Photos

LX100 II a winning shot

The camera's new display lets users drag and move the auto-focusing point using the touchscreen.
The camera's new display lets users drag and move the auto-focusing point using the touchscreen.

Panasonic's compact prosumer takes images almost as good as a DSLR's with touch autofocus and a better grip

The original Panasonic Lumix LX100, released in 2014, is one of my all-time favourite prosumer compact cameras.

I love its compact size and that it packs an array of easily accessible manual controls, a fast lens with decent optical zoom, a large image sensor and even a built-in electronic viewfinder (EVF). It is an ideal tool for street photography.

Its successor has finally arrived in the form of LX100 II. And Panasonic clearly did not want to meddle much with a winning formula.

It looks almost identical to its predecessor. The top right houses the power lever, shutter release button, shutter speed dial, exposure compensation dial and lens zoom lever. On the lens barrel, there is a multi-aspect switch - to toggle through different aspect ratios - and a lens zoom/manual focus ring.

At the rear, a clickable wheel dial lets you adjust settings such as ISO and white balance, while a Q.Menu button lets you access frequently used settings such as image size and autofocusing (AF) modes. The only visible differences between the old and new camera are the more legible "LX100 II" lettering on the top left and a newly designed grip that gives the user a better hold on the camera.

Also new is the touchscreen display. It allows Touch AF. This means you can drag and move the AF point using the touchscreen while you look through the EVF. This makes the already superb handling of the LX100 even better.

Another nice addition is the micro-USB charging port on the right compartment of the camera. Having this means one fewer battery charger to take along on your travels. The only downer is that the display continues to be a fixed one, instead of having a tilt mechanism for taking selfies or shooting from the hip.

The camera has a new image processor and an upgraded 21.77-megapixel Four Thirds image sensor, which is 1.6 times bigger than the 1-inch sensors found in the likes of the Sony Cyber-shot RX100 VI and the Canon PowerShot G9 X Mark II.

However, due to its multi-aspect design, in which only certain parts of the image sensor are being used, it delivers 17-megapixel photos.

In terms of operation, the camera powers up in a quick 1.2 seconds and shuts down in 1.8 seconds - a slight improvement from the LX100's 1.5 seconds (start-up) and 2.6 seconds (shutting down). Shutter lag is negligible.

Using an SD card with a writing speed of 30MB a second, the camera shot an impressive 37 RAW images in 3.1 seconds before the buffer ran out.

  • SPECS

    PRICE: $1,399

    IMAGE SENSOR: 21.77-megapixel Four Thirds MOS

    DISPLAY: 3-inch touchscreen LCD with 1,240,000 dots; Electronic viewfinder with 2,760,000 dots

    LENS: 24-75mm f/1.7-2.8

    SENSITIVITY: ISO 100 to 25,600

    SHOOTING SPEED: Up to 11 frames per second

    CONNECTIVITY: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi

    WEIGHT: 392g (body with battery and memory card)

    RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 5/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 3/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

The AF is instantaneous in bright sunlight. In dim lighting, the camera took about one second to focus with the AF assist light.

Still images captured on the LX100 II are top-notch, with sharp details and accurately rendered colours throughout its focal range. They look almost as good as images captured by an APS-C DSLR camera. It was good enough that I used this camera to shoot a cover photo for Life a few weeks ago.

I did not see visible image noise artefacts until ISO 1,600. Even at ISO 3,200, where there was some detail loss, the images were good enough for small prints. At ISO 6,400 and above, image noise and detail loss became too significant due to the abundance of chromatic noise artefacts.

Battery life is average for a prosumer compact camera. The LX100 II can capture about 340 still images on a full charge.

•Verdict: If you already own the LX100, there is probably not enough reason to upgrade. But if you do not and are looking for a superb prosumer compact camera, the Panasonic Lumix LX100 II is the one to get.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 12, 2018, with the headline 'LX100 II a winning shot'. Print Edition | Subscribe