High-end pocketable compacts roundup (2013)
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LF1
28-200mm equiv. F2-5.9 lens | 202k dot EVF | Wi-Fi with NFC
What we like:
- Compact size
- Useful zoom range
What we don't:
- Small, poor viewfinder
- No sensor to switch to EVF
- No control over flash output
The 1/1.7" sensor Panasonic LF1 credible competitor in the enthusiast compact sector. It's the only small-bodied, Raw-capable compact to include an electronic viewfinder, and it offers an impressive 28-200mm equivalent lens range (albeit with a less impressive F2-5.9 aperture range).
"The only small-bodied, Raw-capable compact to include an electronic viewfinder"
The LF1's image quality is good, with much better color response that we're used to from Panasonic. JPEGs can occasionally feature slightly abrupt highlight clipping and flat contrast, but are generally very nice.
The electronic viewfinder isn't quite the benefit it sounds like it should be. It's extremely small and low resolution, and has no sensor to activate it, so you're constantly having to manually switch it on, only to be reminded how small it is. At which point, you've paid money for a feature that's awkward to use and disappointing when you do. We were also a little bit surprised to find there's no option to control flash exposure compensation.
The LF1 is an interesting addition to this class - it offers the longest lens in the group and the only viewfinder, and we've been impressed by the images. Our reservations about the vewfinder are such that we'd say: if you need one, then the LF1 is the camera for you but, if it's just a feature you'd quite like to have, the decision is less clear-cut.