Friday 20 September 2019

Adrian Weckler Tech Review: Panasonic Lumix LX15

Best compact ticks all the right boxes

Panasonic Lumix LX15
Panasonic Lumix LX15
Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

Our technology editor reviews the Panasonic Lumix LX15.

Price: €729

Rating: 4 Stars

If you want a really, really good compact camera that fits in your pocket, get Panasonic’s new Lumix LX15. It’s kind of a cross between the company’s semi-professional LX100 model and its big-zoom TZ100 model, with a camera sensor close in size to both. I absolutely love the larger LX100 as a standalone camera, but this LX15 model is way more pocketable, meaning I’m more likely to bring it around with me. While its 3x zoom (24mm-72mm equivalent) doesn’t come near the (similarly sized) TZ100’s massive 10x zoom, the lens is much, much faster starting at a light-loving f1.4. (This is pleasingly adjustable manually on the lens through a ring.) That’s some serious portrait photo bokeh to play around with in a compact camera. This camera can also focus at way closer distances (3cm compared to 5cm for rivals) than most.

The camera has an excellent 3-inch touchscreen that flips up 180° for timed selfies or portraits. You can also zoom manually if you want, although not quickly: the lens takes a while to catch up with your twisting action.

There’s a dedicated video button and this LX15 can shoot up to UHD (4K) resolution.

There’s no viewfinder which might bother some enthusiasts, though I don’t think casual photographers look for this feature as much as professionals.

You can charge this with a regular Micro USB cable (the same type that powers most Android phones), which is very handy.

Like some other Panasonic cameras, the LX15 has an innovative feature called ‘post focus’. This allows you to determine which part of the photo you want to be sharp (focused in on) after it’s taken. It takes a couple of seconds to do each photo and anything moving during those seconds will show up as having moved slightly in the different versions of the photo.

The main compromises with the pocketable size is that some may find it a little awkward to hold. The LX100 model, for example, is almost ergonomically perfect by comparison. One control I also found too cumbersome to get to was the ISO level: this needs its own button.

With this camera, it’s pretty clear that Panasonic is taking on Sony’s extremely successful RX100 series. In my view, it easily wins on price: the latest RX100 V model — which has the same size photo sensor, remember — costs almost twice as much, a whopping €1,200. For a product like this, that’s just way too expensive.

Like any camera, there are a few compromises you make with this. The biggest one, in my view, is the zoom. But if you can live with a more modest zoom, this is the best you can get in this price range.

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