Panasonic Lumix LX7 review

julie woon

Yes, this is the latest incarnation of the wildly popular LX3/LX5! I managed to get hold of the new Panasonic Lumix LX7 – it’s a super premium compact camera that has a lot of features that even professional photographers would appreciate.

lumix lx7

BTW, that’s Julie Woon, the 8TV host that also had the LX7 and showed her photos during the event.

lumix showcase

I was at the Panasonic Lumix Photonista campaign cum launch on the 19th November which unveiled several of their new cameras and lenses. There’s the two high end Lumix G series – GH3 and G5 which uses the relatively new dSLM (nope, not a typo, it stands for digital single lens mirrorless) cameras.

fuzion
Lunch @ Fuzion before the event

Lumix came out with the world’s first dSLM cameras in 2008 – the technology which allows for a more compact body and lens while still producing the high image quality of dSLRs. The flagship GH3 is even splash and dust proof. There’s also the accompanying 12-35mm, 45-150mm and 35-100mm lens.

panasonic lumix lx7

The new Lumix range was also unveiled – with the ultra high zoom “prosumer” FZ60 and FZ200 leading the pack to bridge the high end G series with the compact and new LX7. That leaves the lifestyle targeted SZ5 which has WiFi that allows you to use a smartphone to connect with it to shoot remotely and upload direct to social media avenues.

professional photographers

That’s a total of 6 new cameras and 3 lenses announced that day and there were also two female professional photographers who used the newly launched Lumix G cameras to take photos and record videos. I found the one which featured the capoeira video to be quite intriguing – the quality was so good I though it was taken with a dedicated camcorder.

lumix tx7 top

Anyway, back to the Lumix LX7 review, it’s a 10.1 MP high end compact camera that you can just point and shoot with it’s Intelligent Auto Plus with a full range of manual shooting modes and RAW file support. The body is made of metal, which gives it a premium feel and a nice solid weight. I really like the feel of it.

creative control

There’s also a bright 3 inch LCD screen with a 920,000 dot resolution which provides a really clear view of what you’re about to shoot. The ISO goes from 80-6400 (there’s also an option for ISO 12800 but that results in a lowered resolution) and it’s a lot like a dSLR with all its features.

defocus

I like the option of going all the way to the fastest f/1.4 maximum aperture which is essential for shooting in low-light conditions and producing that signature dSLR depth-of-field effect with out of focus backgrounds.

depth field

It’s very friendly for beginners but the best part about the LX7 is the toggle switch at the side that allows you to switch from manual to auto-focus (with the addition of macro thrown in).

food

It’s these little manual controls that makes it simple enough for photography enthusiasts to use yet allows full manual flexibility for more advanced users.

lumix tx7 back

Shooting in manual mode is surprisingly easy with the 3-step ND/Focus lever (very nifty, this one) that allows you full control over shutter speed. Focusing, exposure, bracketing area and all the essentials are ready at hand when used with the buttons and jog dial.

lumix lx7 front

There’s also a manually adjustable aperture ring that allows direct control over the light source to the sensors as well as a switch to change aspect ratios from 16:9, 3:2, 4:3 to 1:1. You can even shoot in ALL the aspect ratios at once!

level gauge

The MF Assist feature helps enthusiast photographers to understand how things work too. There’s also useful features like Level Gauge which helps you align your shots – the horizontal/vertical lines are yellow until they register as level with the accelerometer, at which point they turn green.

lunch

The remarkable Leica lens on the LX7 more than makes up for the relatively small sensor – it takes impressively sharp photos.

panorama
Panorama shot that allows all four directions!

The other strong point of the LX7 is in the video recording – it allows for full HD video at 1,920 x 1,080 60p at 120 frames per second for NTSC (50p / 100 fps for PAL). That produces extremely smooth and detailed videos. The microphone is placed on top and there’s an Auto Wind Cut function to block out noise. Best of all it records in stereo from it’s two mics!

Personally, the best feature is the ability to take a still image while you record a video. I’ve often struggled with two cameras while recording a video in case there’s a scene where I want a photo too. Now I can do both with a single camera. Heh.

quick af

The most amazing thing I’ve realized about this camera is the super fast AF – it can even shoot at 4 fps with full AF tracking!

glass through
Glass Through scene

through glass
Resulting photo

1 aspect ratio
1:1 aspect ratio

sepia
Sepia

cakes
Creative Control

desserts
Food

expressive
Expressive

miniature effect
Miniature Effect (love the irony ;))

Things I like:

  • Excellent image quality
  • Insanely fast burst mode at 11 fps full resolution
  • Speedy auto-focus
  • Plethora of Instagram-like digital filters (called Creative Control)
  • Amazing HD video

chocolate fountain

The LX7 is a very good compact camera that has a lot of professional features you’ll be hard pressed to find in other compact digicams. It’s a perfect backup camera pros shooting with a dSLR – it’s portable enough and has stellar quality for a point and shoot, which also makes it an ideal choice for enthusiast photographers who wants a compact digicam.

hdr

It’s been called a “real photographer’s compact camera” – the Lumix LX7 is not an entry level camera but one with a lot of features. I loved playing around with it and I imagine I’ll be carrying this instead of my bulky dSLR around from now. :)

Camwhore Level Asian

sony center

I was walking through MidValley on the weekend when I saw that the Sony Center over there had a contest for the Sony NEX-F3. This is exactly the very same camera that I used to take awesome photos like this in Germany:

germany profile pic

This incidentally became my profile photo for Facebook, Twitter and my other social media sites. Heh.

I also took quite a few in Sibu, you can see the sheer quality of photos here:

sibu backyard

My backyard. It used to be bigger and filled with mango, rambutan and apple custard trees but it was chopped down and paved with concrete to make way for parking. There were five cars at one point before my dad sold one off, junked one and I drove mine to KL.

largest temple asia

The biggest temple complex in Asia or South-East Asia. I think it’s the former and it’s located in Sibu.

snail

One large garden snail. We eat this in Sibu. It’s considered a delicacy. I’m kidding, just took a photo of it to show the incredibly low noise in low light conditions. I snapped this after midnight when I went out back for a smoke.

I’m telling you, it sure was hard to return the review unit, I really fell in love with the dSLR quality images with easy shooting modes that the Sony NEX-F3 affords.

promoters

Thus, I tried to enter the contest. It’s quite easy, really. Just head into any of the 10 participating Sony Center outlets on a weekend (Saturday or Sunday) and go to the counter where the Sony NEX-F3 is.

sony nex f3

You won’t have any trouble finding it – there are promoters there to help you with the process.

sony nex f3 promoters

Basically, what you do is to take a photo of yourself using the 180 degree tilt function (a camwhore photo self-portrait in other words ;)) and they’ll help you upload it to the official contest website.

sony nex f3 launch

I did mine at the Sony NEX-F3 media launch with Kim, Rachel and Shah – didn’t win anything though – and asked the promoters if I can do this again at the Sony Center.

camwhore

It turns out that you can – just take a self-portrait of yourself and upload it to The Ultimate F3 Photographer Contest. The contest requires you to upload shots taken with the camera at the Sony Center itself. However, you can also bring your own SD card and slot it into the Sony NEX-F3 if you want to keep the photos. :)

One of three Sony NEX-F3 units awaits you! I hope one of them is mine, this is really a nifty camera to bring traveling.

Camwhoring Level 0

fail

Fail

fail deux

Fail

pass

Pass

I only managed to get it right on the third shot and that’s coz I flipped the LCD screen 180 degrees so I could see myself and frame the shot. I was aiming for a dSLR look with a heavily defocused background. I’m really bad in self-portraits – I think the technical term for this is camwhoring. ;)

protestant church

That’s the most famous Protestant church in Dresden right there. I travel around quite a bit – I just came back from Germany and I went to Jakarta before that. I couldn’t make it to another one this month due to a conflicting date but I’ll be heading to Nepal and the Philippines next month.

bratwurst

I’m what the industry call a FIT (Free and Independent Traveler). Basically, what that means is that you’re the adventurous trailblazing type who tends to go backpacking alone. That perfectly describes my two previous trips to Europe. This is the third.

I’ve had no problems with people running away with my camera, not even in the slums of Sri Lanka (don’t ask) or going on a totally badass adventure in Georgia with strangers. You need someone to take your photos when you’re traveling alone and while I’m not a huge fan of camwhoring, I concede that it’s very useful sometimes.

sony

The picture above is of the Sony Center in Berlin – the only one that has a cinema which shows English movies without subtitles. I brought the Sony NEX-F3 to Germany. All the photos in this post was taken using that. I wanted to see if it would make me take better shots. I have a dSLR but I wanted a more compact camera that I can stuff into my windbreaker pocket. You can try that with a dSLR – but be prepared to get tackled by the London Metropolitan police. ;)

The Sony NEX-F3 uses a large, high performance Exmor APS CMOS sensor that allows it to capture dSLR quality photos even in low light. It has interchangeable lenses and it’s very easy to use.

Let me show you my awesome photos!

night

This is a view of Dresden late at night. I was surprised at the low noise and incredible detail. I used this as my Facebook cover photo. Heh.

retro

Old school cash register. Appropriately shot in Retro mode. I normally wouldn’t get a good photo in the lighting conditions of the restaurant but this turned out very well.

view hotel

Hotel Taschenbergpalais Kempinski in Dresden – a view from my room. President Barrack Obama also stayed here when he visited. I doubt it’s the same room though.

defocus

I like how you can set manually adjust the Background Defocus, Brightness, Color (compensate for Warm or Cold), Vividness or just let it go on auto in Superior Auto mode. It usually gets it right.

There’s also scenes presets and settings inside to let you easily shoot in a wide range of picture effects with the full time continuous auto focus:

flowers

Pop color. Flowers in summer. It was unusually cold for the first few days, which was why I had a windbreaker on and just a shirt for the last few days.

These are all shot on the Autobahn from a fast moving vehicle to demonstrate:

red

Partial Color: Red

green

Partial Color: Green

blue

Partial Color. Blue

yellow

Partial Color: Yellow

backlight

Back-light auto compensation of a faux stained glass window. There’s also a built in flash that pops up if the scene is too dark! :)

Videos are shot in HD and you can use the modes available – this is shot using Retro mode. :)

Schloss Charlottenburg

Schloss Charlottenburg (Schloss means Palace) in Panoramic Mode. You can also do this in 3D (it saves in an MPO file) and display it on a 3D TV.

Automatic scene detection and Auto HDR makes skin tones amazingly natural. I literally shot this from the hip so you can get a sense of how fast the auto-detect works:

kids

Imagine the stuff you can do with this! There’s lot of customization possible. You can make the sky bluer for example.

Please…tell them, I am God. ;)

Do you want your very own Sony NEX-F3? Join The Ultimate F3 Photographer Contest and get a chance to win one of 3 cameras! It’s very simple – all you need to do is drop by any of the 10 participating Sony Outlets on a Saturday or Sunday, take your own photo using the Sony NEX-F3 and upload it (the promoters will assist you). Click on the link above for the Sony Outlet closest to you.

I love it! The Sony NEX-F3 makes me look like a better photographer than I really am. ;)

My dSLR is ruined!!!

dslr lcd ruined

I have been shooting blind for the past few days since the LCD on my dSLR is totally FUBAR. I’m not sure what happened to it actually but I think from the damage pattern it seems to be…water.

I have no idea how water came into contact with the dSLR. It’s like one of those mysteries that you just don’t think about lest you hurt your brain.

H20…sigh, with one hand you giveth life and with the other taketh away.

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