Enthusiast Compact group test – Panasonic Lumix LX7

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Features

The fifth iteration in Panasonic's popular LX series, the LX7 maintains the same 10.1MP resolution and 24-90mm lens of its LX5 predecessor, but at f/1.4-2.3 the lens is now brighter while the 3in LCD screen sees its resolution boosted to 920k dots. The camera offers much the same combination of exposure controls as the others here, with full PASM options joined by Auto and Scene settings, with the further sweeteners of a built-in ND filter and Raw shooting increasing its flexibility even further.

A range of Creative Controls allow miniature, retro and cross-processed effects among others to be instantly applied to images, and while the camera doesn't offer a viewfinder the accessory port underneath the hotshoe accepts an electronic viewfinder. Of course, the hotshoe can be used on its own with external flash units, although a pop-up flash  also hides inside the top plate.


Design

Along with the XZ-2 and RX100, the LX7 offers an aperture ring around its optic, although the physical clicks and markings around the lens means that out of the three it looks and behaves most like a traditional aperture ring. There's only one mode dial on the top plate, and the grip doesn't appear significant in the hand, while the command dial on the back plate could do with protruding further out for better purchase.

Furthermore, the camera is the only one out of the seven to have the functions on the menu pad buttons engraved rather than labelled in text, which makes them harder to read. There is, however, much to redeem these small issues, such as the generously-sized shutter release button, as well as the ND/focus rocker on the back which is sensitive enough for precise manual focusing adjustments.


Image Quality

With a slightly lower sensor resolution it's  not surprising to find the LX7 resolves marginally less detail than the average here. Detail is well maintained at middlemost ISO settings, although noise reduction in JPEGs is heavy-handed, particularly as ISO increases.

Exposures from the LX7 are slightly more balanced than with some of the others; typically this means that shadowy areas are not lifted to the same degree as with the G15 and XF1, for example, but that overexposure and blown highlights are less common. Colours in images are pleasing, and there's some distortion at wideangle, although corner sharpness is above average.

 


 


Performance

The LX7 turns on and is ready to shoot in good time, although, for whatever reason, it takes a good few seconds before the menu system may be accessed. The screen's contrast is pleasing, although it does lack the bite of some of the others here, notably those on Nikon's and Olympus's offerings.

The zoom moves slowly, although this is understandable given the relatively narrow focal range, while the focusing system is capable, on a par with the other cameras here (but with a slightly slower performance in darker conditions). Shot-to-shot times are excellent, and the levelling function helpfully stretches across the entire display too.

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