Panasonic Lumix LX15: The sensible choice
Recently I decided to treat myself to a properly pocketable high end compact for although I love my trusty Panasonic LX100 and although its far from bulky I found the appeal of a really peite compact hard to resist.
Now unlike a few years ago when choice was highly limited (really the only kids on the block was the Panasonic LX3 / 4 and Canon S80) today there are a host of 1-inch 20mp compacts from Sony, Canon and Panasonic, each with slightly different take on what to expect from a high-end compact, not to mention Fuji’s 2/3″ Trans “X” equipped X30.
I’ve been fortunate to test all of Sony’s RX100 models up to the Mark V, the Canon G7X ( and G7X II), Canon G9X and the EVF equipped Canon G5X not to mention all of Fuji’s “X” compacts so I know what am looking for and in general terms what to expect form a potential purchase.
Presently the class leader in the pockeable high-end compacts is the Sony RX100 V but then it comes with a class-leading price tag so that was off the list to start. In the end I bought the Panasonic lumix LX15 in part as a continuation of my association with the LX series ( I own the old LX3 and the current LX100).
The LX15 is a 20mp 1-inch equipped compact with a 24-72mm f1.4-2.8 lens (brightest in class), built in flash, tilting 3″ 1040k rear touch screen, 4K video, 4K photo mode, Post Focus capture, Wi-Fi, & USB charging.
Unlike the recent RX100 models the LX15 lacks an electronic viewfinder but for me personally the presence of an EVF wasn’t absolutely essential, I wanted a small high performing compact which had reasonable ergonomics, delivered excellent images and above all wasn’t over the top when it came to price.
And that really sums up the Panasonic LX15, I’d describe it as the pragmatic choice when it comes those seeking a high end compact.
The LX15 delivers excellent RAW images
Its close focus capacity ( 3cm at 24mm) is really useful for macro shots
The 24-72mm focal length is spot on for general photography
Overall image quality is first class thanks to the Leica lens
(NB the f1.4 aperture is only available at its widest setting (ie 24mm) & diffraction seems to come into play from f8)
The Post Focus feature proved surprisingly useful
There are shed loads of of scene modes & filters.
It has great 4K features
The touch screen and touch focus capacity can be a life saver
The camera could do with a more substantial hand – thumb grip (I advice purchase of a wrist strap to attach to the camera)
The ergonomics and handling are not what I used to get on my old LX3 or indeed that delivered by later LX models.
There’s no built in ND filter
The screen only tilts upwards ( good for selfies but less useful than a fully articulated screen)
JPEGS straight from camera appear a tad bit over sharpened (I’d turn any sharpening down in-camera)
JPEG high ISO performance slightly lags that from recent Sony RX100 models ( I assume Sony are employing a better performing noise reduction algorithm?)
The Panasonic LX15 is a great little camera, Fun and easy to use it delievers excellent image quality in RAW and with some care very good one’s in JPEG. The 20mp 1″sensor produces exactly the sort of quality images we have come to expect from that unit.
The cameras highlight is probably its 24-72mm f1.4-2.8 lens, its general optical performance is first rate especially its macro capacity at 24mm.
The Post Focus feature proved unbelievable addictive and genuinely useful as did the touch screen facility.
My only real moans would be the fact that the rear screen isn’t fully articulated and that Panasonic appear to have lost the plot a bit when it comes to handling / ergonomics.
Taken overall the Panasonic is pretty much all one could want from a small pocketable compact.
Yes, the presence of an EVF would of course be preferable but then that would push up the cost.
I still think Panasonic could have done better with the overall physical set up of the camera body and they need to work on their JPEG processing engine but these are not necessary deal breaking issues.
Yes the Sony RX100 V is a “better” camera, its a real speed demon with AF performance that is in a different league to all the competition and yes is has a built in EVF but then its hugely more expensive.
If you simply must have an EVF on your compact I’d consider buying the older Sony RX100 IV or even Mark III.
As for the likes of the Canon PowerShot G7X II and G9X in my experience the LX15 delivers superior general optical performance and is why I’d choose it over the Canon rivals.
So there you have it, the Panasonic Lumix LX15 is the pramatic and sensible option for those seeking a high-end pocketable compact.
Mark Baynham ( December 2016)