With the creative panorama function you can apply filter effects of retro, expressive, high or low key etc. The camera does not shoot horizontally panned panos with the camera held vertically, unlike some other cameras … notably Sony’s.

Next to the mode dial is the shutter button set within the lever for zooming; the power switch is at the extreme right end.

Rear: at the extreme left is the button to switch from rear screen to turret viewfinder; next is the WiFi button.

Beneath it is the video record button, shielded from accidental triggering by a protective slice of leatherette; adjacent is the Function and replay buttons.

Lower is the four way control dial with positions for macro shooting, exposure compensation, flash options and continuous/self timer. The menu button is central.

Lower still is a button for display options and one for trash.

Overall, a good layout but one that is badly let down by all the identifying text being too small, printed in off-white and almost impossible to read in dim light. Why not white text?

Composition Guide.jpg

Tap the Function button and you gain access to a rather novel aid: a Composition Guide that makes it easy to shoot a photo with good composition, by choosing from a range of on screen examples: Rule of Thirds Offset, Diagonal Lines, Tunnel etc. A big help for those beset with poor visual acumen. It’s unlikely to prevent cut off heads or feet … but at least your shots will be visually balanced!

Distortion

No distortion evident at either the wide or tele ends of the zoom.

Start Up

In two seconds from startup you can shoot the first shot; follow-ons nearly as fast as you can hit the button.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LF1 ISO Tests

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LF1 ISO 80.JPG

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LF1 ISO 400.JPG

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LF1 ISO 800.JPG

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LF1 ISO 1600.JPG

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LF1 ISO 3200.JPG

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LF1 ISO 6400.JPG

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LF1 ISO 12800.JPG

Only at ISO 3200 did noise become apparent. At ISO 6400 overall quality declined while noise increased and odd artefacts appeared. Useable? Maybe.

At ISO 12800 the shot was unusable.
Marina.JPG

(insert Marina)

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LF1 Review Verdict

Quality: average.
Why you’d buy it: small, sufficient zoom range for most purposes; shoot RAW files.
Why you wouldn’t: LCD screen is not vari-angle.

A great little number for easy, high quality photography. Available in silver or black.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LF1 Specifications

Image Sensor: 12.1 million effective pixels.
Metering: Multi zone, centre-weighted, spot.
Lens: Leica DC Vario-Summicron f2.0-5.9/6.0-42.8mm (28-200mm as 35 SLR equivalent).
Exposure Modes: Auto, Program AE, shutter and aperture priority, manual.
Sensor Size: 15mm CMOS.
Shutter Speed (stills): 60 to 1/4000 second.
Continuous Shooting: 10 fps.
Memory: SD/SDHC/SDXC plus 87MB internal memory.
Image Sizes (pixels): Stills: 4000×3000 to 640×360.
Movies: 1920×1080, 1280×720, 1440×1080 and 640×480.
Viewfinder: 7.6cm LCD screen (920,000 pixels).
File Formats: JPEG, RAW, JPEG+RAW, MPO (3D), AVCHD, MPEG4.
Colour Space: sRGB, Adobe RGB.
ISO Sensitivity: Auto, 80 to 12800 (with boost).
Interface: USB 2.0, HDMI mini, WiFi.
Power: Rechargeable lithium ion battery, DC input.
Dimensions: 103x62x28 WHDmm.
Weight: 192 g (inc battery).
Price: Get a price on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LF1 12 MP Digital Camera (White) or Panasonic Lumix DMC-LF (Black).

Summary
Reviewer
Darren Rowse
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LF1
Author Rating
2

Read more from our Cameras & Equipment category.

Darren Rowse is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals. He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

  • Nancy Milburn

    So, if the only Con is ‘LCD screen is not vari-angle.’ which Panasonic camera would give you this plus the other DMC-LF1 features? Any? I currently use the DMC-ZS20.
    Really like your newsletter and have enjoyed the books I’ve purchased.

    Thx – Nancy

  • http://portraitsandiego.com San Diego Portrait

    Thank you for the instructive article!

  • Eddie

    I really like this camera very much. It’s so small and light it fits into my shirt pocket. The glass is great. Isn’t that what we buy cameras for? Controls are very user friendly, meaning fast and even logical once you get used to it. The panorama is wonderful. OK, the HDR is cheap but there is nothing wrong with the easy manual bracketing. The wifi remote control works wonderfully (OK, so you have to reboot your iPhone every time before you can set up the wifi but that is a small price for a great beginning.) Oh, I dropped a tear. No hot shoe. Sigh.

    I look forward to a firmware update that will
    1. give us a 7 frame 3 stops HDR mode
    2. fix the wifi set up with the iPhone so it’s more smart, automatic and instantaneous.

    I look forward to the LF2 with the following additional improvements:

    1. put the hot shoe back on top of the viewer.
    2. OK, I am greedy, but if they can keep the f2.0 through the 28-200 range FZ200 style,

    Then, this is the only camera 90% of the people in this world will need.

  • mick

    I have owned the LF1 for about 4 weeks now. Impressed with it to the point that I have sold my micro 4/3 cameras !

    28-200mm zoom, superb macro close focusing, EVF is basic but beats struggling with a rear screen in bright light.

    Its small enough to fit in trousers pocket and does everything that I want, results are excellent.

    Compact with EVF and quality build & results, we have waited years for this. Well done Panasonic.

  • mick
  • http://floridawriter.smugmug.com David

    The LX7 is a fantastic pocket camera (without the evf). I have had it for several months now, including a trip to Ireland and it’s performed extremely well. The low light capabilities of the Leica lens are very sweet (http://floridawriter.smugmug.com/Other/LX7-Low-Light/30273429_sn3GmQ#!i=2605969648&k=jTXn8MC )

  • Eddie

    [eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/eddieyat/9570339437/' title='P1000377-Edit-Edit-Edit' url='http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3698/9570339437_6d28b88c99.jpg']

    If I did not have the LF1 in my pocket, I would most likely have missed this proud boy.

  • Seamasters

    And U give only 2 stars outta five ??? Really all other reviews it has got 4 stars.

  • Oziman

    Star rating given on this review makes no sense at all….

  • Mike

    Crazy rating! There is almost nothing out there to match it for size and feature, especially if you take the EVF into account. Although not the best EVF at times when seeing the rear screen is impossible or you want to stabilise the camera for slower shutters in low light, the EVF is invaluable.

    This is a four star camera without doubt and the author should revise the score.

  • davewyman

    Two stars?

    I have to join the others. This verdict from the judge is a miscarriage of justice! The jury of LF1 users votes this camera a winner.

    This camera shoots jpg and raw, has full manual control, a control ring and is f/2 at full aperture. It has the longest lens reach by far of any mini point-and-shoot (which this review only describes as a “small, sufficient zoom range”). And let’s mention the EVF, which no other camera like the LF1 has.

    NO other camera of this size compares with the LF1 for features.

    The lens may or may not be as sharp as the optics on other small cameras, however it is certainly sharp enough to make an 8×10 print and larger. Throw in some upsizing software – e.g. from Picture Perfect Suite or PS – and other minor post-processing and you can make a photo from the LF1 the size of a billboard.

    Sure, Panasonic could have thrown in an articulated screen. Then again, it could have added a FF sensor, interchangeable lenses, an integrated cell phone and a small microwave oven. Instead, Panasonic has created a fantastically small camera with a slew of features not found in the same combination on any other camera.

  • Leslie Hoerwinkle

    Rating of 2 stars is beyond idiotic.

Some older comments

  • Eddie

    August 23, 2013 06:56 am

    [eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/eddieyat/9570339437/' title='P1000377-Edit-Edit-Edit' url='http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3698/9570339437_6d28b88c99.jpg']

    If I did not have the LF1 in my pocket, I would most likely have missed this proud boy.

  • David

    August 22, 2013 04:40 am

    The LX7 is a fantastic pocket camera (without the evf). I have had it for several months now, including a trip to Ireland and it's performed extremely well. The low light capabilities of the Leica lens are very sweet (http://floridawriter.smugmug.com/Other/LX7-Low-Light/30273429_sn3GmQ#!i=2605969648&k=jTXn8MC )

  • mick

    July 24, 2013 11:28 pm

    Panasonic LF1

    http://www.ipernity.com/doc/330931/24084531

  • mick

    July 24, 2013 11:25 pm

    I have owned the LF1 for about 4 weeks now. Impressed with it to the point that I have sold my micro 4/3 cameras !

    28-200mm zoom, superb macro close focusing, EVF is basic but beats struggling with a rear screen in bright light.

    Its small enough to fit in trousers pocket and does everything that I want, results are excellent.

    Compact with EVF and quality build & results, we have waited years for this. Well done Panasonic.

  • Eddie

    July 21, 2013 04:41 pm

    I really like this camera very much. It's so small and light it fits into my shirt pocket. The glass is great. Isn't that what we buy cameras for? Controls are very user friendly, meaning fast and even logical once you get used to it. The panorama is wonderful. OK, the HDR is cheap but there is nothing wrong with the easy manual bracketing. The wifi remote control works wonderfully (OK, so you have to reboot your iPhone every time before you can set up the wifi but that is a small price for a great beginning.) Oh, I dropped a tear. No hot shoe. Sigh.

    I look forward to a firmware update that will
    1. give us a 7 frame 3 stops HDR mode
    2. fix the wifi set up with the iPhone so it's more smart, automatic and instantaneous.

    I look forward to the LF2 with the following additional improvements:

    1. put the hot shoe back on top of the viewer.
    2. OK, I am greedy, but if they can keep the f2.0 through the 28-200 range FZ200 style,

    Then, this is the only camera 90% of the people in this world will need.

  • San Diego Portrait

    July 20, 2013 02:38 pm

    Thank you for the instructive article!

  • Nancy Milburn

    July 19, 2013 01:28 am

    So, if the only Con is 'LCD screen is not vari-angle.' which Panasonic camera would give you this plus the other DMC-LF1 features? Any? I currently use the DMC-ZS20.
    Really like your newsletter and have enjoyed the books I've purchased.

    Thx - Nancy

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