Start-up time is a respectable two seconds, while continuous drive mode can fire off five shots in about 2.5 seconds, although there is then a pause of about eight seconds while those shots are saved to the memory card. Another slider switch on the top panel pops up the built-in flash, which is quite a powerful unit with a maximum range of four metres at wide angle, although I did find that it was inclined to burn out subjects at close range.
The designer at Panasonic seems to have a liking for a kind of high-tech art-deco styling, slightly reminiscent of old Leica rangefinder cameras from the 1930s. This retro look extends to having some of the camera controls mounted on the lens barrel, specifically the focus mode selector and the aspect ratio control. This latter option isn’t unique; there are several other cameras on the market that offer the 16:9 widescreen format, but Panasonic is the first to actually use a widescreen sensor. In most other widescreen cameras, a 4:3 sensor is cropped top and bottom to fit the 16:9 aspect ratio, wasting pixels, but in the LX1 the sensor has a maximum resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels, all of which is used in the widescreen mode. If you choose the 4:3 or 3:2 aspect ratio the image is cropped at the sides. Combined with a 28mm-equivalent lens this makes the LX1 ideal for high-resolution panoramic landscape shots. It can also record widescreen movies with a resolution of 848 x 480 pixels at 30fps.
The Mega OIS anti-shake system has appeared on several other Panasonic cameras, and I’ve found it to be quite effective. It’s not quite as good as Nikon’s VR system, or the moving CCD system that Konica Minolta was using, but it does provide at least an extra couple of stops of hand held shooting in low light.
Another small innovation on the LX1 is a four-way joystick separate from the usual menu navigation D-pad. This additional control is used exclusively for adjusting exposure settings in manual, aperture priority or shutter priority modes. It works well enough, but if there had to be a separate control I would have preferred a small input dial, like the rotary control on the Canon S80.