Panasonic has taken an interesting approach with the new LX7 — it looks more like a range finder than a typical point-and-shoot camera. The lens does not retract fully inside the camera and with the maximum aperture at f/1.4 it is one of the fastest lenses available for compact cameras. The zoom range is a handy 24–90mm equivalent, offering a decent focal range. It also has a 1/1.7-inch 10-megapixel MOS sensor and an impressive ISO range of 80–12,800. The camera can shoot 1080p full HD movies and features a ‘Creative’ movie mode where you can adjust both shutter speed and aperture to have more control over the look of your movie. The other interesting feature of the lens is its aspect ratio switch, offering four different crop options: 1:1, 4:3, 3:2, and 16:9 ratios. But instead of just cropping the original images on the sensor and changing the angle of view, the LX7 crops the image so that the angle of view does not actually change (except in the 1:1) at the different aspect ratio settings.
The LX7 also introduces an ND filter tab on the back of the camera, directly below the mode dial. Turning this feature on engages a three-stop neutral density filter over the sensor, enabling users to utilise the wide-open aperture settings even in bright light.
The pop-up flash is quite effective and offers advanced settings like rear curtain sync and slow sync. Panasonic claims the flash has a range of up to 8.5m at wide-angle and 5.2m at telephoto using Auto ISO. There is also a standard hot-shoe mount that can fire larger flashes.
The fact the body is mostly metal makes the camera feel more durable and substantial than many other compact cameras. It sizes up at 110.5×67.1×45.6mm and weighs 298g with battery and memory card — and if you forget your card there is also 70MB of built-in memory. The control buttons on the back of the camera are also made out of metal, so they will stand up well over time and are less likely to stick or wear out.
The controls on the camera are easy to use and the manual aperture ring really makes it easy to shoot in either Aperture Priority or Manual modes. In low light, having such a fast lens allows the user to shoot at lower ISO settings and reduce noise. Though the ISO setting can go up to 12,800, once it is set above 1600 the noise levels do become visible and can be problematic.
This camera is also quite fast with a maximum burst rate of 11fps for 12 full-resolution images (focus and exposure fixed in the first frame). There are also two slower burst settings of 5fps and 2fps that can AF track the subject. If shooting JPEG files the camera can shoot either 60fps writing a 2.5-megapixel file or 40fps at five megapixels.
This article is from D-Photo issue 51. Get your copy here.
- Image sensor: 10.1-megapixel, 1/1.63-inch MOS Sensor
- Lens: 3.8x optical Leica DC Vario-Summicron, 24–90mm, f/1.4–2.3
- Shutter speed: 60–1/2000sec
- Metering: Intelligent multiple, centre-weighted, spot
- Continuous shooting: 11fps
- ISO: 80–12,800
- Monitor: Three-inch TFT LCD
- Video: 1920×1080 60p
- Dimensions (WxHxD): 109.7×65.5×43.0mm
- Weight: 233g (body only)