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It seems to me that the fixed lens, compact camera game has spawned two sub species: ultra long zoom models and those with ultra fast lenses … to some they’re called ‘bright’.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7 belongs in the latter category and a dazzling model it is too: compact, light in weight and full of power.
The Leica Vario Summilux lens has a maximum aperture of f1.4, stopping down to only f2.3 when the 3.8x zoom is extended from its wide 24mm to the tele end of 90mm (35 SLR equivalent).
The 10.1 megapixel MOS sensor captures a maximum 3968×2736 pixel image: 34x23cm as a print.
Video? Full HD 1920×1080 pixel resolution, saved in either AVCHD or MPEG4. No, you cannot shoot stills while recording video.
One oddity: although the camera has 70MB of internal memory, in addition that provided by any loaded SD card, it will record video only in VGA (640×480) format to that internal memory.
In typical fashion I kicked on the power before reading the manual, selected Program as my exposure mode, then spent some time scratching my head as to how to alter the lens aperture. Voila! Twirl the lens ring! With the LX7 you get direct access to the f numbers. Simply ‘mazing!
The camera’s top deck contains the mode dial (auto, Program, aperture and shutter priority, manual exposure, 15 scene modes (plus 3D), two custom modes and a creative video mode that offers manual control of shutter speed and lens aperture. Beside the mode dial are the shutter button and zoom lever, on/off switch, video record and flash button.
Rear: a button for exposure lock, menu, display and replay. The four way jog dial offers access to ISO settings, a Function button, single or continuous shooting and white balance. But note: these tiny buttons have incised text on a silver background that is almost illegible in most ambient situations. Black mark!
The side of the lens barrel has three settings: manual and two for auto focus (normal range and macro). Interestingly, to the rear of the lens is a direct control switch for the image aspect ratio (1:1 to 16:9).
More: there is an internal neutral density filter equivalent to three f stops that allows you to reduce the incoming light and use a larger aperture for special effects. This is selectable via a tiny button behind the mode dial. The same button has a dual purpose: it can also control manual focus. Brilliant!
Framing decisions are helped by the ever-increasingly seen level gauge. I hope this trend continues.
There are 16 Creative Control filters that include settings to capture images with an expressive look, high and low key, cross processing, sepia and others.
Time lapse, in which you can preset the camera to begin taking pictures at constant intervals for landscape scenes etc.
Photo Style gives you the ability to maximise the image quality to higher contrast, give a mono look, use a scenery setting and a ‘look’ for portraits etc.
The accessory shoe extends the LX7’s talents considerably. You can attach a live viewfinder, an optical finder and auxiliary flash.
None at either end of the zoom. Excellent!
Two seconds from power in to first shot; follow-ons as fast I could hit the shutter button.
The level of noise only became evident at ISO 3200. Even more so at ISO 6400.
Quality: Excellent, especially at larger apertures.
Why you’d buy the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7: small, powerful camera.
Why you wouldn’t: no reason.
While this camera could easily serve as day-to-day snapshot camera, it would be wasted. It would be ideal as a companion shooter to a DSLR. IMHO it would not be ideal as a travel companion due to its limited zoom range.
Image Sensor: 10.1 million effective pixels.
Metering: multi zone, centre-weighted, spot.
Lens: Leica DC Vario-Summilux f1.4-2.3/4.7-14.7mm (24-90mm as 35 SLR equivalent).
Exposure Modes: Auto, Program AE, shutter and aperture priority, manual.
Sensor Size: 15mm MOS.
Shutter Speed (stills): 60 to 1/4000 second.
Continuous Shooting: up to 11 fps.
Memory: SD/SDHC/SDXC plus 70MB internal memory.
Image Sizes (pixels): Stills: 3968×2736 to 480×480.
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.
Power: Rechargeable lithium ion battery, DC input.
Dimensions: 111x68x46 WHDmm.
Weight: 298 g (inc battery).
Price: get a price on the Panasonic LUMIX DMC-LX7 at Amazon.