Price (RRP): $999
I love interchangeable lens cameras, but let’s face it, they’re bulky. What if you want most of their features, barring only the choice of lens, in a compact package? Panasonic’s here to help with the Lumix DMC-LX10 compact camera. No cheapie this one, it offers an exceptional range of features, not the least of which is a Leica DC Vario-Summilux lens.
Aside from the fixed lens, the only other major sacrifice one makes is the lack of viewfinder. It’s the rear display panel only when it comes to framing your shots.
Other than that, it’s hard to see what’s missing. The camera will take 4K video (at up to 30fps) as well as lower resolutions. It has a 20.1 megapixel, 25.4mm MOS sensor yielding pictures up to 5472 by 3648 pixels in a 3:2 aspect. An assortment of lower resolutions are available.
Pictures are recorded to an SD, SDHC or SDXC cards, the last with capacities up to 128GB supported. There are two levels of JPEG quality available along with RAW. (RAW format skips all the JPEG compression and usually some of the picture processing, allowing you to do all processing in software in your computer.
It offers a similar range of picture modes as a full blown SLR, from “iA” – Panasonic’s “Intelligent Auto”, through program, Aperture and Shutter priority to full Manual. Aperture priority is made easy thanks to the ring around the base of the lens to adjust it. Well, easier. It was sometimes difficult to avoid nudging the multipurpose ring while adjusting aperture.
And speaking of aperture, this one goes wide. With the widest angle lens setting, it’ll open up to f/1.4. At maximum telephoto it’s limited to f/2.8. The zoom range is from 8.8mm to 26.4mm (which is 24mm to 72mm in 35mm equivalent speak*). That’s a 3x range. There’s also a 4x digital zoom, but that kind of thing is usually best avoided. That’s relatively limited given that some cameras these days offer 30x or more, but that’s the price you pay for Leica glass and that f/1.4 speed. The lens is constructed of eleven elements in nine groups.
Panasonic has included quite the range of photographer friendly functions in this camera. Of course, there’s manual exposure compensation, but there’s also bracketing, not just for exposure, but for focus (up to 999 shots!) and white balance.
There’s also a 4K picture mode. Why, given this is only 8 megapixels rather than 20? Well, it uses the 4K video function to provide some nifty functions. One is 4K burst mode. Since there’s a real full resolution burst mode as well, the main advantage of this is speed (30 frames per second) and the pre-burst setting, which captures a full second before you press the shutter plus a second after. The resolution might not be as high, but you’re less likely to miss the money moment.
Also available in video mode: time lapse, which takes a video frame at preset intervals so when played back you can see flowers open and so on; stop motion, which is much the same except that the frames are captured when you press the shutter button (so you can make animations); and slow motion (with a maximum resolution of full high definition).
Audio is recorded, and there’s a tiny speaker on the bottom to output the sound if you want to preview your videos. There’s also a HDMI output.
The 680mAh Lithium Ion battery is charged in place, not in a separate charger. You’ll need to plug the power cable into a USB power adaptor (one is included) or a computer. Panasonic rates it as good for 260 shots, and I’d be surprised if it fell far short of that. If you plug it into a computer, then you can transfer photos and videos to it. The camera pops up as flash memory, so you can just navigate to the DCIM folder and drag in photos.
You could also use the WiFi function to transfer photos to a computer or smart phone, or send them via DLNA to a TV or a suitable printer, or to social media sites via Panasonic’s own cloud service (called “Lumix Club”). In addition, you can use the WiFi connection to remotely control the camera using your smart phone (Android or iOS), complete with picture preview. That’s probably the most convenient function.
While it’s not obvious from the photos, there is a built in flash. It pops up from under an inconspicuous panel on the top of the camera when you slide its control lever.