Studio Scene

Our test scene is designed to simulate a variety of textures, colors and detail types you'll encounter in the real world. It also has two illumination modes to see the effect of different lighting conditions.

With a fixed lens camera like this, you can't entirely separate the sensor from the lens performance. At the center you can see it's capturing levels of detail comparable with those of its 20MP peers, this performance doesn't necessarily hold out to the edges of the lens. It's not that the LX100 II is bad, just that it's not quite as sharp as the best of its peers.

The camera's larger sensor means that it noticeably out-performs the 1"-sensor cameras at higher ISO settings (though it's still pretty noisy, so don't expect miracles from the JPEGs). As you'd expect, the use of a cropped region of the sensor means it's a fraction noisier than its Micro Four Thirds peers, when viewed at the same size.

The sensor can't keep up with the Canon G1X III when compared at the same ISO setting but the Panasonic's lens is at least 1EV brighter throughout its zoom range, so can always shoot at least one ISO setting lower, for the same shutter speed.

Panasonic has done a lot of work on its JPEG color rendition, in recent years and you can immediately see an advantage over the original LX100: yellows are less green and the orangey/pink patch on the left has less of a blue cast to it. In the real world this equates to more attractive skin tones, even if it doesn't always live up to Canon or Fujifilm levels of attractiveness.

Default sharpening is good, bringing out fine detail, though there is some sign of stair-stepping on high-contrast diagonals. Noise reduction is a little more aggressive than Sony's default implementation but does a pretty good job of balancing noise suppression with detail retention. Overall, a good result and an appreciable improvement over the Mark I.

Dynamic Range

Our dynamic range tests look to see what happens in the dark regions of the images, to see how much flexibility there is when it comes to processing. The first thing we do it try lifting the shadows of images shot with increasingly dark exposures, as if you're protecting more and more highlight information.

As you can see, the LX100 II offers slightly less ability to pull up shadows than the GX9, presumably because it's using a slightly smaller region of its sensor, and hence is getting a little less light overall (similar light per pixel but with fewer pixels). The downside of this test is that decreasing the exposure increases the amount of noise in the image, so the images aren't directly comparable with one another. You can see it offers a comparable result to a 1"-type camera even when give two-thirds of a stop less light.

Our second test uses a fixed exposure level shot with different ISO settings then brightness-matched during processing. This means each image starts with the same amount of shot noise, so any differences must be down to noise from the camera. Our ISO Invariance test shows that there's only a small amount of noise being added by the sensor: the ISO 200 file pushed by three stops shows more noise than the other images.

LX100 II ISO Invariance test

This result means that, if you're shooting Raw, you can keep the ISO setting low (maybe to about 400), with the exposure settings from a higher ISO mode, then lift the image brightness while protecting the highlights, with no noise cost.