I can't believe it has been 6 months already. At the same time, I'm so used to the Panasonic LX100 that it seems I always had it. After six months of using it on an almost daily basis, I can say my opinion is made up on that camera. My shutter count is at 9273, although many of those were test shots (some in burst mode). I bring this camera with me everywhere. Do I still love it? Is my opinion changed from the two articles I wrote last fall? Continue reading to find out. :)
What I shot with the Panasonic LX100
I shot a LOT with that little camera. I shot all kinds of subjects. Here are some pictures of what I used the LX100 for:
Video for fun
Video for work (mixing LX100 and GH4)
What I like about the LX100
There is a lot to like about the Panasonic Lumix LX100.
- The size. Although some people would like it to be even smaller, I find the size is perfect for me. It is small and lightweight but has a good grip and thumb rest. This makes the LX100 comfortable to use.
- Ergonomics. I love the controls on this camera. The aperture ring, shutter speed dial and exposure compensation dial allow very fast adjustment of the exposure settings. You can even set the zoom ring to adjust ISO if you want full control even faster. I don't use it this way because I find it's easy to turn the zoom ring by mistake.
- The lens. The Leica design of the lens gives something special to that camera. The 24-75mm equivalent range is good for most purpose and having an aperture between f/1.7 and f/2.8 is awesome. Going up to 100mm would be nice, but it would add more bulk and the aperture would be smaller. It is not perfectly sharp from edge to edge, but it has a character of its own that gives a unique look to your photos. The minimal focusing distance is short, so it allows some macro possibilities.
- Image quality. The quality of the pictures you can get from a small camera like this is mind-blowing. The images are crisp, contrasty and sharp. I'm comfortable to shoot at ISO 3200 and am not afraid to go up to 6400. I even shot some at 8000 and 12800 ISO. You get noise but it is more organic and look more grain-like than the ugly noise I was getting on my Canon DSLRs.
- Autofocus. Like my Micro 4/3 cameras, the single autofocus is almost instant. It is very, very, very fast. I love that. The continuous autofocus is quite good too with the new DFD technology from Panasonic. Another nice thing is the face detection and face recognition system. This is a thing you don't think you would use, but once you tried it, you are hooked.
- 4K video. The quality of the video you can get from the LX100 is incredible. I shot it side by side with the Panasonic GH4, and I can mix the two together without anyone able to point which footage was shot with each camera. It is a great B-Cam, and can be used as a main camera if you have an external sound recorder since there is no mic input.
- Leaf shutter. The leaf shutter is nearly silent, but its biggest advantage is the high speed flash synchronization. I did some strobes shots at 1/2000s with an external flash controlled by a small one on the camera. It opens up a whole world of creative possibilities. On a side note, the flash system is the same as my Micro 4/3 cameras which means you can control external flashes directly from the camera in either manual or TTL.
- Focus peaking. This is very useful in movie mode or in macro.
- Zebras. Another nice addition for video. With that and the histogram, it is easy to adjust your exposure and avoid clipping the highlights when filming.
- Custom settings. You can store three custom settings for fast switching. I have one set for my black and white, and two with my favorite videos settings.
- Stabilization. That is something you get used to and forget. I am so used to it by now that I don't think about it anymore. I almost forget to put it in the list. It is really useful for night shots or when you want some movement in your photographs, but don't have a tripod with you.
What could be better on the LX100
- The zoom. I wish you could put it in manual instead of always using the motorized zoom. Going from 24mm to 75mm takes around 3 seconds. I wish it was faster.
- No touch screen. This is a part I never understood when the LX100 was launched. Maybe they put a standard screen to save battery life. If I compare with the GX7, which uses the same batteries, it lasts a lot longer on the LX100. I got used to the touch screen when I bought my first Micro 4/3 camera (Olympus OM-D E-M5). The main purpose for a touch screen, for me, is to select the focus point fast (or move it around fast). That is the only thing I am really missing on the LX100.
- No tilting screen. You can't tilt the screen on the LX100. It is fixed. I am not 100% sure I would want a tilting screen though. In some occasions, I would like to have one but at the same time, it would add bulk to the camera. I can live without it, but it would be nice for low on the ground or overhead shots.
- Filter and iA button. Not a big thing, but I would like to be able to assign functions to those two buttons. That could easily be done with a firmware update.
- The screw mount position. If you screw a tripod plate, you can't open the battery and card door. I know there is not much room inside that camera but if they could move the screw hole to the left a bit, it would be great.
- 15 minutes record time. In 4K, you can only record for 15 minutes. I think they put this limitation to avoid sensor overheating. Having all that technology in a small package leaves no room for heat dissipation.
Wish list for the LX100 Mark II
I thought about that and seriously, my wish list for a LX100 Mark II is quite short: a touch screen. That's it. It is the only thing missing from that camera (for me). Maybe a manual zoom or a way of decoupling it.
What could be nice is the new rumored sensor from Panasonic. We might see that in the GX8 this summer. You can't say no to better ISO performances. Slow motion 4K video would be fun too. Longer record time would be nice. An ISO ring would be good, but I have no idea where they could put it.
I bought my first DSLR in 2003 and it was slow, bulky and noisy. 11 years later, it's phenomenal to see how fast the industry evolved. I know that we often put too much importance in the gear and that vision is better. With a tool like the Panasonic LX100, a photographer has no reason to say he cannot render his vision. That little camera brought me back the joy and fun of making photographs. I seldom leave the house without it. It allows me to record memories and to express my artistic vision. I like the versatility of the LX100. In case you did not get it already, after six months, I am still in love with that camera.