The LX-7 has been out a while now (it came out late 2012 and was about £450 at release)
Fast forward to 2014 (and I expect an updated model to arrive shortly)
I've used the LX-7 for a few weeks (borrowed from a friend) and I feel it's a very decent (though by no means perfect) good quality compact. You just don't normally get this kind of camera at a price like this, so with that in mind I will do a quick summary of my good and bad points
Bottom line, grab yourself a bargain!
+ Nice fast 24-90mm (equivalent) f1.4-2.3 lens (this is much faster than many compacts)
+ Good build overall feels solid and well made
+ Excellent clear, high resolution 920k 3" LCD
+ Aperture ring on the lens
+ Good image quality for a 1/1.7" sensor
+ Shoots raw
+ Extensive number of burst shooting modes up to 11fps and a decent buffer too (about 11-12 shots raw) There are a lot of burst shooting modes (you will see some market with AF - Autofocus - some without though)
+ You can store custom settings on the main exposure dial (C1 and C2 very handy)
+ Aspect ratio switch (no need to menu dive)
+ Fast and responsive with good AF performance
+ Option to add viewfinder (EVF)
+ Lots of features, full manual controls, bracketing, tons of scene modes, electronic level pretty much "fully loaded)
+ Time lapse and multi exposure modes (I don't use these much but they are nice to have)
+ HD video 1080@60p very good well defined video with stereo sound. You can use the zoom and AF as well.
+ OIS works well around 3.5-4 stops
+ Built in ND filter allows faster apertures in bright light
+ Sensible and logical menus and controls (the quick menu is ok but can't be customised)
+ Has a hot shoe
+ Excellent macro mode (captures an area about an inch square, that pretty close)
+ Pretty good battery life I got around 320 shots per charge (I'd get a spare though)
- Limited zoom range 3.8x (just 90mm at the telephoto end)
- No built in viewfinder (I like them some don't care)
- Dynamic range improved v the LX-5 but can still clip highlights
- Slow buffer clearing times - even with a fast Sandisk 45MB/s card
- Jpeg noise reduction can be turned down (to -2) but I would prefer less smoothing on jpegs
- Quick menu could be better
- Intelligent zoom compromises image quality (I'd simply crop images myself)
- Lens zooming a tad slow speed wise
- AWB (auto white balance) a bit cool for daylight shots (adjust in camera or post)
- No wifi or GPS (GPS would be handy) not a huge loss though
- Panoramic mode could be better results wise (I would stitch them at home on the pc)
When the LX-7 came out there was mixed reaction as the company had decided to go with a slightly smaller sensor over the LX-5 (1/1.7" v 1/1.63") But there are some important improvements and even for LX-5 users it might be worth a look.
** v the LX-5**
The lens is much faster F1.4 - F2.3 (v F2.0 - F3.3)
You get a built in ND filter, and the new on lens aperture ring (shame it can't be customised though)
920k v 430k LCD screen
Electronic level, HDR mode, time lapse, much faster burst modes
A new MOS sensor v the older CCD one (seems to be better with dynamic range)
Full HD stereo video the older 720p mono on the LX-5
The only real area where the LX-5 is better is battery life (but I found it fine on the LX-7)
It's quite a strong update over the previous model in my view
In terms of low light performance, the key here is the lens speed which is very fast (and faster than rivals)
This means you will be able to keep the ISO levels down even in lower light. It's a trade off you have a smaller sensor but a faster lens. So for dim shooting the camera does well, you're unlikely to need to raise the ISO to ISO 1600.
In good light I think the larger 2/3" sensors do have somewhat better definition at lower ISO levels. The Fuji's I've used seem to do better here (the LX-7 still does well though) and they edge the Panasonic out for dynamic range too (but it's much improved v the LX-5 in my view)
At the original asking price there are a few nitpicks, maybe you might ponder if this is for you and look around at the Canon G's or S models or the Fuji X ones.
But with this new bargain price right now, well to be honest new model or not on the horizon this is well worth considering. It's a steal really...this is a very nice well featured camera that has a good lens and does well even in low light. It's a serious compact for users who want to get their teeth into photography more.
Recommended, 4 star camera at a 5 star price so I'll give it 5 overall
on 6 October 2012
Originally owned the LX3 and LX5,the 3 always had the sharper lens over the 5,in both cases jpegs were pretty rough,i purchased the LX7 knowing RAW would have to be used and put into lightroom 4.2,BUT the Panasonic jpegs are now superb ! really really surprised and very happy, the lens is very very sharp,colours are excellent,even skin tones are now very nice on a Panasonic camera,WB is pretty spot on and exposure is almost fool proof,even pixel peeping the lens and jpegs match my Sony A37 + 35mm f1.8 lens in good light,pretty amazing considering the sony 16meg sensor is one of the best.
I'm happy to shoot up to 400 iso on the LX7,with the fast lens you can keep under this most of the time,800 iso at a push for smaller prints or web pics.
As usual the LX camera have excellent handling and controls with the very usefull slider for aspect ratio settings and macro,the aperture ring is a very good addition as well.
Auto focus is almost instant,very impressive.
I tried out the Sony RX100,but found the control and size a bit fiddley,this is a personal opinion,the sony with it's larger sensor will be better at 28mm f1.8 for dof, and superior sensor should give better results,but the lens soon becomes darker when you zoom,not sure i needed 20 meg as well,also enjoy using the 24mm wide on the LX7 as well.
All in all the LX7 has exceeded my expectations,the lens is sharper then expected and the jpegs are great.
on 3 March 2013
I was thinking of upgrading my older DSLR, which I only used with the kit lens, when I discovered that this group of premium compacts (which also includes the like of the Olympus XZ-2, Pentax MX-1, Fuji X-10/X-20 etc) can provide a similar level of control over depth of field (blurred backgrounds) as most DSLRs with the standard kits lens on. It does have a smaller sensor, but unless you are planning to make huge prints I have found the image quality to be better than my few year old DSLR. And the bonus of course is that this camera is very small and light, so it is always with me. There were many times when I wanted to take pictures, but having a big bulky DSLR with me was not really viable. The LX7, being the smallest and lightest (and currently cheapest) of the premium compact group, fits easily into my jacket pocket, takes wonderful images in both good and low light, and does everything my old DSLR used to do. I would highly advise anyone thinking of getting a budget DSLR and sticking with the kit lens to consider a camera such as this instead. The only real deal-breaker would be if you need/want a good optical viewfinder. It's probably the one thing I miss from the DSLR, but I don't really think my photographs have suffered, I'm just getting used to shooting with my arms out in front of me!
There are a few things I'd like to see Panasonic improve for the next generation LX, but none of them are hugely problematic:
- the zoom speed of the lens is pretty slow - I miss being able to instantly zoom in an out using the manual zoom ring on a DSLR lens, I'd love to see the LX camera have a zoom ring around the lens (I'd even prefer to swap this for the current aperture control).
- articulating screen - it would be nice to have a screen that would flip down to allow shooting from the hip whilst still framing the shot, some of the LX-7 competitors have this, however they currently mean those cameras are bigger and heavier. If an articulating screen could be added with minimum increase in weight/bulk that would be great.
I think in all honesty that is it. It's a camera that is nigh on perfect for my needs - small, light, and decent manual controls, including good depth of field control (compared to a basic DSLR). I picked this over the competition due to it being the smallest and lightest* and the fact that it is the lowest priced is a bonus.
*A quick word about the Sony RX100 which a lot of people currently see as the 'best in class' of this category of camera. I have briefly handled one, and it's true that it is both smaller and lighter than the LX7 (possibly harder to handle comfortably as a result), and has a much bigger sensor. The bigger sensor will likely allow much bigger prints without loss of detail/quality. However I don't really consider it to be an LX7 competitor because the larger sensor means a much slower lens (at the zoom end), such that it does not allow the depth of field control that the other cameras in this class give. Given that I produce images to share online and make photobooks with at print sizes not going beyond A4, I'd rather have the creative control of the faster lens than the benefits of a bigger sensor.
on 16 January 2014
I wanted a good quality advanced compact with creative controls so decided on this model. It's an attractive camera and is well made. It's really just a cheaper version of the LEICA D-Lux 6. Both companies work together on producing cameras and release their own versions, with the LEICA version costing around twice as much. I love the little dial allowing access to special modes, including shutter priority, aperture priority, and intelligent auto. There's a host of special creative effects and scene modes too. This is an ideal camera to learn the principles of photography and there is very good presentation of information on the clear LCD screen. Focussing is fast. The camera comes with a decent neck strap though it would have been nice if a simple wrist strap was also included. The lens cap has a retention cord, but note that if you buy the accessory filter adaptor, the different sized lens cap with the adaptor kit has no eyelet for the retention cord. You don't have to fit a protective filter, but many people do. If so, you need to buy the adaptor kit (part number DMW-FA1) and a separate 37mm filter. I bought a Hoya filter fairly cheaply.
One thing I didn't like was the stress involved in fitting the special filter adaptor and a UV filter, both available separately, though not at the time of my purchase from Amazon. Leave a comment on this review if you'd like to know where I bought my filter and adaptor. You need to remove a lens barrel thread protection ring from the end of the lens in order to fit the adaptor which holds a 37mm filter. I studied the methodology of thread protection ring removal as indicated in the official advanced user instructions PDF which is available to freely download from the Panasonic site. I held the lens barrel gently but firmly using one set of finger, and used the other to grip and turn the thread protector ring. It was difficult and I almost gave up but succeeded eventually. Why am I telling you this? Because potential buyers need to know that Panasonic have changed the official methodology (because it was very difficult and risked damaging the camera) but they haven't corrected the advanced user instructions PDF that is on their official website. The new advice is given on a special leaflet inside the document plastic envelope in the product box. I only saw that after I'd removed the ring and installed my filter adaptor and filter. I was very annoyed. I could have damaged my camera. Meanwhile, Panasonic ought to update the advanced instructions PDF on their website so that it matches the updated version included in the product box on the CD-ROM and repeated on the special advice leaflet on this issue. I hope this information is useful to new LX7 users.
Overall then, this is a nice camera but the grainy images let it down. Images have substantial noise and graininess when you zoom in, and there is not much detail in most cases. When you don't zoom in, images are often dull, lifeless, and lacking in sharpness. The lens is the best feature: a LEICA lens that performs well in low light and negates the use of flash in many situations. I've talked a lot about filters (for which the adaptor kit and protective filter are not included with the camera) but this is important to many prospective buyers and it was this very issue that helped sway me towards the LX7 as opposed to the Fujifilm x20. At the time of writing Fuji are charging almost sixty pounds for a filter kit which includes a lens hood. Panasonic sell their adaptor ring and cap for just over twenty pounds. Both expensive but a big difference all the same. A cheap Hoya filter was fine.
If I can correct the images in editing software then maybe the camera can be redeemed, but right now I am pretty disappointed with it, certainly the indoor shots. Images saved as j-pegs should come out of the camera sharp and clean, and ready to print. I also found the buttons a little annoying. The silver buttons at the back of the camera occasionally caught on my finger, especially when moving my finger from the four-way buttons around the menu button to press one of the other buttons. They catch slightly on my finger tips. It's not a big issue though.
I wanted to like this camera, I really did, but if you are looking for good quality images in all conditions right out of the camera, without 'forensic recovery' in Photoshop or similar programmes, this isn't it. And that's really sad, because it's a nice camera in every other way. I love the controls and the way the camera works. The menus are intuitive and easy to use. I even tried to give it a second chance this morning after all my tests. A shot made at low ISO of a bright landscape with the sun behind me lacked punch, sharpness, and detail. And tonight, a night shot worked really well. But the same scene earlier, during the day at ISO 80 was terrible - full of grain and noise, really scrappy looking. One Kindle book I read on this camera by a knowledgeable person said that if you want good results from this camera, then you have to shoot RAW and be willing and able to post-process images in RAW software. And that to me says this camera can't, on its own, and in most circumstances, reliably produce good images. Disappointed, very, very disappointed.
Update/Edit: OK, so I admit it - I got it wrong. I realised that once I got my images into Lightroom 5 (free 30 day trial via download on Adobe website), I could easily create excellent images. As the other reviewer said, out of the camera images are not brilliant as regards J-pegs, and the scenes may not please, however the RAW files can be easily processed in Lightroom, or the provided Silkypix. So I am changing my review rating. I'm leaving the review as it is for educational purposes. I learned something, and I hope you do too. Note that Silkypix comes free with this camera. It's like Lightroom, and fairly easy to use, though the online user manual is quite something. It's pretty technical and daunting in its scope. I'd nearly buy Lightroom simply because Adobe provide free online tutorial videos for it.
Update on software: Although I accept that Silkypix is an excellent programme, I ordered Lightroom 5 anyway, simply because I find it easier to use and also because it has the graduated filters to adjust sky colour etc... without altering the entire image, whereas Silkypix seems to be missing this feature. In any case, I'd advise users to familiarise themselves with Silkypix in terms of its feature and ease of use, and see if it meets your needs before buying other software to replace what is, in my opinion, an excellent programme.
In short: the camera is good for those prepared to put in the effort of post-processing, but for those looking for a simple point and shoot, I would suggest other cameras may be better for you, such as the other, much cheaper, though excellent, Lumix cameras. I'm looking forward to doing some landscape and church photography. Think street photography in a church. This camera is very discreet and quiet. It'll be useful for church because I don't want people to be freaked out by a DSLR. With a small camera, you can be discreet and capture things that you'd otherwise miss: a person quietly lighting a candle in a church before kneeling in silent prayer... these kinds of things are what I am after, and with this camera, I hope to do it. I'll update my review in the coming months to reflect my experiences and results. Note that I've added one picture of an old church at night. I'm amazed at how this camera seems to use all available light, and even at night, I can get excellent shots without a tripod. This is an excellent camera for street photography.
The camera lens is excellent. Even in the lowest light, the camera seems to have the ability to 'make' light. It's also a beautiful classic design and really fun to use. The video is very good.
Update, March 26th 2014: My camera developed a serious fault with the aperture and has to be returned. Not really impressed by that. I won't order another as I am not prepared to take the risk of the same thing happening. At this time, I can also point out a few things I don't like, having lived with the camera for an extended period. The extending lens. It does not give the impression of sturdiness, I always have the feeling it's a liability. I have it set to sleep so it closes itself so that helps protect it - after about one minute it retracts automatically, but then it's a pain to wake it by having to press the shutter button half-way. The Q menu and main menu buttons are not always responsive on the first press, including but not limited to on start-up. I also HATE the little fiddly lens cap which attaches to the camera. I tried it but hate it. This annoying thing dangling by a cheap little string. Not really acceptable. Of course if you buy the expensive filter adaptor set, you can then fit a protective filter and use the lens cap that came with that, which doesn't feature an eyelet for the string. No loss there. All in all then, I am disappointed with this camera. It had so much potential, but there are reliability issues, and also the colours out of the camera are a bit dull, be it vivid, natural, or standard. These can be enhanced in Lightroom 5 or Silkypix. I am looking forward to the upcoming replacement model, presumably the LX8, which will hopefully have a larger sensor, similar lens, and better build quality and reliability. The LX7 has the slight feeling of being a toy camera. Still, I am not completely writing the LX7 off; it's a good little camera in many ways, but it's certainly not perfect. Goodbye LX7, it was fun while it lasted. I've ordered a Fuji X20 to replace it.
Now, in fairness, I want to commend the LX7 for the following:
* Excellent, easy to use and intuitive menu/settings layout, encourages exploration and experimentation
* Everything is to hand, you don't have to think too much about anything to get to the settings you need
* Excellent fast, accurate autofocus (quicker and more precise than the X20)
* Excellent video
* Dedicated buttons for all the commonly used settings. In comparison, the X20 lacks a dedicated ISO button.
* LX7 has intuitive button layout, and even with less buttons, does everything the Fuji X20 does.
* Good image quality when enhanced in Lightroom 5
* Bright, fast lens
* More accurate exposure than the Fuji X20 (which tends to overexpose in my experience)
* Better for people shots than the Fuji. More natural shots.
* Effects modes are excellent, especially dynamic monochrome
* Excellent night and low-light performance
* Brilliant for portraits. I especially like black and white portraits
* Excellent for close-up pictures
* Superior focussing to the Fuji X20. X20 often struggles to find focus and is very poor at close focusing. LX7 will close focus even without using the macro setting, whereas Fuji just goes on strike.
* Wide-angle lens is ideal for photographing vast landscapes or indoor scenes e.g. estate agents will love this feature
* Dynamic monochrome setting is superb for moody people shots
What I don't like: lack of electronic and/or optical viewfinder built in. The Fuji X20 has one, it's good, and there's no reason why the LX7 couldn't have one too. The EVF, whilst nice, it's really doing it for me. It also makes the LX more expensive than the Fuji X20. The zoom lens with motor has a mind of its own. With it, I feel like I am looking after a temperamental child. The Fuji X20, on the other hand, has a manual zoom lens which you must extend and retract yourself. On the one hand, I think the LX7 acts a little like a toy camera, but then I realised that part of its appeal is its ease of use and the simply joy of using it. The LX7 is fun to use, and sadly I can't really say the same about the Fuji X20. It feels like a more serious camera, but there is something lacking in the use, as in, it's just not as much fun. This is all very subjective though, and you might not agree.
I'll be clear: I am looking forward to the model that replaces the LX7. I just wish that Panasonic would put a usable optical viewfinder in the LX7 replacement, along with a slightly larger sensor. I'd buy that for sure.
To conclude, if you are undecided between the Lumix LX7 and the Fujifilm X20, having used both over an extended period, I can say that for me, the LX7 is a lot more fun to use. The lens is better, the controls are better, and it's just 'right'. OK so there are a few things that irritate me, as I've said, but overall, I think it's a better value for money and more fun to use. The only thing the Fuji has going for it over the LX7 is the built-in optical viewfinder. But with the LX7's much superior focussing ability, I think I'd waiver the viewfinder for something more essential - a focussing system that is reliable and responsive.