Pana­sonic has up­graded one of our favourite com­pact cam­eras, but does it of­fer enough to stand above all the smart­phone cam­eras avail­able?

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We test this com­pact cam­era

While we love the Pana­sonic LX100, it dates from 2014, which is a long time ago in cam­era de­vel­op­ment terms. So nat­u­rally we are de­lighted that Pana­sonic has in­tro­duced an up­date, the LX100 II. And Pana­sonic has stuck with a win­ning for­mula that com­bines a su­perb Le­ica DC Var­i­oSum­milux 24-75mm (equiv­a­lent) f1.7-2.8 lens with a multi-as­pect Four-Thirds type sen­sor, in a com­pact body with an elec­tronic viewfinder.

The most sig­nif­i­cant change brought by the new cam­era is the sen­sor. This has been up­rated from a 16MP chip in the Mark I to a 21.77MP sen­sor in the Mark II cam­era. As be­fore, this sen­sor works as a multi-as­pect de­vice, which means it’s ac­tu­ally larger than is re­quired by any of the avail­able as­pect ra­tios. As a re­sult, the largest im­ages are made up of 17 mil­lion pix­els, up from 12 mil­lion pix­els with the orig­i­nal LX100.

To help pho­tog­ra­phers make greater use of the sen­sor’s multi-as­pect na­ture, there’s a switch on the lens bar­rel that al­lows you to swap quickly be­tween shoot­ing in 3:2, 16:9,

1:1 and 4:3 ra­tio. This is a great prompt to con­sider as­pect ra­tio at the shoot­ing stage rather than when pro­cess­ing im­ages. In fact, it’s ben­e­fi­cial to do so as in Adobe Cam­era Raw, the RAW files only have the data from the as­pect ra­tio they are cap­tured in. This means any post-cap­ture as­pect changes crop into that im­age. With other cam­eras’ as­pect ra­tio set­tings it’s usu­ally pos­si­ble to see the im­age from the whole sen­sor.

Pana­sonic has used a very sim­i­lar, if not the same, body for the LX100 II as it did for the orig­i­nal cam­era. It has a high-qual­ity feel with metal di­als and slim, but ef­fec­tive grips. The tra­di­tional ex­po­sure con­trols are also there, with shut­ter speed and ex­po­sure com­pen­sa­tion di­als

“Pana­sonic has stuck with a win­ning for­mula that com­bines a su­perb Le­ica lens with a Four-Thirds type sen­sor”

on the top plate and an aper­ture ring on the lens. As well as spe­cific val­ues, the aper­ture ring and shut­ter speed dial both have ‘A’ for au­to­matic set­tings. This means that in ad­di­tion to man­ual ex­po­sure, you can set the LX100 II to op­er­ate in aper­ture pri­or­ity, shut­ter pri­or­ity and pro­gram ex­po­sure mode. The sen­si­tiv­ity (ISO) op­tions can be ac­cessed by press­ing the up nav­i­ga­tion but­ton or the Quick Menu but­ton. There’s also a but­ton on the top plate to ac­ti­vate In­tel­li­gent Auto (iAuto) mode should you want it. We found this but­ton prone to be­ing pressed ac­ci­den­tally.

While Pana­sonic has made the LX100 II’s screen touch-sen­si­tive, it’s dis­ap­point­ing that it’s stuck with a fixed screen. The

LX100 II in­vites you to be cre­ative with your photography, but the fixed screen offers no help when shoot­ing from cre­ative an­gles. That gripe aside, the screen pro­vides a good view in all but bright sun­shine and is re­spon­sive to touch. It’s great that both the main and Quick Menus are com­pat­i­ble with touch con­trol.

There’s also an elec­tronic viewfinder built in and al­though at 0.38 inches it may be fairly small, it’s de­tailed and very use­ful, and it en­ables you to fo­cus on the im­age in a way that a screen can’t.

The com­bi­na­tion of a large sen­sor (in com­pact cam­era terms) and the su­perb Le­ica lens means that the Pana­sonic LX100 II is able to cap­ture im­ages with a high level of de­tail. This de­tail is main­tained well up to around ISO 3200, al­though im­ages shot at this value don’t re­spond es­pe­cially well to post-cap­ture bright­en­ing.

In the de­fault set­tings, the LX100 II also tends to pro­duce pleas­ant, nat­u­ral colours. And, if you want to cre­ate black and white im­ages, the L. Mono­chrome and L. Mono­chrome D Photo Styles do a nice job. In many cases, it’s pos­si­ble to pro­duce im­ages that are ready for shar­ing in-cam­era, so it’s nice to have Blue­tooth and Wi-Fi con­nec­tiv­ity built in. We found the Auto Transfer sys­tem a bit clunky, but it does the job.

Be­low bot­tom LE­ICA LENS Pana­sonic’s part­ner­ship with Le­ica means there’sa top-qual­ity op­tic

Be­low top TRA­DI­TIONAL CON­TROLSA shut­ter speed dial and aper­ture ring give speedy con­trol

AboveACROSS THE FRAME There’s only slight soft­en­ing in the cor­ners when shoot­ing wide open

Left ABER­RA­TION CON­TROL Even with back­light­ing, chro­matic aber­ra­tions are kept un­der firm con­trol

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