The Panasonic DMC-LX7 Compact Camera...

After many months of playing with the pocketable 
Panasonic DMC-LX7, here is what I think about it 
so far...: 

-- The overall design, small size, low weight, and 
handling characteristics of the Panasonic LX7 are 
excellent - and it even fits nicely into a T-shirt 
-- Its 24mm-90mm lens (35mm full-frame equivalent) 
is a VERY good and fast f1.4-f2.3, and it can take 
surprisingly good stills and video even in low 
light levels. 
-- The zoom range can be extended from 24mm 
to 180mm-equivalent with "iZoom" enabled, with  
surprisingly good quality even at 180mm. The image 
quality does decline gradually as the zoom is 
extended beyond 90mm, but it remains useable for 
smaller images even at 180mm. The good close-focus 
capabilities of this lens are also maintained, so 
decent macro images can be made even at 180mm. 
-- Close-focus photos can easily be taken with the 
LX7, and even animal activities can be caught due 
to the very fast shutter response. 
-- The LX7 is very easy to use and to control in 
ALL modes. This camera was designed to be used by 
both snap-shooters and by those who like to "fiddle 
with the guts" while using a camera. 
-- It has MANY good adjustments in well-designed 
and organized menus, and numerous external controls 
are also available for changing and optimizing 
camera functions. Some of these can even affect 
aspects of the internal digital image processing 
that are normally beyond user control. All things 
can be independently adjusted, and the LX7 gets an 
A+++ for this. (I particularly appreciate that the 
white balance can be tailored to your preferences 
for ALL the individual WB presets on both the 
red/green and yellow/blue axes.) A brief printed 
manual is included in the box, and the rather 
lengthy complete manual (224 pages!) is included 
on a disk, also in the box, along with some 
additional photo and video editing software. The 
LX7 complete manual is also available online here
-- The built-in light metering and exposure bias 
display and the camera leveling indicators are good. 
Interesting is the ability to move the image in 
the display panel upward to clear some information 
display areas (and all non-image material can also 
be cleared from the display). 
-- The high-resolution OLED rear screen is good, 
and it can be made VERY bright by adding together 
the effects of adjusting a couple of different menu 
controls (although doing this does shorten the small 
battery's run time). Several other types of display 
adjustments can also be applied to customize the 
viewing image. I find the LX7's screen easy to use 
for precise framing, even in sunlight, and even 
when viewed off axis at very sharp angles. 
-- Mini USB/AV and HDMI ports are provided. 
-- A high-resolution accessory EVF is available, 
but it is relatively expensive compared with the 
original cost of the camera - but it may be well 
worth the price for some users. 
-- The lens is quite sharp, and it is even good 
when used wide-open throughout its zoom range 
(which is limited compared with that of many other 
compact cameras - but that trade-off is a useful 
one for having generally much increased lens speed 
available, and also for having its very high lens 
image quality). The lens on the LX7 is unique in 
that (with a good sample), the lens is excellent 
even to the far corners even when used wide open. 
I have not seen this before with any lens at any 
price that offers an f1.4 maximum aperture. 
-- Having an aperture ring on the lens is useful, 
as is having the focus-mode and aspect-ratio 
selection switches also on the lens rather than 
having those functions in the menus. 
-- Setting the aperture to f2.2 (or to a smaller 
aperture) results in having what is essentially a 
constant-aperture zoom lens, useful when shooting 
-- The easily-engaged macro function works well for 
extending the lens focus range, and it is a useful 
-- The various available shooting aspect ratios are 
16:9, 3:2, 4:3, and 1:1 and, except for the last, 
all use the maximum sensor diameter available for 
the aspect ratio chosen. As a result, the image 
frame's long-side coverage angle is greatest with 
the aspect ratio set to 16:9, which can be useful 
with some types of subjects and with video with 
the lens set at its shortest focal length. 
-- The photo quality is generally quite good, even 
in fairly low light levels - and video shot in low 
light is also surprisingly good. Panasonic has made 
good choices for optimizing the mix of parameters 
(lens quality and speed, sensor size and resolution, 
and image processing characteristics) for getting 
excellent performance in all light levels with a 
very compact camera - and Panasonic has combined 
that with providing a wide range of available user 
controls over its picture characteristics. 
-- Image noise is fairly low, especially for a 
camera with a small sensor, and the image doesn't 
have faults often seen in competing models, such 
as obvious CA problems, field curvature, and soft 
corners (and sometimes even soft edges). Even at 
remarkably wide stops, corners and edges look good 
in the LX7 images. 
-- The image stabilization works well, and it 
permits the successful hand-held use of shutter 
speeds that are considerably slower than those 
normally possible without it. 
-- Auto-focus is very fast and accurate, even in 
low light levels. I have been able to shoot sharp 
close-ups of a cat in low light that would be very 
difficult to shoot with any other camera I have 
-- Overall, the color is excellent - with a minor 
exception being that it sometimes tends to render 
some reds as more orange than they really are 
(although it often avoids a common digital camera 
tendency for blue skies to tend toward green in 
lighter-toned areas near the horizon). 
-- The video specifications are the same as for 
the excellent Panasonic TM700 camcorder, having a 
28Mbps 1920x1080 60P video mode available (but, 
see below...). 
-- The video image is (fortunately!) unusually free 
of the common CMOS rolling-shutter distortion with 
-- Video shot in bright light can be good (but not 
excellent), but (in common with most other still 
cameras with video added) it is not as good as 
that shot with a good similar-spec camera designed 
primarily for shooting video. The 28Mbps 1060-60P 
video is, though, MUCH nicer-looking than the 720P 
"AVCHD-Lite" video offered on many other compact 
cameras. It also looks better with motion than the 
video taken with most other cameras, which are 
limited to a 30P sensor frame rate. When switching 
the LX7 to video mode, I find that the best picture 
comes with using the PSH (1080-60P) mode, using a 
high enough shutter speed to catch sharp frames 
with motion, and with the picture settings changed 
from their "0" positions as follows: EXPOSURE to 
minus 1/3rd to 2/3rds stop; SHARPEN to plus 2; and
SATURATION to plus 1 (relative to the picture 
settings choices preferred for shooting stills). 
-- Video shot in low or medium light levels can 
look quite good, possibly because the lower edge 
contrasts likely to exist there show fewer of the 
image defects that can be more evident in bright 
-- A stereo microphone is included for video. 
-- Compared with the Panasonic GH3 body plus a 
zoom lens, the LX7 costs a small fraction of the 
price, it is FAR smaller and lighter, and its lens 
is generally almost three stops faster - but the 
video quality taken with Panasonic's best current 
micro four thirds format bodies (the GH3, GX7, G6, 
and G5) is generally much better. 
-- Given its high quality, its price can be quite 
moderate compared with its competition. While the  
Panasonic DCM-LX7 retails for $500 in the US, it 
often sells for $400-$450, sometimes for about 
$350, and occasionally it even sells for $300, 
making it then a "steal"! Also, its functionally 
identical "partner" camera (the Leica D-LUX 6) 
continues to sell for $800, and with a recent 
"boutique" version, for $1300! 
-- A quite good 1.4-megapixel compact eye-level 
viewfinder is available for the LX7, and that can 
tilt upward for low-level shooting. 
-- As I continue to enjoy using the LX7, I remain 
very impressed with (and often surprised by) its 
photo image quality and also by its versatility. 
Overall, the LX7 is an excellent all-purpose 
pocket camera which is stronger with stills than 
it is with video, and it can take very high-
quality stills and better-than-OK video under a 
surprisingly wide range of conditions... 

-- The LX7 has a poorly-designed lens cap, and I 
replaced the original cap with something else that 
worked better - but if the original cap is used 
and it isn't removed before turning on the camera, 
the camera warns that it must be removed before 
turning the camera on again, preventing damage to 
the lens extension mechanism. For a friend's LX7, 
I cut off the card that comes attached to the 
camera by a thin silver string and I threaded that 
through the lens cap that comes with the camera 
(using the provided hole in the cap) to attach the 
cap to the camera to prevent it from being lost. 
-- One must pay an absurd amount for a small 
accessory threaded filter ring adapter and a new 
lens cap in order to fit 37mm filters on the lens. 
This part should have been originally made an 
integral part of the lens front structure. I bought 
the replacement, but I was unable to remove the 
front ring from the lens to permit the installation 
of the Panasonic accessory ring, so I cancelled the 
order. I was also unable to remove the larger ring 
around the lens (this should bayonet off...) to 
add an inexpensive auto-folding cap. I eventually 
made my own cap with one that now covers most of 
the retracted lens barrel, and it comes off easily 
enough so that there can be no possible damage to 
the lens extension and zooming mechanism when the 
camera is turned on. 
-- There is no way to attach lens converters to 
the front of the lens (even with the accessory 37mm 
lens thread adapter installed on the lens) since 
the weight would have an ill effect on the lens 
telescoping and zooming mechanism. 
-- Serious lens flare is too often apparent when 
the sun is within the field of view or just outside 
of it (but generally there are no lens flare issues 
-- Panorama photos often have unwanted vertical 
lines in them, and therefore using that mode often 
results in unsatisfactory images. 
-- The unmodified video quality is often so-so even 
in 28Mbps 1080-60P mode. Also, no matter what the 
picture settings are for video, some sharpening 
"halos" still show on high-contrast edges, as, 
oddly, do some occasional "stair-stepping" 
(aliasing) artifacts which are not ordinarily very 
evident with progressive scan 1080 video. These 
likely indicate the use of some over-sharpening 
to offset sharpness losses that occur with 
down-sampling the stills resolution to the video 
resolution. Even so, the HD video quality from 
this camera (given its very small size) can look 
surprisingly good. 
-- The zoom control is generally too fast for video 
use, and the LX7 unfortunately lacks menu control 
over its speed. 
-- There is no remote control of any kind available. 
-- While the LX7 can record acceptable-quality 
stereo sound, it (not surprisingly) has neither a 
microphone nor a headphone jack. 
-- Overall, the LX7 is a nifty little camera, but 
I think it could easily have been even a bit 

As with ALL lenses and cameras (regardless of brand 
name and price!), sample variation exists. When I 
bought my LX7, the only references I had for what 
to expect were some full-resolution samples I 
gathered from various review articles online. These 
led me to expect a very high performance level from 
the built-in zoom lens on the LX7. This included 
very good and even sharpness to all the frame 
corners at all focal-lengths except for some slight 
softening toward the far corners near the widest 
focal-length at stops wider than about f4, which 
was easily corrected while working on images. My 
sample of the LX7 met this standard, and I am happy 
with it (see the sample images included here to see 
why...). Since then, I have seen two samples (in a 
group of about half a dozen) that were evenly sharp 
to the far corners at the widest zoom setting, even 
at f1.4! (I had never before seen ANY other lens by 
ANY maker sold at ANY price that performed this 
well at f1.4!) I have also seen one sample that was 
noticeably soft in one of the image corners near 
its widest zoom setting until about f5.6 (this one 
was returned for exchange). One other sample did 
not respond to the exposure bias setting changes 
and it consistently overexposed photos (this one 
was also returned). ALWAYS check cameras (and 
especially lenses!) for performance when purchased! 
"New" does NOT equate with "perfect"! 

-- LX7 photos plus LX7 video frame-grabs
-- LX7 - and GF3, G5, G6, and GH4 MFT photos

-- Panasonic DMC-LX7 Manual (Click "I Accept", then 
"View", and adjust the magnification to your screen. 
This PDF file can be saved to your computer if you 
want to do so.) 


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