Body & Design

The Lumix DMC-LX100 is a small but not pocketable camera that straddles the line between cameras like the Sony RX100 III and Canon PowerShot G1 X II. The body is made of aluminium that feels solid in the hand. The dials have a nice 'notchy' feel and have just the right amount of resistance. Compared to the LX7, the LX100's build quality is definitely a step up.

The only item of note on the front of the camera (aside from the very nice lens) is the AF illuminator. There's a lot to see on the back of the camera, mainly buttons. We'll take a closer look at those in a bit.

On the right side of the camera you'll find the cover which hides the I/O ports (shown later). In this view, the lens at its full telephoto position. On the left side you can catch a glimpse of the focus mode switch, which has AF, AF+macro, and MF as its options. The lens is at its wide position here.

In your hand

The LX100 has a pretty small right hand grip, but it works well enough for a camera this size. As for the thumb rest, it's okay for those with smaller fingers, but large-handed people are at risk of accidentally pressing the Q.Menu or playback buttons.

Top of camera

As you can see, the LX100 looks more like a Fujifilm X100 than a Panasonic LX7. On the left side, where the flash would normally be, you'll find... nothing. That's because the space underneath houses the LX100's electronic viewfinder.

Moving right we have the hot shoe to which you can attach the small flash that's included with the camera, or something more powerful. The shoe can also take an optical viewfinder, which sells for around $150.

The new physical controls on the LX100 start to appear when you view the right side of the photo. There's the shutter speed dial, which has a range of 1 - 1/4000 sec plus auto and timed exposure. Underneath this dial is the power switch. Next door is the shutter release button / zoom controller combo, as well as direct buttons for Intelligent Auto mode as well as Creative Filters (unfortunately the LX100 lacks an ND filter). An exposure compensation dial can be seen at far right.

Looking at the lens barrel you'll first see a switch for changing the aspect ratio. As mentioned earlier, the camera remains the same field-of-view regardless of the ratio. The dial above that is used for zoom or manual focus, depending on what you're doing. Above that is the aperture dial, which goes to F16, instead of F8 on the LX7.

Rear LCD and EVF

Spec-wise, the LX100's LCD is typical for an enthusiast compact. It's 3" in size and has 921k dots (640 x 480 pixel resolution). Some of its rivals offer 1.04m or 1.23m dot screens at this price but these are 720x480 pixel and 640 x 480 RGBW screens, respectively, so don't offer significantly more resolution.

The EVF is the same as on the GX7, except that it doesn't tilt. It has an impressive resolution of 2.76M dot-equivalent, though the field sequential technology used can create a 'rainbow' effect that may bother some people. Panasonic says its magnification (1.39x) is equivalent to 0.7x in 35mm terms but this would appear to be inconsistent with the camera's 2.2x crop factor. Either way, it's a reasonably size - neither remarkably large nor small. Default contrast and color rendition is markedly different from that of the rear LCD, so it benefits from a little adjustment (which can be done independently of the rear LCD)>

Compared to DMC-LX7

Speaking of comparisons to the LX7, here's how they look side by side:

Aside from the lenses, the major cosmetic difference between the LX100 (left) and LX7 is the grip.
Plenty of differences here, especially in the dial department. The addition of direct dials for exposure comp and shutter speed is one of our favorite new features. The new lens does protrude considerably more, but that's the trade-off for having a larger sensor.
On the back you'll first notice the LX100's electronic viewfinder, which was optional (and expensive) of the LX7. There are a few new buttons on the LX100, including one for movie recording, which was on the top plate of the LX7. Also note the new dial around the four-way controller, which replaces the 'clicky' dial near the thumb-rest on the LX7. Thankfully the LX100 has dedicated controls for aperture, shutter speed and exposure compensation, so this needn't play a major role in shooting.