Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7 review - Expert Compact: Panasonic is back in competition

By Kevin Carter - Monday February 18 2013

Camera Review
Introduction | Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7 sensor performance | Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7 versus competition | Conclusion

Panasonic LX7 VS Nikon P7700 VS Canon G15

The LX7 is pitched against some stiff competition from the likes of Canon with the new 12-Mpix G15 with its stabilized 28-140mm f/1.8-2.0 zoom and Nikon with their 10-Mpix P7700. The Nikon is competitively priced at $500, boasts a flip-out screen and the largest zoom range (7.1x) equivalent to 28-200mm f/2.0-4.0 (with VR).

panasonic-lx7

Compared to the Canon, the LX7 has a similar performance and even out performs it in the Portrait use case, with nearly 1.0 bit extra Color Depth, however, the Canon has the higher res sensor of the three.

panasonic-lx7

With an overall DxOMark score of 53, the Nikon’s image quality wins out here. Although all three are even in Dynamic Range the Nikon has consistently higher scores with the best Color Depth of the trio at 21.1 bits and the best Low-Light ISO performance. Set to low ISOs the sensor in the LX7 is a very capable performer and ahead of the Canon but it is not so convincing at high ISOs where the P7700 just edges ahead. While the measurements are very close, in real world terms it may just be possible to see some of the differences in image quality. Needless to say, while the Nikon has the widest optical zoom range equivalent to 28-200mm, the Panasonic’s wider angle of view (equivalent to 24mm at its widest) remains attractive for shooting interiors and landscapes.

Panasonic LX7 VS Panasonic LX5

If we compare the LX7 to its predecessor the LX5 we can see the decision to switch sensors (from traditional CCD to CMOS type MOS) was entirely justified. There’s 9 points difference in the overall DxOMark Scores with significant improvements in both Color Sensitivity (a 1.1 bit enhancement) and close to a stop extra (0.9Ev) in Dynamic Range (and not just at base ISO).

panasonic-lx7
The LX7 has an extra 0.87Ev in exposure range at base ISO over the earlier LX5, but it’s not just restricted to low ISOs meaning highlight and shadow recovery will be improved at any comparable ISO setting.
panasonic-lx7
With a 1.1 bit difference in favor of the Panasonic LX7 at base ISO the new sensor shows superior colour discrimination to the CCD found in the LX5 and also shows a consistently improved performance throughout the sensitivity range.

As well as one-stop improvements in DR and Color Depth over its predecessor the LX7 also has better low-light performance at higher ISOs. While the Low-Light scores show a negligible difference (ISO147 vs ISO132) the LX7 shows some qualitative gains at high ISOs (from ISO 1600 onwards). This combined with the brighter lens means the LX7 is a bit more suited to available light photography than the LX5. All in all the MOS sensor in the LX7 shows improvements in every area over the earlier high-quality CCD of the LX5 and puts it squarely in contention with the latest offerings from rivals.

panasonic-lx7
An SNR of 30 db and above means excellent image quality, below that and the image quality begins to suffer. However, at ISO1600 and above the LX7 shows qualitative improvements over its predecessor