Not too long ago I purchased the Panasonic Lumix LX-10 making it the third Lumix camera that I have owned over the last several years. This one lives out its life as the replacement for a Fuji X100s that was my EDC camera for about 2 years. The LX-10 was the most likely suspect to follow in the footsteps of the Fuji because of the 1 inch sensor. After living with such a high quality sensor with the Fuji, I was understandably reluctant to step back down to a micro four-thirds or some such other small-ish sensor so I opted for the LX-10, and I can’t say for a second that I regret it. Right of the bat I was blown away by the clarity of the lens and how clean the image was coming straight from the camera. The picture of our pal Rick here is the first image I shot (view full resolution) with the LX-10 and he’s mighty clean for someone who has been fighting zombies for the better part of seven years. Seriously though, that image is an untouched jpg right from the card, or as our more snooty counterparts might say; SOOC. This is the large 1 inch, 20 megapixel sensor showing off for the girls.
The LX-10 also has some pretty crazy Depth of Field (DoF) bringing it home with a maximum aperture of f/1.4. This was the the number two selling point for me. I love super shallow depth of field shots almost as much as I love wide angle shots. Speaking of which, the LX-10 sports a Leica DC Varrio-Summilux 24 – 72mm lens which true to its name is amazingly sharp. While it is only a 3x optical zoom, it has all of the clarity you would expect from Leica. Working in macro mode with the aperture wide open produces surprisingly sharp images coupled with a super short depth of field that will make you giggle like a school girl. The touch enabled viewscreen really comes in handy when shooting in macro mode too. At first I was like “Who the hell needs a touch screen on a digital camera?” Now, I’m all like “Wheeeeeeeeee, I can haz touch screen!”
Using my newly made pulley wheel fidget spinner (view full resolution) as the subject, I set out to illustrate just how shallow the DoF is and how much fun the LX-10 is to use. And no, this image is definitely not filed under not modified, it does illustrate many of the reasons why this camera is in my bag everyday and I take with me when I leave the house. Look at the noise! Seriously, look at it. Look at good ol’ Rick up there too. You’ll soon see it, or more accurately you won’t see it. These images are squeaky clean and the noise in the images doesn’t hardly show nevermind it becoming a “feature” of the image. If I want to make any of the images from the LX-10 all Instagrammy, I’ll have to do it on purpose.
Obviously I could go on for days (and nobody wants that) about how much I love the camera, but despite all that it’s not perfect. First off it doesn’t come with a manual at all. Nope. It doesn’t come with a battery charger either. Nope nope. I have to be honest, when I opened the box I thought I just got a previously owned camera that was missing critical parts. Nope nope nope. Really? WTF! I guess Panasonic is cutting costs, because they just included a really flimsy USB cable to charge the camera. For what you pay for the camera, $620 on Amazon, you should get a charger and a damn manual. I can totally understand the Marketing spin they would put on it; “we’re saving trees. Being good stewards of our natural resources.” Yada yada yada. I like getting the manuals. They’re small and to the point. They actually fit in a pocket or are small enough to be out of the way whilst riding shotgun in the bag. This is crap. Yeah, I’m looking at you Panasonic.
The menu is kind of wonky at times too, but that’s not exclusive to this camera. Camera interfaces in general could use a good UxD to have get into a solid dust-up with. It ended up taking some fumbling to find the built-in modes and to decipher what seemed like hundreds of resolution options. All of that aside though, the only thing I really take issue with is the built-in flash. The flash is small, flimsy and feels like an afterthought, although it opens with a purpose and vigor. They quite likely could have left it off and been just fine without it, but then it would have had the injustice of being held up as an anomaly and not being as good as some other similarly priced camera. One that is also just as likely to have a flash that doesn’t get used. As of writing I still have yet to be in a situation where I needed to expose the flash so I have no idea if it’s a racehorse or a drunkard. The little hatch covering the HDMI and charging port is also on the flimsy side, but as I bought a couple of extra batteries and an external (ahem) charger, that little plastic bugger is likely to never get opened again.
The battery life is pretty solid and I probably didn’t actually need to buy two extra batteries but since this is to be my go-to EDC photo making device, I’d rather have too many batteries than just one dead one.
Ultimately it all adds up to a well built camera with solid features that add up to the purchase price. There are a lot of cheaper options out there, but none with the image quality and rep that Panasonic has painstakingly built around the Lumix camera line. For the record, I would buy this camera again and would also happily recommend it. If it were to get stolen or damaged beyond salvation tomorrow I would simply replace it with the same Lumix LX-10 without batting an eye.