The Panasonic Lumix LF1 arrives at the top of Panasonic's compact range to sit alongside the LX7. Find out how it fares in the What Digital Camera Panasonic Lumix LF1 review...
The Panasonic Lumix LF1 is designed to sit alongside Panasonic’s other Raw-shooting enthusiast compact, the Lumix LX7, but offering the user something a little different. It features a longer, slower lens and fewer direct controls than the LX7, but with the added appeal of a built in Electronic Viewfinder (EVF) for a more traditional way of shooting.
Panasonic Lumix LF1 Review – Features
Rather than employing the same 10.1MP 1/1.7in Live MOS sensor found in the LX7, the Panasonic LF1 features a 12.1MP 1/1.7in Live MOS sensor with an ISO range from 80-6400 that can be expanded to 12,800 if needed. Not only that, but the camera’s Venus Engine image processor has also been developed to further enhance performance and image quality by working in tandem with Panasonic’s latest noise reduction and edge smoothing technology.
The Panasonic Lumix LF1 manages to pack one of the longest reaching zoom lenses for a enthusiast compact, with a 7.1x 28-200mm optical coverage. It’s not quite as wide as some rivals or as fast, with a variable maximum aperture range of f/2-5.9, but you get that extra reach at the long end.
To combat camera shake, the LF1 features Panasonic’s Power O.I.S. stabilisation system to counteract unwanted movement when handholding.
The feature that’s going to cause the most interest on the Lumix LF1 is the inclusion of an electronic viewfinder (EVF), with the 0.2in EVF sporting a 200k-dot resolution and a 100% field of view that shares a similar, if not identical, specification to EVFs found on some Panasonic Bridge cameras such as the Panasonic Lumix FZ62.
Complimenting the EVF is a 3in 920k-dot display at the rear with an automatic brightness adjustment in 7 steps, although it lacks touchscreen functionality.
With the Lumix LF1 designed for both those looking for a quality point and shoot compact or for more experienced users, the it features a broad range of shooting modes including iA+ (Intelligent Auto) for assisted shooting, Creative Control (art filters), Panorama as well as manual, aperture and shutter priority modes.
The LF1 features both Wi-fi and NFC connectivity options. After initial setup, NFC lets you turn on Wi-fi with a simple tap of a smartphone or tablet with the camera – preventing troublesome menus and setup procedures making the whole experience of transferring images a lot more streamlined and easier.
Not only that, but the camera can also be controlled remotely when partnered with the Panasonic Image App that’s available for free from iTunes for iOS and Google Play for Android mobile devices.
If you’re looking to shoot video with the Panasonic LF1, there’s the choice of Full HD 1920×1080 at 50i in AVCHD or 25p with MP4 output, while sound can be recorded in stereo provided you’re shooting in AVCHD.
Panasonic Lumix LF1 Review – Design
The Panasonic Lumix LF1 eschews the design of the Panasonic LX7 and instead opts for a more sleek and unfussy look that’s a little reminiscent of Sony’s RX100. Its proportions are a little closer to Canon’s PowerShot S110 or Nikon’s Coolpix P330 though, with dimensions of 102.5 x 62.1 x 27.9mm meaning that it’ll easily slip into most pockets and the weight won’t be too troublesome either coming in at 192g.
It has a quality feel and while the curved edges mean there’s no space for a handgrip of such, it still feels comfy in the hand.
Body mounted controls are kept reasonably sparse. Along with the on/off button on the top plate, there’s a mode dial which is accompanied by the shutter button that features a zoom control round its collar.
At the rear of the Lumix LF1 you”ll find scroll dial round a 4-way set of controls (Focusing, Drive, Exposure Compensation and Flash Control), with buttons to access display modes, playback, quick menu/trash and a programmable function.
On top of this there are controls to activate video recording, Wi-Fi and the EVF (no eye sensor here).
Turning to the front and unlike the Panasonic LX7 with has a dedicated aperture control ring, the LF1 has a multifunctional control ring that can be set-up to control aperture, shutter speed, ISO and Creative Control.
Panasonic Lumix LF1 Review – Performance
Whether using 1-Area, 23-Area or Face Detection AF modes with the Panasonic LF1, focus is snappy and only struggles slightly in low contrast scenes which is to be expected, though we’d be hesitant to use the AF Tracking mode on fast moving subjects.
It’ll happily track a subject across the frame, but rapid or erratic movements from your subject will see tracking lost, but this is not unique to the LF1.
There’s no denying that the EVF is a welcome and useful addition to the Lumix LF1, and something many people have been calling out for in a compact camera of this size. There’s no getting away from the fact that the display is quite small, while colours appear quite muted compared to the rear 3in display, while the level of detail offered is limited.
It’s perhaps unreasonable to expect anything more when you consider the size of the camera and the fact that it’s a unique feature for a camera of this class. Keep your expectations in check and the EVF is more than adequate for general composition, particularly in bright sunlight when it can be near impossible to frame shots on a rear screen, making it a real benefit.
LCD Screen performance
The rear 3in display is good, delivering a decent amount of clarity and crispness, though it doesn’t quite deliver the same punch as WhiteMagic display used on the Sony RX100 or AMOLED-based screens.
The Control Ring round the lens allows you to make quick exposure adjustments, while the flexibility to program it to a desired setting is welcome, with adjustments clearly displayed in the rear screen or EVF.
Combined with the additional function button and the 4 preset controls, and you’ve got pretty much everything at your fingertips, though if needed there’s a handy quick menu to access other key settings of the LF1.
Wi-Fi connectivity with downloadable App works well – configuration is relatively quick and once you’re set-up, its easy to transmit your images to a smartphone or tablet and images can be transferred at different sizes to make the process quicker. There’s also the option to wirelessly control the camera from your device if you wish.
Panasonic Lumix LF1 Review – Image Quality
Colour and White Balance
Using our Datacolor Spyder Checkr chart for our lab tests revealed the Panasonic LF1 delivers pleasing, if in some instances slightly muted colours, but with no noticeable drop-off in colour saturation as the sensitivity is increased. The LF1’s Auto White Balance, meanwhile, performs well, delivering natural results in a range of lighting conditions.
In most instances the Lumix LF1 will expose nicely for the scene, though we did find in bright conditions there’s a bias towards retaining shadow detail at the expense of blown highlights requiring exposure compensation to be applied – normally around -0.7.
Looking at the results of the Panasonic’s Lumix LF1’s Raw files from our resolution charts and it performs well, resolving detail down to 22 lines per mm (lpmm) at its base ISO of 80, decreasing down to 20 lpmm at ISO 6400 and delivering a comparable performance to both the Canon PowerShot S110 and Nikon Coolpix P330.
The LF1 delivers some really clean results at low ISOs, with noise only faintly becoming present at ISO 800. Above this and the LF1’s noise reduction algorithm comes into play if you’re shooting JPEGs, with results loosing definition in an effort to combat image noise – at ISO 6400 results look distinctly patchy and waxing.
If you’re prepared to shoot in Raw though, the story’s a lot better. While colour and luminance noise become more prominent in the image as the sensitivity is increased, detail is retained to a much great level.
Panasonic Lumix LF1 Review – Verdict
The Panasonic Lumix LF1 enters a increasingly competitive market, and its priced somewhere in the middle, costing around £75-100 more than the likes of the Canon PowerShot S110 or the Nikon Coolpix P330, though around £75 less than either the Sony Cyber-shot RX100 or Fujifilm X20, though both admittedly feature physically larger sensors. That’s not forgetting Panasonic’s own LX7, which is now a little less having been available for just under a year now.
For those looking for an enthusiast compact camera, you may be better served with an LX7 thanks to the wider and faster optics or splashing out a bit more on a RX100. But if you’re looking for a quality pocket compact camera then there’s lots to like about the LF1.
Its compact size, straightforward handling, decent zoom range, great images, Wi-fi connectivity and the inclusion of a built-in EVF all combine to make the LF1 a great premium compact.
Sample Image Gallery
This is just a small selection of sample images captured with the Panasonic Lumix LF1. For a full range, visit the Panasonic Lumix LF1 review sample image gallery.
The Panasonic LUMIX DMC-LF1 is the latest addition in the company’s high-end compact range. Designed for enthusiasts looking for a smaller camera boasting an impressive specification, the Panasonic LUMIX DMC-LF1 features a 12.1MP MOS sensor and delivers a 80-12,800 ISO range.
The all-new LEICA DC VARIO-SUMMICRON lens features a 7.1x optical zoom and a f/2-5.9 variable aperture across its zoom range. Equivalent to 28-200mm, the camera’s Venus Engine has also been developed to further enhance performance and image quality by working in tandem with Panasonic’s latest noise reduction and edge smoothing technology.
Despite its compact size, the LUMIX DMC-LF1 is also capable of recording HD video (1920×1080) at 50i in both the AVCHD progressive and MP4 outputs. Possibly the most interesting talking point is the LF1’s 0.2-inch electronic viewfinder, which gives users the option to use a shooting display that suits their style rather than being reliant on using the 3in LCD screen at the rear.
Other noteworthy features on the Panasonic Lumix DMC- LF1 include a high speed burst mode that gives users the option to shoot a continuous burst at up to 10fps. Quick start-up and a responsive autofocus performance are promised, while Panasonic’s O.I.S stabilisation system is used to reduce the risk of blur that’s often caused by handshake.
Just like the recently announced Panasonic Lumix GF6, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LF1 features both Wifi and NFC connectivity options. After initial setup, NFC lets you turn on Wifi with a simple tap of a smartphone or tablet with the camera – preventing troublesome menus and setup procedures. The camera can also be controlled remotely when partnered with the Panasonic Image App – available from iTunes and Google Play for iOS and Android mobile devices.
Commenting on the creation of the new Panasonic Lumix DMC-LF1, Sebastian Drawert, Manager of LUMIX G and DSC at Panasonic Consumer Marketing Europe said: ‘We believe that the LUMIX DMC-LF1 delivers a new level of performance and functionality for compact camera enthusiasts. We have managed to incorporate a host of features and functions, including a high-performance LEICA lens, into a beautifully designed and incredibly mobile camera. With the LUMIX DMC-LF1, photographers will be in complete control of their images and video, both when composing, shooting and editing. Even better is the fact that you can instantly share that creativity with the world, thanks to the LUMIX DMC-LF1’s amazing connectivity capabilities.’
The Panasonic LUMIX DMC-LF1 will be available from mid-June and is expected to cost £379.