While we love the Panasonic Lumix LX100, it dates from 2014, which is a long time ago in camera development terms. So naturally, we are delighted that Panasonic has introduced an update, the Lumix LX100 II. And Panasonic has stuck with a winning formula that combines a superb Leica DC Vario-Summilux 24-75mm (equivalent) f1.7-2.8 lens with a multi-aspect Four-Thirds type sensor, in a compact body with an electronic viewfinder.
The most significant change brought by the new camera is the sensor. This has been updated from a 16MP chip in the Mark I to a 21.77MP sensor in the Mark II camera. As before, this sensor works as a multi-aspect device, which means it’s actually larger than is required by any of the available aspect ratios. As a result, the largest images are made up of 17 million pixels, up from 12 million pixels with the original LX100. This adds to its appeal as possibly one of the best travel cameras out there right now for expert photographers.
Panasonic Lumix LX100 II (Specs)
- Sensor: 17MP Micro Four Thirds HS MOS
- Lens: 24-75mm f/1.7-2.8 lens
- Screen: 3.0-inch touchscreen, 1,240,000 dots
- Burst shooting: 30fps (at 8MP)
- Autofocus: 49-area AF
- Video: 4K
- Connectivity: Bluetooth and Wi-Fi
- Weight: 392g (including battery and card)
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Panasonic Lumix LX100 II: Price
To help photographers make greater use of the sensor’s multi-aspect nature, there’s a switch on the lens barrel that allows you to swap quickly between shooting in 3:2, 16:9, 1:1 and 4:3 ratio. This is a great prompt to consider aspect ratio at the shooting stage rather than when processing images. In fact, it’s beneficial to do so as in Adobe Camera Raw, the RAW files only have the data from the element ratio they are captured in. This means any post-capture factor changes crop into that image. With other cameras’ aspect ratio settings it’s usually possible to see the picture from the whole sensor.
Panasonic Lumix LX100 II: Performance
While it’s not really designed as an action camera, the Lumix LX100 II can rattle off up to 11fps (in AF-S mode), though this drops down to 5.5fps with continuous focusing. If that’s not enough, you can take advantage of the Lumix LX100 II’s various 4K Photo modes, allowing you to shoot at around 30fps and select a 8MP JPEG file from the sequence.
The Lumix LX100 II’s exposure metering system proved reliable during our time with the camera, with the exposure compensation dial needed only a few times, and in situations where you’d expect to have to take control anyway, such as when shooting a portrait subject in bright light against a dark background. It’s worth noting as well that the Lumix LX100 II now has the option to dial in up to ±5 of exposure compensation when this function is assigned to the control ring (as opposed to using the dedicated dial that runs around ±3). The auto white balance system on the Lumix LX100 II proved equally reliable in regular daylight.
At 340 shots (provided you stick with the 3-inch display), the Lumix LX100 II’s battery life stacks up pretty well against rivals like the 200-shot Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark III and the 220-chance Sony RX100 V; if you’re planning to use the EVF regularly this drops right down to 270 shots.
Panasonic Lumix LX100 II: Build and Handling
On the outside, the Lumix LX100 II looks very much like the original Lumix LX100, but a slight tweak to the handgrip makes it a little easier to hold securely. The Lumix LX100 II is also small enough, just about, to fit in a jacket pocket, although you’ll have to switch it off first, as the retracting lens extends some distance when the camera is switched on.
The shutter speed dial and aperture control ring both have a firm, precise action. The focus mode, aspect ratio and aperture rings on the lens are squeezed quite close together, though, so you need a certain amount of dexterity to change the element ratio setting.
The EVF resolution isn’t the highest, but it’s more than adequate, and the EVF performs well in bright light if the rear screen becomes hard to make out. The rear display itself is sharp and clear, and responds very well to touch input; in fact too well at times – as is often the case with touchscreens it’s a little too easy to touch the display screen with the heel of your hand while holding the camera, and then find that the concentrate point is way off in the corner when you go to take the next shot.
You can switch off the touch control if you want to, although it’s undeniably useful for setting the focus point position (even while using the EVF), and the touch-shutter mode is handy for macro shots, or even surreptitious street photography with the camera held away from your face.
That said, street photographers may be a little disappointed to learn that the screen is fixed, without even a tilt mechanism, so waist-level shooting isn’t an option. We’ve got so used to tilting screens on compact cameras that it’s a bit of a blow not to get one here.
The zoom action can be a touch pedestrian. You can use either the zoom lever around the shutter release button or the multi-function control ring on the zoom lens, but both respond very slowly. This is one area where regular ‘mechanical’ zooms have a major advantage, and it does detract from the Lumix LX100 II’s responsiveness in other areas.
This is a powerful camera that’s packed with technology; however, getting the best out of it requires somewhat intricate interaction with the touchscreen display icons and menu system, and while the Lumix LX100 II’s physical controls are first rate, the digital interactions do get a bit fiddly.
Panasonic Lumix LX100 II: Key features
- Up to 17MP images (from crops of 20MP Four Thirds CMOS sensor)
- 24-75mm equivalent F1.7-2.8 zoom
- 4:3, 3:2, 16:9 and 1:1 aspect ratios using selector switch on lens
- 4K video at up to 30p
- 2.76M-dot equiv. electronic viewfinder
- 1.24M-dot rear touchscreen
- Wi-Fi with always-connected Bluetooth
Panasonic Lumix LX100 II: Conclusion
It’s fair to say that the Panasonic Lumix LX100 II is more of an incremental update than a massive overhaul, hence why Panasonic probably felt it merited a ‘Mark II’ designation (a first for a Lumix camera) rather than a whole new model name (many people were expecting the Lumix LX200). If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it – the original Lumix LX100 was one of our favourite compact cameras, and while it’s been a little overshadowed in recent years, it’s still a nice camera to use.
The good news then is that the Lumix LX100 II feels just like its popular predecessor: a portable, responsive premium compact camera with a fast lens and appealing external controls. The new grip makes it better to hold, and the increased resolution is welcome.