Panasonic Lumix LX7: Or how I learned to give up my Canon 7D and love the compact

Panasonic Lumix LX7: Or how I learned to give up my Canon 7D and love the compact

Take two weeks off work. Leave the deteriorating weather of London behind and catch the fireworks in Hong Kong for Mid-Autumn Festival, sample the Spring sunshine of Melbourne, Australia and swing by Tokyo on the way home to check how the centuries-old temples sit alongside the neon bustle of Japan’s capital. Sounds great – I’ll pack my camera and let’s go!

Therein lies the challenge. My name is Geoff and I am a photogeekaholic.I love technology. I love photography. I am fortunate enough to have the financial means to indulge this habit. My weapon of choice is a Canon 7D digital SLR and I have an array of lenses for almost every occasion, offering me focal lengths from 10mm for ultra-wide angle shots right up to 500mm for close-up sporting action and shooting my other passion, Formula One.

Unfortunately, all this gear comes at a price. I’m not talking about the cost of the camera itself, the lenses, filters, flashgun, bags or even the three-figure specialist insurance cost each year to protection my collection should the worst happen.

The hidden price I am referring to is weight.

When I travel, I like to cover my bases. I have a specialist photography backpack and I pack a variety of lenses. Catering to all possibilities I typically pack four lenses on a trip: an every-day walkaround lens, then something wide, something long and something fast. Then there are the filters, lens cleaning gear, a spare battery, charger, card reader… the list goes on. All in, my backpack weighs a hefty 5.5kg (12lb) and quite frankly I’m a little sick of lugging it all around with me.

SLR collection Top

What alternative did I have? For this trip, I decided to set myself a challenge with that very question: could I give up the thousands of pounds of digital SLR gear and replace it with a single compact camera and still take the photos I wanted?

DSLR Collection Angle

Clearly my aging Canon IXUS was not up to the task. For this I needed something special. Something lightweight that fits in my pocket yet retains the full creative control of a digital SLR and matching as many high-performance features as possible.

Enter the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7, the flagship of the company’s compact camera range. Costing around £400, the Lumix LX7 is not only two or three times the price most of us have paid for a typical point-and-shoot camera, it is also on the doorstep of entry-level digital SLRs like the Canon 600D and Nikon D3200 (both around £450).

Panasonic Lumix LX7 front

As it happens, the LX7 is far from your typical point-and-shoot camera. 10.1 Megapixels and 3.8x optical zoom might not excite anyone, and most cameras can shoot 1080p video these days. Big deal. Up to ISO 6400 / 12800 (extended mode) promises good low-light performance, and a 920k dot 3in TFT screen…I’m listening. Burst mode? How do you fancy 11 frames per second?

The real party piece is the 24-90mm Leica lens, capable of an incredible f/1.4 aperture, giving the LX7 the equal fastest glass of any compact camera on the market. To put that into perspective, many professional dSLR lenses are “only” f/2.8 and a typical compact camera like the popular Lumix DMC-TZ25 is f/3.3 to f/5.9. The prospect of two full stops brighter than a Canon L-series lens is certainly one to savour.

How do these two cameras compare in their physical specification?

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