Review: Panasonic LUMIX DMC-LX7K Digital Camera

The Panasonic LUMIX DMC-LX7K has a lot going for it (along with a couple of things that it doesn’t). In particular, its New Optical Image Stabilizer, built-in neutral density filter and light Speed Auto Focus Tracking. But is this the right camera for you? Let's find out. Key Specs For The Panasonic LUMIX DMC-LX7K RRP: $449.99 Year of release: 2012 Display size (inches): 3 Image resolution (MP): 10.1 Zoom: Optical: 3.8x; Digital: 7.5x Video Capture? HD 60p Available Colors: Black, White Panasonic LUMIX DMC-LX7K: The Pros Image Quality: With a full redesigned Leica Vario-Summilux f/1.4 lens, improved signal-to-noise ratio at the sensor, and an improved Venus Engine image processor, images feature rich clarity and fine color graduation at the lower ISOs from about 400 on down. While its 10.1MP maximum resolution is not as great as many of its competitors, it is adequate to produce quality 8” x 10” prints from a home printer. At maximum resolution, image size is 3,648 x 2,736 pixels at a 4:3 aspect ratio. Other image sizes available range from a 2,736 x 2,736 pixel square format at 7.5 MP down to 640 x 360 pixels at 0.2MP. Image Stabilization: The LX7K sports a new image stabilizer called POWER O.I.S and it has twice the movement suppression of its predecessor, the MEGA O.I.S., thereby giving it even greater image quality. Auto Focus Tracking: If you take action images - shots of moving subjects - you’ll love Light Speed with AF Tracking. Once you lock onto a moving subject the LX7K continuously tracks and adjust focus and exposure until you press the shutter button. How cool is that! Built in Neutral Density Filter: Not many point and shoot cameras have built-in usable filtration, but more should. Many times while in full sun, it is not possible to get a shutter speed slow enough to capture, for example, the cottony effect of moving water. And without threads on the front of the lens, it makes it difficult to hold a filter in front of the lens with one hand while trying capture an image with the other one. Internal ND (Neutral Density) filtration takes care of this problem. Full HD 1080p video: It wasn’t too long ago that a point and shoot camera with video was an anomaly, however, now it is a standard feature on most compact cameras. While the LX7K does fail in a couple of areas, it does very well in this one. With the push of a button, it can record 60 frames per second in the AVCHD ™ (Advanced Video Coding High Definition) progressive MPEG-4/MP4 format. Video and Dolby Digital Stereo Sound are clear and sharp. Shutter speed and aperture can be changed while recording as well as capturing stills simultaneously. Panasonic LUMIX DMC-LX7K: The Cons Limited Zoom: I found it rather odd that a camera as prestigious as the LUMIX brand, has only a lens focal range of 24mm to 90mm at 3.8X optical zoom. While the lower wide-angle of 24mm is acceptable and in line with the wide-angle setting other point and shoot cameras, the telephoto end at 90mm is not. The limited zoom takes this camera out of play for landscape and wildlife type shooting conditions where more zoom is required. Noise at the higher ISOs: Even though touted as producing great photos under low-light conditions, many users report unacceptable visual noise in their images when shot at ISOs above 400. The LX7K uses an Intelligent Noise Reduction feature in which it divides an image into sections and then applies noise reduction only to the sections needing it instead of to the whole image. And while Intelligent NR seems to work well in high contrast well-lit situations (by removing noise from shadow details), it seems to fail when most of the image has much chroma and luma noise. And yes, some to most of the noise could be removed in post-processing, but the goal is to make the camera do most of the work and spend less time fixing issues created by it. Of course, one way around this issue is to use either the on-board flash or attach an external flash onto the hot-shoe to add light to the scene. Then an ISO of 400 or less can be used and avert the noise issue at the higher ISOs. Price: Taking into account the issues of high ISO noise, and a limited focal length range, this camera could be considered overpriced. Especially when you consider that you can get the Panasonic ZS20 with a focal reach out to 420mm (instead of 90mm) and at a resolution of 14.1MP (instead of 10.1) for around $250. The Panasonic LUMIX DMC-LX7K Worth Buying? This might not be the best way to spend your money, for a few reasons: 1) Limited lens focal range - there are other point and shoot cameras that are just as good if not better that have a far greater focal range. 2) Noise at the higher ISOs - while this camera does have an ISO range that tops out at 12,800, if low-light noise is an issue at anything over 400, then what good is it. Many other P&S cameras (including its sister the LUMIX ZS20) exhibit low noise up through an ISO of 1,600 and higher. 3) Price - at almost $400, this camera is priced way too high, especially due to its limitations. If you want a Panasonic LUMIX, buy the ZS20 and save $150.00. There are so many other point and shoot cameras that do much more at much less of a price. While LUMIX normally has been a good camera, I think Panasonic missed the mark with this model.


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