Opinion-review: the Panasonic LX100/ Leica D-Lux 109

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Sony has the RX100 series. Canon has their G Powershots. Nikon…never mind. But Panasonic has the LX series, and the accompanying Leica D Lux redesign; I reviewed its predecessor, the LX7/ D Lux 6 some time back, and owned an LX3 back when it was pretty much the only choice for a serious compact – variable aspect ratios and all. In the intervening years since the last generation, sensors have grown – even in compacts – and the bar has been raised. I’ve spent a few days with the LX100/D Lux 109 twins and have some rather polarising thoughts…

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Lenses extend quite a bit when powered on. This is still very much a wrist strap (especially on the slipperier Leica) or holster camera as opposed to a neck strap one, even if it has two lugs.

Firstly, the sensor has grown to almost 4/3 (more on this later), but the body hasn’t. And in fact, I think the increase in body size is a good thing: it’s improved handling markedly, but not compromised portability so much that you’d notice. The LX7 was a jacket-pocket camera, and this is pretty much the same. Panasonic (or Leica) deserve high praise on the haptics and ergonomics of this camera. And it doesn’t do any harm that from a pure design standpoint, this is an Very sexy camera – especially the Leica version, with its simplified surfaces. There are mechanical rings for the things that matter like shutter speed, aperture and exposure compensation; ‘A’ positions on the dials negate the need for a mode dial, and ‘pet smile beauty retouch’ modes have thankfully been relegated to two tiny and pretty much negligible buttons on the top panel – if only they were reassignable too, like the other three function buttons and D-pad.

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Smug, yet resigned satisfaction

What isn’t instantly accessible via mechanical controls is easily assigned to shortcut buttons or accessed via the quick menu or LCD in status mode, which looks much like the top panel function of a traditional SLR. There is a good – 2.4 million pixel and noticeably brighter/larger than the RX100III – EVF and enough distance between EVF and controls that you can actually use it without feeling cramped. Battery life appears solid, but without a detailed gauge I have no way to tell. I’ve been averaging ~200 shots mostly using the EVF with no movement on the indicator before recharging to prepare for the next day.

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Of what use is a dim lightbulb?

It also has the other plethora of features expected from cameras of this class nowadays – a panorama stitching mode, wifi image transfer and a smartphone remote control app, HDMI out, and solid movie modes. Oh yes, not just solid: 4K30p or 24p at 100mbps, or 1080p60/30. The omission of 50/24/25p at 1080p is curious, though. It’s an interestingly video-centric spec for a camera that is poorly geared for video: you don’t have stepless aperture or shutter control, and a real problem with the clicks of the dials being transmitted through the camera body both in jerks and sounds if you have to change exposure. Footage looks excellent, as expected – however I can’t speak for 4K at full resolution because I have no means of viewing it. I’ve left the most interesting part til last: it has an electronic shutter up to 1/16,000th of a second, and will sync flashes at this speed, too – successfully tested with both SB900s and a Profoto B1 via Air remote. I’m sure there’s a use for this…

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All the signs of being stood up

But – it’s not perfect, and the misses are frustrating. There are some things which can’t be fixed easily, like the fact the EVF is field-sequential and not simultaneous RGB, so some tearing is experienced with fast panning or moving your eye, and the somewhat variable detent resistance on the dials and knobs (exposure compensation and shutter are perfect, aperture is far too loose* and easily moved going in and out of a pocket). The flash is external and detachable, which is an acceptable tradeoff for the EVF and most users with that fast lens. A touch screen would have been nice, too – the square icons look like buttons that with easily changed settings, to my iphone-biased eyes. But there are other things which leave you scratching your head: why can’t the lens ring be assigned to stepless iris for video or menu control or AF point selection, for instance? You get zoom, ISO and off. Even MF override – the obvious choice – is not the default selection and is buried in another menu. Hmmm.

*On the Leicas, but not the Panasonics. It seems that loose aperture rings are a recent trend with Leica of late since all of the new lenses and cameras I’ve handled have been consistently easier to turn that older models or equivalent Panasonics. Personally, I prefer the stiffer rings on the LX100. That one didn’t change aperture out of a pocket, the D Lux did.

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Earmarked for redevelopment I

And then there’s the lens-sensor pairing. LX cameras have always had variable aspect ratios that maintain the diagonal angle of view of the focal length; which depending on how you look at it, either the sensor is larger than you expect or the lens smaller. The upshot is that the lens’ image circle never fully covers the sensor. This is again the case for the LX100: the sensor is the same as the GX7 (and presumably GM1/5, and who knows which other models) at 16MP nominal, but the LX100 never uses more than about 12.7MP of it. And because of the heavily reduced image circle, square is a crop of the 4:3 aspect ratio, instead of being a bit taller. (3:2 and 16:9 are longer than 4:3 though, being 4272px, 4480px and 4112px respectively.) It’s also important to note that moving that aspect ratio switch also affects the captured area: your raw file will contain only the selected aspect ratio, and not a tag that crops it out of the full sensor area with vignetting. So, choose wisely when shooting: you gain some real field of view advantages, but you also give up some flexibility.

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Meeting of the band

The upshot is that the engineers have managed to cram a much faster lens and larger sensor into an overall smaller package than you’d expect; the lens is an ambitious 24-75/1.7-2.8 equivalent, compared to the 24-90/1.4-2.3 of its predecessor. The downside is that it appears the optics rely on some pretty heavy software correction, especially in the corners. Everything looks great in the centre, though. The jpegs look pretty good, but the raw files less so. This is especially noticeable in ACR because the camera is not officially supported yet: to open the files, you retag the EXIF headers with ‘DMC-GX7’ (which is why you’ll notice a strange camera in the EXIF of the sample images). ACR reads the images just fine, but doesn’t apply any lens profiles – since there aren’t any.

It’s pretty obvious there’s a difference between the raw and JPEG files. Curiously, distortion isn’t as bad as you’d expect, though. I can only hope that a profile will eke out a bit more performance when the camera is officially supported. For now, the lens is excellent in the centre, outresolving the sensor at all apertures – but not so great at the edges. It has a visually pleasing rendition though, I suppose especially if you’re doing portraits with the subject mainly in the middle. We can also rule out sample variation as both cameras had near identical optical performance.

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Under table deals

This leaves us with a lens that is fixed and not quite as perfect as we’d like, mated to a sensor that’s large for a compact but still a bit smaller than adequate for larger prints. This makes for easy file handling, but means you really need to watch your shot discipline to get the most out of the limited number of pixels. I can’t help but wonder if a better choice would have been go with the 20MP 1″ sensor that’s in the FZ1000/ RX100III, and use the extra lens size to eke out even more speed – f1.4-2.3 like the previous camera, or even bit faster at the long end perhaps. Fortunately, the decent IS system and EVF (for face-bracing) makes this quite a bit easier. Take care with focusing, though: the aperture is fast enough that misses will be obviously visible at full size, but not necessarily during capture or on-camera playback. I was caught out by one of the cameras being defective (consistently front-focusing) resulting in a number of unusable images. Having tested three units now, I think we can rule that out as a one-off incident. It should be capable of extremely good pixel acuity especially in the centre; if you’re not getting that, chances are it’s a focusing problem.

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Triangular segregation

Actual pixel-quality is what we’re familiar with from M4/3: solid if you get your exposure right (which is easy because the camera has an exposure zebra with adjustable levels) but with limited latitude for highlight recovery, or pushing shadows at higher ISOs. Color is academic because you can change that quite easily with a profile – it’s worth noting that there’s little change in tonal/spectral response at higher sensitivities though, which is a good thing. That said, I’d suggest limiting auto-ISO to 800 or lower – firstly because your lens is fast enough, and secondly, the IS system is good enough to make those marginal 1/20-ish shutter speeds mostly fine; the pixel density per degree FOV isn’t that critically high, either. But the main reason is because we have no control over the auto-ISO behaviour: it’s set an upper threshold, and that’s it. We really need at least a 1/FL multiplier option.

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Welcome to modern travel

This leaves us with two questions: who’s it for, and how does it compare against the competition – including its GM5 sibling, which now has an EVF? I’ll address the latter question first. Firstly, I don’t think it’s a Ricoh GR replacement: that camera punches at a much higher level of image quality, and is actually pocketable into fairly small pockets because nothing protrudes when powered down. The GR feels more like a serious tool to me; the LX100 / D Lux 109 is a fun camera, but doesn’t quite make it into the big leagues image quality-wise. It’s the same price as the GM5 and 12-32/3.5-5.6 kit lens; unless it’s going to be part of an existing M4/3 kit, I’d take the LX100 / D Lux 109 for two reasons: the controls are enormously better, and preparing for shooting with the GM5 is a three-step process: lens cap off, extend lens, power on. The LX100 can be one step (power on) with the optional petal lens cap. That makes a big difference in practice. It’s also a bit more versatile in low light, with a lens that’s two stops faster (albeit the 12-32 is optically better). I haven’t used the latest Canon offerings, but it’s a tougher call against the RX100III: that has a tilt screen, quite a bit more resolution, poorer high ISO performance, weaker video, a bit less manual control, but once again becomes pocketable. I think it boils down to firstly which works better for you personally, or whether any one of the individual features is critical to you.

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Izakaya nights

Who’s it for is a much tougher question to answer; I’d say it’s a camera of averages. For the majority of people – mildly enthusiastic photographers, holiday snappers, families and the like – again, it’s going to be more camera than they need. In fact, I think it’s going to be somewhat intimidating because of the apparent lack of automation and unexpected results if one of the dials inadvertently gets knocked off position. It will be a clear step up from the cameraphone or compact and have more than enough resolution for Facebook or email. For the serious amateur coming from an older camera or smaller format, the size and level of control will delight and liberate. For those coming from current-generation M4/3, performance will be as-expected, but again, the form factor will be liberating – possibly liberating enough to just pair it with a GM5 and say 75/1.8 or 35-100/2.8 for telephoto needs, and be done completely. Travellers on a serious weight budget will love it.

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Earmarked for redevelopment II

You’ll notice I’ve left out the very serious photographer. The kind of person who prints large or Ultraprints or both. The kind of photographer who owns different tripods for different purposes and uses Otii and medium format, and might perhaps write an occasional review. I realise that my needs and expectations are rather different to the majority of consumers, amateurs and enthusiasts, which is why I’ve left it til last. It’s also why I’m going to preface it by saying that what works for me may not be the best choice for everybody; think about your output objectives first. I really enjoyed shooting with the LX100 / D Lux 109; there is something intrinsically right about the haptics, controls and tactility of this camera. It seems to get away from most of the historical issues I’ve had with Panasonic around consumer electronics controls and menus rather than photographic ones; in many ways, I feel this is a successor to both the original Leica Digilux 2/ Panasonic LC1 and the modern Leica M: completely user-controllable with ease, compact and very discrete, and in a smaller than expected form factor. In other words: a very sensibly-chosen set of compromises leading to an enjoyable photographic experience – and thus images where there may not otherwise have been any.

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Confusion of direction

I realise my hesitation with the hardware has been one of expectation: approach it thinking it’s a compact and you’ll be pleasantly surprised; approach it with the expectations that it’s going to match the best of M4/3 and perhaps come close to a GR and you’re going to be slightly disappointed on the image quality front. The controls and ergonomics rival that of the GR. Yet, if you stop and think about it, it manages to do things that neither of those types of camera can do, in a smaller package. It handily beats the Sony R1 from many years ago, which was the first large-sensor fixed-zoom all-in-one – and is about the size of that camera’s handgrip alone. The LX100 / D Lux 109 is so close to being a perfect out-of-the-park home run on all counts that it’s honestly a bit painful; hopefully proper ACR support and lens profile will bring things a bit closer to the boundaries. Yet the reality is that even as a very serious photographer, I can’t see myself carrying two compacts; it’s either this or the GR, but not both. And I’m not sure this supplants the D750-50/1.8G combination on the fun and dependability factors (it doesn’t do any harm that the D750 is right up there in the image quality department, either). Bottom line is, I’d have trouble committing to one – the choices are so good – and so diverse – that there’s a place for them all if your wallet can stand it, especially when it’s that joy of the shooting experience you’re trying to rekindle on your downtime between assignments. I suppose it’s a good thing I don’t have to decide, then. MT

The Panasonic LX100 is available here from B&H.
The Leica D-Lux 109 is available here from B&H or the Leica boutiques; thank you to Leica Malaysia for the loan.

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  1. Wolfgang Fleschurz says:

    Hello Mr. Ming Thein,

    I am a 58years old pensionered sales dog (laboratory machines) and until today I gave a damned sh..to all the camera-tests.
    (I had everything: Fujis, Pentaxes, Lumixes, Nikons, Olympus, Minoltas, Sonies, Samsungs, etc.. – no Leicas>too expensive)
    What I didn’t find so bad was ‘photography blog’ from Mr. Goldstein > until today – because:
    by chance I developed your pages > GREAT !!!!
    My first thought: this guy is able to make pictures, could be, you can trust him
    What I want to say: great job and appreceation for your pics. Please continue !!

    Keep fine, keep healthy and ALWAYS GOOD LIGHT !

    P.S.: I kept the Nex7 with the Samyang 2/12 > I like it

  2. Ashish Seth says:

    Ming, on the topic of “who is this camera for” ..what are your thoughts on getting the Leica 109 as a second body that is easy to carry and therefore ALWAYS with me (I am an enthusiast so would not be using this for paid gigs or large prints). I have a Nikon FF kit that is extremely capable but there’s no way i want to lug it around with me everywhere, so was looking for something compact but at the same time providing – (a) more manual controls (b) more processing flexibility (vs. smartphone) and (c) best possible IQ without sacrificing size …to complement my D800. Do you think this fits the bill? Other options?
    PS. Avid reader of your blog although this is the first time posting ..thanks for your insights!

    • I think you might not be happy with the image quality coming from a D800. I’ve personally found that compromise often lands up being disappointing especially if you come across an unplanned shot that you want to print or use in otherwise demanding applications later…

  3. A little summary of what I’ve learned about photography now that I’m 50:


  4. Hi Ming,

    Will this camera suffice a paid gig?

  5. Late to the party. Thanks for the great review. Any new thoughts about the LX100 vs GR after this much time has passed? (I have both–well, I just ordered the LX100 because I think I’ll like the manual control options better than the work-flow of the GR–more like the old film cameras I spent most of my life shooting with.) Recognizing that the GR produces better IQ in the final analysis (though I suspect not too noticeable with standard prints), I wonder if there isn’t a case to be made for choosing the LX100 because of its more film-like work-flow. I usually shoot in manual mode, because I miss the artistry of “guessing” the right light/speed combination. It put me more in touch with my subject and made me move invested. The simple user interface of the LX100 appeals to me. But then, I love my GR. Not sure how my choice will pan out (assuming, of course, that I don’t keep both of them).

    Thanks for any insight you might be able to provide.

    • ‘Film workflow’ could be anything from ‘drop off at 1h lab, pick up 4R prints’ – SOOC JPEG equivalent, I suppose – or ‘spend hours dodging and burning individual LF negatives’ 🙂

      I felt like I had to do a lot more work to get the LX100 files the way I wanted them vs. the GR, though. That’s generally true with smaller sensored cameras vs larger ones…

  6. Umberto Uderzo says:

    Thank you Ming for your review.

    I’m on the market for a LX3 replacement and i’m looking at this LX100 which looks a natural evolution. Being fairly satisfied by LX3 IQ at the time of the purchase, now i feel the need of more sharpness as i discovered i’m bringing my LX3 with me way more often than my Nikon D300. But the real cause that makes me want to change is the video shooting capability, as i wish to work on shorts but the GH4 is somewhat out of budget for me and the LX100 looks a decent 4K solution. Reading your opinions i understand that LX100 has lots of compromises built into a single camera… i guess its IQ may satisfy my needs but what really puzzles me is the optics: looks like they are flaring worse than competition and need much more attention in composition. Did you use an LX3 and can compare the flare performance of the two optics? Being mainly a backpack traveler, does the LX100 optics mechanics show weaknesses that may cause the lens to fail if the body gets shaked on transport?

    Thanks! Umberto

    • Hard to say. I think they should be reasonably durable, but as with all optical equipment it’s best not subjected to violent shocks. I’m very careful with all of my gear because of this reason – small misalignments can mean significant degradations in performance.

      • Umberto Uderzo says:

        Yes i understand. As the LX3 is still working pretty well after all my traveling, i’m wondering if the LX100 is (mechanically) on-par. Lenses are bigger on LX100 so i guess they can be weaker but maybe i’m going paranoid. Any thoughts on the optics being prone to flare? Is this mainly due to the specific optical schema or because a bigger sensor leads to more flaring? Being mainly on montaineering photography i’m concerned on this aspect.

  7. Hi Ming,

    I recently read somewhere that “All today’s digital cameras are better than they need to be”. What I guess this means is that we are “complaining” about today’s gear at a very high level. Some years ago you wouldn’t have been able to find *any* digital camera with the image quality with that of the LX100.

    If you carefully develop the RAWs and print them at lets say at DIN A1 size using a good printer, how big would the differences between the Ricoh GR and the LX100 *actually* be? Would the differences be glaring obvious? Would they matter to anyone but the “pixel peeping” perfectionist? I am trying to find a realistic measure of the actual difference in image quality, because I really like the versatility of the LX100 but wouldn’t want to give up too much on image quality.

    I am what you would probably call an “enthusiast”. But although I have borrowed one or the other digital camera for projects and even have used Capture One two or three times, I mainly photograph analog and do prints in my own dark room and I have yet to buy my first digital camera. My main every-day camera currently is the Voigtländer Bessa III (Fujifilm GF670) but it is slightly too expensive and also too big to have with me everywhere I go. I was considering the LX100 to be my first digital camera, it was supposed to be the camera that is always in my jacket or bag. If I like digital I might consider ditching 35mm film for digital and only keep doing medium format analog.

    What are your thoughts?

    • ‘Better’ is relative. It depends what your end goals are and whether you have the opportunity (skills, subjects) to deploy the capabilities of your camera.

      Your situation: the difference is pretty obvious, even to a layperson. I’ve actually tried something like this before.

      I think you should have a look at some original RAWs and preferably print/deploy them in the same way you would with your MF film cameras and see if it works for you; only you can make that call.

  8. Hello Ming, and thanks for the detailed review.
    I have a question, tough. Given that the Olympus OM-10 is roughly the same price as the LX 100 (at least where I live), do you think that the LX100 produces better quality images than the OM-10 with the kit lens?

    Many thanks.

    • Haven’t used the E-M10 (which I presume is what you’re referring to) so I can’t honestly say. But at least you’d have the flexibility of better/different/faster lenses later, and 16MP vs 12MP, which would definitely be noticeable.

  9. Ricardo Villagran says:

    Dear Ming,

    I know I am late to this party but any way I would like to leave a comment… I had the chance to play with the D-Lux 109 at a Leica store when I was looking for a Digilux 2 substitute and I have to say that the d-Lux is far from offering any kind of “Leica experience” while handling it, and also in terms of image quality. The Digilux 2 even though is tech wise completely archaic, still deliver beautiful files with a real Leica glow… (I think the X Vario is the closest we can get since apparently will never see a Digilux 2 redoux).

    • Well, it’s a rebadged Panasonic that’s designed to look like a Leica – I’m not sure what were you expecting?

      • Martin Niedermeier says:

        Well – the Digilux 2 is also just a rebadged Panasonic LC1 – but still (both cameras) delivers something special in its pictures.
        So I really can understand, what Ricardo is saying 🙂
        But you are also right: after the Digilux 2/LC1 all Leica siblings of Pamnasonic cameras were just rebadged cameras – no more “magic” there 🙂
        I only found that magic in the old X1, which delivers stunning pictures – but the X! is a pure Leica breed.
        With the DLux 109 I miss this special kind of “Leica” in the pictures.

        BTW – thanks for this and all your other great reviews !

  10. Dear Ming,

    I was considering purchasing this camera for my son but after reading what you say below, I would be better off purchasing a Ricoh. Correct?


    This leaves us with two questions: who’s it for, and how does it compare against the competition – including its GM5 sibling, which now has an EVF? I’ll address the latter question first. Firstly, I don’t think it’s a Ricoh GR replacement: that camera punches at a much higher level of image quality, and is actually pocketable into fairly small pockets because nothing protrudes when powered down. The GR feels more like a serious tool to me; the LX100 / D Lux 109 is a fun camera, but doesn’t quite make it into the big leagues image quality-wise. It’s the same price as the GM5 and 12-32/3.5-5.6 kit lens; unless it’s going to be part of an existing M4/3 kit, I’d take the LX100 / D Lux 109 for two reasons: the controls are enormously better, and preparing for shooting with the GM5 is a three-step process: lens cap off, extend lens, power on. The LX100 can be one step (power on) with the optional petal lens cap. That makes a big difference in practice. It’s also a bit more versatile in low light, with a lens that’s two stops faster (albeit the 12-32 is optically better). I haven’t used the latest Canon offerings, but it’s a tougher call against the RX100III: that has a tilt screen, quite a bit more resolution, poorer high ISO performance, weaker video, a bit less manual control, but once again becomes pocketable. I think it boils down to firstly which works better for you personally, or whether any one of the individual features is critical to you.

    • Depends very much what he’s going to use it for, and his skill level. I’d suggest something with a zoom would be more versatile if he isn’t a serious photographer. The GR isn’t really a beginner’s camera nor is it a general purpose one-size-fits all.

      • He is skilled and shoots a Nikon D700. He doesn’t even own a zoom and 90% of time uses only a 50mm but uses his Nikon 28mm and Nikon180mm. I love my GR IV and it sounds like I should simply get one for him. So forget the zoom. It appears that Ricoh is still ‘where it’s at’ in compacts with a fixed lens. Subsequently, I will forget the zoom. He, like me, loves quality – regardless of his or my ability so is there any other choice than the Ricoh and should it be the GR 5?

        • It would probably suit him just fine, in that case. You may also want to look at the Coolpix A now that they’re heavily discounted…

          • You must never sleep. Thank you for so much of your time. +FRA

            • Very little normally, and not at all since our first child arrived.

              • As I thought concerning sleep. Children bring joy to the parents and renewl to the grandparents. I am guessing you are Buddhist. Nevertheless, if you have time, here is a quote from an ascetic on the Holy Mountain Athos: “What saves and makes for good children is the life of the parents in the home. The parents need to devote themselves to the love of God. They need to become saints in their relations to their children through their mildness, patience, and love. They need to make a new start every day, with a fresh outlook, renewed enthusiasm and love for their children. And the joy that will come to them, the holiness that will visit them, will shower grace on their children. Generally the parents are to blame for the bad behavior of the children. And their behavior is not improved by reprimands, disciplining, or strictness. If the parents do not pursue a life of holiness and if they don’t engage in spiritual struggle, they make great mistakes and transmit the faults they have within them. If the parents do not live a holy life and do not display love towards each other, the devil torments the parents with the reactions of the children. Love, harmony and understanding between parents are what are required for the children. This provides a great sense of security and certainty.”

  11. Just wanted to say thank you for the review. It actually helped me deciding to buy the camera. Since i do not print large this camera is perfect for me. Ming also pointed out that it does not cover his needs. I am just an enthusiast and whilst i wish i had the best of the best this is just a wonderful, and even i don’t like the term, yes, fun to use camera.

    I wished it had a stepless iris, aperture and shutter remote control capability via Wi-Fi and a touch tiltable screen but for the money i paid for a grey market one here in HK i cannot be happier!

  12. Adrian Pocea says:

    Ming, I think you are biased and unfair in this review… First of all , your shots look amazing, so how can you bash a camera that helped you take such beautiful shots? Second, how can you recommend and praise the Lx7 over Lx100 , when the Lx7 has a sensor not even a fifth the size? And how can you praise the Ricoh GR so much, a camera with a fixed 28 mm lens, over a camera that has an amazing zoom lens , 24-75, with f1.8-2.8??? Just because it has an aps-c sensor??? And , finally, and the most important, how can you ignore completely, for the price tag, the amazing video capability that this camera has compared to the not even watchable video of the Ricoh GR???

    • No, you are seriously mistaken.

      1. You’re not seeing 100% files, and performance is relative.
      2. Because performance is relative, what was great in 2013 is no longer great in 2015, and I’m not re-writing a review of an old camera for that. Look at the publication date of the review.
      3. A zoom lens will NEVER outperform a prime. It is impossible to correct for all aberrations for multiple focal lengths as well as for a single one.
      4. A zoom lens is not to ‘better’ or ‘worse’ than a prime either. It is only ‘better’ if you not know how to compose.
      5. Video is irrelevant if you’re using it for still photography.

  13. Thanks for a great review.
    I loved the LX100, (especially the EVF and the 24-70 zoom) BUT after trying two cameras I’ve returned both because of lens problems.
    One front focused always, and the other was just really bad at the edges of the frame…or maybe that’s just as good as it is. Either way I really found the lens to be a disappointment., especially at the longer end of the zoom. I was shooting RAW files processed in LR (but even when shooting a few jpegs I didn’t see any difference other than more sharpening applied…).
    I loved the feel of the camera so much I’m tempted to get another, but maybe I’m crazy. It is interesting to hear a few people here (including you Ming) have had bad versions of the lens….

    • There are definitely sample variations around. Of the multiple samples I’ve tried, the exceptional ones were really, really good; the poor ones were terrible – same problem with infinity focus and edges. I suspect it’s not so easy to get critical alignment on all elements inside that lens (undoubtedly not helped by the zoom) and it’s probably also an unusually sensitive optical formula to misalignment.

      • Thanks Ming.
        Yes, agreed. Such a small optic, wide aperture, zoom, and collapsing lens…all make for a situation where everything must align exactly for optical perfection. I have access to another LX100 that I may try out soon to see if it’s any better….

  14. Hi. 2 questions:

    1. Does the Leica have live HDMI out, or just on playback? I wanted to get the LX100 for aerial video (to spare my GH4 from the risk) but I need live HDMI output to see what I’m shooting.
    2. Can the Leica shoot 4k for longer than 15 minutes?

    Both limitations of the LX100 take it out of the running for an aerial video camera.



  15. My concern is with image quality at, say, 12×18 or 16×20. Now, I use Canon DSLRs or Leica M6s. All give great, large images on prints. I have no experience with 4/3 equipment/image quality. Assuming I focus and expose properly, will I be able to tell the difference between the Leica D-Lux typ 109 and my other cameras? And if I can, will I want to sell the D-Lux and stick to my Canons for digital?

    • Impossible to say because it depends on a lot of variables – your shot discipline, your lenses, how you scan, how you print, which DSLR precisely…etc.

  16. Good morning and thank you for this review. I would like to ask you if between LX-100 and D-LUX there is a difference in the treatment of the colors. It can be said that the Leica color better than the Panasonic? From camera D-LUX come the typical colors Leica? And ‘justifiable buy the Leica for this reason? thank you

  17. Hello Ming,
    Thanks for this review, it was the best I’ve read in a long time.

    I was delighted when the lx100 came out. “Finally a camera for me!!!”
    all those knobs I was terribly missing…

    Then I got like… “hmm… lumix lx100 vs fuji X100t”
    but was still very in love with the flexibility of the lx100.

    Yet, you’ve uncurtined some very down to earth aspects…
    …and IQ for [large] prints is a must for me.

    So what would be your take: x100t vs GR (I don’t know the model)


    • Still the GR, but I can’t live with the 35mm FL, and I was never very impressed with the X100’s lens at anything under f4 – on a 12MP sensor – and the optics haven’t changed even though they’re now at 16MP.

      • I actually just picked up the DP3M and the Ricoh GR. I am selling my Sony NEX 6 even though I think the EVF is wonderful. I like output of the Ricoh GR better, even though I don’t use 28mm as much. I’m going to start. Unless a camera comes out that produces nice files like the DP Merrills and Ricoh, I am passing on them from now on. It’s a pain using compacts with no option for changing lenses, but again, it’s all about the files.

  18. And what are you thinking about Lx100 as a street camera ?

  19. Compared with Leica X, which one would you prefer for travel and daily use?

  20. Actually this review makes me want to stick with APS-C or bigger sensors. I have a question for you. I currently have the Sigma DP2M, but am wondering if the Ricoh GR would be better to get than the Sigma DP1M. Both are 28mm. I know about all the negatives of Sigma-foveon. I don’t know too much about Ricoh in comparison.

    • Oh, the 28mm would be used for everything. I use the Sigma for both street and landscape with pictures of my dog as well. So it does a little of everything.

    • Usability: I’d rather have the GR both for shooting ergonomics and workflow…

      • I totally get the workflow/usability thing with the Ricoh VS the Sigma, but what about comparing the files? Are they good enough to forgo the Foveon?

        • Not at low ISO, but anything at 400 and above and the GR will pull away very fast.

          • Yeah, I figured that too, but wanted your take on the Ricoh. I have the Sigma DP2M, and want the Sigma DP3M for the portrait and macro abilities. But also wanted the Ricoh GR for that 28mm. It was between the Sigma DP1M and the Ricoh GR, or buying a better lens for the Sony NEX 6. I basically use the Sony NEX 6 for a point & shoot that does better than the iPhone. The kit lens isn’t so hot, but I got good shots from it. The Sigma is a pain at times to use, but when I specifically use it, I get wonderful results and it looks more like film than having to go back to film. I like the convenience of digital, but miss film. Being older and with not the greatest eyesight, I want simplicity, great optics and a sensor that isn’t like all of the rest. So much digital looks like garbage to me. Had a Fuji X-E1 for a while, loved the color JPEGS, but hated the smearing and slow AF. Everyone hates the Sony NEX series, but I have to say, it’s a great little camera and does produce some lovely tones, but the kit lens aren’t anything to write home about. The only thing that bothers me is that neither the Ricoh or the Sigmas have the viewfinders, which the Sony NEX 6 has, and I love that. (My eyes love it). It’s also why I keep the Nikon for portraits as well. I have the optical viewfinder on the DP2M, but it isn’t accurate.I was looking at your review above because it seemed like they’d be a nice camera with sharp lenses and I like the D-Lux series, but being that the cameras are 4/3rds sensors, and I’m so used to APS-C, which seems to be the sweet spot for me, I prefer to get APS-C or FF. Sigma DP kind of fills the full frame need in the lovely prints this camera produces, along with B&W. (Even people I showed some samples taken from my older Nikon D90 and the Sigma chose the Sigma prints over the Nikon with prime F/1.8 lens). Anyway, what I am getting at is, I want a lighter load to carry, but most cameras seem to be creeping up to being bigger (Fuji), and granted, I did look at the Fuji X-T1, but after the annoying smearing issues and slow AF on the X-E1, and the trouncing that the Sigma file gave my Fuji, I think it’s going backwards in buying one. Hence the Ricoh, Sigma connundrum. But then I have to take one of three cameras out of the bag, which defeats the simplicity aspect. LOL! Sigh.

  21. p l capeli says:

    the intelligent decision to have real shutter dial and f stops mean that, like my excellent fujis, .one can have PSAM without a stupid psam dial . …the panny build seems so much cheaper than the x 100 ………sadly the sensor sits so far forward in the body [ look at where the index mark on top plate is ….stupid ] my point is that if it were sensibly further back like the x 100 the bulky lens wouldn’t be such an issue like most panny lenses , its bulkier than it needs be

  22. I ended up buying the Ricoh GR. I hope it was the right thing for me.

  23. i was inform that the lense are different for both Leica D-Lux (typ109) & (Panasonic LX100). one is made by Leica itself & the later is made by panasonic them self & certified by leica.

    any different between IQ??

  24. I guess I’m one of those rare photographers who really likes the Fuji XE2. I’ve been shooting for some 35+ years and can say that I love this camera. I only use two lenses, superwide 10-24mm. 55-200mm large tele zoom. The large zoom has image stabilizer built-in. Last camera shot was a Canon pro 1. I find the Panasonic LX 100 very interesting, Leica a lens, 1.7 to 2.8.
    Oh I did have the Sony RXii for a while, found it way too small for my hands and kept hitting the video button almost every show.

  25. Great review and great images. How do you think the image quality of the LX100/D-Lux 109 compares to the new Leica X or older X2? I assume the prime lenses are better than the small zoom but wonder how much difference the APS-C vs 4/3rds sensor makes. Thanks.

  26. Between the LX100 and the Ricoh GR, which one is better overall (Image quality / AF) for night street photography? From what I’ve read, it seems like it’s challenging to take a good photo at night with the Ricoh GR,but what has been your existence?

  27. Sync speed at 1/16000 sec? Wow

  28. Hi, just one question. At 24mm my is soft at 1.7 and gets sharper by f4 while 28mm and longer pics are realy sharp right wide open. Can you confirm?

    • Sample variation with the lens. I’ve used four cameras now and sharpness is all over the map – some have been great at all apertures, some have been rubbish. None of them have good corners at f1.7 though.

  29. Walter Weiler says:

    thanks for the great review.
    just one remark regarding MF overruling AF:
    if you set the menue item “AF+MF” to “ON”, then you can focus with the second ring while pressing the shutter half way…….

  30. regarding your comments about the aperture ring haptic feedback, I’ve been able to handle several LX100 (five) and Leica D-lux (two) at the current Paris photo show, and none of them had the same haptic feedback – some were sharp enough, some were mostly mushy and undecisive. I haven’t found a correlation between the brand (i.e., Leica or Panasonic), and the haptic feedback characteristic. I think it rather is a question of poor manufacturing tolerances than a choice on the manufacturers’ part.

    • Glad I’m not going mad – they are different. I wonder how much of this is because show cameras are usual preproduction though? One of the Leicas I handled was, the other wasn’t.

      • Interesting. How do you know that a Leica D-lux is a preproduction camera ? Do their serial number start with PP ? That was the case with the two Leicas I handled.
        I also inquired regarding the lack of exposure compensation in M mode (and other things as well), an issue that’s all the more glaring now that there is an exposure compensation dial on a Panasonic body. It’s something everybody seemed to be aware of at the booth, including some managers in the hierarchy, but somehow the information get lost to its way to Japan or isn’t taken into account for some obscure reason.
        Otherwise thanks for the review !

      • I handled the LX100 yesterday, and everything seemed very firm and tight. Getting slightly sceptic about the variations in lens sharpness, though. Were the LX100s you tested all production models?

        • Two final production. Two pre production. One Panasonic, three Leica. None were the same in lens quality or dial tightness. Panasonic was the best of the bunch, and a final production unit.

          • Thanks for your quick reply. I had initially decided on the D-Lux, but my regular dealer for the past ten years had a one day offer due to their delay in ordering the cameras that will save me over 400 USD on the LX100 (that’s the extra Leica grip taken into account), and that’s an offer I find hard to refuse…

            • Well, I ended up with the D-Lux, and the dials are nice and tight. A lovely compact.

              • Mine were both pre pros, so hopefully the final version is better…

                • Camera turned out to be useless – very noisy zoom motor and terrible lens. Can’t believe it made it through QC. Got a new one today. Taken only a couple of macro shots, but it looks razor sharp.

  31. Excellent review Ming.
    which one you preffer, Coolpix A with cheaper price or LX100, or we must wait for 24mp Coolpix A ?

  32. Ming, quick question. Was your assessment of poor lens performance in the outer zones purely on examining the raw files or did you also examine JPEGs. Perhaps since you imported them into ACR as GX7 files, lens optimisation was not applied. Thanks, Vin

  33. I’ve been using a Ricoh GR since it came out and love that camera, it’s the finest compact camera I’ve ever used. It’s not just the image quality, which is incredible, it’s the ergonomics. I can use the GR in winter with thin glove liners on with no problem.

    I just bought and set up and did a bit of shooting with the LX100 and I must say, both the aperture and focus control rings are loose enough so that I’m quite sure I’ll be moving them unintentionally in the field. I’m pretty sure the focus control ring, which I set up to zoom will get moved every time I adjust the aperture ring. This seems like something you found in your review copies as well.

    It’s a shame, looks like I’ll be returning it although I must say, it seems like a very nice camera to me.

  34. Thanks, for a great overview of the cameras.

  35. Hi Ming, I’ve been intrigued by this camera since it was launched and, as you’re a photographer I hold in high regard, I’m glad to see you’ve got to try it out. My own particular interest in this camera is for Strobist type work, and my main question about the LX100 is it’s sync speed. You’re the first person whose review I’ve read confirms that the camera uses a leaf shutter, but I was very surprised to hear that the camera still manages to sync with the electronic shutter enabled. This could be a very exciting development! I wondered if you could describe your test with the SB900s and B1- were you using a radio trigger, optical trigger or a direct contact?

  36. All I have to say is keep making decent digital cameras under $2000 with shutter speed dials and aperture rings and I’ll buy them.

    • x2. (kind of strange that these nice controls are on the LX and not the interchangeable lens GM model…)

      This seems like the camera for those who would buy something like a Nikon 5300 in the past.

  37. Two different Leica sources have claimed that they tweak the firmware to slightly change the color rendering of the jpgs. Did you notice any difference?

    • Nope, I don’t shoot jpeg.

      • That’s what I thought. I always shoot raw and sometimes both. I have pre-ordered the Leica, but I’ve got an extremely good offer on the LX100 from my local dealer, so I’m still not 100% decided.

      • > I don’t shoot jpeg.
        I thought that your “both” indicated that you had –here:
        Lambert asks >>> Was your assessment of poor lens performance in the outer zones purely on examining the raw files or did you also examine JPEGs.

        Ming Thein says:
        November 15, 2014 at 4:19 PM
        Both. …

  38. Many thanks for this review and the extraordinary (&inspiring) pictures.
    For an amateur/rookie like me, this new range of compacts, Sony RX100/Canon G7x/Pana LX100 is more than tempting for travelling ‘light’ and/or for business and can’t carry a DSLR & few lenses.
    Not having any preference (doing a bit of all macro/night shots/portraits/kids… ) I still can’t make my mind among those 3, in particular the optic & sensor of the Pana versus the range and handling of the canon since I am used to this brand. I need to take more time and try to get some hands on with each… unless I go for the most irrational choice and (to me) most attractive design of Leica.

  39. I bought one (LX100) for Family Shooting for my wife. IMO – for such photography, I dont care that much if the Corners are super sharp or not. I also dont care that much about the slightest difference in resolution compare to the RX100.
    I find it much more interesting to be able to get somewhat shallow DOF for some Portraits, and to beable to shoot in relativly low light without Flash, and to be future proof with 4k Video, plus a nice EVF (IMO the RX100III is a very nice camera but as someone being outside often, going bycicle, beach etc. I would be afraid about the mechnics of the RX100III EVF mechanism).
    Compared to the GM1 with kit zoom we gain 2 f-stops but loose probably some Resolution. We also gain an EVF, better controls and 4k.
    I find this a very exciting camera…which I expect to get much use.

  40. Really nice pictures. So you actually prefer the Ricoh GR over these?

  41. Wonderful Review Ming! I enjoyed all of the pictures. They are a very creative set. Earmarked for redevelopment I is a favorite because of the stripe in the middle of the road. It is almost like an underline on a piece of paper. 🙂

  42. Thanks for the review. So which one, the Leica or Panasonic versions, and why?

    • They’re identical other than in aesthetics and price. Whichever you and your wallet prefer…

      • No they’re not : it costs an additional $140 or so to put on a GRIP to make that Red Dot more useful!
        (and what sort of sticky gunk to help the loose A ring? :o) Now, about getting the magic Leica Pixie Dust into the Pany, that’s a whole ‘nother matter altogether!

  43. Medford Canby says:

    Great review- I found one small error though. The lens ring can be assigned to manual focus override in the AF mode.It is an option in the menu.

  44. douglasgottlieb says:

    This seems like an incredibly fun camera. I’m struggling to decide between LX100 and what seems like a vastly improved GM5 to go with my Oly 17, 45 and Panny 25. But the aperture ring, shutter speed dial and surreal flash sync may prove irresistible.

    I love my GR but would love a flush EVF and tilting touch screen on it

  45. Ming thanks for a well balanced and written review, you have a distinct talent for both the written word and imagery, the tree shot I loved. I had thought seriously about the LX100 I too own the em-5 and various primes as well as the beautiful GR, the images this produces takes your breath away. It has a unique way it renders an image this one http://www.serialphotographer.co.uk/archives/1628 shows it particularly. I guess like a number of commenters I shall wait awhile before jumping in and buying another camera, I did think of the GX7 especially given how low the price is now with the 20mm lens. The thing I like about that is the viewfinder and its ability to vary the angle of view.

    Once again thanks for the review Ming.

  46. Carlos Villarreal says:

    Hi Ming, It’s nice to see another camera review from your site, and it’s nice you opted to keep your reviews free instead charging to see them; I think that’s a wise decision and let me explain you why. I discover your site when I was looking for E-M1 reviews (the camera I currently use). Since then I’m an avid reader of your blog, I really like your site because you cover different aspects of photography (gear, composition, lightning, printing, philosophy, books, etc…) and not just gear, as is done in other sites. Also all your articles are illustrated with outstanding pictures (almost all the camera review from other sites have mediocre photos), and all its written by you and has your personal style. Because I like your blog and the photos you take so much, I have developed some admiration to your work, I really like it, I would like to someday take pictures as good as the ones you take, that have driven me to purchase your “Making Outstanding Images” series which I really enjoyed. I also recently ordered one of your Ultra-prints for my condo. I had become from someone that doesn’t know you, to your reader, to your costumer, and all thank to your gear reviews. You should see your reviews as advertisement for your blog and the products you sell on it.

  47. Jorge Balarin says:

    Thank you Ming for the nice Review.

    • randomesquephoto says:

      Thats not the point. The point is. He discovered you from a review. Saw what you had to offer. And perused your education.

      So. A review has nothing to do with education. (Even though yours tend to) but this person saw the review. Then saw the benefit of your site. And became a customer.

      It Seems then that your reviews are good advertising for your site. And the wealth to photographers it offers.

      • Jorge Balarin says:

        randomesquephoto, are you crazy, or just in drugs ? I didn’t give nothing to Ming – even if I would like to do it – I only got benefits reading his blog for free.

      • Ming does not make enough money from people who read his reviews then buy his videos, he’s mentioned this already.

  48. harold1968 says:

    Good review, thanks.
    I am looking for a pocket camera and this comes so close. I mainly dislike the extending zoom and the limited resolution and also worry about your IQ comments.
    I think if I want a pocket camera the RX100iii or GX7 are the way to go, despite the ISO loss they provide in other areas..
    If I want IQ it’ll have to be fixed lens. The GR, RX1, X100T and second hand X2 could be runners here, but also the GM5 and a 15mm f1.7
    I presume the GM5 would have noticeable extra clarity and general IQ with the 15mm but not having shot M4/3s much I’d be interested in your opinion. the other thing is that the GM5 with a prime wouldn’t need to extend the lens.
    Obviously the king is the RX1R but I am not convinced on spending that much for my occasional pocket camera and a bit worried it would replace my 35mm lenses ….
    Nice camera though and your web pictures are always consistently excellent …

  49. I prefer the smaller cameras like the Leica D-Lux 4, Sony RX 100, etc, but prefer the sensors from the Sony NEX, Ricoh GR. (APS-C). Anyway, it’s almost annoying to have to go backward in sensors. I like my iPhone for all my compact needs even though the sensor is smaller, but at least it can upload to my various websites on the fly. That’s the only reason I use my iPhone for taking pictures. I still have my D-Lux 4 because I love how it renders B&W. Love the lens too. Nice and sharp. Will any of those two cameras beat out my old D-Lux 4? Is it worth an upgrade?

    • All of them will beat your D Lux 4. Many generations in sensor tech evolution AND physically more light collection area AND better optics.

      • Yeah, you’re right about the D-Lux 4 being beat. Maybe I will upgrade my compact to something with a larger sensor like the GX7, Ricoh, or just get a better lens for the Sony NEX 6.

      • I have had the same thoughts about what might’ve happened had the good Sony Exmor 1″ sensor been what Pany had used, also with some multi-aspect down-sizing to say, 17-16-15mpix across framing, and then the Pany/Leica wizardry put into making a stellar lens (as you’d praised that of the LX7) –24-90 @f/1.4..? !! => “LX8” !

  50. Ming,
    Great review. I am most interested when you find the camera that can replace your GR. You seem to really enjoy that little thing so it seems its going to take one heck of camera that you will both enjoy shooting more, and be more technically advanced.
    Beautiful photos as always. The 1/16,000 shutter speed I could see very useful?

    • I don’t think this is going to be it, though I do have some ideas about what 1/16k could be useful for. That said, the GR is no slouch at 1/4k…

      • Kristian Wannebo says:

        “CHDK Features
        – – –
        Override Camera parameters – Exposures from 2048s to 1/60,000s with flash sync. Full manual or priority control – – – ”


        “Canon Hack Development Kit
        Temporary – No permanent changes are made to the camera.
        – – –
        Free – free to use and modify, released under the GPL”

        The ELPH520HS is not on their list but many others including some ELPHs.

        • Kristian Wannebo says:

          Forgot to say, that I’ve only read about it.

        • So, do you think the Ricoh GR is the standard to go by these days? I know it’s a fixed lens, but you seem to carry that one around the most. Is it your favorite compact? If not, what is? I don’t think these two would match it due to sensor size, but maybe I am wrong.

        • That isn’t exactly official firmware, but point taken.

          • Kristian Wannebo says:

            One might not want to rely on it,
            and the read-out electronics might not be up to it.
            You might nead an experimental friend with a spare Canon. 🙂

            (Lots of other stuff too, raw shooting, scripting, releasing shutter on movement, USB remote etc.)

            • It really begs the question why none of the manufacturers include at least some of this functionality in their firmware. Shame on them!

              • Kristian Wannebo says:


                ( Well, consider all complaints of already too complex menus… 🙂 )
                Or possibly Not-Invented-Here Syndrome?

                • More like the latter. Or because they want to sell us the next version as an incremental upgrade.

                  Or actually at this level of complexity you could probably have it configurable via a PC UI – it’s not exactly aimed at beginners anyway…

                  • Kristian Wannebo says:

                    and for serious (professional) use one usually finds it more economical in the end
                    to pay for the special and tried (and more expensive) tool.

                    ( For amateurs,
                    there are user made scripts on their site.
                    Or consider photo-traps for wildlife or registering how you sleep without filming all night.
                    They _say_ motion-shutter-release is fast enough to catch lightning.
                    And there is User-menu and Zebra-mode.)

  51. I’m currently shooting with a Fuji X-E1. Love the APS-C Fuji X-trans sensor. I’ve been flip-flopping back and forth between the new X30 or the LX100 as my “always with me” camera. You’re comments regarding edge softness are in line with other reviews I’ve read. I’ve seen reviews that compare crops from both cameras up to around ISO 800, that the X30 actually out performs the LX100. So, ultimately for me, it comes down to choosing between sharpness over higher ISO performance (X30) or better performance at higher ISO over softness in the corners (LX100) . My gut tells me go with Fuji. Keep in mind I’m not replacing the X-E1, I’m supplementing it.

    Also, I’m curious as to what type of shutter the LX100 has: Focal Plane or Leaf. Panasonic literature simply says “mechanical”. One review I read stated it has a leaf shutter, but I can’t find any other sources to substantiate that claim. Shutter shock has been the thorn in Panasonic’s m43 side since day one at lower shutter speeds. Since the LX100 has such a fast lens, it would be a shame if Shutter Shock reared it’s ugly head in this unit as well. Reviews seem to consistently say that the Fuji image stabilization is superior to the LX100 also.

    Maybe I’m just a Fuji fan boy, but all I can say is that Fuji seems to be doing things right by keeping high standards in the components of the pipeline that matter and sacrificing (more like compromising instead of sacrificing) only when they have no other choice. It’s just a shame they didn’t put a 1″ sensor in the X30. That would have been the trump card to open the door for them to own the compact market.

    Any thoughts?

  52. Ron Scubadiver says:

    A really great review because it cuts to the chase. The shot of a girl in a cafe is something like I would do. It is also getting hard to find candid subjects that are not gazing at their smartphone. It must be the end of civilization as we know it.

  53. Hi Ming, I know you said Nikon didn’t have anything to compare in this category, but I was looking at getting a Nikon Coolpix A since it has a crop sensor and can shoot Raw. I realize that it doesn’t have any zoom but wouldn’t the image quality be great? Thanks

  54. I personally don’t see not much success on these compact cameras anymore, luxory wrapped or not. Many people like using their smartphones, instead of an compact pocket size cameras! A friend of mine, was in Venice, watching the row of tourist! The Asian tourist where using Sony at lot, while the “long nose”, where using a lot their tablets and smartphones!

  55. Christof R says:

    Great review, adding many aspects I haven’t read elsewhere.
    What amazes me is that no one (not even you), while praising the ease and directness of the LX100’s controls, acknowledges the inspiration for this concept: Fujifilm’s X100 series. The X100’s have carried almost exactly the same control dial layout for three years now. I guess Panasonic’s copying is a very sincere form of flattery.

    • That’s because X100 wasn’t the first. Mechanical cameras carried this layout decades earlier.

    • @ Christof R – the manual control layout of the LX100 was in fact used by Panasonic back in 2003, in the LC1, LONG before Fuji created the X100. Yes, Panasonic was already using this design in the early 2000’s. And as Ming mentioned, film cameras have been using this layout for decades.

      Ming, thank you, as always, for your thoughts and experiences. Your assessments are fair and balanced, and you always flag your personal preferences in relation to the observable facts about a camera and its performance.

  56. Thanks for the review, Ming. I’m a “serious amateur” shooting with just a RX100 mk 1 for some 18 months. The RX100 is a good unit (for what I do) but I’m always looking for the next step up, especially for low ambient light. The fact that I’ve stuck with just the RX100 tells me I value a compact camera :-). Do you think the LX100 is generally comparable to the RX100 but say “1 stop” faster? Or should I look further afield, such as a combo with the RX10 and a Ricoh GR (a very good general-purpose walk-around camera + a good fast 28mm)? Of course, the latter is a two camera solution but it means I don’t have to change lenses, which is another thing I value !

    I hope this doesn’t sound too much like “me me me” … I’m thinking a good % of your readers might be in a similar boat to me.

  57. Ming, thanks for the comparison. I am currently shopping these type cameras and the Ricoh is compelling, however a zoom lens with longer focal length is also desirable. Can you comment on the Ricoh image cropped to approximately a 50mm focal length compared to the LX100 at the equivalent using the lens?

  58. Ming,

    Great. Thanks for the review, but I love some of the photos… maybe because they are from a 43 sensor……

    Modern Travel and Confusion of Direction are my favorites.

    • No problem. Here’s my conflict: I’m pretty sure I can make a decent image with most hardware. But do I enjoy it? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Is there enough to make a really good print? Again, sometimes yes, sometimes no, and unfortunately…the two seldom intersect.

  59. Strange that there are still no lens profiles in ACR for the LX100. Since the D-Lux 109 ships with a copy of Lightroom, I’d have thought that would not be a concern.

  60. Thank you for yet another enlightening review. I am currently deciding between the LX100 and the RX100III, and the Panasonic with the larger sensor, a lens that is faster through much of the zoom range and the more engaging controls does appeal. I also understand that the lens allows to get in closer than the Sony for macro work. How would you say the two cameras are matched in terms of “practical” resolution? The Sony has much higher resolution, I know, but how much of that would you expect can be transferred onto a print or screen compared to the Panasonic? Samples I have seen on the internet vary hugely in that regard, and I trust your eyes more. If the difference is not too big I think I could be persuaded to give up on the tilt screen and the smaller form factor for more controls and fun.

    • It depends on your shot discipline. I can get more practical resolution out of the RX100III, but it isn’t the 80% increase you’d expect from numbers alone. The RX100III was not very fun to shoot though; the EVF is pretty much useless in practice.

  61. I’ve been torn over this camera. I’ve been slowly realising that what I want doesn’t exist or that maybe I should just accept sufficiency and buy an LX100 or RX10. I have an EM5 and 4 really nice primes but I have been finding that even though all the lenses are small, having to change lenses all the time is still a pain just like any format, especially while travelling.

    I think I fall between your last 2 categories. I’m not a hardcore pro with multiple tripods, I’m an enthusiastic amateur who has been shooting for a while and has finally got to a stage where I can produce reasonably consistent results but I need to own less gear so I can enjoy travel more. The only problem is that I worry if I sell everything and buy and LX100 and it doesn’t end up to be as good as I want it to be. Like you said about either viewing it as a compact or a mirrorless camera, I really want it to be as good as my EM5 and 25mm even though I know that this isn’t possible and it seems so counterintuitive to buy a fixed lens camera when I know that one day I will miss longer lenses.

    • I am kinda like you. I use my GM1 with the 15mm F1.7 and a EM5 with either a fast prime for portrait or the 35mm-100mm F2.8. Then be done with it. 2 cameras with sufficient flexibility. So LX100 isn’t for me.

      • I’m in the same boat as well. In a very progressive and natural way I have ended up with a 2 cameras-2 prime lenses setup (GM1+PanaLeica 15 and GH3+Nocticron), the bigger one around my neck and the tiny GM1 with a wrist strap, and this is working quite well so far!

  62. Ming —

    Greetings! Thanks for the very informative review — as a D-Lux 4 is my current watch show/lunch/wrist shot staple, I think that I should carefully consider this one as a potential replacement.

    One question that will likely reveal either poor reading comprehension or lack of understanding of optics on my part: how is 1.7-2.8 faster than 1.4-2.3, as noted in the following?

    “the engineers have managed to cram a much faster lens and larger sensor into an overall smaller package than you’d expect; the lens is an ambitious 24-75/1.7-2.8 equivalent, compared to the 24-90/1.4-2.3 of its predecessor.”



    • The sensor on the LX100 is many times larger than the LX7. The real focal length of the lens is much longer, meaning physically much larger glass is required just to match the previous spec.

    • I read Ming as saying only “faster than you’d expect” (given size of sensor & camera), not “faster than LX7’s”, which it isn’t. Couple that with a need for “slower” aperture in order to get equal, broad DoF (which might be more what LX users are accustomed to and wanting (in their LX)), and you need to bump LX100’s ISO in order to get the shutter speed.

      It’s interesting to read here of people seeing the LX100 as an upgrade to their D-Lux4 (=LX3) and no remarks about those w/D-Lux6 / LX7, where both lens speed and some slight improvement in sensor ISO brought the LX line closer to what the -100 offers!? (I get a sense that the prior model just didn’t sell as well?)

  63. That’s what I feared most from the lx100. It does a lot of things right but leaves a few things I’ve grown accustomed to on m43 format: touchscreen shooting being one of them. I already have a full m43 kit in combination with my Nikon FX. I just find it very hard to justify having something smaller that goes halfway between 1inch and m43 without either being compact enough for the pocket or featured enough to be a pleasing m43 overlap.

  64. Gary Morris says:

    I like your door number 3… the D750 with the 50mm 1.8. Certainly NOT a pocket camera but at just over 2 pounds (or one kilo) with said 50mm lens, the D750 will eat these twins for lunch (and a good deal more cameras at that). I know the D750/50mm weighs in at a bit more than double the D-Lux, but if an extra pound+ is that critical a factor, then maybe an iPhone 6 is the better deal.

    Thanks for a very reasoned review.

  65. Thanks for the comprehensive discussion! This/these cameras are intriguing given their all-around nature. I think the GR and LX100 would make an ideal pair for hikes and travel. IQ when you want it (the “art”), flexibility when you want that (family snaps etc).

    I really wish Ricoh would step up and make something like a 1 inch sensor GX zoom camera or something similar. I’m assuming any APS zoom camera would be largish, like the X Vario.

    • Look when you take pictures with the GR, that lens yields samples so sharp its amazing. I took 400 pictures with my LX100 and they were 98% dull and fuzzy and OOF and not sharp at all. Anybody can use the GR. The LX100 requires a lot of work to get things from it. Unless you are a pro forget the LX100. And I love my Pana GM1, I have nothing against Panasonic. I also love the 20mm 1.7 Pana lens.

  66. Thank you for an excellent review. What I have seem online from this camera so far does not give me any GAS symptoms. UI and manual controls look intriguing, but the IQ (sensor & lens?) not so compelling. For a prime lens shooter I think a GR coupled with a GM5 and Olympus 45mm or 25mm might be a better “traveling light” solution.

  67. Thanks for your thoughts. I’ve been following this camera for awhile, for me this camera overlaps a lot with my GX7 and 12-35mm F2.8 so I won’t be getting it but it’s definitely the most interesting “compact” that I’ve seen since the RX100 Mk III.

    I know you said that the 12-32mm is sharper but I’m guessing that is at equivalent apertures?


  1. […] Simple up your life. Dies ist die Kamera für Enthusiasten, die reduziert, aber doch so viel wie möglich leben möchten. Sie ist eine Kamera für fast alle Situationen bis hin zu hervorragendem Video. Tolles Leica-Objektiv, dass dank 1.8 bis 2.8-Blendenöffnung vom Landschaftsweitwinkel bis zum moderaten Portrait unvergleichlich viel Spielraum lässt. Der Sensor ein gecroppter MFT, also etwa größer als bei der RX100. Eigentlich die perfekte Allroundkamera für Menschen mit Familie, die überall auch in der Lage sein möchten, ernsthafte Bilder zu machen. Apropos ernsthafte Bilder – hier noch ein sehr guter Post von Ming Thein. […]

  2. […] was very fond of the 2013 APSC Ricoh GR (V) and Nikon Coolpix A, and subsequently, the Leica Q. The D Lux 109/ LX100 weren’t bad, either. The newest of those cameras is two years old now, and whilst age […]

  3. […] Opinion-review: the Panasonic LX100/ Leica D-Lux 109 […]

  4. […] like the Panasonic GM1 and GM5. And then there are the fixed-fast-zoom-1″ (or M4/3, in the LX100 and D Lux 109) cameras such as the RX100III, Canon G series, etc. I haven’t even gotten to the really […]

  5. […] Re: Leica D-Lux (typ109) (Panasonic LX100) Hi Jono I hope that you don't mind but here is another review of both cameras and as far as I know Ming Thein is not paid by either Panasonic or Leica. BTW I have the LX100! Opinion-review: the Panasonic LX100/ Leica D-Lux 109 […]

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