The Panasonic LX10 is Panasonic’s answer to the 1-inch sensor sized Sony RX100 V and Canon G7 X II. Image quality is excellent and is comparable to these other 1-inch sensor cameras. Where the Panasonic stands out is the control set, white balance, and 4K video.
Advanced SLR Like Control SetThe control set of the Panasonic LX10 stands out among its rivals as being more customizable and can be set up in such a manner as to be closer to the shooting style of a mirrorless or SLR camera. The biggest advantage is being able to set up autofocus on the back of the camera (function button 1 is my favorite for this) and separate autofocus from the shutter. This combined with focus peaking makes it very easy to achieve focus and then see that you’ve still got everything in focus while firing away. No need to hold half press anymore while waiting for the action. Focus once and shoot. ISO changes are quick to make by assigning ISO to function button 2 on the back of the camera.
An area of minor disappointment is the lack of manual flash control. We prefer setting the flash output to manual at minimum power to get a faster recycle time between shots. That being said, the flash recycle in TTL mode is relatively fast compared to other similar cameras.
The stock lens of the Panasonic LX10 is perfect for fish portraits.
Easy to Add on Wide Angle and Macro LensesThe zoom range of the 24-72mm equivalent lens is in the perfect range for underwater use. Natively it is great for fish portrait to semi wide-angle, but like all other 1-inch sensor cameras we have seen, it lacks good macro capabilities natively. It’s necessary to add on an accessory macro lens for macro capability. There is no need to use a removable shorter port for wide angle like on the Canon G7 X II or Panasonic LX100. The use of a wide angle lens will require the camera lens to be zoomed to about 32mm to avoid vignetting.
4K Video and Accurate Custom White BalanceWhat really makes this a great all around camera is the 4K video and ability to execute an accurate custom white balance at depth. Neither the Sony RX100 V or Canon G7 X II can do both of these tasks. Executing a manual white balance is a simple 3 button push task and can be assigned one of 4 custom white balance banks making it easy to save different settings for with video lights or at depth. This makes the Panasonic LX10 the only real choice for serious compact camera video shooters.
The video image quality of the Panasonic LX10 is so good as to make it a great choice for someone who wants use it as a full-featured primary video camera. Features like focus peaking and zebra stripping are identical in execution to what is found in the pro-level Panasonic GH5 camera. Full manual control is available along with displaying the exposure meter to keep a good tab on your exposure. From a menu layout, control, and usability standpoint, there is no practical noticeable difference between shooting the Panasonic LX10 and Panasonic GH5 for video.
When shooting 4K video it is being cropped from a smaller area of the sensor. This will narrow the field of view to that of a 36mm equivalent. While many would consider this a detriment, it is actually a benefit. Wide angle accessory lenses need to be zoomed to about 32mm anyway to avoid vignetting, so 36mm is just at about full wide anyway with a wide angle accessory lens. For macro, you’ll get a tighter crop at the long side of the lens giving more working distance and more reproduction while still maintaining 4K resolution.
The Panasonic LX10 fires relatively quickly allowing me to capture the fish in the shot as they swim by.
ConclusionThe Panasonic LX10 excels in every area for a camera. Excellent image quality, 4K video, accurate white balance, and a control set that reminds us more of an SLR than a compact camera makes this the best advanced compact camera of the year. If you are a stills shooter, a video shooter, or do both, this is our top pick.
- Excellent image quality, for both stills and video
- 4K video with stabilization
- Features like zebra stripping, focus peaking, and back button AF remind us more of features from SLR, not a compact
- Accurate custom white balance even at depth
- No manual flash control
- Macro shooting requires powerful external macro lenses to overcome the lackluster native macro performance.