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Panasonic LX7 dying - what next?

Discussion in 'Open Gear Talk' started by Archiver, Apr 18, 2018.

  1. Archiver

    Archiver Top Veteran

    738
    Jul 11, 2010
    Melbourne, Australia
    The Panasonic LX7 has been my go-to compact camera since the end of 2013, and has blazed through tens of thousands of images over the last three and a half years. It replaced my beloved Ricoh GRD III as my everyday camera due to the much faster operation, wide lens, fast aperture, decent video quality and zoom.

    Regrettably, the lens motor has begun to crap out, half extending and then retracting partially when I turn on the camera. Ugh, it's so disappointing. I've got a few options:

    1. Fix the LX7 - if this isn't possible for a reasonable price, I might have to
    2. Buy another LX7 - and if I can't find a new one in box, I might have to
    3. Buy something else - but nothing on the market has the unique combination of near-21mm wide angle with f1.4 aperture.

    Best alternative cameras are:

    Panasonic LX10 - 24mm equivalent, f1.4, 20mp images, presumably better dynamic range, 4K video, and it uses the same batteries as my GM1. Probably my best bet if I want the nearest thing to an upgraded LX7.

    Canon G7X Mark II - just as wide, not quite as fast aperture, with a longer lens but not the good 4k video. About AUD $50-100 less than the LX10 depending on where you buy, too.

    Sony RX100 III - pop up EVF would be nice, and only $10 more than the LX10, depending on place of purchase. I've never owned a Sony camera, though, and I'm wary of the slippery soap-bar like exterior. Just from the images I've seen, I think I like Panasonic colour better, even in raw conversions, but I'd need to check some Sony files to see.

    Use my Panasonic GM1 with the 14mm pancake lens - I've done this before, but it's not as fast, not as wide, and the overall thickness is a lot more than a collapsed LX10/G7X II. On the other hand, it costs nothing because I already own this combo!

    Return to my Ricoh GRD III - as much as I loved this camera for years, it just doesn't start or shoot fast enough compared with the LX7. Video mode is utterly crapulent, too.

    Return to my Ricoh GR - the shutter is stuck when it turns on, which is an increasingly common problem. Yeah, this needs to be fixed, too. Gorgeous images, though, and one of my favourite cameras aside from the LX7.

    Any thoughts, folks?
     
  2. drd1135

    drd1135 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Jul 13, 2011
    Lexington, Virginia
    Steve
    If you really liked the lx7, then the LX10 is probably your best bet.
     
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  3. Chris2500dk

    Chris2500dk Top Veteran

    702
    Dec 22, 2011
    Copenhagen, Denmark
    I just ordered a LX10/LX15 for myself. I have a GR, but I want the slightly wider angle option with stabilization and 4K video.
    I kinda like the idea of the touchscreen but I don't know how useful it'll end up being until I try it.

    From what I could find the G7Xii lens is not as good, and it lacks 4K video, and the RX100IV and V are quite a bit more expensive and trades a touchscreen I might like for a tiny EVF I definetely didn't like on a camera as small as that (didn't use it at all on the GM5 I had).
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2018
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  4. Archiver

    Archiver Top Veteran

    738
    Jul 11, 2010
    Melbourne, Australia
    The idea of matching batteries appeals to my hypocritical minimalism (how can you be minimalist with multiple cameras, lol), so having a GM1 and a LX10 with the same batteries tickles my fancy. Betterbatt has some decent quality aftermarket batteries for the GM1, so I will likely stock up on a few more if/when the LX10 comes. Then I can go out with the GM1 and the Oly 25/1.8 and 45/1.8, and the LX10 to handle wide angle, and everything will use the same batteries!

    I'm still disappointed about the LX7, though. Such a good camera for art galleries, night time street shooting, anything requiring low light mobility and discretion. I hope the LX10 is at least as good.
     
  5. Chris2500dk

    Chris2500dk Top Veteran

    702
    Dec 22, 2011
    Copenhagen, Denmark
    I completely agree on the batteries part. My Ricoh GR, Sigma DP2M, Sigma DP3M kit also shares battery, it's very convinient.
     
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  6. Chris2500dk

    Chris2500dk Top Veteran

    702
    Dec 22, 2011
    Copenhagen, Denmark
    I got my LX15. I have to say I'm not impressed by the image quality, but it's about the same as my RX100m2 so it's as expected. I'm spoiled from using my Sigma DP cameras and the Ricoh GR I suppose :) 

    It'll work fine for my intended purpose, I bought it for the 4k photo stuff, it's much easier to carry around than the FZ1000 I sold to help fund it.
    But it's not going to be part of my "regular kit".
     
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  7. Archiver

    Archiver Top Veteran

    738
    Jul 11, 2010
    Melbourne, Australia
    Hm, that's interesting. I find the LX7 quite acceptable for general photography, with the Ricoh GR being on the upper level of good. GRD III image quality and physical performance is borderline wont-cut-it since I've experienced the LX7. If the LX10 is at least as good as the LX7, and presumably better due to resolution, sensor size and dynamic range, I think I'll be fine with it as an everyday camera. I downloaded some raw files from a review site and was quite pleased with what I could do with them, so I think I've got a reasonable expectation of its quality.

    An alternative is to pick up the somewhat larger GX85 on a clearance sale. GM1 image quality is perfectly acceptable to me, so the GX85 should be fine, albeit in a nonpocketable package. The GX85 has long been on the list, but the price has never been this good. It doesn't solve my desire for a wide angle, wide aperture pocket camera, though.
     
  8. I've always been interested in this part of the market. Lately I've been OK with 28mm equivalent and a narrower aperture though. Here are a few thoughts.

    I think upgrading to a 1" sensor gives you more choices in current camera models.

    There's always the LX100, with an even larger sensor, but size and weight is not a big improvement on your GM1. The ƒ1.7 aperture would be a plus for you.

    LX7 contemporaries from other brands may be worth looking into:

    Nikon P330/340 - I own this but don't use it often. It's a nice little camera, but I prefer the IQ of my GM5. When I want something smaller I use my iPhone. I think iPhones are why nobody makes cameras like the LX7 anymore.

    Fuji XQ1/XQ2 - I had an X30, which uses the same sensor as this. Nice colors, great lens, but I had mixed feelings and experiences shooting RAW and processing in Lightroom. I was glad to get back to Panasonic with the GM5.

    Edit - Would putting the money for a new camera into a phone upgrade make sense? Some of the new dual lens models that shoot DNG are pretty good.
     
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  9. Drdul

    Drdul New Member

    1
    Mar 23, 2018
    Vancouver, BC
    Richard
    Interesting discussion. I own a Canon G7X (original version, but basically the same lens and sensor as the Mark II version). Image quality doesn’t match M43 or larger-sensor cameras, which is to expected. I don’t use the G7X much, and if it stopped working tomorrow I wouldn’t replace it. I would rather carry one of my M43 cameras, or if pocketability was the overriding concern, just use my iPhone (shooting DNG).

    Brand new I don’t think any 1” sensor camera is worth the price. Look around for a used G7X (original version) or one of the older RX100 models to replace your LX7. If you can find one in good shape at a good price, you might consider that a worthwhile purchase.
     
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  10. At first I was going to say - get a GM1! - until I finished reading your post and realized you already had one. Hmmmm. Actually I rather share your feelings. I shot with an LX7 for years and its combination of fast lens, quality and astounding macro was so special that part of me is scratching my head as to why on earth I ever bothered to sell it and buy another camera? But...I did. However the LX7 is a pretty remarkable beast. I too have wondered for years about either a) replacing it, or simply b) buying another - which brings me to the next alternative: why not buy another? They show up regularly on eBay and often are lightly used (apparently) for semi-reasonable prices, so that's one way to go.

    Another is a GM1 - which deserves paragraphs and volumes as to how great it is - but it doesn't quite have the all-in-one capabilities of the LX7.

    I am currently in the process of trying out another small relatively small-sensor compact in the hopes that it might be the elusive LX7-replacement that I (too) daydreamed of for years, and you may laugh when I reveal what it is...an Olympus 'Tough' TG-5. The latest Olympus iteration of a new subgenre of camera, it's waterproof, has a relatively fast lens (f/2 - not quite the f/1.4 of the LX7 but close), but best of all, it seems to have fairly killer macro capabilities. The jury is actually still out on whether or not it's a) a keeper and b) a semi-worthy LX7-replacement --- but I have to say it's a rather cool (and compact) little camera.

    And, no, small-sensor cameras don't have some of the IQ larger-sensor ones do - but they have a lot of other qualities as well. Here's a recent shot from my TG-5 which shows some of the reasons I'm starting to like it -

    Banana_in_Winter.

    Good luck on the LX7 replacement Odyssey - and please keep us informed of what you discover - and decide!
     
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  11. serhan

    serhan All-Pro

    May 7, 2011
    NYC
    I use 1" compacts and I am happy with its performance knowing its limits, eg only 2/3rd stop slower then m43 sensor that is similar to m43 to apsc difference.. I am sure it will be a good upgrade from LX7. All 1" cameras has stabilization & zoom, which gives more flexibility compared to GR and size advantage compared to m43+lenses. There are bunch of used ones that you can get to save money. RX100 zoom is better on the wide side compared to Canon gx7. Gx7 has a longer zoom and mark 2 has a better af. Both Canon and Sony have nd filters that Panasonic is missing. I don't usually EVF with my eyeglasses on RX100.

    Some RX100 shots:
    Spring in NYC

    RX10 III shots
    DPReview on the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10

    ZS100 / Canon G3x shots
    Show Birds
     
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  12. Archiver

    Archiver Top Veteran

    738
    Jul 11, 2010
    Melbourne, Australia
    Earlier this year, I got a Samsung Note 8, and the daylight images are disturbingly good. Better than the GRD III ever was. But the low light images are quite fuzzy, even when working with the DNG. So there's that.

    I'd never thought of the Nikon P330/340 or Fuji XQ1/2 until you mentioned them, thanks! I'll look into them.

    Edit: The Nikon P340 page at Ted's Cameras lists it as discontinued. The caption reads, 'Oh no, this product has been discontinued! Don't worry, we can recommend this alternative'. And it shows the Nikon DL 24-85. Yeah, the camera that Nikon never made. Oh well.

    Nikon Coolpix P340
     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2018
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  13. Chris2500dk

    Chris2500dk Top Veteran

    702
    Dec 22, 2011
    Copenhagen, Denmark
    I actually ended up returning the LX15 for a Sony A6300. I have the Ricoh GR for pocketability and the A6300 is naturally a different league than the LX.
     
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  14. I like the phrase “disturbingly good.” :)  I experienced disorientation this winter, working on DNG files from my iPhone. After more than a decade of struggling with cell phone photos, it didn’t seem right for my phone photos to be this good. “Just what is going on here? How can this be?” :) 

    I wonder how many years you will have to wait until phone cameras to catch up to your LX10 in low light ability. Two years? Three?

    Yes, all of my alternate camera suggestions are out of production. As I look into it, all are quite expensive on eBay. It seemed like prices on these cameras were a lot lower last year when I was shopping for the P330.
     
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  15. Archiver

    Archiver Top Veteran

    738
    Jul 11, 2010
    Melbourne, Australia
    That was quick! Of course, the Sony A6300 will be in a totally different league of image quality, but that also shows where you are in terms of what you deem acceptable.

    I'm still disturbed that my cellphone takes better quality daylight images than quite a few of my earlier cameras including the Canon S45, S70, Casio Z750, probably even the legendary Fuji F30. Even without raw, the HDR function helps a lot. Ergonomics are crappy, though. If Panasonic makes a CM2 with all the processing power of a new smartphone plus a 1" sensor, I'm totally there.

    Very close to pulling the trigger on a new LX10, although I'm enjoying the Ricoh GR again. I just want something pocketable with a wider lens, faster aperture, and decent in low light.
     
  16. theoldsmithy

    theoldsmithy All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jan 7, 2013
    Cheshire, England
    Martin Connolly
    While we are talking about phones, I am in the market for a new one and I’m very tempted by the new Huawei P20 pro...the largest of its 3 sensors is a 1/1.7”. With a reasonable 5x zoom (digital but seemingly very reasonably done) too. First reviews are glowing. That might well replace my G5X, good though that is. But I don’t think these are now available in the US, sadly.
     
  17. Archiver

    Archiver Top Veteran

    738
    Jul 11, 2010
    Melbourne, Australia
    Okay, so for the weeks that I've been debating this issue, I've been alternating between the 2009 Ricoh GRD III and the GR.

    Image quality aside, I'd forgotten just how good the GRD III feels. It's a matte black stealth module that disappears in the palm of your hand. Wear a black jacket and observers can barely see it. The GR is pretty much in the same league. But they don't have the same kind of wide angle, fast aperture, or zoom, and I actually prefer Panasonic raw file response to postprocessing.

    So I bit the bullet and ordered a LX10. I'm not expecting GR image quality, just something as good and better than the LX7 that it replaces. I'll get the LX7 fixed if I can, though, because it's a unique combination of features and quietness that is unmatched in today's cameras. Just after the LX10 shipped, I read a couple of things I didn't know: one is that even the 1080p video is cropped, so instead of the full 24mm, it's more like 27-30mm. And startup time is kind of slow. That might tick me off. But we shall see if the overall package is enough to make me happy.
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2018
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  18. Archiver

    Archiver Top Veteran

    738
    Jul 11, 2010
    Melbourne, Australia
    The Panasonic LX10 arrived this morning and I've had a chance to play with it. So far, I don't regret my purchase, haha. Having a number of Panasonic cameras including the GM1, GH3, GH4 and LX7, I've come to expect certain features and ways of working with Panasonics, and the LX10 is fine.

    Setup is the way I like it: single centre point AF with the smallest AF area, all beeps turned off, thumb dial set to Exposure Compensation.

    Startup is nowhere near as slow as some have said. It's about two seconds, which is fine by me. It's set on electronic shutter which is completely silent, also fine by me. Nor is it as slippery as some have reported, although I'll probably buy it a Gariz half case for protection and grip, like I did for the LX7. It is, however, heavier than the Ricoh GR, and the lens protrudes quite a lot which might make it a bit more conspicuous. I can easily palm an open GRD III or GR because the lens barrel is much shorter and smaller. We'll see how that goes.

    I wish Panasonic would make their cameras with the same kind of matte textured body and rubber grip as Ricoh. There's nothing like a GR or GXR in terms of physical handling experience.

    The raw files (which I convert to DNG using Adobe DNG Converter) seem to respond fairly well in Lightroom 4.4 I'm comparing the LX10 with the LX7 and GM1, and so far it seems reasonable. As expected, the 1" sensor seems to perform somewhere between the LX7 and GM1. I'm okay with that as I wanted a LX7 replacement, and something to complement the GM1 with the small Olympus primes. The LX10 and GM1 use the same batteries, and I have a few spares, so this should work. Or I might pair it with the Ricoh GR, giving me a combination of that great image quality and versatility for video. The GM1 misses on stabilized video, and I plan to use the LX10 almost as much for video as stills.

    I'm not a fan of the AVCHD codec because it creates a bunch of different folders, and the video file names reset to 0 when you format the card, so I shoot in MP4 which is good enough for general purposes. With a 64GB card, the LX10 can record just over 6 hours of video at in 1080 25p mp4. While this camera does 4K, it's with a crop that makes the widest setting 36mm, so I use 1080 25p, which gives unlimited time instead of the 15 minutes of 4K or 29 minutes of 1080 50p. You never know when you might want to shoot something continuously. The Sandisk Extreme 64GB card seems to work fine with 4K video, too.

    It should prove itself well as a travel camera and general EDC. I can already imagine using the LX10 as a complementary snapshot and video camera beside the Leica M9 when traveling. Having been on a number of trips over the years with a lot of different gear, my preference is to use the smallest gear possible that has good image and video quality. I look back at when I traveled through China eleven years ago with a Canon G7, with its tiny sensor, 35-210mm lens and almost acceptable 640x480 video, and think how far things have come.
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2018
  19. Archiver

    Archiver Top Veteran

    738
    Jul 11, 2010
    Melbourne, Australia
    More thoughts on the LX10 after a week of use.

    The video quality is great, much better than I expected for a small camera. It's not GH4 quality, but it's a darn sight better than the LX7, and better than the original Olympus E-M5 in terms of sharpness, lack of moire, detail, tonal variation and lack of compression artifacts. 4k is great, and even the 1080p options look good. What's even better is that while 1080 50p and 60p have a 29 minute time limit, the 1080 30, 25 and 24p modes are unlimited. You can just let the camera run until you run out of battery of memory, which is great for recording long concerts, lectures, etc.

    Image quality is here and there. I've got mixed feelings about it. The centre of the lens is sharp and images are highly detailed in that area, but outside of the centre 'third' of that image, the sharpness rapidly deteriorates. Even at f4, details are blurred and 'doubled', giving the impression of a very slight double image in the outer thirds of the image. It's really disappointing because the LX7 was no way near this bad. At first I thought I had a bad sample, but a few online reviews suggest that this is a function of both the lens and software correction. The raw files have pronounced barrel distortion when processed with a non-supported editor like Raw Therapee. Lightroom corrections make the blur even more evident. It's an issue I noticed with the LX100, which pushed me away from buying that camera, and I wish I'd shot test images with the LX10 before buying it. As it stands, I'm figuring out whether this is something I can live with.

    I took it on a day trip for work, to a boxing match, and a funeral. Overall, the shooting experience was great. Silent electronic shutter and the flip screen, plus the very small size, meant that I could get pictures at the funeral in a respectful and discreet manner. The footage at the boxing match looked great, and general snapshots on the day trip looked good, too. The issues with image quality only turn up if you look at the image at 100%, like if you want to read a street sign in the outer thirds of the image.

    I think it's fine as a general snapshot camera, but nothing you'd use for mission critical photography unless it was the only thing you had. I'm unaware of the RX100 III has similar lens issues, and I'm reluctant to go through the hassle of returning the camera for another sample, or get something else. The GM1 with 12-32mm compact zoom takes better images, although it lacks the speed and overall compactness of the LX10. This is the first time I've been disappointed with the image quality of a camera, especially one in this price and quality tier.
     
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