Nice thread. Some great images - and also surprising dynamic range. And since I am a relatively new LX7 owner, it's time for me to join in - with this photo, taken in the street, during a recent trip to Mexico City, of two men who are locksmiths or keymakers.
Well, I've finally done it. A combination of the photos from the fine folks on this forum; the patient answers to my questions (thanks, Ray); and an excellent price at B&H, I've finally ordered the LX7. It has shipped, along with the EVF, spare battery and a Lexar 32gb memory card, and I eagerly await the Little Brown Truck of Happiness.
I'm hoping that it has equal or better image quality compared with the Ricoh GRD III. I love that camera, and it's the best small sensor camera I've used. So I'm hoping that if anything, it will give me the same image quality and file malleability. That's the primary wish, and if this wish is granted, everything else is gravy. After all, if it has GRD III image quality, and has the bonuses of very wide angle shooting and good full HD video, I will happily shoot with it for another few years.
Thank you to everyone for posting your fine images and offering your suggestions and advice.
After wearing a little patch in the carpet by the door this morning, I was finally rewarded by the arrival of the Brown Truck of Happiness.
Initial testing suggests that the image quality of the LX7 is at least as good as the Ricoh GRD III, which is a very good start as that is my all-time favourite small sensor camera. The raw files seem quite malleable in Lightroom, and capable of pleasing colour. There's a touch of noise even at ISO 80, which is a little disturbing, but that cleans up with a little Lightroom NR. Black and white conversions seem to be pretty good, too. Despite the noise, they seem to be smoother than the GRD III's conversions.
[As a parenthetical aside, I have been reading a number of opinions that Lightroom does NOT produce the best colour for a number of camera brands. My own experience shows that Olympus Viewer 3 produces far better skin tones with the EM-5 than Lightroom, and others are saying similar things about Nikon DSLR's in Lightroom vs Photo Ninja or Capture One Pro. If this holds true for the LX7, it may be worth investigating.]
The aspect ratio switch was already set to 16:9, which is going to be my default setting for this camera. A few functions were not immediately apparent, like Macro and EV comp, but I found those in the focus switch on the side of the lens barrel, and by pressing the back adjustment wheel, respectively.
I've only given the video function the most cursory of tests, but the camera is quite quick to adjust to changing light, and half-pressing the shutter during shooting engages AF at the centre point, which is exactly what I wanted. Speaking of AF, focus speed is generally fast, even in low light situations that stump the Ricoh GXR and GR.
My current plan (which is subject to the usual whimsical gear-madness changes) is to use the LX7 for zoom, video and general shooting, and the Ricoh GR plus 21mm adapter for high quality shooting. Both will fit in the front padded compartment of the excellent Lowepro Streamline 250, giving me instant access to either camera. Very glad to have this in time for my usual Christmas photo rambles, and I'm very much looking forward to what I can discover with the LX7.
The aspect of the LX7 that interested me the most is the 16:9 wide angle mode. I've been reliably informed (thanks again, Ray) that the 16:9 mode of the LX7 is much closer to 21mm than 24mm, thanks to the Panasonic's multi-aspect ratio sensor. I just put this to the test with the LX7, Ricoh GRD III and 21mm adapter, the Ricoh GR 21mm adapter, and the Leica M9 with Zeiss 21mm f2.8.
The LX7's image is sharper and has higher contrast than the GRD III + GW2, especially in the centre. The GRD III's 4:3 ratio does give a lot more vertical coverage than the LX7; crop the GRD III image to 16:9 and the field of view covered is very close, with the LX7 at 16:9 looking more like 22m, or 21.5mm. For me, this is excellent, as it means I now have a 21.5mm wide angle camera with excellent movie mode, and image quality better than the GRD III with GW2.
But the surprise came with the GR + GW3. The GR's 21mm view is even wider than the GRD III's 21mm, and even the M9 + ZM 21/2.8. And at the pixel level, the GR +GW3 is just as sharp, and shows almost as much detail, as the M9 + Zeiss lens! I was astounded! The LX7 and GRD III + GW2 get much softer towards the edges, but the GR + GW3 holds its own against the M9! And it offers an even wider angle of view, to boot! At 16mp vs 18mp, the GR doesn't have the same kind of resolving power as the M9, but it is frankly disturbing at how close the image of the $1200 Ricoh combination comes to the $12,000 Leica/Zeiss combo.
I must run some tests against the Panasonic GH3 or Oly EM-5 and the Panasonic 7-14mm, and the Canon 5D Mark II with the EF 16-35L. I need to see if the Zeiss 21/2.8 is less than 21mm - which is doubtful, given Zeiss reputation for accuracy and quality - or if Ricoh just gave us a little extra wide bonus with the GW3.
A quick note about turning off the LCD: this seems to be little known, but engaging the menu option for 'Optical Viewfinder' turns off the LCD altogether. It comes back on when you press the Menu button. Just another little bonus for the stealth shooter.
Colours straight out of the camera seem quite flat, particularly in the raw files. I have to give them a fair push in Lightroom to get colours that I like, but the files handle it well, and the resulting colours are pretty good. I can use some of the presets I've created for the Ricoh GR and Oly EM-5 and get similar results in colour with very little degradation in image quality.
Handling is a bit hit-and-miss, though, The case is smooth and slippery, much like the Canon S90 and Sony RX100. The rubber grip helps, but I have decided to get a Gariz half case to improve the grip. I'm also getting the usual Acmaxx screen protector for that massive LCD display on the back.
Just a note about the ND filter: I was horrified this morning when the ND filter button simply did not work! It had been working yesterday, but not today. I later discovered that it would work in every mode but P and iAuto. A search of the internet lead me to the 'Program Diagram' function, which essentially controls the way the ND filter is used. I had switched it to MTF, which supposedly optimizes use of the ND filter to improve image quality in varying light. I switched Program Diagram back to normal and the ability to use the ND filter in P mode returned. Thank goodness! I was beginning to think that I'd have to send the camera back.
Though the tiny sensor on my LX7 is theoretically inferior to those in my superb mu-43 cameras - an Olympus Pen E-PL5 (which has the same great sensor as the E-P5 and the M5) and also a very cool new Lumix GX7 - something about the form factor of the LX7 makes me reach for it and take it along on occasions when my other cameras sit at home. Here is a trio of relatively recent pictures, showing off what this little wonder (to me, at least) can do -
The first a tiny sculpture of a Reader on the bookshelf inside a wonderful southern Oregon bookstore (While Away Books in Roseburg) -
The LX7 seems a touch sharper in the centre than the Ricoh GRD III, and has the same overall dynamic range, perhaps a little bit more. At 28mm and 4:3 aspect ratio, it covers the same vertical and horizontal fields of view as the GRD III, too.
A surprise is that in good light, ISO 80, the image quality is almost exactly the same as the Canon 30D + EF-S 17-55mm f2.8 IS. Sharpness, detail and colour are evenly matched, with a gradations of colour a tiny bit wider in the 30D, but not by much. Raw files were processed in Lightroom 4, just so you know.
I suspect that with judicious processing and subjects in good light, you'd be hard put to tell the small sensor camera apart from the 2007 DSLR. And think of how much professional work was done with the 30D! It was my go-to camera for a couple of years, and now I have a small sensor camera that matches it in good light for all intents and purposes.
@Yeats - going cheap at B&H and Amazon. Got mine for $319, but it might drop back down to $289 sometimes soon!
The wide angle is particularly impressive. At 24mm and 16:9 ratio, the image is the same size as a full frame 21.5mm image cropped to 16:9. So, while it's missing the top and bottom bits, it is almost as wide as 21mm. That multi-aspect ratio sensor is unique to the LX7 as a current model camera, and given how Panasonic is 'not committed to the LX line', as stated in a recent interview, I thought that now is as good a time as any to pick one up.
It's not as sharp at the pixel level as, for example, the Sigma DP1 or DP2, nor does it have the dynamic range of a Ricoh GXR/GR, but it handles colour adjustment very well, and I'm really enjoying the kind of images I can get from it. Samples will come soon, probably after this weekend when I'll take it for a good spin.
I just ordered an LX7. I own a Canon S95 which has been in my messenger bag for three years and has captured some amazing images. I wanted an LX7 for it's amazingly bright lens and great macro ability. I owned a new Ricoh GR for three weeks and based on how I use a camera I was not impressed with it in any way. The colors were often very flat, and it's limited macro created so much foreground blur that it became really frustrating. Big sensor or not, if we are not happy with the images what is the point? For the street the GR may be just the camera.
Cameras are one thing, pictures are another. Show me a great picture and don't tell me anything about the camera. That is the real test.
Can't resist posting a few more photographs recently taken with my LX7. In spite of the quality of my current other camera - a lovely GX7 with a number of superb lenses - I often find myself just pocketing the LX7 when I go outside or go for a walk - proving I suppose that the old adage (about the best camera you have being the one you actually have with you) is true.
These were taken down at our local small-town library, where the Historical Society is putting on a small exhibit of historical tidbits, odds & ends, and artifact - including three mannequin heads that were impossible not to photograph. Here they are -
and #3 -
All taken with the lens wide open (at f/1.4) in RAW and subsequently processed with Nik's Analog Efex software.
This camera is a true gem and is as tough as old boots, I slipped on some banking near to a river went down with a bang, end result a dent in the body and a slight mark on the front, dreading the worst, switched it on and no problem at all, it now has some battle scars but performs superbly. I am constantly amazed at what this can produce, I love it. The last post ( one of many ) on my blog is shot with it and shows the quality it can and will produce with care. IMG]http://www.serialphotographer.co.uk[/IMG]
I think I got the deal of the century on my LX7. The base exchange here had it on clearance for $147! I bought all they had left for me and some friends. It's a great little camera and comes in really handy when I don't feel like lugging around my D7000. Here are some shots I took with it during a recent trip to a Buddhist temple here in Korea. They were getting things ready for Buddha's birthday.
I was also able to put together a little time lapse type video using a little trick I learned on Youtube. What I did was put the camera into tilt-shift/toy mode, then start taking a video. The camera can only process the images fast enought to record about 3 frames per second, but when you play it back it plays at about 30 or 60 frames per second, so it looks like a time lapse.