With today’s launch of the mark II LX 100 from Panasonic, it seems a lot of people are disappointed and not going to be replacing their LX100 original anytime soon, But they are kind of missing the point completely.
I like it. A mark II rather than a new distinct product, l.ike the imaginatively divised LX200 could have been. I don’t recall Panasonic having done this before, but it has long been used by Sony in their benchmark RX100, which is around the same ballpark as the LX100 i.e. an enthusiast’s compact. They are following Sony’s communication and product lifecycle management pretty much to the ‘t’, in sticking to the ‘form factor’ . Like Sony’s iterations of the RX, most of the hardware and human interface are still there, same old same old, so panasonic are evolving the camera rather than revolutionising it.
Within panasonic there is though going to have to be internal conflict because the product managers were allowed to reveal that the LX100 uses an mFT chip, all be that cropped in on a smaller light circle from the obviously more compact lens. They must surely be worried about cannibalisaiton of their mFT compacts and furthermore, lenses because as fast a zoom lens as this from their range costs twice as much as the outgoing price tag on the ‘100.
In effect this is an update, a minor upgrade, a getting up to where mFT cameras are these days with a higher resolution mFT sensor which is reported to demonstrate lower noise characteristics. A touch screen is added, and the rest it seems are very minor new features.
Amongst these new features which will work emmenently well with a touch screen, are two new focus modes. One is focus stacking, very useful in macro photography and hopefully also when you are doing things like HDR montage using a wide open lens to build up a landscape or street shot with a marked depth of field from very near the camera to infinity. Within the set up for then what is focus bracketing, which I presume builds a single image vis a vis stacking, availability in RAW outputther is probably absent. In addition to stacking, they have perhaps thrown in ‘post focus’ based on the same software as stacking. ‘Post Focus’ I am presuming is essentially an autobracketing of various focal points as single images, and you then touch select which area of the photo you want in focus most, and that image is chosen on screen and the others duly deleted. A bit like poor man’s light field camera. This is actually a really useful feature for things like foliage in the way, and candid shots of people when there is movement and varied light. As I say though, this probably isnt very fancy pants, because it will be no doubt restricted to jpeg output, and wont work in combination with for example exposure bracketing, which could make for some really cool macro and HDR shots.
While on consumery stuff, never having used much filter in camera myself, there is an improved BW choice there, and I wonder if they have done anything with their HDR mode, because it was pretty rubbish and you are better off exposure bracketing and using either your home PC ‘s weapon of choice, or even some on line offerings for merging layered exposures. I quite like my HDR Mode on my mobile, it suits a roughly 35 mm lens with foreground and a lighter background working good enough for social media.
The dust devil is maybe addressed with this camera, but the so called bete noire of the LX100, is actually a pretty common bug bear on compacts with zooms and medium sized sensors. Not that it ISNT a concern and that it ISNT always easy to get a service job by Panny where you may actually live.
Disappointments for me personally are that they havnt stretched the focal length of the glass to 90mm. I would then like a sister camera with a range of say 40mm-200mm which could be a bit bulkier, but is based on the same sensor and user interface. Or maybe they should do a video optimised version in a different body?
Another little pandering to the phillistines in the LX100 is the digital zoom, which is only useable if you want to document something happen, like the martian invasion three houses up the street. The mark II will have much better digital zoom in the portrait and sports critical focal range of 90 to 120 mm, due to the higher resolution sensor. So I am guessing without having done the maths, that around 100mm crop zoom will be the same resolution as the LX100 at 75mm full optical legnth (?) . Now that is very useful for portraits, and any loss of blurry background can be made up with layering those post focus shots in your software at home.
With a price point to maybe try and keep to, guessing around €/$ 750-950 at launch, then why need to retool the whole production line, when you can upgrade and entertain new buyers who are downsizing from APS-C DSLRS or upsizing from their mobile phones? The three big main asks from the moaners in internetland are tilt screen, weather and dust sealing and a longer reach lens, and all of those require majore retooling and alterations to the supply chain.
Why change a winning formula? Sony hasn’t done it with the RX100, Canon had the 5D, and now Olympus are also at it. It says something to the market, that this brand is so strong a franchise of qualities that we are sticking to it. Also it allows for a fancy assed, and may I remind the bitches and flamers, larger camera, with a mic jack point and a big super zoom lens and a whippy, flippy screen etc etc . Not a bad camera, just not an elegant, jacket pocket one.
I hope people who are disappointed with the Lx100 Mark II stop in the evolution of a very good camera, and just go off and buy one of the APS-C offerings from CaniFujiKon or who ever makes them. I dont need a tilt screen.