Sony RX100 vs LX7 on the streets of Philly

Ray Sachs

Legend
Sep 21, 2010
Not too far from Philly
you should be able to figure it out...
OK, this had to happen or I wouldn't have been able to sleep nights, so when I saw that Amazon had the LX7 in stock, I had to order one and shoot with both of these little guys and decide which to keep. I've seen enough testing of both raw and jpegs from both cameras to have an idea of what they can do now and what they'll be able to do once there's raw support for both and its not all that much different than the jpeg differences (except that the LX7 jpeg colors kind of stink, but I can work around that). So I got the LX7 on Thursday and hit the streets of Philly yesterday with both little compacts in hand and did a bunch of shooting. I've had enough time with the RX100 to learn it as well as I'm likely going to. And I had an LX5 for a good long while so I felt right at home with the LX7 pretty much right away.

And the tradeoffs are about what I expected. The LX7 is an absolute delight and joy to use - everything is in the right place, is easy to work, is intuitive, you never really have to think about how to do anything, you just naturally do it. Its better than the LX5 and the LX5 was the most fun compact I'd ever shot with before this. The RX100, which I've had plenty of time to adapt to now, is more or less a pain in the ass to use. I have to think way too much while I'm shooting with it. I get into an immediate groove with the LX7 where it just disappears. The Sony is always present and requires my attention while changing settings on the fly. BUT, the Sony just creates so much better files to work with its just not even funny. They're easier to work with in processing, they handle crops better, everything about them is more malleable and better. The LX7 is a joy to use but creates files that are a pain in the ass to work with. The RX100 is a pain in the ass to shoot with but creates files that are an absolute joy to work with. And you can use the RX100 in low light in ways you just can't even imagine using the LX7.

Ultimately, I can create "my style" photographs with either. If I only shot in good light and only shot street stuff (where the IQ isn't all that critical), I'd probably choose to keep the LX7. But I can get shots with the RX100 I can't get with the LX7, I miss shots with the LX7 I don't miss with the RX100, and I can't get any shots with the LX7 that I can't also get with the RX100 (except for 24mm wide angle shots, which the LX7 does and the RX100 doesn't). I could take just the RX100 for light travel and be confident I could shoot with it in any situation - I wouldn't be comfortable enough with the LX7 in low light to do the same. So, the LX7 is going back to Amazon on Monday. I'll be sort of sad to see it go but there's no reason to keep 'em both. The RX100 is staying around until someone comes up with a compact camera as capable as the RX100 and as much fun to shoot with as the LX7. It'll happen sooner than later, I'd imagine. But I think it'll take one more year/generation of small camera development. That's my guess - I could be wrong. I sort of hope I am, but I'm fine with the RX100 until it does.

RX100:

One from the train as the sun was coming up - I don't think the LX7 would have had a shot at this:
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A couple of low light shots that the RX100 handles and the LX7 struggles with:
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LX7:

The only even remotely workable low light shot I got with the LX7 and this took a lot of work to get to the point of barely useable:
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No problems in good light...
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-Ray
 

Gary

All-Pro
Aug 19, 2012
Southern California
Gary Ayala
He's back. Haven't seen much "Streets" from you lately. This stuff is simply grand (well most of them anyway). Some images look a bit over-sharpened ... are you adopting that style? I'm thinking of a street type camera, suggestions? I'm thinking of a XPro or a X100, what say you?

Gary
 
Nov 11, 2011
Milwaukee, WI USA
Luke
great shots Ray and your summation is about what I expected. It's too bad really that the camera that works best is the worst in IQ. I think you're right...the sensors are so good now with this newest Sony that some company (hopefully more than 1) will get it right in regards to making the camera become an extension of the shooter (and have the IQ) to let you shoot with impunity.
 

Ray Sachs

Legend
Sep 21, 2010
Not too far from Philly
you should be able to figure it out...
He's back. Haven't seen much "Streets" from you lately. This stuff is simply grand (well most of them anyway). Some images look a bit over-sharpened ... are you adopting that style? I'm thinking of a street type camera, suggestions? I'm thinking of a XPro or a X100, what say you?

Gary
Hi Gary - I've been around, maybe more here than at MU-43 but I've never stopped shooting this stuff when I get the chance. My stuff has always been over-sharpened - I guess I just like it that way because I just cook 'em until they feel done and I like them but a lot of more discerning viewers make the same comment about over-cooking. I like too much salt sometimes too! :cool: In some cases its just to hide a case of "not quite in focus" but a lot of times its just pure choice and taste (or lack thereof)...

Its hard for me to recommend a street camera because its so much down to how you shoot. For me, there's nothing close to the OMD with the Olympus 12mm lens. My be-all, end-all street camera - it works the way I work. I like the X-Pro and did like the X100 for lots of stuff and they're certainly very capable street cameras but they don't work as well for me as a mostly hip-shooter. If you like using a viewfinder for street (I like it for everything BUT street, but almost never for street), they're both very capable. Lots of people love 'em for that - but they don't work as well as other stuff for how I shoot. I still use the X-Pro for street when that's the camera I have with me and the opportunity presents itself, and it does fine, but it wouldn't be my first choice if I went out for the day with street shooting in mind. I loved the GXR-28. I still have and like the GRD3, but the files just aren't as good as a lot of the newer sensor cameras. The Ricoh interface is awesome for street, though, particularly how I do it. And either of these little compacts discussed above are very workable with the tradeoffs I discuss in the original post. So's the Fuji X10, for that matter. I've heard good things about the little Nikon J1 and V1, but I've never tried one myself. As many cameras as I've used for street, I've found very few that can't be made to work, but some sure work better for my style. And some would no-doubt work better for yours, but I can't say which those might be???

-Ray
 

pdh

Legend
Jan 2, 2011
As I'm sure you know Ray, that other man in Philly has been experimenting with the RX100 too ... he likes it a lot
 

Streetshooter

Administrator Emeritus
Jul 12, 2010
Philly, Pa
Well Ray, no surprises. Thanks for doing the legwork. There are many that will benefit from your post.
I'll send this to John right away.....
 

wt21

Hall of Famer
Aug 15, 2010
Thanks Ray. I dont do street, but I'm loving my RX100. Having spent the last 3 years with the old oly 12MP sensor, I'm putting up with the RX handling to get the OOC images that it so easily delivers. Im not sure the new pocket Fuji will be much better from a handling perspective, so I'm thining the RX100 will be with me at least through next summer.

Nice shots as always. I live in the burbs, so its nice to see the city :)
 

john10001

New Member
Aug 12, 2012
And I had an LX5 for a good long while so I felt right at home with the LX7 pretty much right away.

And the tradeoffs are about what I expected. The LX7 is an absolute delight and joy to use - everything is in the right place, is easy to work, is intuitive, you never really have to think about how to do anything, you just naturally do it. Its better than the LX5 and the LX5 was the most fun compact I'd ever shot with before this. The RX100, which I've had plenty of time to adapt to now, is more or less a pain in the ass to use. I have to think way too much while I'm shooting with it. I get into an immediate groove with the LX7 where it just disappears. The Sony is always present and requires my attention while changing settings on the fly. BUT, the Sony just creates so much better files to work with its just not even funny. They're easier to work with in processing, they handle crops better, everything about them is more malleable and better. The LX7 is a joy to use but creates files that are a pain in the ass to work with. The RX100 is a pain in the ass to shoot with but creates files that are an absolute joy to work with. And you can use the RX100 in low light in ways you just can't even imagine using the LX7.

-Ray
Thanks for the review Ray this is very helpful especially to me. I have the LX5 at present and am weighting up my options on a possible replacement. I am in no hurry though.

Did you also test out video abilities of both cameras? When I had the LX3 it was excellent at stills whereas I found the LX5 maybe a percentage or two not as good at still photography as the LX3 however much better when it came to video including in lower light situation. In the same low light situations the still photography of the LX5 didn't do very good.

Do you think you will ever get used to the RX100 to shoot with over the ergonomics controls and functionality that the LX5 and the LX7 you tried had? What immediate functionality that the LX5 and LX7 have that you find lacking on RX100 and have to go into menus for?

I'd really love to see some more options competition wise as I think Panasonic are now treading water and the only thing that seems to stand out are ergonomics, immediate functions (manual controls), aperture.

Would love to see the likes of Ricoh, Sigma, Olympus and others bring something to the table to challenge. For example I would be extremely interest if Sigma had something that combined the DP1M, DP2M and added better video support. Ricoh if they just made something with a bigger sensor, even only slightly bigger. RX100 has certainly put something out there that can be definitely classed as a serious compact. Others with smaller sensors were getting a bit beefy. I think if someone comes along with something similar to LX7 in smaller package, maintaining ergonomics, functionality, manual controls, with bigger sensor then they will win big.

At the moment I am torn three ways between RX100 (expensive), LX7 (great to use but no improvement in image quality?) and DP2M (fixed lens, lack video support)

I think I will sit on the fence until early next year and see what happens.

John
 

Yeats

All-Pro
Jul 31, 2012
New Jersey, USA
Chris
Ray,

When you say you can't get good low light with the LX7, is this because of AF or just due to noise?
I'm wondering this, too. Is there simply not enough latitude for processing?

Great shooting, Ray. I'm not into street-shooting at all, but #5 is absolutely great.
 

Ray Sachs

Legend
Sep 21, 2010
Not too far from Philly
you should be able to figure it out...
No, just the sensor's ISO limitations. The AF is great on both cameras - kind of amazingly good really. And the LX7 has an even wider aperture (1.4 at 24mm, 1.5 at 28, compared to 1.8 on the RX100 at 28). But even ISO 800 on the LX7 is pretty rough, 1000-1250 starts getting ugly, and 1600 I wouldn't use. On the RX100 I can shoot at 3200 all day and even use 6400 if conditions warrant. Overwhelmingly better sensor - but the LX7 gets the rest of the camera right to a much greater degree. At longer focal lengths the faster lens starts making up for the sensor (2.3 at 90 on the LX7 vs 4.9 at 100mm on the RX100) but anywhere near the wide end, forget it. And even at the long end, I have trouble imagining the LX7 would have done as well with those concert shots I did a couple of weeks ago in New Jersey.

-Ray
 

Ray Sachs

Legend
Sep 21, 2010
Not too far from Philly
you should be able to figure it out...
Did you also test out video abilities of both cameras?

Do you think you will ever get used to the RX100 to shoot with over the ergonomics controls and functionality that the LX5 and the LX7 you tried had? What immediate functionality that the LX5 and LX7 have that you find lacking on RX100 and have to go into menus for?

I'd really love to see some more options competition wise as I think Panasonic are now treading water and the only thing that seems to stand out are ergonomics, immediate functions (manual controls), aperture.
John,

I shoot very little video - almost none. So, no, I didn't test either one and haven't even taken a short video clip with either of them.

The primary handling issues I have with the RX100 primarily have to do with street shooting where I like to zone focus and I have a few settings I like to be able to change quickly and easily on the fly. The RX100 makes zone focussing a royal hassle (particularly if you ever like to change back and forth between auto and zone focus) and it makes it hard to get to various settings without having to push buttons to always arm the adjustment. For just a walk around site seeing type of travel camera (where I'd just stay in auto focus all the time) I don't mind the RX100 at all. For my specific wants/needs, it's a pain in the butt, but that's not to say it would be for many other folks.

I don't really see Panasonic as treading water - I think Sony just got the jump on everyone else and surprised them with the RX100. If not for that, the LX7 would be seen as a nice incremental advance with its very fast lens, improved controls, and new sensor which is incrementally better than the one in the LX5. Now everyone has to react to the RX100 and I'm sure they will, but maybe it's next year this time before we really start seeing what that means. If Pany or Fuji or Ricoh or someone comes out with a camera that's more or less equal to the LX7 or X10 with lens spec and body style but makes it a bit larger to accommodate the larger 1" sensor, I could see using a camera like that for a solid 75-80% of my shooting despite having two other great larger-sensor cameras available. So I'd guess Sony owns this particular slice of the market for the better part of a year or so, but the others will catch up soon enough.

-Ray
 

Oliver

New Member
Aug 16, 2012
Thanks a lot for sharing this, Ray, I've really enjoyed reading your thoughts about both cameras (and seeing your pics).
 

iau

Rookie
Sep 11, 2010
Thanks for sharing! I've been a fan of both LX3 and LX5, and loved handling the two cameras. I don't do street photography and when I bought the RX100 it was more due to the great reviews it received and the fact that it was small. I prepared myself that I would also get the LX7 but hoping I could hold back (GAS - too many cameras). I think your review is spot on on how I expect to feel about them, liking the LX7 more but prefering the photos from the RX100...

In a way I had hoped the LX7 would surprise everyone and holding up better against the RX100.
 

Luckypenguin

Hall of Famer
Dec 24, 2010
Brisbane, Australia
Nic
Great stuff, Ray. I am always interested in the different perspective you get from the wider-angle lenses. It seems that whenever I use 28mm or less I find myself pressing the trigger too early! Both series have your unique style, but I do prefer the cleaner look for the Sony. Are you shooting the Panasonic at a larger aperture to equalise the depth-of-field between the two cameras?
 

BBW

Administrator Emeritus
Jul 7, 2010
betwixt and between
BB
RX100:

One from the train as the sun was coming up - I don't think the LX7 would have had a shot at this:
View attachment 58012

Absolutely gorgeous!
My sentiments exactly, Kristen - absolutely love that bridge and reflection image, Ray. Having been "with you" on Mu43 and SC and Flickr for several years now, all I can say is that your style has evolved beautifully and it's always a pleasure to tune in to see what you've been up to.:friends: And even though I'm not in the market for any new cameras, I also enjoy reading your reviews and impressions very much.
 

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