Panasonic LX100 vs Fujifilm X30 vs Panasonic LX7 – Premium Compacts

September 26, 2014

Panasonic LX100 vs LX7 and X30

In this article I’ll compare the Panasonic LX100 vs Panasonic LX7 and Fujifilm X30. All the three cameras are fixed-lens compact premium fixed-lens compact cameras, with the LX100 falling into the large-sensor compact category, and we’ll soon talk more about that. The LX100 certainly signifies Panasonic’s desire to become a leader in the large-sensor compact category, and it certainly raised the bar with the release of the DMC-LX100.  There are a lot of differences to talk about betwene the X30, LX7 and LX100. Each one has a wide range of unique features. In some way, they are also competing against the other as premium compact cameras. In this article we’ll try to find out which one is the best camera for you?

Like other Panasonic LX100 comparison articles that I’ve made, we’ll start with a short overview, continue to an introduction to the Panasonic Lumix LX100 and then move on the the comparison section.

Premium Compact Cameras

The premium compact camera category is getting lots of attention. Camera manufacturers like Panasonic and Lumix know that in order to keep the cash flow they need to introduce unique cameras. Cameras that are better than the dying point-and-shoot cameras, and ones that offer high performance and image quality which is close to or even better than what you get with a DSLR or mirrorless camera.

Cameras like the LX100, X30 and LX7 are designed to answer the high demands of advanced and enthusiast photographers. Those who know how to appreciate and also know how to take advantage of the advance features found in these type of cameras.  The popularity of mobile phone cameras has opened up a whole new world for amateur photographers to explore. It ignited many people to become better photographer and get familiar with the technical specifications and what each one means. Today everyone knows why a big sensor is better than a small sensor, and what f/2.2 aperture means. OK, not everyone, but the enthusiast smartphone buyers that look into the camera specs, they do understand.

Premium compact cameras like the Panasonic LX100, Fujifilm X30 and Panasonic LX7 are more expensive than the conventional point-and-shoot camera that you can buy under $100. As of the time of writing, the Panasonic Lumix LX7 costs around $250, Fujifilm X30 costs around $600 and the Panasonic LX100 costs around $900 (rounded up prices from amazon.com as of the time of writing, visit amazon.com for latest prices).

People who pay a premium price for a camera, are those who want to explore the world of photography, get better manual controls, have physical buttons that offers fast access to changing camera settings, want high-quality optics, fast AF performance and high ISO performance.

As you can see from the above pricing, there is a significant difference between those three cameras. So in general, these are not direct competitors. That said, I am aware that many people like these cameras to be compared and asked in private for me to compare it, so that’s what I’ve done. I personally find myself at a position that I am deciding between cameras that have a large price difference. That because I look at more advanced cameras and see if I am convinced to pay more and the more expensive model. This is exactly this type of comparison. I’m pretty sure that after reading this article, you’ll have a good idea which camera is best for you, the LX100, X30 or the LX7.

Panasonic LX100 – Introduction

Panasonic LX100 camera front side

Panasonic LX100 camera

Announced on September 15 ,2015 — the LX100 is one of these cameras that you wish that any camera vendor would release. A camera that can match demands of enthusiasts that prefer not to commit to an interchangeable lens system, or don’t like to change lenses, and a camera that have the great feature they expect in an advanced compact camera.  The LX100 is the best contender to take the crown from the Sony RX100 III, not for its size (because it’s not pocketable), but for its large selection of great features.

The first most significant part of this camera is its sensor. The LX100 is the first fixed-lens camera to use a 12.8-megapixels Micro 4/3 sensor. In point-and-shoot terms, this is a huge sensor. The same size used in Panasonic Micro Four Thirds Compact System Cameras, like the GH4, GF5 and others. The main advantages of this large-sensor is larger pixels (better low-light performance), more prominent defocused background (better subject isolation), higher dynamic range, better S/N ratio and much less image noise in most part. These are the main reasons why professional choose to shoot with cameras that have large sensors. The more prominent defocused background effect is way much higher than what you an achieve with many of the mobile phone cameras on the market. There are two main reasons for that: the sensor is very small (although some phone cameras have a large sensor, like the 808 PureView with its 1/1.2″ sensor) and the lens is a wide-angle prime lens. A wide angle has a lower focal length value, and the focal length is one of the variables in the DOF formula. The mobile phone camera lens, although fast in terms of exposure, its f-number needs to be multiplied by the crop factor to get the equivalent in 35mm and how it affects the DOF.

Don’t get me wrong, you can achieve shallow depth of field effect with a mobile phone camera, but you’ll have to be very close to the subject and the background far behind it to be able to have a prominent effect.

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

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

The LX100 built with magnesium alloy frame and has a classic retro-style design, favorable by many photographers.  The camera has lots of controls, including two top dials for the shutter speed and exposure, fast access to filters, a lens with two rings for aperture and manual focus an two function buttons among others. This allow photographers to gain a quick access to the important and most used cameras settings, so the photographer can change them quickly on-the-spot, in some cases, without moving his eyes from the subject.

Panasonic equipped the LX100 with a Leica DC Vario-Summilux 24-75mm F1.7-2.8 (equivalent focal length) 3.1x optical zoom lens.  The zoom is limited, no one argues about that, but it’s more versatile than a prime, and many photographers prefer to have a limited zoom in favor of superior optical performance and faster aperture. If Panasonic had to make this camera with a bigger zoom, the LX100 would have been much larger, heavier and much more expensive. Indeed, it’s not the ideal zoom camera to take to the zoo to get large closeups, but it has a very useful wide-angle to low-tele range which is useful for shooting many type of subjects. Good for portraits, landscape, street photography, kids and family photos, interiors, architectural, products and low-light photography in general. Did you know, the Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 VR lens is one Nikon’s most popular and most used lenses by professionals. The LX100 equivalent focal length is even slightly longer than that.

The F1.7-2.8 aperture means that this lens is FAST! — it’s an superb lens for low-light shooters, especially when shooting at the wide-end at f/1.7 aperture wide open.  With a large sensor (which has large pixels), very fast lens and new-gen image processor, the LX100 camera can produce gorgeous low-light shots without using a flash. Talking about the flash, the LX100 lacks a built-in flash (I don’t think you’ll need it anyways), but Panasonic bundled the LX100 with a small external flash that connects to the hot-shoe connector (GN7/ISO100). Unless you use the flash as a fill-in flash or to apply natural white color to colored subjects, I think that you can certainly leave without it, but you’ll be the one to decide that, obviously.

The lens has two rotating rings, one for changing the aperture with an aperture numerical scale and a manual focus ring. The LX100 also has an advanced AF system. Unlike some other cameras that take advantage of phase-detect pixels on the sensor to improve subject tracking speed an accuracy, the LX100 only uses contrast-detection. That said, Panasonic has spent a great deal of effort improving upon the its based Light Speed AF technology (contrast-detect AF) with a technology called  “Depth from Defocus”, DFD in short. This technology was inherited from the GH4. This helped Panasonic significantly improve the AF performance in the LX100. Phase-detect AF is still the preferred AF system by professionals, but that still put the LX100 in a competitive position against those Hybrid AF based cameras. LX100 uses Power O.I.S. optical image stabilization.

*video by Matt Granger, YouTube

The Panasonic Lumix LX100 is the first compact camera that feature 2160p30 4K video recording with stereo sound, although it lacks a mic and headphone input, as well as high-speed video recording.

Among the other key features you can find a 2764K-dots large electronic viewfinder with an eye-sensor, 1/16,000 maximum shutter speed, Raw shooting capability, 22 filter effects, Panorama mode, 10 fps burst and WiFi + NFC wireless  networking among its other features.

Panasonic has high ambitions for this camera. A great camera for stills and video recording and one of the most interesting large-sensor compacts I personally seen to date. It’s a well designed, versatile and fully, features and fast performing fixed-lens camera, one that should certainly be at the top of your list.

So how such a great camera can give the Panasonic LX7 or the Fujifilm X30 any chance? — well, I’m here to try to answer that question. leaving the price aside for a few minutes. In the next section we’ll take a closer look at the key specs and compare them side by side. This will give you a good understanding of how the three cameras differ and what are the implications for the passionate photographer.

LX100 vs X30 vs LX7

No it’s time to see how the three cameras compared to each other. In the next side by side specs / features comparison table you’ll get to fully understand the key differences between those cameras as well as their cons and pros.

[table "181" not found /]

Conclusion

The Panasonic Lumix LX100 is not as compact as the LX7, same goes to the X30. I’m sure that for some people the LX7 will look more attractive due to its portability. That aside, the LX100 make itself stand apart from the other models with its MFT large sensor, f/1.7 aperture at the wide-end, advanced AF system (compared to the LX7 contrast AF only), high-quality Viewfinder (the LX lacks built-in one), WiFi+NFC wireless networking connectivity, super fast shutter speed (using electronic shutter) and 4K video recording in most part. I also like its classic design and its button layout, and the dual lens rings are very useful.

Of course one of the main reason to pick the Panasonic Lumix LX100 over the LX7 and X30 is the large sensor, which will give you more control over the depth of field and better low-light performance.  You give up portability, but in return you get a camera that is closer to gimmick the  look and feel of an interchangeable lens camera.  If you can leave without the pop-up flash, built-in ND filter and touchscreen (all the three lack this feature) and don’t mind it’s size, you’ll love the Panasonic LX100 camera.

The LX7 is the most portable camera among the three, but as I mentioned earlier, it’s not portable as the RX100 III. It also lacks a built-in viewfinder which might be a bummer for some people. Among its main advantages over the LX100 are smaller camera size, faster wide-angle (at 24mm) and slightly larger reach (75mm vs 90mm), 1cm macro,  built-in ND filter, slo-mo video recording option and time-lapse function, in-camera creative effects. The LX7 has a feature called “Radial Defocus” that helps to make defocus areas smoother. This is one problem that cameras with small sensor suffer from, the ability to blue the background in a high degree, and create better subject separation. There are Photo Styles you can apply to images, a Multi Exposure function, Intelligent Night Shot mode (layering multiple images for one great looking night shot).

The LX7 can record 1080p60 videos with very good audio fidelity thanks to its Auto Wind Cut function and you can adjust the video’s shutter speed and aperture while shooting videos. Other features like Aspect Bracket (take image in all aspect ratio simultaneously), Intelligent HDR and 60fps burst in 3.5MP resolution, all that among its other advanced features, make the LX7 a superb compact camera, even more than two years after launch.

The Fujifilm X30 is second personal favorite after the LX100. I personally find its design to be exactly to my taste, although it’s a bit larger as I wanted it to be, but the features.. oh.. the features. This camera result in excellent image quality and impressive high ISO performance, considering its sensor size.  The big, bright and fast EVF is a feature that you’ll learn to appreciate once you start shooting with it.  The manual controls, film simulation modes, the easy-to-use dual ring design, fast AF performance (with phase-detectin AF), 0.01 sec. shutter time lag, 12 fps burst and the amazing bright Fujinon lens– all make this camera a clear choice for the enthusiast photographer.

The X30 costs more than twice the price of the LX7, and I think it can better satisfy the demands of stills photographers. The LX7 is an excellent on-the-go compact camera, but it’s behind the other cameras in terms of AF speed and high ISO performance.

So picking the LX100 than the LX7 and X30 is not an easy decision, but I think that overall, the Panasonic LX100 certainly looks more attractive, but that comes for a higher price tag.  Its large sensor plays a significant role and for many people this is one reason to get it over the X30. Both the LX100 and X30 are pretty close in terms of size, body design, AF performance, EVF and lens attributes – and I think that because of this, people will give more weight to the sensor and all the benefits that goes with it.

If I had to pick on of the three, I wold definitely go with the Panasonic LX100, but in terms of value, nothing beats the LX7! —  But hey, that just me.. you might have a completely different opinion.

So which camera do 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.

 



Amazon Ads