Panasonic Lumix LX100

Panasonic Lumix LX100 (Leica D-Lux Typ 109)

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica

February 2017

Panasonic Lumix LX100 @ ISO 1600

Panasonic Lumix LX100 – Purchase Recap

If you read my “Budapest 2017(2) – Leica vs Lumix” blog post you will know that I just bought myself a new Panasonic Lumix LX100 digital compact camera.

 

lumix-lx100

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If you didn’t read it as a very quick recap I misplaced my Leica M 240 battery charger when in Budapest on a model photography trip so bought myself a replacement / backup camera. Here is an extract from the aforementioned post –

.. “My mind then started to wander away from Leica cameras and onto other alternative camera options. I thought aha I could buy a small but capable camera to finish my model photography in Budapest and then use it as a vlog camera or camera to use for making Instagram videos / photos and also as a digital backup camera for travel. I wanted a camera with full manual controls, a hoteshoe and 4K video in a compact package. I will write a separate full review but I looked at a Leica D-Lux (Typ 109) camera and that lead me to buying a Panasonic Lumix LX100 camera with an equivalent 24-75mm f1.7-f2.8 fixed zoom lens”.

and as part of the summary at the end of the trip I wrote –

“Day 2 saw me using the new Panasonic Lumix LX100 camera. I was learning on the shoot so there were more blurry photos than when I use a Leica due to the auto focus and lag. That said the photos will look different to the Leica M 240 so I am excited to see and hope the photo quality is up to my needs. As I am used to Leica lenses and Leica sensors and also the 36MP Nikon D800 and my digital Hasselblad I guess my expectations and ‘needs’ are quite high in terms of image quality, resolution, sharpness and clarity. The little Panasonic Lumix LX100 has a lot to compete with. One fact that gives me some confidence is that the Lumix LX100 is pretty much identical to the Leica D-Lux Typ 109 (inside) and I know Leica will not put their name on a bad camera. That said the Lumix LX100 has a smaller 13MP micro four thirds CMOS sensor so it would be unfair to compare directly to my full frame digital camera sensors. I used the LX100 in manual mode for shutter, ISO and aperture but I didn’t discover how to manually focus until after the day’s photo shoots so the auto focus caused for a few miss shots. I also noticed my composition was much worse using the LX100 verses a Leica (so far)”.

Panasonic Lumix LX100 / Leica D-Lux
Lumix LX100

Panasonic Lumix LX100 – First Impressions

After using the Lumix LX100 for a day including model photography with agency models and freelance models here are my thoughts so far. I tried to summarise into two simple lists, pros and cons (for me and my taste only)*

Panasonic Lumix LX100 – Pros

  • Macro photography – amazing! Can focus at 3cm distance to give a very shallow DOF
  • 1/2000 flash sync speed! – at f1.7-f2.8 and 1/4000 speed at f4-f16 (leaf shutter lens)
  • Hotshoe – a must for my strobist work
  • Small form factor – perfect travel camera
  • EVF option – good to use in bright light conditions instead of LCD
  • Aperture ring – great to see on a compact (makes it feel like a proper camera)
  • Full manual controls – a must for me
  • 4K video – same as the larger Lumix GH4 camera
  • 24-75mm fixed zoom lens – 24mm is perfect for wider shots and 75mm for portraits
  • f1.7-f2.8 lens aperture – f1.7 at 24mm to f2.8 for 75mm. f1.7 perfect in low light
  • Wifi connectivity – great to transfer photos directly to my iPhone for Instagram
  • ISO 100-25,600 – Impressive low light ability and good results at ISO1600
  • 13MP micro four thirds CMOS sensor – Sufficient resolution for A4 prints (for me)
  • Weight 393g – perfect lightweight camera to carry everywhere

Panasonic Lumix LX100 – Cons

  • EVF lag – a Leica OVF is much better than the EVF for me. EVF too slow
  • Startup lag – slow compared to a Leica but useable
  • Battery capacity / life – said to take up to 350 photos per battery if using the LCD
  • Position of the video record button – awkward (for me)
  • No tilt and swivel LCD – so not great for selfies/ videoing handheld such as vlogging
  • No external mic jack (input) for microphone such as a Rode Video Mic or Zoom H1
  • Doesn’t use full size of micro four thirds sensor – crop options 4:3, 3:2, 16:9, 1:1
  • RAW files are affected by in camera settings such as crop selection and filters

Note. Panasonic Lumix LX100 vs. Leica D-Lux Typ 109

The Panasonic Lumix LX100 is near identical to it’s Leica twin camera, the Leica D-Lux Typ 109. Inside the cameras are extremely similar but with the Leica D-Lux using Leica software. On the exterior the Leica D-Lux has a much cleaner more sophisticated high end typical Leica look than the Lumix but the Lumix has a more practical and user friendly hand grip. For a lower cost I was more than happy to not consider the Leica D-Lux yet have knowledge that the LX100 uses the same Leica Summilux lens.

Panasonic Lumix LX100 (aka Leica D-Lux (Typ 109))

Panasonic Lumix LX100 – For Me

I have only covered a small percentage of the Lumix LX100 features that are important to me. There are many other settings the camera has which may interest you more such as frames per second rate or the details of the video setting options. The LX100 is not a new camera, released in 2014, so all of the above has already been documented many times before if you want more details after seeing this post. I just covered the basics of my experience and thoughts so far and with a Leica M camera background as a comparison.

Panasonic Lumix LX100 – Image Quality

After having time to review some of the Lumix LX100 photos from Budapest I can say that the photos were perhaps as good as can be expected. The LX100 image quality was sub-Leica M standard (because of the smaller sensor as an obvious reason) in terms of sharpness, resolution and clarity but the images are far from being offense to my eye. From the RAW images captured so far I would say as a sweeping statement, that the highlight detail is lost much easier, the images are rendered softer and the lens has more flare. The JPEG images look very good and have nice colour but the RAW files colours are less impressive when trying to recover in post. I took photos up to ISO 1600 so far and the results were useable/ good enough (even though there was less information to work with in post (without introducing too much grain).

Panasonic Lumix LX100 – Ergonomics and Handling

I love the small form factor of the Lumix LX100 camera. The LX100 is smaller and lighter than a Leica M film camera and is more similar in size to my Olympus Pen-F half frame analogue camera. As a Leica photographer I find the LX100 camera has far more buttons than necessary and it feels a little cluttered but that said I was very thankful to see the aperture control ring and shutter dial. I think an ISO control dial instead of the exposure compensation dial would have suited me far better as a manual settings photographer. I really don’t like the position of the video record button and I found it very it extremely awkward but maybe I will get used to it in time. The camera is larger than a generic compact camera so wont fit into a small suit or trouser pocket but will easily pack into a larger jacket pocket or small camera bag.

As a rangefinder camera photographer I rely 100% on an optical viewfinder to focus and compose my photos. I have never been a big fan of an electronic viewfinder (“EVF”) so I was never tempted to get the Leica EVF for my Leica M240. The Panasonic Lumix LX100 EVF is better than a few I have had experience with but I struggled with the lag between photos. You really can’t appreciate how amazing an OVF is until you have used and EVF. With an OVF you can see everything all the time. I am reasonably particular when composing with a Leica camera but I noticed after seeing the Lumix photos on the computer that my composition (at the edges especially) was worse and less considered. I found with the LX100 that I started off using the EVF but later moved to using the LCD to focus instead. I guess I am now using the LCD to focus as if the camera was my iPhone rather than a ‘real’ camera. I found the LCD focusing approach more enjoyable than the EVF even if still a little foreign to me. It is early days with the LX100 camera so my preference may change.

Panasonic Lumix LX100 – Macro Photography

I used to love macro photography prior to specializing in portraiture and before I moved to Leica cameras. I miss macro work. Even my iPhone never lets me focus as close as I would like. The macro ability of the Lumix LX100 to me is perhaps it’s strongest feature focusing as close as 3cm at 24mm and giving beautifully shallow depth of field and bokeh that you might expect from a DSLR camera rather than a compact camera. Very impressed.

Panasonic Lumix LX100 – Flash Sync Speed

The LX100 camera with its leaf shutter lens boosts an amazing 1/2000 flash sync speed for apertures from f1.7 to f2.8 and 1/4000 flash sync speed for apertures f4-f16. I have yet to use this feature but it excites me a great deal. My Leica M 240 maximum flash sync speed is only 1/180 and even my digital Hasselblad is only 1/800. As a photographer that enjoys using off camera flash this is exciting stuff!

Panasonic Lumix LX100 – Fills the Void

As I have quite a few cameras already, all of which are arguably ‘better’ and higher spec’d than the little Lumix LX100 how will it fit in. The Leica M240 is my main camera for everything, whether portrait sessions, fashion photography or Leica wedding photography. My other digital cameras are used from time to time, the Leica M8 at Leica weddings for example, the digital Hasselblad on bright days using strobes when size and weight is no issue and the Nikon D800 as a general backup camera. With a love for film cameras rather than digital I tend to use the Leica M240 to do a test shot and then often take the important photos with a film camera.

So the LX100. What can it bring to the table. Surprisingly a great deal for my needs. It might be clearer to list the uses I have in mind for my new Lumix.

Panasonic Lumix LX100 – Uses for Me

Macro photography

More specifically detail photos of cameras and equipment for blogging and Instagram

Wifi connectivity

Can take better photos than an iPhone and upload to social media without a computer

Test photos before shooting film

The LX100 is better than a light meter and smaller and lighter than a digital Leica

Behind the scenes photos/ videos

I can operate the LX100 camera with my iPhone to capture BTS footage

Vlogging

I enjoy teaching photography so will use the camera to capture more short videos

Video footage

Whether of a model or otherwise it adds an extra dimension to my work

Small size so carry everywhere

I am more likely to carry this camera with me than any other because of the size

Travel camera

Great for my overseas trips where size and weight matters

Family photos

Perfect for spontaneous and fun family photos that can be shared via Wifi

Backup camera

I will now use this as a digital backup camera for overseas model photography trips

For fun

A Leica camera is a serious piece of equipment whereas the Lumix is more a fun camera

Model photography

The LX100 photos are to me good enough to use for my model photography shoots

Wedding photography

The LX100 camera will now join me for wedding photography assignments too

Panasonic Lumix LX100 – Summary

As you can see I am quite impressed with the Panasonic Lumix LX100. Yes it is not Leica M quality but then it is not Leica M cost either. Every camera has their strengths and weaknesses and I look forward to using the Lumix LX100 for when the Leica M camera is less suited. I will write a follow up review once I have spent more time with the LX100 camera but exciting times ahead and I think new and different work coming soon to my Instagram feed (@MrLeicaCom).

Non-model Test Photos (Lightroom Exports)

Mamiya RZ67 Pro II
Leica M4-P
Olympus Pen-F

Film vs. Digital

Using the micro four thirds sensor Lumix LX100 camera really lets me appreciate my film cameras.  The resolution of even a classic grain film stock such as Kodak Eastman Double-X 5222 still exceeds the resolution of  the digital camera sensor at this level (from my own personal experience*).  Don’t underestimate film if you have never used it! 🙂

Lumix – Full Circle

My first serious camera was the interchangeable lens Panasonic Lumix G1.  I taught myself the basics of photography using the Lumix G1.  I later bought a used Lumix G3 to try for a short period.  Now onto the Lumix LX100!

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Budapest 2017(2)-Leica vs. Lumix

Budapest 2017 (2) – Leica vs. Lumix

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica

February 2017

Leica M 240 Portrait

After enjoying my model photography in Budapest at the end of 2016 I booked a return trip within a few days of being back in the UK for January. Unfortunately I then found a really cool apartment I wanted to stay in but it was full on those dates so I booked a second trip to Budapest in February 2017. January was fun (see my recent blog post) but like every trip I wanted to do it bigger and better which brings me nicely to February!

The low cost airline I use basic travel limit is one carry-on bag and no additional items. I bought a new Lowepro airline camera bag (to follow in later blog review) but it was too big for this airline limits. While researching bags I found the idea of wearing a gilet with multiple pockets to carry additional items on the flight. I ordered a cheap gilet online and managed to fit the entire content of my Billingham Hadley Digital camera bag into my clothing. (The beauty of the small form Leica cameras and lenses!) That gave me the equivalent Leica bag space in my carry-on luggage bag for more cameras.

I spent what felt like days thinking of different camera and lens combinations to take in additional to my Leica gear. The first choice was the Hasselblad 501C but it still needs repairing. I wanted to take a bigger form camera to use the opportunity so this excluded the more compact Mamiya 6, Fuji GF670 and Fuji GA645. All 3 cameras are rangefinders so produce results not so different my Leica cameras. I was then split between the smaller lighter Mamiya 645 Super or the big and heavy Mamiya RZ67 Pro II. I find the RZ67 the most fun to use, best viewfinder (biggest and brightest) and with bellows focusing every lens can do close up photos. The Mamiya Sekor 110mm f2.8 lens is pretty compact for this camera system and a nice focal length for portraits. I therefore picked the Mamiya RZ to take with me and this would be the first time I have taken the RZ67 overseas. The photos the RZ67 creates (like the Hasselblad) are very different to Leica camera images so I enjoy creating a different look even with the same model using different cameras. A problem I find when using a digital Leica camera next to a film Leica camera is both photos look extremely similar other than the effect of the film.

Final camera list – to take

  • Leica M 240 camera (digital body)
  • Leica M4-P film camera X1
  • Leica Summarit-M 50mm f2.5 lens
  • Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4 lens
  • Voigtlander Nokton Classic 35mm f1.4 lens
  • Leica Elmarit-M ASPH 28mm f2.8 lens
  • Mamiya RZ67 Pro II camera body
  • Mamiya Sekor 110mm f2.8 lens
  • Mamiya RZ 6×6 film back
  • Olympus Pen-F film camera
  • Olympus 38mm f1.8 kit lens

Film – 35mm and 120

For medium format 120 film I packed a mixture of Ilford Pan F 50, Ilford FP4 Plus, Fomapan 100 black and white film and some expired Kodak Portra 160 film for colour.

For 35mm film I decided to take mostly colour film rather than my usual bias for black and white. For colour I chose mostly ECN-2 Kodak Motion Picture bulk film that I have rolled at home; Kodak Vision3 50D, Vision3 200T and Vision3 500T. I also packed a roll of Ilford Pan-F 50 for the Olympus Pen-F and my last roll of expired Kodak Plus-X 125. I packed film more that I needed but it’s better to be safe! I just hope I get to shoot more film than I did in January. Fingers crossed!

Leica B&W

Model Photography

I booked myself up with 12 models to fill my 2.5 days in Budapest. The plan was some inside photos and some outside photos and to try to use and/ or create more interesting light than my recent images. I find it easy to get stuck in a rut where I place every model in perfect beauty style lighting before taking a picture but this can result in quite boring photos.

After all the planning the trip proved one of my most eventful..

Day 1

For the first day two of the five models changed or cancelled their shoots so I had three girls left to work with. I got up early to start the first shoot at 7:30 after only 2.5hrs sleep. I had a late one not because of partying but from trying various lighting setups in the apartment. With that done and some ideas up my sleeve as soon as we started the shoot the sun came up and flooded the room with daylight overpowering any room lights. It totally threw all my planned lighting ideas and I just went with the flow instead. The first model was a girl I met on a business trip perhaps 5yrs ago or more. Not a model but naturally very beautiful and in my eyes could certainly be a successful model. Next I had a new model recommended to me from the model agency and lastly a local freelance model I met on Instagram. I used the Mamiya RZ Pro II all day alongside my Leica M240 and shot 5 rolls of film I think, both colour and black and white film. I also used the Leica M4-P and Olympus PEN-F shooting colour film in both cameras. A great start to my Budapest trip and some of the most beautiful girls I think I have photographed. I slept with a big smile.

Panasonic Lumix LX100 (aka Leica D-Lux (Typ 109))

Day 2

I woke to the sound of rain outside and also realized I had not seen my Leica M 240 battery charger since arriving. I have two Leica M 240 batteries but I knew they would not last through the second day with five models lined up. I searched online for a Leica camera store in Budapest and found a camera shop that sold Leica equipment as my only option. The online website was difficult to navigate in Hungarian and I was not sure if they would stock what I needed. I then remember leaving my Leica M9 / M8 battery charger at a wedding once and seeing the high cost of a replacement battery charger. (I thought I remembered the charger being a similar cost to a modern compact camera but I checked online once home and a Leica M240 battery charger costs around £90 in the UK). My mind then started to wander away from Leica cameras and onto other alternative camera options. I thought aha I could buy a small but capable camera to finish my model photography in Budapest and then use it as a vlog camera or camera to use for making Instagram videos / photos and also as a digital backup camera for travel. I wanted a camera with full manual controls, a hoteshoe and 4K video in a compact package. I will write a separate full review but I looked at a Leica D-Lux (Typ 109) camera and that lead me to buying a Panasonic Lumix LX100 camera with an equivalent 24-75mm f1.7-f2.8 fixed zoom lens. I then found a local camera shop and ran there as soon as it opened to make the purchase prior to the model shoot. Mission complete and thank you to Digitcam, Budapest for the excellent customer service!

The models in the morning were completely different to yesterday and so too was the weather resulting in very different photos (probably completely unrecognizable as being the same location and photographer). I used strobes as the light levels were too low and I also noticed a pattern developing where in good natural light I shoot a lot of film and in bad (low) light I shoot almost no film. I like to see what I am shooting with film and with flash you can’t see until afterwards. In the studio it is a little different at I use larger light modifiers so light hits everything every time so is predictable.

I got to try my new Panasonic Lumix LX100 camera for part of the shoot with the second model and quite enjoyed it. Like with any new gadget I then wanted to keep using the LX100 so continued to use it for the rest of the day other than when I had to recharge the battery. I was shooting digitally at up to ISO 1600 and mixing flash and continuous light so didn’t shoot film. I accidently mentioned my excitement to one of the afternoon models that I had a new camera that shoots 4K video. She had featured in music videos before and is the face for many brands so replied with similar excitement to try out the Lumix LX100 in video mode. When a model has great vision and can do the job of a stylist, a model and an MUA single handed plus trusts the photographer’s ability with a camera and lighting the magic really starts. We started with our planned photos and then it just turned into a video production!

I have been part of a wedding video team in the past as a cinematographer, shooting short cinematic looking video clips with fast lenses and shallow depth of field on sliders and tripods using my Nikon D800 (and to a lesser degree a Nikon D90 when overseas for personal work). I was fortunate to work alongside some very talented fellow cinematographers who taught me the basics. Cinematography is a different world to photography despite often using the same cameras and lenses. What killed it for me was the time taken to edit video footage in the early years of DSLR video so it all stopped and I started shooting film instead. Since the early years of DSLR video smart phones have gained the video capability, vlogging has become a popular and Instagram now has a story feature (which often includes videos). As someone who teaches photography and runs 1-2-1 photography workshops I enjoy the opportunity to share some of my behind the scenes work when developing film and using analogue cameras. I would have shared much more ‘footage’ already but the iPhone video potential is not great for me and I have always shot any clips handheld. This may now change with the coming of the Lumix LX100!

I hadn’t expected to buy a camera in Budapest but it actually seems to ticks a lot of my to-do boxes and may well prove a very valuable and worthy purchase in my journey as an experimental photographer. My mind never stops when it comes to cameras and photography so I think I will also class myself as ‘experimental’. As you might imagine I slept with a smile again!

Day 3

I had two models lined up before I needed to check out the apartment and go to the airport. The first model arrived, I tried to open the apartment door and the lock was jammed. It was an old central Budapest apartment and an old door and I kept trying but the key would not turn. The poor model could see me through the glass panes in the door but was stuck out in the cold. I passed a blanket through the window so she could keep warm and shared the Wi-Fi details so she could use the internet while I kept trying to unlock the door. After an hour the model left and went to sit in a local café to wait. I looked at every option to get out but the windows had metal security bars across so I couldn’t climb out that way. As time passed the first model was still waiting, I was still stuck at the apartment and then the second model then messaged me to say she was outside and hadn’t seen my message saying not to come. The apartment management called a locksmith but he arrived 2.5hrs later and both models eventually went home without photos. I missed out on two great photo shoots and wasted a fifth of my time in the city so a disappointing final day after such a great start.

Panasonic Lumix LX100 / Leica D-Lux

Summary

I’m glad I used the Mamiya RZ Pro II on the first day as it got little use after that. I lost some photos where the cable release I was using stuck down so when I was working quickly I advanced the film and the camera automatically fired off another shot. I used the Olympus Pen-F camera and Leica M4-P roughly equally and again mostly on day 1. Day 2 saw me using the new Panasonic Lumix LX100 camera. I was learning on the shoot so there were more blurry photos than when I use a Leica due to the auto focus and lag. That said the photos will look different to the Leica M 240 so I am excited to see and hope the photo quality is up to my needs. As I am used to Leica lenses and Leica sensors and also the 36MP Nikon D800 and my digital Hasselblad I guess my expectations and ‘needs’ are quite high in terms of image quality, resolution, sharpness and clarity. The little Panasonic Lumix LX100 has a lot to compete with. One fact that gives me some confidence is that the Lumix LX100 is pretty much identical to the Leica D-Lux Typ 109 (inside) and I know Leica will not put their name on a bad camera. That said the Lumix LX100 has a smaller 13MP micro four thirds CMOS sensor so it would be unfair to compare directly to my full frame digital camera sensors. I used the LX100 in manual mode for shutter, ISO and aperture but I didn’t discover how to manually focus until after the day’s photo shoots so the auto focus caused for a few miss shots. I also noticed my composition was much worse using the LX100 verses a Leica (so far).

Thanks

A big thanks to the models I worked with; Nora, Petra, Patricia, Lili, Luca, Flora, Viki and Kata and my apologies to Lili and Noemi that I was not able to photograph on day 3. Thanks also to NumberOne Model Group for recommending some of their models to me again. A real pleasure.

Found!

When packing to come home I found the missing Leica M 240 battery charger in my bag so I didn’t need to buy a new camera after all.  As strange as it may sound, I’m quite glad misplacing the battery charger lead me buying a new camera. I think the LX100 will fill a void in my current camera line up perfectly!

Full Panasonic Lumix LX100 review to follow together with sample photos

Where Next

I want to fly back to Budapest tomorrow to continue the fun I had but next I will fly to Paris where I will shoot with IMG Paris model agency. After that it is back to see all the models in Poland and then it is onto Ukraine for my first visit of 2017. Even though I was in Budapest last month I think these photos will hopefully be a little different. I hope. The new Lumix LX100 images will help create a different feel at least. More images coming soon

Lumix LX100

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