Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX1 Review

Click for our main menu

Steve's Conclusion

The DMC-LX1 is yet another addition to Panasonic's very popular Lumix line of compact and stylish digital cameras. It offers powerful features like an 8-megapixel imager that is complimented by a Leica DC-VARIO ELMARIT 4x optical zoom lens, large and bright 2.5-inch LCD display, and Panasonic's exclusive MEGA O.I.S. image stabilization system. The LX1 has an exposure mode that will be sure to satisfy every user in your household. Newbies will appreciate the simple to use Auto, Program AE and 14 pre-programmed scene modes. As for the novice and advanced users, don't worry, they didn't forget about you! Aperture priority, Shutter speed priority and full Manual mode are sure to offer you plenty of control over the exposure process.

Ergonomics are great. When I first saw images of this model, it resembled an older Leica 35mm camera, with its sleek body and bulging lens. The controls are spread out well over the entire body and navigating the menu system is a breeze. Large LCDs are becoming standard nowadays, and the 2.5-inch display on this model is no exception; the LCD takes up over 2/3 of the back of the camera. It worked well outdoors in bright lighting with few angles that reflected the sun. When shooting in marginal lighting conditions, it doesn't necessarily "gain up", but the exposure system is so sensitive that it allows you to frame with very little ambient light.

Shooting performance was good for a camera in this class. From power up to first image captured measured about 3 seconds. Shutter lag measured 1/10 of a second when pre-focused and 4/10 of a second including autofocus. Shooting in single exposure mode, it averaged approx. 1.2 seconds between frames without the use of the flash and only 1.7 seconds with the flash. You can also choose from three Burst mode settings (Low-speed, High-speed, No- limit.) Using the Low-speed setting, I was able to capture 5 frames in about 2.0 seconds. High-speed captured 5 frames in approx. 1.4 seconds. No-limit mode allows you to continuously capture frames at about the same rate as Low-speed mode and is limited only by available memory. Our tests were done using a Transcend 512MB SD card, shooting in Program AE mode, size/quality set at 8M Fine (16:9 aspect), flash off, and all other settings at default (unless otherwise noted.) Times may vary depending on lighting conditions, camera settings, media, etc.

I was pleased with the camera's overall image quality. You can choose from a variety of image sizes as well as aspect ratios. When selecting different ratios, the maximum resolution will change: 4:3 = 6-megapixels, 3:2 = 7-megapixels and 16:9 = 8-megapixels. This great deal of versatility ensures that there is an image size choice for just about every user, no matter what the application may be.

When shooting outdoors, the LX1 produces sharp, resolute images in all three modes. Thanks to the AF-assist lamp, the autofocus system has no problem locking focus on your subject no matter what the lighting conditions are, even in total darkness. The White balance and exposure systems helped produce properly exposed images in a wide variety of shooting conditions. Noise levels were very low for a consumer model, allowing for nice open blue skies.

Indoors, the pop-up flash does well at illuminating subjects to about 13 feet at wide angle. However, when zooming in on your subject for portrait shots, I found this flash range dropped to about 6 or 7 feet. Overall it produced awesome indoor people shots, with good flash exposure and pleasing skin tones. The LX1's macro capabilities were also very good. It can focus on a subject under 2 inches away and it controls the flash output nicely to ensure you don't over expose the subject. Be sure to check out our samples page, and see for yourself how well it performs.

The LX1 features an exceptional Leica DC-VARIO ELMARIT 4x optical zoom lens with a 35mm equivalent range of 28mm - 112mm. This lens offers much more versatility in composing your shots when compared to standard 3x optical zoom lens. The 28mm wide angle focal length provides a much wider view than your typical models 35mm range, creating pleasing landscape shots. While its 112mm telephoto extreme enables you to bring distant subjects closer.

This model also features MEGA O.I.S. (Optical Image Stabilization), which helps reduce the occurrence of camera shake in your images. It works especially well when shooting at full telephoto or when shutter speeds are lower. Overall, this system helped the lens produce sharp images throughout the zoom range, with noticeable barrel distortion and pin cushioning present at the wide angle and telephoto extremes respectively.

Like many compact models, the LX1 allows you to capture motion video at VGA (640x480) or QVGA (320x240) resolutions, with a selectable frame rate of 30 or 10 frames per second. The length of a clip is limited only by the amount of available space on your SD memory card. In general, I found it captured good quality movies, and I like how the 3:2 and 16:9 ratio movies have a letterbox or wide screen feel to them.

Power is supplied by a small but powerful 3.7v 1150 mAh Li-ion battery pack that is charged outside the camera with the handy DE-A11 rapid charger, which is included. Panasonic claims a battery life of 240 images, using the flash 50% of the time. I had no problems capturing a large number of our samples (about 150 shots) and concluding our other tests on just one single charge. Since you can charge a battery while you use another, it is always a great idea to pick up at least one extra pack, so at all times you're ready to capture that special moment.

Bottom line - the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX1 is an awesome consumer digital model. It offers a great deal of flexibility, full of exposure modes for every level of photographer in your family. Interchangeable aspect ratios for various applications, speedy shooting performance and great image quality help make this camera a tight little package. With 8-megapixels, you can create stunning 13x19-inch borderless prints or photo-lab quality 4x6s of heavily cropped images. So, if you're in the market for a compact model that has a great deal to offer, the DMC-LX1 just might be the model for you. Although it's a bit expensive at $599 (MSRP), it offers a great BANG for your buck!

Continue on to
Sample Photos

Visitors of Steves can visit the stores below for real-time pricing and availability. You can also find hot, soon to expire online offers on a variety of cameras and accessories at our very own Camera Deals page.