There is no miracle with LX7

Started Aug 21, 2012 | Discussions thread
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dkojevnikov
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There is no miracle with LX7
Aug 21, 2012

I got my LX7 today and took my usual test pictures at midday, dusk, and night.

I am currently using Nikon J1 and I have test pictures I did with RX100 which I returned.

The good thing about LX7 is that I really like its ergonomics and functionality. It has everything I can wish for (and that is missing in J1 and RX100). Autofocus is fast enough, faster than RX100 (for both day and night scenes) and J1 (for night scenes). AF on J1 is really slow and unreliable in dim conditions when PDAF switches to CDAF. LX7 is simply fast and pretty reliable all the time. The only drawback of LX7 is its slow zoom, RX100 seemed to be faster. So functionality and ergonomically-wise, I have no complains.

I analyzed jpeg pictures at all ISOs and lighting conditions as well as RAWs processed through Adobe Lightroom (using the trick with modifying the RAW files to look like LX5) as well as RawTherapee and Adobe Lightroom afterwards.

I did not do any scientific tests but dynamic range seems to be pretty good, all the details I wanted to recover, I was able to recover. There is one catch though, even at ISO80 there is a grain/noise in shadows if you do extreme corrections (same for J1 but less for RX100).

Jpeg engine seems to be mediocre, a lot of detail smearing and highlight clipping so LX7 looks like a RAW-only camera unless Panasonic makes some improvements here.

High ISO seems to be usable until and including ISO1000. Starting with ISO1250, Panasonic switches on noise suppression mechanism (even on RAWs) and it ruins sky at night scenes. This noise suppression algorithm produces some blotched banding-like texture on a uniform parts of an image making resulting image unusable unless you black those patches out. I wish they added the possibility to switch it off. Sky at ISO800 and ISO1000 has grain-like noise but no streaks or blotches.

So in my opinion, the highest usable and safe ISO on LX7 is ISO800-ISO1000 but you can't set ISO1000 as the maximum ISO in Auto-ISO mode. Analyzing the night pictures from RX100 and J1, I found out that picture becomes unusable at ISO6400 (large color blotches and grain noise) so the maximum usable ISO for RX100/J1 is ISO3200 which has similar amount of noise (to ISO800 on LX7).

Amount of details is simply incomparable between LX7 and RX100 if image from RX100 is down-sized to 10Mp. But once both images are re-sized another 50%, I really have trouble noticing any difference so it is all a matter of amount of pixels, RX100 simply has 2x more of them.

Lens on LX7 is very good. If stopped down a little bit, there is no softness from the lens. At wide open, it is softer throughout the frame at wide angle (better at telephoto) but it is bearable. Images are not tack sharp as downsized RX100. It seems to me that LX7 uses a strong anti-aliasing filter so details of the size of a pixel on sensor are not resolved with 100% sharpness. Pictures are not soft but there are no super fine details and noise grain is rather coarse (although pretty uniform until ISO1250). Noise grain on RX100 is much finer and it resolves finer details even if considering its rather soft lens. 20Mp is a benefit in this case.

So to sum it up, LX7 is more advanced than J1, has better ergonomics and functionality. It loses about 2 stops of high ISO but its lens is 2.5 times brighter than standard zoom on J1. So as a travel/universal camera LX7 is simply better than J1.

Comparing to RX100, LX7 has better ergonomics and functionality but loses about 2 stops because of the smaller sensor. Dynamic range seems to be comparable. But lens on RX100 is 0.5-2 stops slower than LX7 and at wide angle it becomes f2 at 29mm (being f1.8 at 28mm). So I would consider lens on RX100 to be actually 1-2 stops slower than LX7 in most cases so LX7 is pretty close to RX100 at high ISO losing about 1 stop at wide angle but gaining pretty fast when zooming in.

Alas, I was hoping for a better ISO1600 with LX7 but Panasonic ruined it with its mandatory de-noising algorithm. Other than that, I have no complains so far. I am extremely happy to get 24mm back, it is so much wider than 28mm especially with 16:9 mode.

Nikon 1 J1 Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5 Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7 Sony RX100
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