Overall build quality of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7 is very high. The camera shares the same predominantly metal finish as the LX5 and, in the hand, there’s no mistaking it for anything but the premium camera that it is.
The revised handgrip isn’t particularly deep but it does allow you to get a comfortable and relatively secure hold of the camera. The LX7's back also benefits from a texturised thumb-grip that surrounds the control wheel to provide a bit of extra purchase.
While at a first glance the basic shape of the Lumix LX7 looks to be virtually identical to its predecessor, closer inspection reveals that the newer model is actually slightly taller and thicker. The main reason for this is that it gets an all-new aperture ring on the front of the lens. This ring cannot be re-assigned to control any other camera settings, but we do like the distinctly ‘old school’ feel it lends to general operation of the camera – especially when used in Aperture-priority mode.
Given that it also means you don’t have to use the rear control wheel to control both aperture and shutter speed, it makes general operation quite a bit quicker when shooting in full Manual mode. The ring offers just the right amount of resistance too: firm enough to resist accidental nudges, but with a satisfying click when you use it to change the aperture value.
Directly behind the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7's aperture ring you’ll find the aspect ratio selection switch we mentioned on the previous page. One benefit of having the aspect controls so close to hand (as opposed to buried within the in-camera menu) is that it enables – or even encourages – you to take full creative advantage of the various options in order to best highlight a subject or frame a particular shot.
Elsewhere the LX7 serves up almost exactly the same button configuration as the LX5, save for a new button on the back of the camera that toggles between the built-in ND filter and Manual focus mode. The rear command dial can be used to set exposure compensation or the shutter speed when in full manual mode, while the Quick menu provides access to the LX7’s core settings.
The four-way directional-pad, meanwhile, offers direct access to Drive mode, White Balance and ISO. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7 comes with its own built-in flash housed inside the left-hand shoulder - although those looking for bit more power can attach a dedicated flash to the hotshoe.
The 3in rear LCD monitor has doubled in resolution (from 460k-dots) to a 920k-dot TFT LCD display, and it’s also possible to attach Panasonic’s optional LVF2 external electronic viewfinder (£200) should you want to compose your shots with the camera held to your eye. It’s worth bearing in mind that if you already own the LVF1, the accessory port is different, which means it won’t fit. Bah and indeed humbug.
Autofocus options extend to 1-Area, 23-Area or Face Detection AF modes, and all perform very well. The AF Tracking mode is much better suited to slow-moving subjects though, as it tends to struggle with faster-moving ones.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7 also offers a dedicated Macro mode for close-up photography, with a dedicated switch on the camera's side. Thanks to the higher resolution LCD screen, shooting in manual mode is made much easier.
If we were to split hairs, then the rear monitor isn’t quite up to the same standard as the WhiteMagic display of the Sony RX100, or the AMOLED displays used by some Samsung models. That said, the inclusion of an electronic level is really useful – especially if you regularly shoot landscapes and want to keep everything straight.
Overall image quality is, as might be expected, very good. We found that the LX7’s metering module coped well under a range of lighting conditions, delivering pleasing exposures. Being picky, images do sometimes come out a little overexposed, although this is fairly negligible and can be easily corrected either with the EV compensation dial or in post-processing.
Given the LX7’s 10.1MP resolution, the LX7 delivers quite impressive levels of detail. The new lens is pleasingly sharp too, with minimal distortion at wideangle that’s pretty much unnoticeable in images. There’s a hint of purple fringing when the lens is opened right up, but stopping it down a step or two soon reduces this.
ISO performance is another area where the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7 generally impresses. Up to ISO 800 it produces clean images with no noticeable image noise. At ISO 1600 and above, image noise does become more pronounced with a loss of detail too, although colour saturation doesn’t tend to suffer. Ultimately, while the LX7 handles noise well for a camera of this type, it’s not quite as effective as the larger sensor of the Sony RX100.
The Panasonic Lumix LX7 is a thoroughly likeable advanced compact. Overall build quality is high, and its metal-finish lends the camera an unmistakably premium feel. Controls are all easily to hand and the new aperture ring certainly enhances the overall user experience too.
While the decision to go with the slightly smaller 1/1.7in sensor puts the LX7 on the bottom rung of the advanced compact ladder in this regard, its super-fast f/1.4 lens just about makes up for this. Overall the LX7 is a consistent little camera that delivers solid performance in pretty much every area. It’s a polished and competent enthusiast compact camera that does more than enough to earn itself a coveted TrustedReviews Recommendation.