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Panasonic Lumix LF1: First Look

Panasonic Lumix LF1: First Look

Alright, here we go, another premium compact camera adding to the multitude already available in the current camera market, and today I have for you the newest Lumix compact by the guys at Panasonic: The Panasonic Lumix LF1

An upgrade to the LX7? Not quite. Think of it like the Fujifilm XF1 was to the X10. And no, it’s not just the “F1” bit in the model number that makes me say that. Just looking at the entire spec, the design, and everything else, the LF1 appears to me (at first glance) to be a sort of scaled-down version of the LX7 instead of an upgrade, just like the Fuji XF1 felt like when compared to the X10. Sure, it has some new features, and is equal to the LX7 in many ways, but I can’t quite say it’s a complete upgrade as such. Not yet, at least. Exactly like I felt when seeing the XF1 from Fuji…although back then I was very excited by the innovative design of that camera…but while I’m not THAT excited about the LF1’s design, it’s definitely an interesting new compact. Anyway, these are all simply my thoughts only a few minutes after reading the news, so let’s have a look at it in more detail and get to know the LF1 a bit better, shall we?

Image from Panasonic

Image from Panasonic

Alright, so it’s got a couple of improvements over the last Lumix compact. The most noticeable one is its size. It really is compact! It makes the RX100 look fat. Sort of. It really is slim, and very small indeed. Check out camerasize.com for a real comparison to see how it looks against the RX100 and the LX7

Next up is the lens, one that is not quite as fast as the LX7 at the wide end, but one that has a fantastic, almost super-zoom range of 28-200mm. At f2.0-5.9, it’s pretty fast too

Looking around at the back, you would notice that it seems to retain (at least in number) a similar set of controls to the LX7, which is impressive considering it’s a much smaller camera. Also on the back is another very cool little addition, an electronic viewfinder; although, being extremely small, it probably looks and sounds better than it’ll work in real life, but it’s a great addition nonetheless

The LF1 also retains the control ring around the lens, although at this moment I’m a bit unsure of what it actually controls. I’m hoping it works as a dedicated aperture ring, something I loved about the LX7, but I’m still looking into that

The lack of a hot-shoe is the only thing that you notice when comparing it to the LX7, but when things are this compact, I can definitely live with that. The built-in ND filter seems to be missing too, but I’m not sure about this yet. What I would really loved to have seen here is a larger sensor – a nice 2/3” one, for example – but no luck from Panasonic in this regard yet, I’m afraid. They’ve used the identical 1/1.7” sensor found on the LX7, but with 12 mega pixels instead of the LX7’s 10. Disappointing

Lastly, it’s got in-built Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity, which could be very useful indeed. I’m not sure about NFC and how often I’d use that, but the potential of wirelessly tethering a camera to an iPad or Android tablet and shooting like that is very exciting indeed

Alright, so it’s a pretty decent improvement to the LX7 in some areas. Nothing hugely significant, nothing to make current LX7 owners rush out to upgrade, but yeah, it’s good. However, I feel it’s not so much a real upgrade to the LX7 as it is a smaller and lighter LX7 with a longer zoom range, and is aimed to go side-by-side with the LX7, for different photographers with different needs. With a price of $499, identical to what the LX7 started at, I guess it’s fair. Although with a faster, more useable lens, nicer handling, and an identical sensor, I might be tempted to save 50 bucks and go with the LX7 – but that’s just me

Pre-order your Panasonic Lumix LF1 from B&H Photo!

B&H Photo has it for pre-order already, so click the above link if you want to get yourself one. I’ll try to update you once Amazon is selling it too. Please use these links, they really help this site keep going!

Specifications You Would Want To Know

  • Body: Compact (material unknown to me as yet)
  • Resolution: 12.1 mega pixels
  • Sensor Size: 1/1.7”
  • Sensor Type: High Sensitivity MOS
  • Lens: Leica 6.0-42.8 f2.0-5.9 (28-200mm equivalent)
  • Image Stabilization: Yes, Power O.I.S.
  • Shutter Speed: Max 1/4000 sec, Min 30 sec (60 sec in Starry Sky Mode)
  • ISO Range: 80-12800 (expanded)
  • Video: 1080p @ 60fps
  • Video Format: AVCHD, MP4
  • Metering Modes: Intelligent Multiple, Center Weighted, Spot
  • Exposure Modes: P, A, S, M, Auto, Panorama, Scene, Creative, Custom (2)
  • Built-in Flash: Yes
  • Flash Modes: Auto, Red-eye, Forced, Slow Sync, Off
  • Hot-shoe: No
  • Autofocus: Contrast Detect
  • AF Modes: Single area, Tracking, Face Detect, Continuous, Macro
  • AF Points: 23
  • Manual Focus: Yes
  • Macro Range: Unknown
  • Screen: 3.0 LCD (920k dots)
  • Articulation: None
  • Touchscreen: No
  • Viewfinder: Yes, electronic (0.20” color EVF)
  • Max Drive Speed: 10fps at full resolution (up to 60fps at lower resolution)
  • File Formats: JPEG, RAW
  • Connections: USB 2.0, microHDMI
  • Other Connectivity: Wi-Fi, NFC
  • Memory Card Type: SD/SDHC/SDXC
  • Dimensions: 102 x 62 x 28mm
  • Weight: 192g (with battery and SD card)

Panasonic Lumix LF1: First Thoughts

Well, like I said, my very first thoughts on the LF1 were that it looked like a sort of stripped down LX7. However, in reality it’s more like a smaller, lighter LX7 with a few little benefits, minus the hot-shoe. That’s pretty cool, really. Especially when you see the thing in hand and realize it is significantly smaller (and slimmer!) than the LX7

But if you’re looking at the top of the Panasonic crop of compacts and trying to decide between the LF1 and the LX7, ask yourself if these benefits are for you. Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity? Zooming from 28mm to 200mm? The EVF? If they are, you could seriously consider the LF1 over the LX7. But if you, like me, realize that you wouldn’t have much use for most of these features, and you find the LX7 compact enough, save yourself 50 bucks and go for the LX7

Anyhow, I need to make it clear now that the LF1 is much more than a scaled-down LX7. It’s actually a very capable and rather impressive little camera, and looks very nice too. Similar to the RX100 by Sony, in terms of design, don’t you think? Yeah, very much so – although it’s even smaller and slimmer than the RX. The LX7 had a whole other design thing going, like the X10/X20 etc., and I really liked that, but when you’re going this compact, the RX100 is a great camera to get inspiration from!

Shame that they didn’t try to copy what was inside the RX100 though. Yeah, I’m talking about the sensor again. But unfortunately, instead of taking anything from the inside of the Sony, Panasonic took more than a few things from the outside, including the control ring, which I almost hated on the RX100. Yes, after a bit of research, I can confirm that the Lumix LX1’s control ring can be assigned to control exposure compensation, zoom, shutter speed, aperture, and so on, much like the one on the RX100. I’m not liking the sound of that. A dedicated aperture ring would’ve been much better, like the one on the LX7, but at least let’s hope it’s better implemented than the RX100’s control ring

But seriously, talking about the insides – it really is time Panasonic caught up with the rest of the compact camera world in terms of sensor size. The marketing on their website is starting to sound a bit of a joke. “A sensor larger in size than standard compacts”? Not any more, I’m afraid. Unless compared with smartphones and the cheapest of the cheap point-and-shoots, a 1/1.7” sensor is quite a bit smaller than what is expected on a compact camera these days, especially in this price category. Just imagine the potential of a 2/3” (or 1”!) sensor together with this awesome Leica lens! Oh well

Anyway, I guess I’m fairly pleased with this product overall. I assume they didn’t want to go with the larger sensor and then have nothing special to unveil with the next LX (LX9?) whenever that comes out. But the fact that they effectively managed to compress the goodies of the LX7 into this smaller body is very nice indeed. The fact that they added a few more goodies is even nicer. Again, it reminds me of Fuji’s XF1 vs. the X10 – but unfortunately, that’s not entirely a good thing, as I didn’t like the XF1 at all, really. But yeah, I’ll wait until I can actually get some hands-on time with a Lumix LF1 before I comment more on this!

Panasonic Lumix LF1: Controls

I think LX7 users will miss the good grip and handling if they switch to the LF1, but the controls look pretty similar, even if the layout is a bit different, so Panasonic users should probably feel pretty comfortable with the Lumix LF1. As the body of the LF1 is smaller, the buttons themselves are smaller too, but I’m glad to see that Panasonic didn’t try to cut down on the dedicated controls but instead made them smaller, because (unless they’re unusably small) I’d much rather have many small dedicated buttons than few large ones. But more on that once I test this camera myself

The top is pretty clean. There’s the mode dial, the shutter button with the zoom switch around it, and the power button. That’s all

Image from Panasonic

Lumix LF1: Top Panel. Image from Panasonic

On the back are the rest of the controls: Delete, Display, Playback, Fn, and a dedicated movie button, along with a four-way controller that doubles as a control wheel. The four-way buttons control Exposure Compensation, Flash, Macro/MF, and Drive/Self Timer. I’m not sure if the Fn button controls a single function or multiple, but either way, it’s a pretty decent set of controls. Oh, there’s also a Wi-Fi button, an LVF button (to turn the LCD on and off, I assume?) as well as the EVF itself, with a diopter adjustment wheel next to it

Lumix LF1: Back Panel. Image from Panasonic

Lumix LF1: Back Panel. Image from Panasonic

The front has the control ring around the lens, the flash, and the AF illuminator lamp

Lumix LF1: Front. Image from Panasonic

Lumix LF1: Front. Image from Panasonic

Yeah, it’s a pretty nice control set. The controls on the back, along with the control ring (if it’s been designed better than the Sony!) should make for a pleasant shooting experience, with access to many different controls without much hassle

Panasonic Lumix LF1: Performance

Going by the overall performance of the LX7, I’m not expecting anything short of snappy on the LF1. Newer cameras come with newer processors and all these techy bits that make cameras operate like they do, and as everything generally gets faster as they get newer, that’s what I expect here. Startup speed seems fast (looking at some videos on YouTube), and with its built-in lens cap, the time between powering on and taking the first shot should be very fast indeed

Rated at 10fps, continuous shooting looks to be excellent as well. I can’t comment yet on shot-to-shot speed and this sort of thing, but I’ll get back to you on this once I have more information – or maybe in a full review in a couple of weeks!

On paper, the Lumix LF1 seems to be an excellent performer. But yeah, check out a few more other previews or wait for more right here on pixelogist – I’ll update you as soon as I can!

Panasonic Lumix LF1: Conclusion

And yeah, that’s a quick look at the Panasonic Lumix LF1. A smaller, slimmer, lighter version of the Lumix LX7, if you ask me, along with a few nice new additions, which include a small (but useable?) electronic viewfinder, a long 28-200mm Leica lens, Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity, and a re-invented control wheel, although the last one isn’t really much of an improvement for me. My only complaint is that Panasonic have stuck with the same 1/1.7” sensor size, which in today’s high-end compact market is tiny, and that’s a BIG complaint. I’m very disappointed with that

Apart from the sensor, though, I have few complaints. It just seems a nice camera, with a solid control layout, and a cool set of features that’d appeal to the point-n-shoot user as well as to the more advanced photographer. The biggest selling point, for me at least, is the size, and the fact that they’ve shrunk most of what was in the LX7 into a body that’s 8% shorter in both length and width, a significant 63% slimmer, and a whopping 55% lighter (stats from camerasize.com) is fantastic

 Pre-order your Panasonic Lumix LF1 from B&H Photo!

Alright, that’s it for this post. I hope you get a better idea of what the Lumix LF1 is all about now. I do too! Thanks for reading. If you’ve got any thing to say or any questions to ask, please leave a comment and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. Once again, if you’d like to get this camera for yourself, you can pre-order from B&H Photo already – and please use my links above! Until next time

By Heshan Jayakody
All content in this post is my own. Images from Panasonic
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