Thursday, July 19, 2012

Panasonic Announces New Top-Line Compact DMC-LX7

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7
Image Source:
Panasonic has announced the successor to the wonderful compact camera DMC-LX5, the Lumix DMC-LX7. I am a long-time LX series devotee, having owned the LX2, and now the LX5. If you haven't looked at the LX series before, you should. I've written before how well the LX5 works as a street photography camera, for me. It's tiny, flexible, has a great feature set (including the ability to lock the f-stop and zoom position when you turn the camera off), all manual controls, and raw file capability.
(Click Here) to see my post about the LX5 as a street photography camera.
As with all cameras, there are tradeoffs. The LX series cameras have small sensors. The immediate effects are: 1) decreased performance at high iso (noise), and 2) inability to produce shallow depth of field. The LX5 does pretty well up to iso 400, acceptable for small prints (and definitely for viewing on the monitor) at iso 800, after which noise becomes a real issue. The fast zoom allows you to produce a reasonable portrait at the long end of the zoom, wide open. This gives decent shallow depth of field, but nothing like your full-frame fast lenses.
(Click Here) to read about the new DMC-LX7 on dpreview.
I had heard rumors that the LX7 would have a larger sensor than the LX5, which could have improved the camera in both respects. As it turns out, the sensor on the LX7 is a little smaller. The lens is about a stop faster, so that allows you to shoot at lower iso, which will help with noise. Reportedly, the new sensor also has better inherent signal-to-noise, which should also help. The faster lens also helps with producing shallower depth of field, when it's desired.
So, for me this is a mixed bag. While I believe that the new sensor and faster lens will help in these areas, I would have appreciated a bigger sensor more. Also, I tend to use the LX5 for street shooting, which in my own style does not require shallow depth of field. I like to set it on f4 or f5.6, fix the zoom and focus point to give a large depth of field, and shoot what I see on the street. For that, the LX7 offers little for me personally. If the noise performance is really better, which will be challenging with a small sensor, I may change my mind.
Part of what I'm saying is that I'm already quite pleased with the LX5. It's really a special little camera. The LX7 is at least as good - I'm just not sure I'll be upgrading anytime soon.
Note - apparently, Panasonic will delay preorder capability until 30 days before the camera will actually ship. I admit that I HATE waiting for a new camera that I've already ordered, and waiting, and waiting. I did this with the Pana-Leica Summilux 25mm f1.4, waiting for several months. I'm doing it again now with the Olympus 75mm f1.8 lens. But, delaying preorder only serves as a band-aid. What these companies really need to do is produce faster. If they must make the announcements to keep up with the Joneses, then they need to be ready to deliver. Thanks for letting me rant a little.
Here's the DMC-LX5 (not LX7) on Amazon: