Key takeaways

  • The LX100 II offers plenty of direct control and a good level of customization for engaged shooting
  • The rear touchscreen makes it much faster to select an AF point than existing LX100 (though left-eyed shooters may find themselves unintentionally nose-focusing)
  • The fixed rear screen and field-sequential viewfinder feel like cut corners on such an expensive camera
  • Panasonic promises improved dust resistance from lens

The LX100 II is the first model to be sold outside Japan with a 'Mk II' designation, rather than warranting an entirely new model name. This should probably be taken to imply that a lot about the camera is consistent with the older version. There are differences, though, and we also think the camera should appeal beyond users of the existing camera, so we'll try not to assume you're already familiar with every aspect of it.

The most important change for the LX100 II is the addition of a rear touchscreen

The LX100 has an extensive array of direct external controls. The most immediately apparent are the aperture ring, exposure comp and shutter speed dials. In addition, there's a free-rotating control ring around the lens, that can be configured to control a series of different functions. It's easy to inadvertently nudge, which may affect whether you choose to use it at all. There are also a series of customizable buttons.

The most important change for the LX100 II, though, is the addition of a rear touchscreen. This not only adds a series of 'virtual' touchscreen function buttons but, more significantly, provides a quick and easy way to position the autofocus point that was absent from its forebear.

Aperture ring

The LX100 II has a dedicated, marked, clicking aperture ring. Just remember that the settings brighter than F2.8 can't be honored once you start to zoom in.

There will be some people who'll take issue with using a marked aperture ring with a variable aperture lens, since it means you won't be getting the indicated F1.7 aperture value if you zoom in. Personally I feel the benefit of marked settings - if I want to stop down a specific value, at a glance - outweighs the logical inconsistency. I tend to consider any setting wider than the F2.8 maximum aperture of the tele end of the lens to mean 'wide open,' rather than a specific value.

Aspect Ratio switch

The aspect ratio switch: a constant reminder to experiment with one of its key features: the ability to offer a consistent diagonal angle-of-view for three different image formats (4:3, 3:2 and 16:9). Oddly, the aspect ratio that doesn't make full use of the lens (1:1) is interspersed amongst the others on the switch. More frustratingly, the camera crops the Raw file to your chosen aspect ratio, so you can't change your mind when you come to edit.

Menus and Interface

The LX100 II benefits from the updated menu structure introduced with the Panasonic GH5. This splits the camera custom menu into labelled sections, to make it easier to track-down and memorize the location of specific settings. There's also a MyMenu tab which can be used to give faster access to regularly-used settings.

The LX100 II has the latest version of Panasonic's menu system, which breaks the Custom menu up into sections, making it easier to navigate and memorize.

The other major way of accessing settings is the Q.Menu. By default this is assigned to the Fn.2 button near the top-right corner of the rear LCD but it can be assigned to any one of the physical or touchscreen Fn positions. The Q.Menu looks like a compact camera display from ten years ago: ranging the key settings along the top and bottom of the screen.

There's another option, though: in the menu (Custom > Operation > Q.Menu) you can choose 'Custom' rather than 'Preset.' This creates a more touch-friendly and customizable menu which has space for up to 15 setting spread across up to three swipeable screens. We prefer this way of working because you can group commonly used settings together.

Electronic Viewfinder

It's lovely to have a built-in viewfinder on the camera but the LX100 II's display won't be to everyone's taste.

The Mark II inherits its viewfinder from the original camera and this is the aspect that feels most anachronistic. The 1280 x 720 pixel resolution is still reasonable by contemporary standards but the use of 'field sequential' technology, which flashes one primary color after another to build up the impression of a full color rendering. This feels out of place in a modern, $1000 camera. A high refresh rate improves matters somewhat, but blinking or looking quickly around the screen can highlight the lag between one color being refreshed, and the next: giving a disconcerting rainbow tearing effect.

The LX100 II uses its rear screen as an AF touchpad when you're using the viewfinder. As with previous Panasonic models, you can choose whether the point jumps to the position you've pressed on the screen or moves relative to its existing position. In both modes, as a left-eyed shooter, I found my nose would re-position and effectively lock the AF point wherever my nose had contacted.

Fixed rear screen

The other inconvenience is the camera's fixed screen. I can't put my finger on why I find it more bothersome on the LX100 than I do on the Fujifilm X100, but I suspect it's the wider-angle lens on the Panasonic that encourages low-angle shooting, which means more kneeling on the floor than is dignified (or comfortable).

Environmental sealing

Panasonic hasn't gone into specifics but does say it's worked to keep dust out of the LX100 II's lens.

Panasonic didn't initially make any claims of enhanced sealing with the LX100 II. However, following claims of improved sealing around the lens, we are told: "There is no additional urethane sealing used but we have a countermeasure to prevent the dust ingress with the LX100M2. There will no longer be a gap when the lens barrel is moving."

"We have a countermeasure to prevent the dust ingress with the LX100M2"

This is promising, since dust getting sucked-in by the lens mechanism became a widely-discussed concern with the original version.

Auto ISO

The LX100 II's Auto ISO is fairly primitive. You can specify the upper and lower ISO settings that the camera will use but there's no way of selecting the shutter speed any which this is changed. the 'Intelligent ISO' mode takes subject movement into account, which choosing exposure settings, but you don't get any control. This i.ISO mode is not available when shooting video.

Auto ISO is available in manual exposure mode, both for stills and video mode. This means you can set the shutter speed and aperture value you want then have the camera attempt to maintain the target brightness. Exposure comp remains available if you wish to adjust this target brightness.