Panasonic Lumix LX7 vs Lumix LF1 Comparison

May 4, 2013

Nightscape image with Panasonic Lumix LX7 and LF1 cameras

The Panasonic Lumix LF1 is a very interesting enthusiast compact camera, featuring a built-in EVF, Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity, has 7.1x wide angle Leica lens and many other goodies.  The Panasonic Lumix LF1 belongs to Panasonic’s advanced camera’s lineup, where you can also find the 3D1 and Lumix LX7. In this article I will compare the Panasonic Lumix LX7 vs the Lumix LF1. Two excellent enthusiast compact cameras.

Enthusiast Compact Cameras

In the days where mobile phone cameras are the preferred primary camera of many people, sometimes it’s hard to justify the extra cost and the extra boredom of carrying two devices in your pocket.  But the thing is that many people know the many disadvantages that mobile phone cameras have, including the lack of optical zoom, effective image stabilization, smaller sensor size and video image quality.  My main concern with my mobile phone camera is the image quality.  In daylight your will get pretty good photos, but still, the sensor is so small that noise is apparent even at the lowest ISO. The lack of zoom is a big issue, and don’t be confused with digital zoom which is actually just a crop and enlarge function. Mobile phone manufacturers try to improve the digital zoom, but whatever they do, it won’t be the same as optical zoom.

At the end of the day we want to come home with great photos. Some of you might not take advantage of what enthusiast compact digital cameras have to offer, others just won’t be satisfied with what mobile phone cameras has to offer nowadays. That’s where those enthusiast compact cameras come into the picture.  Let me give you an example. Both the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7 and Lumix DMC-LF1 have a 1/1.7-inch size sensor (7.44 x 5.59 mm). Most mobile phone utilize a typical 1/2.3 inch sensor (6.17x 4.55 mm) or a 1/3.2-inch (4.54 x 3.42 mm) sensors. Many conventional digital cameras do have a small sensor as well, but the trend is to release enthusiast compact camera with a larger sensor. This of course adds to the overall price, and the LF1 has a sensor that is relatively larger than a smartphone sensor and a bit larger than a standard compact digital camera sensor. If you are thinking about the Nokia 808 PureView sensor, yes it’s large than the LF1 sensor, measuring 1/1.2″ inches, around 10.67 x 8 mm.

1/1.7 inch vs 1/3.2 inch sensor size difference

1/1.7 inch (Lumix LF1) vs 1/3.2 inch - Difference in sensor dimensions

Furthermore, those cameras are equipped with very advanced image processors, improved optics and manual controls. More than that, you get to have more buttons for direct access to popular function, so it’s faster to operate the camera. Other features include more flexible manual control (ie. manual control ring), Electronic viewfinder, fast lens with advanced optics, faster AF, RAW file support and fast burst.

On the other side of the coin, enthusiast compact camera also borrow some features from mobile phones, like installable apps (on some camera models), GPS, NFC and Wi-Fi connectivity. The most attention is given to the wireless connectivity, where camera manufacturers need to attract mobile phone owners to buy their products, and convince them to get an additional digital camera, other than what they have on their mobile phone or tablet device.

Both the LF1 and the LX7 are excellent compact cameras that I’m sure that you will learn to enjoy their advantages over other compact cameras and mobile phone cameras. So digital cameras aren’t dead yet. The optical zoom is also one of the features that convince many people to buy a digital camera and use it alongside their phone’s camera.  The optical zoom allows you to take some shots that you can’t take with mobile phone cameras. With a mobile phone camera you are stuck with a fixed wide angle lens, which is good for interiors, landscape and group shots, but you don’t have more flexibility than that. That’s also the reason why there is a large demand for ultra zoom camera as well.

What I’m trying to say is that you should consider getting an enthusiast compact camera if you want to be more creative with your photos and know how to appreciate the advantages of those type of cameras. You will come with more beautiful photos to share with your friends and family, and that what matters most. It’s all about keeping those great looking memories close to you. Those photos have much higher value as times passes by, so make sure you make them look the best you can.

 

Now let’s take a quick look at the two cameras that we are comparing in this review, the Panasonic Lumix LX7 and LF1. I will start with a short introduction to each camera and continue to the side by side comparison, where you can understand the differences between the two cameras in more depth. I will also add my notes and tips as we go along so you will have a better understanding about the cons and pros of each camera. Let’s continue…

Panasonic Lumix LF1

As for the time of writing this article, the Panasonic Lumix LF1 is the latest digital camera from Panasonic. It’s an enthusiast compact camera that packs many great features.  It uses a 1/1.7-inch 12.1MP High Sensitivity MOS sensor, which is larger than most of the sensors that you found on other compact cameras and mobile phones. This should lead to improve image quality in low light, but also improve the dynamic range, details and color accuracy.  12.1MP is more than enough for this type of camera. Some camera manufacturers pack higher resolution, but that lead to inferior image quality, and that’s not what we want in an enthusiast compact camera, do we?

Panasonic Lumix LF1 camera

Panasonic Lumix LF1 camera

The Lumix LF1 is equipped with a 28-200mm f/2-5.9 7.1x Lecia DC Vario-Summicron optical zoom lens with F2.0 aperture for the widest angle. This is a fast lens, and a fast lens means that when you shoot at the widest angle, at F2.0, you aperture size is very large and much more light can pass through the lens to the sensor. This is great for shooting indoors (ie. pubs, bars, museums, at home) where you will be shooting wide-angle shots and you’ll need a fast lens to get a good exposure. So if you are shooting at a museum or a bar and you don’t have much light, the lens aperture compensate for that lack of light and helps gather more of the available light from the scene, resulting in well exposed photo, and not one that is underexposed and lack details.

7.1x zoom is also very useful range, and a one that doesn’t make a big compromise on optical performance. Higher optical zoom lenses usually lose some degree of optical performance, because the lens can’t be super sharp at all focal lengths and aperture settings.  That’s why many enthusiast prefer buying a camera with relatively smaller zoom, than buying an ultra-zoom camera that as even up to 50x zoom  like the Canon SX50 HS super zoom camera for example.

Another reason to love the LF1 is the utilization of a high quality Leica lens. Leica is among the best lens manufacturers in the world. Their lenses are used by many professional photographers worldwide and Leica is known for its superb optics. Many No all compact camera come with a Leica lens, and that’s certainly a big plus to have such great optics with the LF1 camera. The lens also includes an optical image stabilization mechanism to compensate for hand movement. This is useful when shooting at longer focal lengths and helps us get sharper images at all focal length, even when shooting at slow shutter speeds.

We also have a 3-inch 920K-dot screen at the back of the camera,  but what you like about the LF1 is that it is comes with a built-in electronic viewfinder. It’s a 200K-dots resolution viewfinder. Not the best EVF out there, but certainly useful for getting more connected with your subject, and when shooting in bright daylight. Many photographers don’t like to compose their images using the back LCD (I am among them). When you are shooting through the viewfinder, it’s just you and your subject. You are focused on what you see rather than all the things around you. This is the most intimate feeling that the photographers has with his subject, the moment before he clicks the shutter button to capture a beautiful image.

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-F1 features a manual control ring that allows precise control over the aperture and zoom, but also for changing the shutter speed, ISO and choosing creative filters.

If you are a total beginner, you’ll love the LF1 “Composition Guide” feature, which will assist you making good composition. Many people just don’t have the experience and therefore their images look boring. The “Composition Guide” will help you out to achieve interesting photos, even if you don’t know anything about photography and this is the first time you pick up a camera in your hand.(My Gramma will love it!).

The LF1 can shoot Full HD videos in AVCHD and MP4 at 1080i60 resolution with full AF and Dolby Digital stereo sound (inc Auto Wind cut function).  Furthermore, the LF1 features Near Field Communication (NFC) wireless connectivity technology. This allows you to connect the LF1 with your smartphone.tablet by bringing the two devices close together, much easier than other procedures based on Wi-Fi alone that have a longer authorization procedure. The LF1 also supports remote shooting / Remote view using the “Image app” on your mobile phone to control your cameras settings (inc. shutter speed, aperture) and display a live 30 fps smooth video feed from your camera on your mobile phone. Another good use for it is to star and stop videos recording, so you can put the camera on one place and control it using your phone fro ma remote location. The most favorite wireless featurethat I personally love the most is called “Instant Transfer”, that allows you to instantly transfer image to your phone when you press the shutter button or touch the devices when previewing an image (note: you’ll need to install “Image app” on your mobile phone to make it work, available for Android and iOS).

This is not all, but you can see that the Lumix LF1 has tons of useful features that many of you will find useful and fun to use.

Panasonic LX7

The Panasonic LX7 is many people’s favorite compact camera and there is a lot to like about this camera. It features a 1/1.7″ size sensor with 10.1MP resolution. So compare to the LF1 it has a smaller pixel density, which means that the pixels are larger than the LF1. This camera was designed to even be an alternative to a DSLR due to its advanced specs. For those who don’t like changing lenses and carry a bulky camera, and don’t compromise on image quality. If you are among those people, the Panasonic Lumix LX7 is the camera for you.

Panasonic Lumix LX7

Panasonic Lumix LX7

The LX7 is equipped with a 24-91.2mm (3.8x zoom) Leica DC Vario-Summilux f/1.4-2.3 lens. This is a VERY fast lens across all focal lengths. At the widest angle at f/1.4 it will allow twice (x2.041) the amount of light compare to a lens at f/2 (1 stop faster). This makes the LX7 a great camera for shooting in dim light, including bard, pubs, concerts, museums, etc. The DMC-LX7 boasts Power O.I.S. to combat image blur for both stills and videos. The 24-90mm (35mm equivalent) is a very popular range. The lens is designed to the highest standards, including 6 aspherical lenses with 9 aspherical surfaces, including dual-sided aspherical surface ED. The lens was designed to meet the demands of enthusiast photographers who for them the image quality comes at the first place.

the LX7 is equipped with tons of useful features, including 3D Photo Mode, Internal ND filter and full manual control with dedicated aperture ring.  You can record videos at 1080p60 resolution with Dolby Digital stereo sound, yes, 60 progressive frames. In comparison to 60i, 60p record the full image, whether in 60i each frame has half of the frame fields using the sensor’s 30p output. This means better image quality compare to the interlaces counterpart, and the preferred method for video editing. You also get high-speed video recording at 120 fps and 100 fps, auto wind cut and a unique creative video mode to adjust the shutter speed and aperture when shooting videos.

At the back you’ll found a 3-inch 920K-dots LCD, but the camera lacks an electronic viewfinder, although you can attach an external viewfinder (DMW-LVF2) which is sold separately.

The Panasonic LX7 is the crème de la crème of premium compact cameras with a fixed optical zoom lens.

 

Panasonic Lumix LX7 vs LF1 – Differences

Now that you’ve got some background information about the two cameras, let’s go straight to the comparison. I didn’t write all the details to prevent duplication and making your read the same data twice. The next comparison table will give you a good understanding about how the two cameras differ, including side notes to know more about the key differences and features.

[table "81" not found /]

 

There is many differences between the two cameras as you can see.

Summary of the LX7 key advantages:

  • More ergonomic body with grip
  • Faster lens + ND Filter (3 steps) and more advanced lens ring functionality, including aspect ratio switch to change between various aspect ratios
  • Closer Macro range
  • Stronger built-in flash
  • Hot-shoe to connect an external flash (optional accessory)
  • 1fps faster burst
  • 1080p progressive frames
  • 120 fps slow motion videos at 720p!
  • Better battery life
  • Other improved functions

Summary of the LF1 key advantages:

  • Longer zoom
  • Higher resolution
  • NFC / Wi-Fi

No doubt that the Panasonic Lumix LX7 is a better camera overall. It doesn’t mean that it is best for you, it really depends on what you are searching in your next camera. I am really impressed with the LX7 features, it’s really an astonishing camera packed with tons of useful features, and the lens.. oh.. the lens – what a magnificent fast lens Panasonic packed in this little camera. The LF1  main advantages is having larger zoom and NFC / Wi-Fi connectivity. Other than that it’s less impressive than the LX7.

What about image quality? – which one has the best image quality, LX7 or LF1?

Image Quality

As for the time of writing this review, there aren’t many sample images for the LF1. A few of those can be found on Panasonic.net website and the image quality looks very god, especially that shallow depth of field that you get when shooting up close with the aperture wide open. The Panasonic Lumix LX7 is on the market for quite some time and we already have tons of images floating around the web.  The LX7 high ISO image quality is EXCELLENT! very impressive considering the sensor size. You can check out some high ISO sample images on photographyblog.com and you can see what I’m talking about.

Panasonic Lumix LX7 ISO 1600 sample image (via Flickr)

Panasonic Lumix LX7 sample image

 

Overall the LX7 image is very detailed, JPEG image quality is just SUPERB, the Leica Lens does an amazing job bringing up those small details, color reproduction is great and the image quality really pleases the eye of the viewer. This camera will impress those pixel peepers out there and those who hate seeing noise in images.

Both cameras have excellent image quality, both use a very high quality Leica lens and I’m not surprised with the result. I love the amount of background blur that you can get from those two cameras. This is more noticeable on the LX7 due to its faster aperture and you will notice is better when shooting subjects from close range at the widest angle and with the fastest aperture setting.

Nothing to complain about here, on the contrary, only to praise Panasonic for doing such an incredible job with those two cameras.

*I will update this section when high ISO samples for the LF1 pops up on the web.

 

Conclusion

I am very impressed with both the LX7 and LF1. The LF1 costs $50 more on B&H, and as you read, you get to enjoy NFC/Wi-Fo connectivity, bigger zoom, higher resolution and more beginner’s-friendly camera. In my opinion, the LX7 is the better camera if you don’t mind having less zoom range and giving up on the Wireless connectivity. The LX7 has super fast lens, 1080p60 (progressive) video recording plus 120 fps 720p slow motion videos,  hot-shoe, better battery life, better ergonomics, faster burst and tons of features to play with. It’s hard not to fall in love with such compact camera.  The LX7 already grabbed dpreview’s Silver Award. This camera is an enthusiasts dream camera. Image quality is superb and most people who buy this camera will do it due to its faster lens, excellent manual controls, improved ergonomics, 1080p60 and its also vastly reviewed across the web and got very high ratings.

The LF1 is a great alternative for the LX7, for those who need more zoom, will take advantage of the NFC image sharing feature and also care about image quality and want a relatively fast lens. You now know the differences, and it will make it easier for you to make a decision. If you want my opinion, I would get the LX7 hands down. I love having a fast lens on a compact camera, love that beautiful defocued background and I was really impressed with its high ISO performance.

Now it’s your turn to decided. If you have questions or want to share your experience with these cameras, please leave your comment below. Thanks for reading and see you on the next article.

Check latest price & Buy from:

Panasonic Lumix LX7: B&H, Adorama
Panasonic Lumix LF1: B&H, Adorama

 



Amazon Ads