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Conclusion - Pros:

  • Excellent photo quality, with less noise than typical compact cameras
  • Super fast F1.4-2.3, 3.8X optical zoom Leica lens gives excellent sharpness, and versatility in low light
  • Multi-aspect sensor keeps pixel count high in different aspect ratio modes
  • 3-inch LCD with 920,000 dots, very good outdoor/low light visibility
  • Full manual controls with RAW support, numerous ways to adjust white balance, three types of bracketing, and a customizable button
  • Intelligent Auto mode does it all for you, including scene selection, face detection, blur reduction, HDR, and smart sharpening
  • Robust performance, especially startup, focus and shot-to-shot speeds
  • Super fast burst mode, with ability to shoot at 5.5 fps with continuous AF and 11 fps with single AF
  • Handy aperture ring around lens
  • Built-in neutral density (ND) filter
  • Lots of scene modes (including HDR and Panorama Shot) and special effects
  • Intelligent Resolution feature nicely sharpens photos
  • Time lapse and multiple exposure options
  • Records movies at 1080/60p with stereo sound, use of optical zoom/image stabilizer, and continuous autofocus; full manual controls available
  • Optional electronic and optical viewfinders, external flash, and lens filters
  • Above average battery life

Conclusion - Cons:

  • Aperture ring cannot be customised, unlike similar controls on competitive cameras
  • Redeye a problem; no removal tool in playback mode
  • Takes a long time (30+ seconds) for camera to flush the buffer after a burst containing RAW images is taken
  • Vertical stripes in panoramic images
  • Very slow lens zooming action
  • Cheap-feeling rear dial doesn't rotate smoothly; flimsy door over battery/memory card compartment
  • Full manual on CD-ROM (it's not very user-friendly, either)

Overall Conclusion:

The Lumix DMC-LX7 is Panasonic's flagship compact camera, and the long-awaited follow-up to the popular DMC-LX5. At first glance, it's hard to tell the two apart, but look closer and you'll see some pretty big changes. The DMC-LX7 is a mid-sized camera made mostly of metal. Build quality is good in most respects, though I wasn't a fan of the cheap-feeling rear dial, which doesn't turn smoothly. As is usually the case, the plastic door over the battery/memory card compartment is flimsy, as well. The LX7 fits well in your hand, thanks to a right hand grip that's, well, just right. The biggest feature on the camera is undoubtedly its F1.4-2.3, 3.8X Leica zoom lens (equivalent to 24 - 90 mm). This is the fastest lens you'll find on a compact camera.

Panasonic has put an aperture ring around the lens, which allows you to quickly adjust this setting when in A and M mode. The LX7 also features Panasonic's Power OIS image stabilization system, to reduce the risk of blurry photos and jumpy videos. On the back of the camera is a 3-inch LCD with 920,000 dots (twice that of the LX5) that is easy to see both outdoors and in low light. If you want to use an electronic viewfinder, Panasonic offers a pretty nice one. An external flash and various lens filters are also available as accessories.

The LX7 has a very nice collection of features that should make just about everybody happy. If you're a 'set it and forget it' kind of person, then look no further than Panasonic's great Intelligent Auto mode. It literally takes care of everything for you, whether its picking a scene mode, avoiding blur, handling back-lit situations, or intelligently sharpening an image. The LX7 has a large collection of scene modes, plus numerous special effects (known as Creative Controls). Two scene modes of note include Panorama Shot and HDR. The former will let you 'sweep' the camera from side-to-side, with an automatically stitched panorama arriving a few seconds later. Unfortunately, all of my panoramas had vertical banding in them, which I hope Panasonic can fix via firmware update. The HDR feature is point-and-shoot (meaning that you can't adjust the exposure interval), but it does result in much better-looking photos when your subject is strongly back-lit.

As you'd expect from this premium compact, there are plenty of manual controls on the LX7, too. You get all the usual exposure options, RAW support, lots of white balance options, and three types of bracketing. Another feature I like is called Intelligent Resolution, which I think noticeably improves the look of the LX7's already stellar images. The DMC-LX7 also has a fully loaded movie mode, which allows you to record Full HD video at 1080/60p, with stereo sound, for up to 30 minutes. You can use the optical zoom and image stabilizer while recording, and continuous autofocus is available, as well. If you to adjust the aperture, shutter speed, or ISO in movie mode, it's totally doable on the LX7.

The DMC-LX7's performance is top-notch in nearly every area. It starts up in just 1.1 seconds, focuses very quickly, and takes the photo as soon as you press the button. Shot-to-shot delays are minimal, even if you're using the RAW format or taking a flash photo. The LX7 has a variety of burst modes, with the two most notable being the 5.5 fps with continuous AF and 11 fps options. The camera has a large amount of buffer memory, so quite a few photos can be taken before things slow down. The only areas in which the camera lags are buffer flush times (30+ seconds when shooting bursts of RAW images) and zoom speed (the lens moves at a snail's pace). While battery life has dropped considerably since the LX5, it's still tied for the top spot in the premium compact group.

Photo quality on the Lumix DMC-LX7 is excellent. The camera takes well-exposed photos, without too much highlight clipping (though it will occur at times). Colors are nice and saturated, and accurate in most situations (the LX7 still struggles a bit in artificial light). The LX7's lens is definitely high quality, with good sharpness across the frame. If you want things a bit sharper than what the camera produces by default, you can use the Intelligent Resolution feature I mentioned earlier. The LX7 has very little noise and thankfully no detail smudging at low ISOs. It keeps noise levels low through ISO 400 in low light and ISO 1600 in good light, both of which are better than what you'll find on a typical compact camera. One issue that the DMC-LX7 unfortunately has is redeye, despite its two features designed to prevent it.

Overall, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7 is an excellent premium compact camera. Its fast lens, performance, and manual controls will make enthusiasts drool, while those just starting out can get great results using Panasonic's Intelligent Auto mode. There's very little to dislike about the LX7, with my main issues being redeye, slow buffer flush times when shooting RAW images, and vertical lines in panoramas. Aside from that, the LX7 is a first-rate camera that I can highly recommend.

Some other premium compacts to consider include the Canon PowerShot S100, Fujifilm X10, Nikon Coolpix P310, Olympus XZ-1, Samsung EX2F, and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7
Category: Premium Enthusiast Compact Camera
Build quality
Ergonomics & handling
Features
Exposure and focus accuracy
Image quality (raw)
Image quality (jpeg)
Flash performance
Low light / high ISO performance
Optics
Performance (speed)
Movie / video mode
Value
PoorExcellent
Good for
Low light enthusiasts who desire a camera with manual controls, fast performance, expandability, and a top-notch movie mode.
Not so good for
Those planning on taking a lot of people pictures with the built-in flash - redeye will likely be an issue. Also, slow zoom speed can be very annoying.
Overall score
75%
It wasn't easy to improve on the already impressive DMC-LX5, but Panasonic managed to pull it off with their new LX7. Enthusiasts will love its fast lens, manual controls, photo quality, and 1080/60p movie mode. Beginners can enjoy the LX7 too, thanks to Panasonic's great Intelligent Auto mode.

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About Jeff Keller

Jeff Keller is the Founder and Publisher of the Digital Camera Resource Page. When it was created in 1997, DCResource was the first digital camera news and review site on the Internet. Jeff's love of gadgetry introduced him to digital cameras in the mid-90's, from which his passion for photography developed. Jeff runs DCResource from his home in Oakland, CA, and is often found wandering the streets of San Francisco with a bag full of cameras.

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Comments

Total comments: 9
kpaddler
By kpaddler (1 week ago)

This was a great line of cameras for light travel for serious people.
I have a feeling they will to the same with GX series. If so, I jump panasonic ship.
I don't have time for goofy cameras. Olympus has shown some convictions so far.

Panasonic should go back to make just microwave oven and kitchen appliances.

0 upvotes
wgerhartz
By wgerhartz (2 months ago)

The LX7 offers a lot of camera for its money! I liked it from the very beginning.

However, my comment emphasizes its robustness. I was careless enough to let it drop from about 7 m unto a stone floor. It survived! It fell on the left upper edge (where the flash pops out).There is a dent, and the cover warps out by less than a mm. The flash needs fingernail assistance to pop out. Apart from that, there is not the slightest flaw in the optical quality of the photographs. I am amazed!

1 upvote
disraeli demon
By disraeli demon (9 months ago)

Just upgraded to this from an LX3 and I'm loving it. Snappier all round, better noise control, faster burst rate and the combination of step zoom plus lens resume (resets the lens to the focal length it was at when the camera powered down) means I'm shooting much more in the middle of the range instead of slamming from full wide to full tele all the time.

(Plus, high-speed video at 720p!!!)

I did quite a bit of research before this upgrade, and while I was tempted by the rangefinder-style layout of the Fuji X20 (but too big for my taste and limited video) and the flip-out touch-screen of the Olympus XZ-2 (but there are stories of focussing issues and it lacks that high-speed video option) in the end, this was the one for me.

1 upvote
RP McMurphy
By RP McMurphy (9 months ago)

The door on my LX3 is long snapped off
v annoying

0 upvotes
Ikay
By Ikay (10 months ago)

Dear Jeff Keller,
I really enjoy reading your reviews. BUT why do you keep harping on the allegedly 'flimsy' door of the battery/card compartment? I've been with the LX series since the LX3 and this door is totally adequate. Ok,when it's open it wobbles a bit,but it's normally closed and then it's perfectly ok.
Just treat it as you would treat the rest of the camera.
Of course,if you let your 5-year-old 'use' it,it will soon become flimsy...

2 upvotes
Death89
By Death89 (2 months ago)

I have to agree on this point. I've never had any issues with the door on my Panasonic cameras.

I guess it could be down to the fact I'm pretty regimented in how I change batteries/cards (I open the door, pop out the battery/card and close it again - makes sense to me not to leave a door open no matter how solidly built it is) but really as long as you don't travel round with it open I can't see how it could be a problem

2 upvotes
Joseph Broz
By Joseph Broz (Aug 11, 2013)

The photo software that ships with the Lumix LX7 will not work with Windows 8. Does anyone know when Panasonic will fix this?

0 upvotes
Midwest
By Midwest (4 months ago)

Unfortunately, Panasonic cannot fix the nightmare that is Windows 8.

4 upvotes
Victor Stan
By Victor Stan (3 months ago)

Windows 7 works good, why do people rush so early to new OS? It's common sense that it takes a minimum of 6 months for any OS to be polished. Well in the case of Microsoft it takes forever since they only make a new OS because they aren't able to fix their current one. But always wait at least half a year to jump the bandwagon man!

2 upvotes
Total comments: 9