First impressions

by Jeff Keller

There were many things that made the original Panasonic LX100 so appealing. For me, it wasn't so much about those dials that provide an excellent level of control over exposure (though I can never turn down an exposure comp dial). Rather, it was the LX100's super-fast lens, larger-than-average sensor and overall user experience that made it a camera that I picked up before enthusiast compacts from Sony and Canon. (And its good-sized grip makes it easy to pick up!)

The LX100 Mark II remains one of the most appealing enthusiast compacts on the market

The LX100 II doesn't mess with the formula too much. The controls are familiar, and now there are additional custom buttons that can save a trip to the menus. The new touchscreen is much-needed, and Panasonic's implementation remains one of the best. For those who want even more customizable buttons, you can store five more on a tab on the screen which slides out from the side. Something I was hoping for that the Mark II didn't have was a tilting display, which didn't pan out. Oh well, there's always the Mark III.

I'm not a fan of the EVF on the LX100 I or II, since it uses field sequential technology and I'm especially sensitive to the color tearing that these displays are known for. Still, it's large and the resolution of 2.76 million dots (equivalent) is respectable.

Back when Panasonic came out with the LX3 - their first true multi-aspect camera - I didn't feel a need to ever leave 4:3. Things have changed dramatically since then. My Samsung smartphone shoots at 16:9, so that ratio doesn't seem as awkward to me as it did in 2008. I've also started to post more on Instagram, so having 1:1 just a switch away eliminates the need to crop. The wireless functions on the LX100 II make getting those square photos online even easier: you can have them automatically transferred to your smartphone, and it's straight to Instagram (or wherever) from there.

Something I was hoping for that the Mark II didn't have was a tilting display. Oh well, there's always the Mark III.

I've never really loved Panasonic's JPEGs, mainly due to heavy noise reduction. The good thing is that Panasonic keeps refining its JPEG engine with each new product. Having only seen 11 x 17 inch prints at a briefing I can't draw final conclusions, but the new 17MP sensor and updated processor are definitely preserving more detail (and producing more appealing color).

Camera companies always manage to squeeze in a few gimmicky features, but I don't consider Panasonic to be doing that here. My favorite is definitely Post Focus, which has helped save many a macro shot from the delete button. The new L.Monochrome D Picture Style looks great, especially with the random grain pattern generator turned on. One feature I wish Panasonic had included is a mic input – after all, the camera does capture pretty good 4K video.

With its fast lens and a useful focal range, multi-aspect Four Thirds sensor and numerous direct controls, the LX100 Mark II remains one of the most appealing enthusiast compacts on the market. Even if you don't use all of those dials, it's still a compelling camera for those who want to quickly shoot and share photos taken at multiple aspect ratios and, based on my initial impressions, it appears that image quality has improved to the point where it's on par with the best of its peers. I'm looking forward to shooting with it more.