I’ve bought a new camera. Or, more precisely: A 5 year old camera. A Panasonic Lumix LX-100. I had a similar model a couple of years ago, but wasn’t really a fan of it. Now I love it! But why did I fall for a camera from yesteryear?
LX-100 vs LX-100 Mark ii
When the Lumix LX-100 hit the stores in 2014, reviewers were thrilled. Dpreview.com described the camera as probably the best zoom compact ever made.”
A lot has happened in the camera industry since then. The LX-100 Mark ii was launched in 2018, sporting a higher resolution sensor and a touch enabled screen. LX-100 ii is still a thrilling camera according to dpreview, but not as much as the first version – mainly due to competition.
So: Why would I buy an LX-100 2020 (I actually bought it in 2019), and not an LX-100 Mark ii?
My intention is to use it as a “holiday and SoMe camera.” In consequence, resolution doesn’t matter much. The LX-100 has a resolution of up to 12MP. My iMac 27″ Retina screen has a resolution of 5120 x 2880px – around 15MP. But due to pixel doubling, the interpreted resolution is 2560 x 1440px – around 3.6MP. So the 12MP are more than enough for web usage, even if they are cropped a bit.
Tactile User Interface
The lack of a touch screen could be a deal-breaker. On the other hand: Usage of the LX-100 is to a large extent based on wheels and dials: Aperture is adjusted on the lens, shutter speed and exposure compensation on dials on top of the camera.
The physical dials makes camera usage easy. So for this specific camera, I don’t find the lack of a touch screen to be a dealbreaker.
So, all things considered, I don’t find the LX-100 Mark ii worth the higher price tag.
Price and accessories
I found the camera in “Den blå avis” (a danish version of ebay), and paid 2100 DKK for it – around 300 Euro. It was practically unused. A brand new LX-100 Mark ii is around 7.000 DKK – a bit less than 1.000 Euro. A difference in price of around 700 Euro.
But I also got a series of accessories with my LX-100: Two bags, one in leather and one in neoprene, a lens cover, two extra batteries and a UV filter. Ok – the accessories are cheap things from Amazon.com, but still nice to have.
One of the primary reasons for me to choose the LX-100 (or the LX-100 ii) is the sensor.
Compared to other compact cameras, the LX-100 has a rather large Micro Four Thirds sensor. That makes it possible to use the camera at relatively high ISO settings, and still deliver great images.
Below are three images shot with ISO 6400, 12800 and 25600, respectively. I have reduced them in size to 1800px on the long side, and slightly compressed (80% quality) them in Lightroom. I always do that for web usage, and the purpose isn’t to show the image qulity in full details, but instead to show the images as I intend to use them.
ISO 6400 looks fine. There is a certain quality drop at ISO 12800 and 25600, but they are still usable (in a pinch).
As something unique, the sensor is a “multi-aspect-sensor.” The entire sensor is never used, only different parts of it. It is easy to switch the sensor from one format to another: 3:2, 16:9, 1:1 or 4:3 is chosen by switching a lever on the side of the lens.
I couldn’t really see a point in this, the first time I had the LX-100, but I find it great now. The various formats are great when making content for SoMe.
Another plus for the LX-100 is the Leica branded lens.
The lens has a full frame focal lenght equivalent of 24-75mm, from wide angle to slight tele. This is fine for everyday use.
The aperture is variable, ranging from f/1.7 at the wide angle to f/2.8 at the tele end. So the lens is nice and bright, and the combination of a large sensor and a large aperture makes it possible to get images with a nice, blurred-out background.
Eventhought the camera is 5 years old, it shoots video in 4K. That was also one of the key sales arguments 5 years ago. Nowadays, it is more or less the standard. But in most cases, people don’t care whether a Youtube video is 4K or Full HD. Anyways, the camera still delivers ok video compared to todays standard.
In 4K photo mode, it is also possible to shoot in various formats, for instance 1:1 and 4:3 – great for SoMe.
The LX-100 has a series of creative features, which are easily accessible through the filter button on top of the camera. I normally never use the built in creative filters, but for a SoMe-snapshot camera, I could see myself using them.
There’s a couple of them I like: Retro, Toy Pop and Sunshine, for instance.
The primary reason I was looking for an LX-100 was the size. I wanted to have a camera, which was small enough to bring everywhere. OK: LX-100 isn’t really pocketable, but it is cheap enough to be handled a bit roughly – I have no problem just putting it into my messenger bag with no further protection.
Combined with a DJI Osmo Pocket (I’ll get back the Osmo Pocket in a future post), I have a nice, little photography-videography kit. The Osmo pocket gives nice and smooth video footage, and the LX-100 makes it possible to make footage with nice background blur. Sound can be recorded on the phone – all in all, a nice, small kit for less than 5.000 DKK / 700 Euro.
The Panasonic Lumix LX-100 might not match everybodys desires: It’s not small enough to fit into the pocket, and despite the size, the max resolution is no more than 12MP.
But combine it with a DJI Osmo Pocket and an external mic for a smartphone, and You have a really small and handy kit that You can bring anywhere, and suits the needs of a social media content creator perfectly.
So I am really happy for my new “micro-kit,” and will probably use it a lot in the years to come:-)