Updated: Aug 28
The Panasonic Lumix LX7 is an advanced compact camera from 2012 that punches above its weight class in the modern era. It has lots to like from its fast 24-90mm f1.4-2.3 Leica lens, layout, controls, autofocus, and image quality. Some may balk at the relatively small 1/1.7 inch sensor but the lens and image processing handles that limitation. Its not the best but for a budget option in 2023 it does way better than your smartphone. And you will be surprised by the high quality results you can get.
I'm a big fan of compact cameras especially when they have great lenses included. I have experience with the Canon G7X mark II, Fujifilm XF10, Fujifilm XQ1, Fujifilm X30, Pentax Q7, and countless others. All have different sensors, features, and megapixels. This will come with different pros and cons but ultimately I favor a compact over a smartphone any day.
Compact Cameras vs. Smartphones
When it comes to photography, smartphones are great for convenience but not for enjoyment. I think its a great 2nd camera/backup and media device, but as a primary camera it will fall short even against small sensor compact cameras like the LX7.
We also have to remember that most "small sensor" compact cameras still have larger sensors then smartphones and way more capable lenses as well. That makes a huge difference. Having physical controls while being unobtrusive is very appealing to me.
Premium smartphones have some of the same features like RAW shooting, fast lenses, and wide angles but not having a true mode dial or physical controls to change shutter speed, aperture, and ISO will annoy the enthusiast photographer. Touchscreens are great but they can be unreliable for quick changes. One of the things photographers hate to do is go into menus and that's exactly what a smartphone forces your to do.
Design and Layout
The LX7 is small and lightweight. It feels well built and has a decent grip. However, I would say that they should have made the rubber extend further towards the lens. I find my fingers are resting near the smooth part of the camera and doesn't feel the most secure. I have the Panasonic GX1 which has a great grip and they should have done the same with the LX7.
With the lens retracted it can fit in a jacket pocket but not your pants pocket. It just falls short of that since it does have a 24-90mm lens. You'll first notice an aperture ring on the lens as well as switches for aspect ratio, autofocus, macro, and manual focus.
The LX7 has a built in ND filter. Its a nifty push button right on the back of the camera. Panasonic really thought this camera out when it comes to the physical buttons.
This camera is not meant for manual focus. The push in/toggle lever (which doubles as the ND filter) on the back of the camera is fiddly and is not ideal. Good news is the autofocus is really good and the macro mode is really useful. You will have a lot of fun with it. Most camera claim to have a macro mode but it really is a gimmick. The LX7 actually does have one with a flip of a switch and its superb.
The button placement is nice and really keeps you out of the menu for only something really specific. There's a dedicated record button as well as a video mode on the PASM dial. You have full manual control at 1080P 60fps. There's a function button you can assign to many functions. I set it for flash exposure compensation since I find I'll be using that quite a bit for casual family situations indoors.
There's also a hot shoe which is not common for a camera of this size and caliber. It does have the ability to use it for an EVF that can be purchased. I can also see use of it for off camera flash for product photography.
The camera is equipped with 10MP which by today's standard is pretty low but with 1/1.7 inch sensor it helps to make the photo sites larger which helps with low light situations. In addition you have an excellent Leica Vario Summilux 24-90mm equivalent f1.4-2.3 lens. The fast aperture is great to keep the ISO down while still getting good autofocus and having sufficient depth of field.
With a 1/1.7 inch sensor the crop factor in 35mm terms is 4.6. That means your f1.4-2.3 is actually a f6.4-10.5 in terms of depth of field (not light levels). What this means is that even wide open at f1.4 you're getting a depth of field that is good enough for groups of people. With a bigger sensor you would need to stop down further which would in turn lower your light levels. So in good light try not to be bothered by the sensor size and indoors use the flash to maintain adequate ISO.
ISO range is 80-3200. I find that the max is 1600 with visible noise but best to stay at 400 or below wherever possible. With such a fast lens you can achieve this in most situations. At low ISO's the images are sharp but colors seems to be off for me. They have a greenish tint to me. I change my white balance to address. However, monochrome images are nice and this will be my way of using this camera.
You can shoot RAW and edit your images. I will be doing that with color images but will have my JPG images in black & white. The flash is pretty good for a small camera and I used it a lot at a family gathering. This camera is made to be a not so serious family camera and I feel it excels at that while giving the enthusiast photographer enough tactile feel, ergonomics, and buttons to feel satisfied.
What I like:
- decent ergonomics
- bright and versatile 24-90mm f1.4-2.3 lens
- good control layout
- compact size
- good menu system
- has a hot shoe
- built in ND filter
What I don't like:
- small 1/1.7 inch sensor
- no WIFI or bluetooth
- no tilt screen
- LCD resolution could be better
The Panasonic Lumix LX7 is the best and final in the LX line of premium compact camera. It's an impressive enthusiast camera with loads of physical features. This makes a perfect travel camera. In the right hands this camera will be all you ever need to get great images. In a world full of big sensor cameras and smartphones, I'm still holding on to the premium compact because I like my phone to be a phone and not a camera. I like buttons.
Panasonic Lumix LX7 Sample Photo Gallery
I edited the RAW images using Luminar 4 with only minor changes to white balance, contrast, color, and exposure.
My name is Jason Logan. I'm a photographer and content creator from Jersey City, NJ.