Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7

The LX7 is an excellent advanced compact camera that has great photo quality. We highly recommend investing in a better lens cap for a pain-free photography experience.

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Lexy spent her formative years taking a lot of photos and dreaming in technicolour. Nothing much has changed now she's covering all things photography related for CNET.

Panasonic has long been known for releasing excellent advanced compact cameras, but can no longer rest on the laurels of its LX series, thanks to other manufacturers jumping into the space.

Photographers looking for manual controls in a small body and, most importantly, with good image quality, have plenty to choose from. The LX7 enters the market at a reasonable price and with a strong set of features to reinforce its stature.

Design and features

The LX7 is a reasonably compact machine, though it would be remiss to call it pocket-sized. Its lens barrel protrudes just slightly out of the body, housing a f/1.4 Leica-branded lens, 24mm wide-angle.

Photographers who like to adjust settings and tweak shooting parameters will love the controls on the LX7. There's the traditional mode dial on top, which houses full PASM control. A ring around the lens barrel directly controls the aperture, with stops clicking into place nicely. Just behind this is the aspect ratio switch (you can choose 1:1, 4:3, 3:2 or 16:9) and the manual/automatic focus switch. Note that shooting in 16:9 or 3:2 reduces the resolution to 9 or 9.5 megapixels, respectively, while 1:1 is 7.5 megapixels.

Anyone familiar with previous generations of LX cameras will feel right at home with the LX7. Except when it comes to the inside, as Panasonic has replaced the CCD sensor of old with a 10.1-megapixel MOS unit, which is actually smaller than that found on the LX5.

Click through for a complete gallery of photos taken on the LX7. (Credit: CBSi)

Behind the lens, Panasonic has outfitted the camera with a 3-stop Neutral Density (ND) filter that can be selected using a dedicated ND/Focus control at the rear. The toggle also lets you tweak manual focus if it has been selected using the front switch.

Elsewhere, there are scene modes aplenty to choose from, as well as creative control covering filters such as expressive, retro, high key, high dynamic, cross process and more. An on-screen level can be switched on to help level shots, and there is a pop-up flash accessible on the top panel.

The 3-inch screen at the rear gets a bump to 920,000-dot resolution which makes viewing and composing images much more pleasurable. For video recorders, the LX7 takes footage at 1080p or 1080i (50 fps) in AVCHD, and 720p (50fps) in AVCHD Lite. When shooting in MP4, you get access to high-speed recording (120fps in NTSC and 100fps in PAL). Unfortunately, you don't seem to be able to switch between NTSC and PAL within the camera menus, so if you buy the camera in a PAL region and want to shoot 120fps, you're out of luck.

There's a hotshoe at the top, which can accept a flash, though there's no 3.5mm microphone input available for attaching an external microphone.

Compared to

RX100 vs
Sony Cyber-shot RX100 Olympus XZ-1 Canon PowerShot S100 Panasonic LX7
20.2-megapixel CMOS sensor (1-inch) 10-megapixel CCD sensor (1/1.63-inch) 12.1-megapixel CMOS sensor (1/1.7-inch) 10.1-megapixel high sensitivity MOS sensor (1/1.63-inch)
3-inch, 1.2-million-dot (VGA resolution) LCD 3-inch, 610,000-dot OLED 3-inch, 461,000-dot LCD 3-inch, 920,000-dot LCD
3.6x optical zoom, 28mm wide-angle 4x optical zoom, 28mm wide-angle 5x optical zoom, 24mm wide-angle 3.8x optical zoom, 24mm wide-angle
Aperture range f/1.8-4.9 Aperture range f/1.8-2.5 Aperture range f/2.0-5.9 Aperture range f/1.4-2.3
Full HD video (AVCHD/MP4, 1080p) HD video (Motion JPEG, 720p) Full HD video (H.264, 1080p) Full HD video (AVCHD/MP4, 1080p)


General shooting metrics (in seconds)

  • Start-up to first shot
  • JPEG shot-to-shot time
  • RAW shot-to-shot time
  • Shutter lag
    Olympus XZ-1
    Panasonic Lumix LX7
    Canon PowerShot S100
  • 2.5110.1
    Sony Cyber-shot RX100
    Canon PowerShot G1X

(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Continuous shooting speed (in frames per second)

  • 11
    Panasonic Lumix LX7
  • 8
    Sony Cyber-shot RX100
  • 2.5
    Canon PowerShot S100
  • 2.1
    Olympus XZ-1
  • 2
    Canon PowerShot G1X

(Longer bars indicate better performance)

The LX7 has a number of continuous shooting modes. Using the mechanical shutter, it can shoot 2, 5 or 11 frames per second (with or without AF, except for the 11fps mode, which locks focus to the first shot). Using the electronic shutter, it can shoot 40 or 60fps at a 3.5-megapixel resolution. When shooting at the maximum 11fps setting, the LX7 can take 12 shots before stopping to process them.

Automatic bracketing is also available at intervals of +/-1/3EV. Panasonic rates the battery at 330 shots.

Focusing was quick and on par with the experience from the earlier LX5 camera. The only time the LX7 had trouble achieving focus was in particularly dark situations — even the AF assist light didn't seem to help much here. Fortunately, switching to manual focus is easy and effective.

Image quality

The LX7 delivers very good images, befitting a camera of its class. Despite the shift in sensor type and size from the earlier LX5, photo quality is reasonably similar. Colours appear natural when on standard settings, while the lens delivers sharp images towards the centre of the frame, with only a marginal drop-off towards the edges.

The maximum aperture doesn't stop down too dramatically as the zoom increases, which is good news for anyone who wants to achieve shallow depth-of-field effects or shoot in low light.

You want great dynamic range? The LX7 can do that, and there's plenty of usable detail hidden in that shadow area, which can be brought up easily when processing RAW files.
(Credit: CBSi)

Images taken at low ISO levels (80-400) have very little evidence of noise or digital artefacts, even when long exposures are employed. The LX7 displays little difference between its RAW and JPEG files, which is good news for anyone who doesn't want to process their photos too much or needs the flexibility of RAW.

At ISO 800, photos start to show visible noise, while ISO 1600 and 3200 do get quite messy. ISO 6400 results in some colour shifting and general deterioration of detail.
(Credit: CBSi)

We highly recommend you invest in another lens cap rather than use the default one provided with the LX7. It's far too easy to leave it on when you want to take a spontaneous shot, and the camera is not functional until you take it off and press a button. Something like this self retaining cap from eBay would do the trick nicely as a substitute.

Video quality is good, particularly given the upgrade to progressive video recording over the interlaced version on the LX5. Do make sure to turn on progressive recording in the menu, as it's not activated by default. The image is sharp and colours look good, though we would have liked to have seen an external mic jack to improve the audio. The stereo microphones are good, but are not separate enough to give decent definition and bass response. Continuous AF during video recording is reasonably smooth and doesn't cause too much lens twitching. The zoom, which is enabled during video recording, is smooth, but slow.

Image samples

Exposure: 1/500, f/2.8, ISO 80

Exposure: 1/250, f/1.8, ISO 200

Exposure: 6 seconds, f/8, ISO 100

Exposure: 1/125, f/2.3, ISO 400

(Credit: CBSi)


The LX7 is an excellent advanced compact camera that has great photo quality. We highly recommend investing in a better lens cap for a pain-free photography experience.

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timand2037 posted a comment   

very good review


Hart Par 1928 posted a comment   

How mind twisting looking into cameras is specially when its 45 deg c outside i looked at d7000 at hn and was impressed then of course i had to look at a review now over a week later ive been looking at reviews 12 hrs a day : D LX7 seems good but then so does d3200 at half price , then theres fuji x10 x100 xe1 , and the latest Olympus reads real good and shows amazing zooms of the moon , i think somehow ill waite and see what 2013 new releases brings , and maybe go a fuji compact the new one that uses x10 internals think i can get for round $ 300 , or the new olympus i think i can get $ 300 ish aswell either of them should take electrifying stills , i like the attraction of no AA filter over sensor for the purest of images , then again my family used a polaroid instamatic in the 70s and 80s very basic megga fun and images still look fantastic 40 years later so its all a bit of a marketing scam like many things cheers


mia123 posted a comment   

The price difference between the Leica D-Lux 6 and this LX7 is about $500 right now, if shopping online. That seems so ridiculous I keep checking that I looked up the right models. I am so glad I kept looking into the Leica and decided to look up the LX7.

It kind of astounds me that I can get the LX7 for $360 delivered, and people will buy the Leica for around $900 - what's up with that? It more astounds me that when I started looking I thought I would be spending around $800 on an awesome quality compact camera and now I am spending $360, it feels so good!


"Great versatility"

lalex81 posted a review   

The Good:Gives you complete control to take the photo you want to take. Even under iA mode you have control over depth of field

The Bad:Sensor could be larger.

Have been playing with the camera for a couple of days and it's been great.

If you have ever used a DSLR the learning curve is minimal. Aperture and zoom control is smooth, manual focus is done with buttons at the back that aren't as smooth as it could be, but this is compensated by the live view zooming in when you focus. This feature is particularly impressive when shooting tricky situations like spiderwebs, water drops or glass reflections.

Haven't been bothered by the lens cap but have already ordered the self retaining cap on ebay as part of filter package.

I only realized I could fit filters to this camera once I already owned the camera, I know a lot of enthusiasts would consider this a deal breaker when compared to other compact cameras but Panasonic hasn't advertised this feature.

The only things so far I wish Panasonic added on a future upgrade is a focus ring and the ability to connect a remote control. A larger sensor would also be welcomed but truthfully neither of these are deal breakers, the camera is great as it is and I can't recommend it enough.


lalex81 posted a comment   

Are there any technical differences with the Leica D-Lux 6?

Leica's version of this camera is $300.00 more expensive.

The past Lumix/D-Lux cameras were identical but Leica would through in better software and warranty to justify the extra cost.


Lexy Savvides posted a reply   

From what I can tell, the technical specifications/physical hardware are mostly the same. The Leica lacks a front grip, but apart from that the exterior features look near-identical. As you said, the firmware is different and I know Leica does do some tweaks when it comes to image processing.

Unfortunately, we don't get Leica cameras from the Australian distributor (or press releases, or anything...) so I can't even get to test them both side-by-side.


Rolloxan posted a comment   

I'd be interested to see comparison images between this and the Leica X2

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User Reviews / Comments  Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7

  • timand2037


    "very good review"

  • Hart Par 1928

    Hart Par 1928

    "How mind twisting looking into cameras is specially when its 45 deg c outside i looked at d7000 at hn and was impressed then of course i had to look at a review now over a week later ive been looki..."

  • mia123


    "The price difference between the Leica D-Lux 6 and this LX7 is about $500 right now, if shopping online. That seems so ridiculous I keep checking that I looked up the right models. I am so glad I k..."

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