Published on July 18, 2012 8:10 AM

Panasonic LX7: Aperture Upped

Since the arrival of the LX3, Panasonic expert compacts have been all about pushing lens aperture to the max. With the LX7, the firm takes things one step further, with aperture at f/1.4 in wide-angle and a very respectable f/2.3 in telephoto.

A year ending in an even number means an updated expert compact from Panasonic. From the outside, the new LX7 looks a lot like the previous model, the LX5. In fact, the main new feature looks to be a control ring (with markings from 1.4 to 8) around the lens.

Anyone used to using older cameras will have already understood that this ring adjusts lens aperture, which starts at f/1.4 in wide-angle—matching Samsung's record with the EX2F. But with f/2.3 in telephoto mode (90 mm), it actually beats Samsung's model, becoming the fastest compact camera lens around.

The sensor, on the other hand, is a 1/1.7" 12-Megapixel CMOS. Anyone hoping to see a competitor for the 1" sensor in the Sony RX100 will therefore have to wait a bit longer. That said, the difference in aperture could make a big difference, especially at long focal lengths (at f/4.9, aperture the RX100 captures four times less light). We look forward to getting our hands on an LX7 to find out how it compares.

Note that the LX7 takes pictures in a maximum resolution of 10 Megapixels. Like the previous model, it uses a" multi-aspect" sensor, so the maximum width of the sensor is only used in 16:9-format snaps to keep the same equivalent focal length as in 4:3 mode. This is a key difference with the Samsung model (EX2F), which uses a sensor with the same specs but takes photos in its native 12 Megapixels.

So what about size? Well, Sony did a great job with the super-small RX100 (59 x 103 x 37 mm) , so how can a camera announced at 67 x 111 x 47 mm compete when it's almost a centimetre bigger in each direction? To its advantage, the Panasonic has a hot-shoe for a flash or an external viewfinder, but that may not prove all that appealing to users buying a compact.

The LX7 is likely to sell for a similar price to the Samsung EX2F—approximately £430—which has a similar set of tech specs but with added Wi-Fi and a swivel screen. It looks like it'll be a tough contest.

> Digital Camera Reviews: Choose the Best Compact Camera
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