Having a pop-up flash provides a better angle to the scene versus a built-in flash in the corner of the front of the camera, especially considering how far the lens housing extends from the LX7's body. Panasonic says the Lumix LX7 has a flash range of 2.6 to 27.9 feet (0.8 to 8.5 meters) when shooting wide-angle photos and 1 to 17 feet (0.3 to 5.2 meters) when shooting telephoto photos. During my tests, I didn't find that the flash was able to reach the far end of this range, but it still worked really well, and the flash responds very quickly for the next shot.
The LX7 offers quite a few flash modes, although the modes that are available depend on the shooting mode you're using. The flash modes are: Auto, Auto Red-eye Reduction, Forced On, Slow Sync Red-eye Reduction, Forced Off, and Flash Synchro.
The left side of the LX7's top panel contains a couple of the camera's nice features. You can see the pop-up flash compartment in the upper left corner of this image, labeled with "Panasonic DMC-LX7." The switch that opens the flash compartment is visible here, too, in the lower left.
To the right of the flash compartment is the hot shoe to which you can attach the optional viewfinder or other accessories. When you don't have anything attached to the hot shoe, a plastic cover (marked with "Push") protects the hot shoe's electronics, as shown here.
In the middle of this image, you can see the back of the hot shoe with the cover removed, along with the rectangular port to which an external viewfinder could be attached. The manual focus switch is visible in the upper right corner, too.
The right side of the top panel of the LX7 contains many of the primary controls for this Panasonic camera. On the upper right, you'll see the small red movie button, through which you can start and stop movies. The on/off switch is a good-quality switch, ensuring that it won't be pressed accidentally. The shutter button (in the middle of this photo) is surrounded by the zoom ring.
Finally, Panasonic included a mode dial with the LX7, which is great for quickly selecting the shooting mode that you want. The options on the mode dial (in clockwise order from the bottom) are Intelligent Auto (iA), Program AE (P), Aperture Priority (A), Shutter Priority (S), Manual Exposure (M), Creative Video Mode (movie camera icon and M), Custom 1 (C1), Custom 2 (C2), Scene Mode (SCN, 16 options available), and Creative Control (art palette icon, 16 options available).
You'll find a 3.0-inch TFT LCD screen on the back of the LX7, and it's a high-resolution screen, offering 920,000 pixels. It seemed a little dull to me, and the screen does have some glare problems when being used outdoors in sunlight, but you can pick from seven different brightness settings to try to combat the glare. Through the on-screen menus, you also can adjust the LCD's Contrast/Saturation, Red Tint, and Blue Tint - something we don't see on too many cameras.
At the upper right of this photo, you again can see the small switch that allows you to adjust the manual focus.
Before discussing the standard control buttons on the right side of the back of the Lumix LX7, notice the dial in the top right corner of the back panel. When using the on-screen menus, you can use this dial to scroll through the menus more quickly than using the four-way buttons.
The other control buttons look pretty standard, but they do provide some control over features that you may not find on less expensive cameras. I was surprised to find that there's no button dedicated to controlling the different flash modes here, as most cameras have (although you can assign the flash modes to the programmable Fn button).
At the top of the control buttons are the AF/AE Lock and Playback buttons. When looking through your stored images using the Playback button, you can use the scroll dial to move through them more quickly.
Panasonic has designed four separate buttons in place of the four-way switch that you see on many cameras, with the Menu/Set button in the middle. It'd be nice if these four-way buttons were a little bigger, but at least they're raised away from the camera, so they're pretty easy to use. When you're viewing menus on the screen, these buttons allow you to move between the menu selections. When in a shooting mode, though, these buttons are aligned with a particular shooting function. From the top, going clockwise, the four buttons allow you to set the following functions:
- ISO - 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200, 6400, and 12,800 (limited resolution)
- White Balance (WB) - Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Shade, Flash, Incandescent, White Set 1, White Set 2, and Color Temperature
- Self Timer and Burst - Single, Burst (2 to 60 frames), Auto Bracket (-3 to +3, in 1/3 intervals), and Self Timer (10 seconds, 10 seconds with 3 photos, and 2 seconds)
- Function (Fn) - Can program Fn button for a desired feature, including Photo Style, Quality, Metering Mode, AF Mode, Focus Area Set, 1 Shot AF, i.Dynamic, Level Gauge, Guide Line, Video Rec Area, Remaining Disp., Flash, Flash Adjust, or Aspect Bracket
The two buttons along the bottom of the panel -- the Q.Menu and Disp. buttons -- give quick access to some of the camera's settings that are used most often. The Q.Menu button opens access to menus like the flash modes, the resolution, and the image quality options. The Disp. button removes icons and data from the screen while you're framing images.
The mini-HDMI and micro-USB ports are located behind a plastic hinged door on the right side of the Lumix LX7 camera. The door clicks into place.
As with most cameras, the battery and memory card slots are on the bottom panel, hidden behind a hinged door that locks into place with a switch. The LX7 makes use of SD, SDHC, or SDXC memory cards. The rechargeable Li-ion battery pack can shoot about 330 photos on a single charge, according to Panasonic, and my tests found that number is only a little high, which is an impressive battery life for a pretty thin battery.
Panasonic also included a separate battery charger with the LX7, which is a nice feature, because you don't have to charge the battery inside the camera. The battery charger plugs directly into an outlet without the need for any additional cables, which is also a nice feature.