Panasonic Lumix LX100 II Review
Panasonic Lumix LX100 II Introduction
The Panasonic Lumix LX100 II is a premium compact camera which incorporates a new 17 megapixel multi-aspect Micro Four Thirds sensor. The Panasonic LX100 also features 4K video recording at 30/24fps including the ability to extract high-resolution 8MP images from the 4K video, a 24-75mm f/1.7-2.8 Leica lens, high-speed AF in approximately 0.10 seconds, built-in Live View Finder (LVF) with 2760K-dot equivalent high resolution, a 3.0-inch LCD touch screen with 1240k-dot resolution, an ISO range of 100-25600, high speed burst shooting at 11 fps (AFS) / 5.5 fps (AFC), aperture and control rings, a hot-shoe flash, USB charging and integrated Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity. The Panasonic Lumix LX100 II is available now in black for £849 / €949 / $999. Note that the LX100 II is an addition to the LX range and will not replace the current LX100 model.
Ease of Use
Four years after the launch of the original LX100 camera comes the Mark II version. This is the first time that Panasonic have ever given a camera the Mark II designation, rather than a completely new model name (LX200, for instance), which indicates that the LX100 II is an evolution of the original model, rather than a major upgrade - and after using it for a few weeks, that's certainly what I found.
Which isn't to say that you should dismiss the LX100 Mark II and quickly look elsewhere, for two reasons. Firstly, the original LX100 was rather ahead of its time in offering a large image sensor paired with a standard zoom lens in a compact form factor, and secondly, it still has little competition today if that's the main feature set that you're looking for.
As the cameras are so similar, it's probably a good idea to read our in-depth review of the Panasonic LX100 first, and then return here to read all about the changes that Panasonic have made to the Mark II version, as that's what we're going to mainly focus on in this review.
|Front of the Panasonic Lumix LX100 II|
Main rivals of the Panasonic LX100 II that instantly spring to mind are the Sony RX100 series of cameras, especially the RX100 V, the APS-C Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark III and the one-inch sensor Canon PowerShot G9 X Mark II, and the Fujfiilm XF10 and Ricoh GR III, which both have APS-C sensors but offer a fixed focal length lens rather than a zoom. And that's it.
So, what have Panasonic decided to improve in the 4 years since the LX100 was launched? Well, its mainly two things - the image sensor, and the touchscreen LCD. The sensor is now a new 21.77 megapixel multi-aspect Micro Four Thirds variant, rather than the 16.84 megapixel one offered by the LX100. As on the original model, the LX100 II crops the image to allow for multi-aspect shooting, which results in a highest resolution of 17 megapixels in the 4:3 mode. This compares to the 12 megapixels offered by the LX100 in the same mode, so you effectively get 5 extra megapixels on this latest model.
|Front of the Panasonic Lumix LX100 II|
In addition to that extra resolution, the Panasonic LX100 II uses exactly the same sensor and processor as the GX9, so in both theory and practice, it offers a very similar level of image quality to that mirrorless camera.
The second major innovation on the LX100II is the mostly welcome addition of a touchscreen LCD. The most immediately noticeable function is the ability to focus on your main subject simply by touching it on the LCD. If the subject then moves, the LX100 II cleverly follows it around the screen using the the AF tracking function. If the subject exits the frame entirely, simply recompose and tap it again to start focusing.
There's also a clever feature called Touchpad AF allows you to move the focus point area with your finger on the LCD while you're looking through the EVF. It is a little too easy to accidentally press the screen with either your finger or nose and set the focus point to the wrong area for the current subject, but a simple tap in the middle of the LCD will center the AF point. The size of the AF point itself can also be changed via an interactive onscreen slider.
|Rear of the Panasonic Lumix LX100 II|
If you prefer to manually focus rather than use the lightning fast AF system, you can magnify any part of the subject by 1x, 5x or 10x by simply dragging the yellow box around the screen. The final touchscreen ability from an image composition point of view is the ability to release the shutter, with a small icon on the right hand side of the screen enabling this functionality, and then a single on-screen tap all that's required to take the picture.
All of the menu options can be changed via the touchscreen interface, including the Main menu system, and there five extra "soft" function buttons available on the LCD screen in addition to the physical Fn buttons. You can also control image playback by touching the screen, with the ability to tap a thumbnail to see the full-size version, scroll through your images by dragging them from side to side, and magnifying them up to 16x.
The LCD screen also benefits from a bump in resolution from 921K dots on the original to 1240K on the Mark II. We'd have preferred to have seen Panasonic implement a tilting screen on the LX100 II - instead it remains resolutely fixed in place, making it less suitable for vlogging than some of its competitors.
|Top of the Panasonic Lumix LX100 II|
Physical differences between the LX100 and LX100 II are small. The latter now has five function buttons, rather than three, and an ever so slightly bigger grip. It's fair to say that if you enjoyed using the first version, you'll be instantly at home with the second.
The LX100 II offers the same 4K Photo modes as found on Panasonic's latest mirrorless cameras, including Post Focus, Focus Stacking, Sequence Composition, Light Composition, Auto Marking and Bulk Saving. The first two in particular may be good enough reason to upgrade to the Mark II for some specialized photographers. For black and white shooter, two new Photo Styles have been added, the L.Monochrome and L.Monochrome D modes, bringing the total number of photo modes to nine.
The original LX100 was well ahead of it time by supporting 4K video recording at 30/25/24p, with a 1.2x crop resulting in a 28mm wide-angle field of view. On the LX100 II the crop factor has increased slightly to 1.32x, producing a slightly narrower 32mm focal length at the wide end of the zoom when shooting video. Unfortunately Panasonic haven't added a Microphone Input port to the LX100 II, one of the things that we wished they had included on the first model.
|The Panasonic Lumix LX100 II In-hand|
The new Bluetooth 4.2 option establishes a low-energy, permanent connection between the camera and a smart device for easier transfer of images. The LX100 II also again offers the same 2.4GHz (IEEE 802.11b/g/n) wi-fi as its predecessor. Establishing a wi-fi connection lets you use your smartphone to change the key camera settings and even fire the shutter button remotely, while the auto transfer function automatically backs up your photos onto a tablet. You can also use GPS data from your smartphone to record the shooting location onto your images.
Both the LX100 and the LX100 II have USB ports, but whereas the one on the original model as used to connect it to a PC, the port of the Mark II camera can be used to charge the battery by connecting it to a computer or portable charger, so you don't need to carry the supplied battery charger if you wish.
And that's about it for the improvements offered by the Panasonic Lumix LX100 II in comparison with the popular LX100. You'd be hard-pressed to tell the difference between them side-by-side, with the touchscreen functionality being the main handling difference. Now let's move on and take a look at the image quality offered by the new image sensor...