Panasonic LX100 vs Fujifilm X100T vs Sony RX10 vs Nikon Coolpix A Comparison

September 24, 2014

Panasonic LX100 camera

In this article we’ll have a very interesting comparison, as I will compare the new Panasonic Lumix LX100 vs three premium other fixed-lens cameras, the Fujifilm X100T, Sony Cyber-shot RX10 and Nikon Coolpix A.  Those four cameras have a few things in common but certainly have their differences. They are direct competitors in the sense that they all are have fixed lens ,large sensor, premium optics and advanced features to satisfy the demand of enthusiast photographers. They also, for some people, are the prefect alternative to a DSLR or Mirrorless cameras, and some people might prefer either the LX100, X100T, RX10 or Coolpix A instead of buying an interchangeable lens cameras.

LX100 Price Comparison

Before we jump straight into the Panasonic LX100 introduction and to the comparison, let’s first take a look at the prices first. You might found out that a specific camera is out of your budget, and that’s a place to probably put it aside if you can’t afford it, and focus on those models that you can. That said, I always recommend reading the comparison review thoroughly, just in case some features might convince you to  exceed  your budget. After all, you don’t buy these type of cameras every day.

Sony RX10 cost ~$800
Panasonic LX100 cost ~$900
Nikon A costs ~$1100
Fujifilm X100T cost ~$1300 

* approximate prices from amazon.com as of the time of writing. Visit amazon.com for updated prices. The Fujifilm X100T is the most expensive camera among the three, replacing the popular X100S. It enjoys the world’s first Hybrid eye-level viewfinder with electronic rangefinder feature. It also backs a long range of advanced features that make it unique in its category and very appealing to enthusiasts and professional alike. You pay more, but as you can see, you get what you paid for.

The second most expensive is the Nikon Coolpix A, Nikon’s premium compact camera with a APS-C DX-format sensor. This camera is by far the smallest among the four, and with the X100T, those the only cameras in this group that come with a prime lens, a fixed focal length lens (no optical zoom). Some photographers see that as limitation, others see it as a big advantage. One of the big advantages is that prime lenses are (in most cases), are superior to zoom lenses. People who buy these type of cameras expect premium optical performance and image quality, and multiply that importance considering the fact that the lens is not interchangeable.

At the third place, is the Panasonic LX100, out pivot camera in which we compare the other cameras against. A camera that many predict that will be among the most popular large-sensor cameras this year.  Some see it as the GH4 in a more portable body, others just love the long selection of advanced features and beautiful design. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100 was architected to impress enthusiasts and pros, whether its the 4K video recording, F1.7-2.8 Leica lens, Four Thirds sensor or advanced controls – you just can’t deny that this is one of the most impressive compact cameras we’ve seen to date. Some compare it to the popular Sony RX100 III, and in fact that’s what I did, and you can check my LX100 vs RX100 III comparison here.

The Sony RX10 is the least expensive model, has the smallest sensor among the four (1″), but features the longest optical zoom lens, and a very fine one, a Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* lens with constant f/2.8 aperture and many other advanced features. IT’s also considerably larger than the other cameras, so it doesn’t fall into the large-sensor compact category, rather than in the SLR-like / Bridge category. That said, it doesn’t make it less or more than a camera compared to the other model just because it categorized differently. Some photographers will find it very adequate for their type of shooting style and have no problem compromise portability for its unique features.

Keep your mind open, and learn about these four superb cameras. Paying attention to the details is very important in these type of comparison review, because their are plenty of differences between those cameras. Of course I’ll help you out understanding how those four cameras differ, I just ask to keep attention to those differences until the end.

Now let’s move on spreading more light about the very exciting release from Panasonic, the LX100. After the introduction, we’ll continue to the comparison section, where you will able to easily comprehend the cons and pros of each camera.

Panasonic LX100

Panasonic LX100 camera front side

Panasonic LX100 camera front side

Announced on September 15, 2014 – the Panasonic DMC-LX100 is one of those unique and inspiring cameras that pushes the camera industry forward. As a photographer, I always searched for a compact camera that has most of the features that I needed.  In almost all cases I found that the camera lacks an important features that I needed, and I always prayed that such a camera will be released somewhere in the near future. Apparently this day has comes with the birth of the LX100. There are so many excited things to say about this cameras, but let’s starts with the key features.

Panasonic made some excellent compact cameras, including the LX7, but since the introduction of cameras like the Sony RX100, it seems that its popularity took a hit. Panasonic knew that it had to come up with something extraordinary in order to attract more customers to its own camp.

The LX100 features a large 12.8MP Micro Four Thirds MOS sensor. The same sensor size used in all of its Micro Four Thirds interchangeable lenses, which double the 1-inch sensor size, which instantly give it an advantage as far as background blur and low-light performance is concerned — which are two very important reasons why photographers pick up one of these type of cameras in the first place – Image Quality and Prominent Shallow Depth of Field effect.

So how big the LX100 sensor is in comparison to other sensor sizes? — take a look at the image below.

Sensor size comparison: APS-C, 1-inch and Micro Four Thirds

Sensor size comparison: APS-C, 1-inch and Micro Four Thirds

APS-C sizes varies slightly depends on the camera/vendor, but overall it gives you a good understanding of how big the MFT sensor is cs APS-C and 1-inch. Of course one of the key things that lead to better low-light captures is the pixel size, the larger the better.  I am so happy that the sensor has ‘only’ 12.8 megapixel resolution instead of going with 20MP like in the RX10or even 16MP like in the X100T and Coolpix A. Not that Panasonic have decided based on those cameras, I have not idea if it did, but it tells me that Panasonic was really serious about this camera performing well in low-light. So with a built-in optical image stabilization (Power O.I.S.),  F1.7-2.8 fast aperture lens and a sensor with large pixels, photographers will be able to enjoy a superb camera for low-light captures, for both stills and videos.

The camera itself has a classic design made with magnesium-alloy body, and although relatively compact in size, it’s not the ideal pocket camera, as it won’t fit in the pocket, unless you have very large pockets. The Sony RX100 III for example is much more compact and slim and can be put in jeans pocket (not a tight jeans though).. see the image below.

LX100 vs RX100 III camera size comparison

LX100 (left) vs RX100 III camera size comparison (visit camerasize.com for other side views)

As you can see, the RX100 III is much more compact and also very slim. Sony was able to achieve this by using a retractable / pop-up electronic viewfinder.

As you can see form the above photo, the Panasonic Lumix LX100 looks very professional, with two top analogue dials for settings the shutter speed (left) and the exposure (right dial), a hot-shoe at the top to connect an external flash, comfortable front grip, functions / customizable buttons at the back (not seen in this image), viewfinder and lens aperture and focus ring.

Speaking about the lens, the LX100 feature a Leica DC Vario-Summilux F1.7-2.8 24-75mm (equivalent) 3.1x optical zoom lens. First of all, the lens has a quite versatile equivalent range that stars at 24mm wide angle up to 75mm which is great for portraits. This focal length range is one of the most popular range, closely resembles the popular 24-70mm lens range which is super popular among professionals. Excellent for a walkaround lens, general photography, street photography, landscape, candid, portraits, etc. The aperture starts at a very fast F1,7, slowing down just a bit to 2.8 at the tele-end, certainly a very fast lens. The advantage: very shallow depth of field effects and superb low-light performance. The lens extended as you zoom in. The LX100 lacks a built-in ND filter, but it does have a super fast 1/16,000 shutter speed that helps to better limit the amount of light, and a 43mm thread you can use to attach filters, like the Tiffen 43ND6 43mm ND filter.

The lens has two rings. The furthest from the inner one is the manual focus ring and the second one is the aperture ring. This comes very handy when while shooting, you can change those settings without moving your eyes of the subject. Gives you a DSLR-like control functionality, or better to say, a interchangeable lens like functionality for the lens operation.

Panasonic LX100 with bundled flash attached

Panasonic LX100 with the bundled flash attached

You might ask yourself why is the RX100 III lens profile is so slim compared to the LX100? — that’s due to the RX100 III smaller sensor. Although the RX100 III lens has f/1.8-2.8 aperture, the smaller sensor allows the use of smaller lenses.

You also might noticed that the LX100 lacks a built-in pop-up flash, and you are right, it doesn’t have a pop-up flash. Whether it’s good or bad, you’ll be the judge of that. In my opinion it isn’t. However, the good news is that the LX100 is bundled with a small flash that can be attached to the hot-shoe connector at the top of the camera. This is a GN7 (ISO100) without a rotational head, but has an on/off switch at the back, so you won’t need to do it in-camera, which takes more time..

At the back of the LX 100 you’ll find a high-quality 0.38″ LVF 2764K-dots 0.7x magnification (35mm equiv.) Electronic Viewfinder with an eye-sensor. Great to see such a high-res viewfinder in this camera, one of the most important features in my opinion, certainly elevate the enjoyment with the camera. I personally find it very inconvenient shooting with the LCD, especially when I need to spent time composing the shot or when shooting in bright daylight.

The LX100 also features a  3.0″ 921K-dots fixed LCD (not a touchscreen). So Panasonic ditched an articulating LCD, which is quite unfortunate to be honest, but certainly not a deal breaker, not at all.

The LX100 also lacks on-sensor phase-detection, which is becoming more popular these days in new cameras and even on smartphone-based cameras. The good news is that Panasonic utilizes an in-house technology called Depth from Defocus or DFD in short, which is inherited from the GH4. This technology vastly improved the AF performance when tracking subjects in both speed and accuracy.  Take a look at the video below (made for the GH4, but LX100 uses the same technology), which demonstrated how DFD works in-camera and in practice.

I assume that it helped reduce costs compared to making sensors which have phase-detection sensors. That said, phase-detection is the standard in all professional cameras. It seems that because Panasonic focused on its mirrorless cameras, it prefer to spend their funds on improving the technologies that are already used in their Micro Four Thirds cameras.  The Light Speed AF system has 49 dense AF points.

Before we continue on, I recommend viewing this video made by Matt Granger in Photokina 2014 Show. It demonstrated some of the key features of the LX100.

Seems like an enthusiast’s dream camera, and in many ways it is. Among the other features 6.5 fps burst speed (up to  11 fps with AF and AE disabled — being set in the first frame), 1/16,000 maximum shutter speed,  Wi-Fi / NFC wireless networking, 4K video recording with stereo sound (not mic input), RAW+JPEG shooting mode, in-camera photo retouching and RAW processing, cut animation function, panorama mode, 22 image filters (Creative Control),  AF assist lamp and more.

It’s easy to understand that we are looking at an amazing highly-capable compact camera, aimed to satisfy the demands and needs of many enthusiast photographers.  Although it’s not cheap, it’s cheaper than some of the other premium compacts out there and certainly many cameras will be benchmarked against it.  The competition in this category got more intense since the introduction of the LX100, but competition is good, and I think this is one reason we see cameras like the LX100 on the market.

LX100 vs X100T vs RX10 vs Coolpix A Compared

Now that you’ve got yourself more familiar with the Panasonic Lumix LX100, it’s to to compare it versus the Fujifilm X100T, Sony RX10 and Nikon Coolpix A. In my opinion, the LX100 is very close to be the Perfect compact camera, although it lacks some features that I would hoped to see. For me at least, these are certainly not deal breakers.

So let’s jump straight to the comparison and see how well the other cameras stand against this magnificent little camera.

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Each of the cameras also has its own unique software features like the LX100 with 22 different image effects, X100T with its motion panorama, RX10 with its panorama, picture effects and different scene mode and Nikon Coolpix with its in-camera image editing and scene mode.

These four cameras have on thing in common for sure, they are aimed towards enthusiasts the care for sheer performance when it comes to image quality, low-light performance and advanced functionality and manual controls. Some are more versatile, others are less. Some offer better video capabilities, others are more focus on stills photography.

The above specs comparison table gave you a good overview of the key differences between those four incredible premium cameras. Non of them are cheap, but no doubt that you get what you paid for, and every company put a lot of effort to make it’s camera unique in its own way.

Conclusion

This comparison is indeed complicated, because we do compare apples to oranges, but if you are read this article until this line, you probably find some things in common and still haven’t make up your mind. I won’t blown you away with too much enclosing details here, because there is too much to talk about between one camera and its peers.

In most part, I found the RX10 to be an amazing camera for both stills and video capture, and best for video recording than the others. I think that the average enthusiast photographer will love the RX10, even considering its side and weight. However, for those of you who searched for a compact and lightweight camera, all the others are good options.

The Panasonic Lumix LX100 is an excellent camera and a good overall performer if you take all its features into account. Yes, it lacks some features that I would really liked to have, like weather-sealing, built-in ND filter, mic input and tilting display. That said, it does most things right, and in many aspects and as a whole, I think it’s the most versatile camera among the three, yet small and lightweight.  You do make compromises and give up on some features that are unique to the others cameras and are sue attractive, each one in its own right. For example, the X100T has an amazing hybrid viewfinder and very classic design, the RX10 has very versatile range and dual Hybrid stabilization and a weather-sealed body, and the Coolpix A is compact and has APS-C sensor. I did find the Nikon Coolpix A to be the least attractive camera among the four though.

In my opinion, the Panasonic LX100 is a great camera and offers very good value if you compare it to the X100T and Nikon Coolpix A. Of course you’ll make a decision based on the features that are most important to your shooting style. If I had to choose one, I would pick up the LX100 for myself. I like the LX100 design, build quality, buttons and dial placement, 4K video recording, the fast versatile lens, wireless capabilities, compact size, viewfinder and the advanced AF system — for me it’s the ultimate compact camera.

Which camera you prefer? — share your opinion in the comment section below, and please don’t forget to LIKE this article and our Facebook page. Thanks for reading!

 



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