“Panasonic LX10 Conclusio
nThe Panasonic LX10 joined a crowded premium compact camera market this past fall. Equipped with a 20.1-megapixel 1-inch-type sensor, like many premium compact cameras, the LX10 also offers a quick 24-72mm equivalent f/1.4-2.8 lens. What helps set it apart from the competition is its 4K video and 4K Photo features along with a sub-$700 price tag. How does the camera’s image quality, performance and overall usability fare?
15.4mm (42mm equivalent), f/2.8, 1/160s, ISO 125
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LX10’s 20MP sensor impresses and so does the fast built-in lens
The LX10 is a follow-up to the LX7 and employs a larger 1-inch-type sensor this time around. The 20.1-megapixel sensor proved to be quite good and comparable to its competition, including the Sony RX100 V, Canon G7X II and Canon G9X.
When comparing the LX10 to the LX7, the LX10 represents a considerable upgrade in every way, from detail to high ISO performance. The LX10 bests its 1-inch Canon competition overall, although the LX10 does display slightly more sharpening halos at low ISOs. Compared to the Sony RX100 V, the LX10 comes up a bit short at base ISO, but the gap is small and decreases as ISO increases. Ultimately, the LX10 is a very solid competitor in its class and offers good image quality. You can make good 13 x 19 inch prints up to ISO 800, for example, which is impressive for a 1-inch-type sensor camera.
100% crop from an image taken at 26.4mm (72mm equivalent), f/2.8, 1/2000s, ISO 125
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The good 20.1-megapixel sensor is paired with a built-in 24-72mm equivalent lens, which offers an aperture range of f/1.4 to f/2.8. It is worth noting that the lens is f/1.4 only at 24mm equivalent as it drops to f/1.5 and f/2.0 at 25mm and 26mm, respectively. The camera’s max aperture decreases to f/2.8 by 32mm and maintains that f-stop through the end of its focal length range. At the wide end, the LX10 is still nearly a full stop faster than the Sony RX100 V.
Center crop from an image taken at 8.8mm (24mm equivalent), f/1.4, 1/200s, ISO 125
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Offering very good sharpness across its range, the LX10’s lens proves very nice for its speed, size and the LX10’s price point. When looking at uncorrected RAW images, there is a lot of distortion at the wide end, as well as a lot of chromatic aberration, but that is typical of the class and the camera does a good job correcting it in-camera. Corner sharpness leaves something to be desired across the focal length range when wide open, but that isn’t unusual given the lens’ speed and small physical size, and corners sharpen up nicely when stopped down except at wide angle. (The in-camera distortion correction likely plays a role in the lack of corner sharpness at wide angle.) The Panasonic LX10’s lens also focuses closer than rivals, which is a nice bonus for macro fans.
Overall, both the 1-inch-type sensor and the built-in lens offer a lot to like. The sensor performs well across much of the ISO range, comparing favorably to competing cameras and performing much better than its aging predecessor’s, the Panasonic LX7. On the optical side of the equation, the LX10 provides a very fast maximum aperture of f/1.4 and offers very good optical performance for its type.
AF & Performance: Speedy and solid with the exception of raw buffer depth
Autofocus performance with the LX10 is solid, thanks to Panasonic’s Depth From Defocus (DFD) technology. The contrast detect autofocus system offers 49 AF points and numerous autofocus modes. Autofocus performance is quick and accurate in good light and only slows down slightly in low light conditions.
24.6mm (72mm equivalent), f/2.8, 1/1600s, ISO 125.
This image has been modified. Click for full-size image.
As an enthusiast compact camera, it should come as no surprise that the LX10 offers pretty good performance across the board, with a few shortcomings here and there. Startup times are slow, taking around 3.2 seconds from powering on to capturing the first shot, but other performance areas were much better. Autofocus speeds proved excellent despite relying on a contrast detection system, and full-autofocus shutter lag was a speedy 0.125 seconds.
When considering continuous shooting speeds, the LX10 very nearly matches Panasonic’s impressive 10 frames per second speed specification, coming up short in our tests by a mere 0.1 fps when recording JPEG images. Shooting RAW photos reduces speeds slightly to 9.3 fps. If you want full continuous autofocus, burst speeds drop further to 6 fps, which is still good for its class. Buffer depths are not as impressive, however. The RAW buffer is only 14 frames in the 9.3 fps Continuous H shooting mode, and it takes nearly 10 seconds to clear. The JPEG buffer in Continuous H mode at 9.9 fps is much better, filling after 80 frames and with a 6-second clearing time.
24.6mm (72mm equivalent), f/4.0, 1/125s, ISO 125.
This image has been cropped. Click for full-size image.
The camera offers numerous additional shooting modes which sacrifice image quality for speed. You can record up to 60 5-megapixel JPEG frames at 50 fps in the Super HS mode, for example. You can also record 8-megapixel JPEG images in the 4K burst mode at 30 fps. Additional 4K Photo modes include 4K Post Focus and a neat focus stacking mode, both of which work very well.”