If you’re looking for a compact street photography camera with DSLR-like shooting powers, then Panasonic has a strong contender for your shortlist – the new LX100 II.
‘Big sensor’ compacts – which usually have a sensor that’s one-inch or larger – have carved out a nice little niche for themselves between smartphones and system cameras, and Panasonic’s original LX100 from 2014 was one of our favourites.
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Like its predecessor, the Panasonic LX100 II has a Four Thirds sensor, which is about 1.6 times larger than the one-inch sensors seen in competitors like Sony’s RX100 VI or Canon’s G7X Mark II, if a little smaller than the APS-C chip in Fujifilm’s new XF10. Larger sensors often mean better low light performance and dynamic range.
Among a host of useful tweaks, the LX100 II brings two big new features. Firstly, its sensor has been upgraded from 12.8-megapixels (when shooting in standard aspect ratio) to one that offers 17-megapixels, which gives you greater opportunities for cropping your snaps and printing at larger sizes. It’s the same sensor that you’ll find in Panasonic’s recent GX9.
The other big upgrade is found in its 3-inch screen, which now offers touch controls. The lack of a touchscreen was one of our main criticisms of the original LX100, so it’s good to see that it now lets you choose focus points and navigate menus in that way. On the downside, the screen remains fixed, so won’t tilt to help you compose shots from low down or use it for vlogging to camera.
Some other useful new features include USB charging, which means you can top up its battery from a portable power bank while on the move, and a refined electronic viewfinder, which is a 2764k-dot affair with an impressive 0.7x magnification.
There’s also some improved navigation for editing your 4K photos (a feature that lets you film sequences at 30fps then pull out 8-megapixel stills) and extra monochrome modes for when you’re impersonating Henri Cartier Bresson.
One crucial feature that has stayed the same is the LX100 II’s lens – it’s a 24-75mm affair, which offers the equivalent of 3.1x optical zoom. It also delivers a bright f/1.7-f/2.8 aperture throughout that range, which should come in handy for creating background bokeh and shooting in gloomy pubs.
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The Panasonic LX100 II will be available for £849 from October 1 2018, and Panasonic says the original LX100 will remain on sale.
If you pre-order the LX100 II, you’ll also get a free Goal Zero Venture 30 power bank to make use of its USB recharging – considering those cost £89 new, that seems like a pretty good deal to us.
Is the Panasonic LX100 II likely to be your next compact camera? Let us know @TrustedReviews on Twitter.