Panasonic LX15 / LX10
With an f/1.4 lens, 4K video and Panasonic’s new Post Focus mode for changing your focal point after capture, is the LX15 / LX10 the new king of premium compacts? We put it to the test…
30 second Panasonic LX15 / LX10 review
The Panasonic LX15 / LX10 is a slim, portable camera that packs a lot of specification within an easy-to-use design. While features like 4K Photo and Post Focus may grab the headlines, the real star of the show is the camera’s bright Leica lens, which boasts a maximum aperture of f/1.4 – better than any other camera in its class.
The Panasonic LX15 / LX10 impresses in use, and that fast aperture combined with internal image stabilisation help it perform admirably in low light.
If it’s specs that you’re after, you could opt for the recently announced Sony RX100 Mark V, which offers more 315 AF points and 24fps up to 150 frames… but you’ll also pay nearly double the cost. And it doesn’t have an f/1.4 lens. So, in a way, the Panasonic LX15 / LX10 is in a class of its own.
- 20-megapixel 1in CMOS sensor
- 24-72mm equivalent f/1.4-2.8 zoom
- 7 fps continuous shooting with autofocus
- 4K video at up to 30p
- 5-axis, digital and optical stabilization in 1080 video
- 4K Photo mode
- Post Focus mode
- Focus Stacking mode
- Built-in pop-up flash
- Tilting rear touchscreen
- Dimensions: 105 x 61 x 42mm
The Panasonic LX15 – also known as the Lumix LX10 in the United States – is the company’s latest addition to its line of premium compact cameras and offers a lot of specifications within its slim, pocketable body.
Replacing the Panasonic LX7 / LF1, the Lumix LX15 employs a large (1-inch type), 20-megapixel Sony sensor and one of the brightest lenses you’ll find on a premium compact camera in its Leica 24-72mm (equivalent) zoom, which boasts apertures of f/1.4-2.8.
It’s worth noting that the Panasonic LX100 will continue, and sits above the LX15 / LX10 in the Lumix lineup, differentiated by its excellent viewfinder.
Other key features to note are the introduction of 4K video at 24 and 30p, and Panasonic’s 4K Photo mode that lets photographers extract 8-megapixel still images from a 30fps movie clip.
The LX15 / LX10 also inherits Panasonic’s Post Focus technology, which again takes a short burst of 4K video and combines the still frames as layers in one image so that you can use the camera’s touchscreen and select different points of focus within the frame.
When you select a new point of focus you can then save each iteration as a new image. And you can even select all the points within the frame you want in focus and merge these frames together to create a final version with wider depth of field.
Likewise, Panasonic’s new Focus Stacking feature performs a similar function, combining frames in-camera based on points of focus at different distances to create a final ‘focus stacked’ image that is sharp from front to back.
The LX15 / LX10 also inherits Panasonic’s Time Lapse and Stop Motion Animation functions from previous Lumix cameras.
Shooting modes include Panasonic’s Intelligent Auto, Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, Manual, Creative Control, Scene, Panorama, Custom and Movie.
Only in Manual and Shutter Priority modes can you access access the full shutter speed range of 1/4000 to 60secs (and shutter speeds faster than 1/2000sec are only available if you’re using an aperture smaller than f/2.8).
It’s worth noting the LX15 / LX10 also has an HDR mode that takes three exposures at 1, 2 or 3EV intervals and combines them into a single image with natural-looking results.
And speaking of multiple exposures, the camera’s Auto Exposure Bracketing feature also allows you to bracket up to seven frames in intervals of 1EV. This can also be automated to occur in a burst triggered by the LX15’s self-timer.
Panasonic LX15 / LX10 review: Build & Handling
Straight out of the box, the Panasonic LX15 / LX10 feels solid and luxurious, despite weighing just 310g. The metal body feels sturdy and well-built, and boasts a minimalist class with its two simple mode dials on the top plate and one-touch movie recording button. On the left side is a built-in pop-up flash which you can release via a small lever on the side.
The lens offers a textured metal aperture ring that can be used in Aperture Priority or Manual modes, with finger grips that extend from either side making it easy to adjust in a hurry without looking. The ring lets you set the aperture from a very bright f/1.4 up to f/11 and provides a reassuring click as you make each step around.
What’s more, the Panasonic LX15 / LX10 offers another lens ring on top of the aperture ring, which can be customised to make quick adjustments to up to 16 functions, such as ISO.
And on either side of the lens is a pair of stereo microphones.
On the back of the camera is a standard four-way controller with buttons dedicated to white balance, drive modes, exposure compensation and focus distance modes, with a Menu/Set button in the centre.
Also scattered across the back of the camera are three function buttons (Fn1, Fn2 and Fn3) set to 4K Photo, Post Focus and Trash/Delete by default, but these can also be customised and set to access more than 40 other functions.
The Fn1 and Fn2 buttons can be given up to seven more functions in the camera’s playback mode, and swiping the right side of the touchscreen in record mode introduces five more customisable virtual function buttons.
Also on the back of the LX15 / LX10 is a 3in, 1040k-dot LCD touchscreen which is bright and makes it easy to compose images from all angles, particularly with its 180-degree tilting screen.
Underneath the camera body is a compartment for the battery and SD card. Conveniently, the LX15 comes with a USB charger that plugs into a side compartment on the camera, rather than a traditional battery charger. This means you can recharge the LX15 / LX10 more easily.
In use, the LX15 / LX10 design feels very natural and intuitive, both in hand and mounted on a tripod. Its buttons are easily reached by your thumb on the back of the camera and index finger on the top, and I found I could make many adjustments one-handed.
The aperture ring is a very nice touch, and I found it indispensable to my image-making with the camera.
One small niggle would be the placement of the flash, which rests under the index finger on your left hand when holding the camera with both hands. When the flash is down – which is most of the time – I found myself pressing down on the flash instinctively as I pressed the shutter button. And when the pop-up flash is extended, the camera becomes a little awkward to hold.
The Panasonic LX15 / LX10 employs an on/off switch, rather than a button, which I like. When switched on, the camera springs to life and the lens fully extends in just under two seconds.
This isn’t the fastest start-up time you’ll find on a camera, but it is perfectly fine for a camera in this class and I never felt like I was missing a shot.
Navigating the menu system is quite simple, and the wealth of custom function options makes adjusting your camera settings very quick and easy to do.
Staying within the menu system, I was impressed at how many different filters and picture styles Panasonic offers with the LX15 / LX10. The effects are natural and don’t look over the top, yet add a clear creative difference to a scene.
Creative filters include High Key, Low Key, Sepia, Expressive, Retro, Monochrome, Dynamic Monochrome, Rough Monochrome, Silky Monochrome, Impressive Art, High Dynamic Range, Old Days, Cross Process, Toy Effect, Toy Pop, Bleach Bypass, Soft Focus, Miniature Effect, One Point Color, Fantasy, Star Filter and Sunshine.
SEE MORE: Panasonic Focus Stacking mode
Panasonic LX15 / LX10 review: Performance
Image quality overall is good. Colours are well rendered and vibrant. I found most required no tweaking in Photoshop and were of a consistent quality that I was happy to share straight from the camera (which you can do via the LX15’s built-in WiFi connectivity).
The Panasonic LX15 / LX10 also handles areas of high contrast quite well, keeping chromatic aberrations to a minimum. Only when zoomed in to actual pixels on areas of quite stark contrast do you notice areas of purple fringing.
On the whole, the LX15 / LX10 also keeps noise at bay quite impressively. I found I could reliably shoot at sensitivities as high as ISO 1600 without visible noise. Even images at ISO 3200 were quite clear, though noise did start to appear at this level when viewed larger on-screen.
From ISO 3200 on up, noise begins affecting colours and softening fine details.
One of the highlights of this camera for me was Panasonic’s Post Focus feature, and it was interesting how I subconsciously started adopting it into my workflow. In the beginning of this test I used the feature simply to test how it works. But as I used the camera more, I found myself seeking out more scenes where Post Focus could shine.
The one-touch control on the back of the camera makes it easy to use in lots of situations. When pressed, the LX15 / LX10 shoots a brief (a couple seconds) video, adjusting its focus throughout the AF area within the scene. It then takes another three or so seconds for the camera to process the video into a single image, which you can then refocus at will and have lots of fun.
Here’s an example of the video it shoots…
And here are some examples of the types of different images you can create from this video…
When you’re playing around with one of these images in playback mode you’re also given the option to move the image into the LX15 / LX10’s Focus Stacking mode where you can create an image with maximum depth of field.
You have two options here. Range Merging lets you select your range of depth of field by choosing the foreground and background points of focus. This means you could create an image with a shallow sliver of focus in the centre of the frame if you wanted. Meanwhile, Auto Merging seeks out the widest depth of field possible by making a composite of the images at all AF points.
And speaking of AF points, the Panasonic LX15 / LX10’s autofocus system is one of the big highlights of this camera. The camera offers a wide range of AF options, from Single AF to face and eye detection, pinpoint, Custom Multi area (where you can create your own zone of focus) to the full 49-point area.
Even in pinpoint AF mode and low light the AF system locked on to my intended target with ease. The Panasonic LX15 / LX10 autofocus system is fast and accurate across a variety of subjects and conditions, especially tracking.
Using the 1-area AF mode, simply touch the point of focus on the touchscreen, and if your subject moves the LX15 / LX10 will follow it around the scene (and if Face Detection is enabled, your one area can be set to a subject’s eye).
Following my young children around the house with the camera, the LX15 picked them up as they raced around the room, and picked them back up again when they disappeared from the frame and re-emerged.
Everything can be done quite easily via the touchscreen – tapping your target, shifting the AF point. It’s all very simple and fast.
The touchscreen is very good. All menu options can be accessed via the touchscreen, and you can also navigate through playback mode. And as I mentioned above, focusing is a dream. Focusing on an off-centre subject has never been as easy as it is with a camera like the LX15 / LX10 where you can simply press the area of the screen you want to be sharp.
In use, the screen is bright and useful for composing images, and never once did I activate something I hadn’t intended to press.
As good as the touchscreen is, though, I found the lens to be the real star of this camera. The bright maximum aperture of f/1.4 at the wide-angle end opens up a whole new set of image opportunities, and with the LX15’s built-in image stabilisation switched on I could shoot handheld in surprisingly dark conditions.
As you zoom through the focal range, however, that maximum aperture gets smaller, reducing to f/2.8 by around 30mm.
Panasonic LX15 Sample Photos
Panasonic LX15 / LX10 review: Verdict
The Panasonic LX15 / LX10 is a really fun camera to use for a number of reasons: its touchscreen is superb, its autofocus system fast and confident, and it’s bright f/1.4 lens opens up opportunities to take photos you wouldn’t get with other cameras in its class. Its f/1.4 lens is the best out there.
However, this fast aperture is only available at the wider end of the focal range.
The camera’s slim body design makes it pocketable and portable, and for the few weeks I had it, the LX15 / LX10 became my go-to camera. It’s perfect for snaps and walks with the family, but I also found myself mounting it on a tripod and shooting product photography for a neighbour’s website.
It’s speed, simplicity and image quality make it a joy to use. But is it the best camera for your money?
It’s tough to compare this camera to its rivals. If you compare the LX15 / LX10 to the Sony RX100 series, Panasonic would seem to have the edge over Sony’s recent iteration, with its faster lens and touchscreen.
However, the recent Sony RX100 cameras offer a built-in EVF and ND filter, which the LX15 / LX10 lacks. And of course Sony just unveiled the RX100 Mark V in recent weeks, which doesn’t offer an f/1.4 lens but does offer 315 AF points and 24fps up to 150 frames.
But, then, the RX100 V is nearly double the price!
If you’re not bothered about the extra AF points and burst shooting, and don’t want to spend £999 on the RX100 V, then the Panasonic LX15 / LX10 is perhaps the next ‘best in class’ and will not let you down.