What a 4K line-up! First Panasonic introduces its DMC- GH4 which took the pro video production world by storm, then the DMC- FZ1000 bridge camera and now, the DMC- LX100 GN premium compact. Each new camera got smaller and now we have the (almost) pocketable LX100. That’s more 4K-capable consumer-priced pro-quality gear than any other camera maker so far.
It is hardly surprising that Panasonic has apparently gone all out for 4K with its latest consumer cameras given they make 4K television sets. Other television makers like Sony and Samsung also make 4K TVs and both have released or previewed 4K-capable prosumer/enthusiast cameras – respectively the A7S and the NX-1.
4K Content? DIY!
4K television sets dominate retail stores in Australia now as they do elsewhere but commercial 4K content remains scarce, with the exception of YouTube.com’s handful of 4K offerings. NetFlix remains absent from this country and if it does arrive sometime soon its new 4K content will probably remain AWOL given how the current federal government has severely curbed the ambitious, far-sighted National Broadband Network (NBN) of its predecessor.
I suspect commercial 4K content provision is not much further advanced elsewhere either. It is early days for both sides of this exciting new technology – production and broadcast. People are certainly buying Ultra HD TVs though and GH4s and A7Ss are snapped up as soon as they arrive in the camera stores.
Consumers are not going to stand for no 4K content for too long especially if they happen to own a 4K capable camera and TV set. Content does not only have consist of moving images – still images look as brilliant on Ultra HD 4K screens as movies do. The displays at the local stores prove that. Much of what they show on their 4K demo sets is stills with a little Ken Burns effect applied yet the content rivets passers-by.
An Enthusiast’s 4K Content Creator?
Every higher-end digital camera seems to come with a mini-HDMI or micro-HDMI port these days, making it easy to connect your 4K camera to your 4K TV set. The LX100 is no exception. It also comes with the obligatory USB and A/V out ports for connecting to computers and other devices. That takes care of viewing your movies and photographs in the way they deserve.
The LX100 makes the distinction between moving and still images even finer. It is the first Panasonic camera to come equipped with 4K PhotoMode, allowing you to select individual frames from your 4K video footage to become 8 megapixel 3840 x 2160 JPEGs. 4K PhotoMode is also coming to the GH4 and FZ1000 via a firmware upgrade at the beginning of October.
Stills from Video & Varying Aspect Ratios
Eight megapixels is not to be sneered at, especially when six megapixels is large enough for reproduction as a double-page spread in a magazine. JPEGs are used by magazine publishers to send and receive images at speed online so don’t dismiss JPEGs these days in favour of Raw only.
Another aspect of the LX100 and other Panasonic Micro Four Thirds cameras that I rather enjoy is the ability to select from a range of aspect ratios for shooting stills – 16:9, 3:2, 4:3 or 1:1. In other words, the same ratio as TV screens right down to the perfect square.
I have some stills aspect ratio personal favorites. My standard for cityscapes and documentary shots, especially when to be used in movies, is 16:9. I love shooting portraits in 4:3 when the camera is in portrait mode, that is, 3:4. I often use 3:2 when a scene in front of me needs more of a squarish frame around it, a little more space and air than 16:9 affords.
As for 1:1 or square, I tend to reserve that for when I shoot with an iPhone because the square format reminds me of Polaroid SX-70 cameras and the spontaneous, funky style of photography they were brilliant for, just like the iPhone now.
View more LX100 stills at DMC – LX100 Special Gallery
A Professional’s Eminently Portable A & B-Rolls Camera?
When I recently settled on the Panasonic GH4 as my go-to interchangeable lens video camera I began pondering what I would use as a back-up and B-roill camera. A second GH4 and lens is beyond my budget right now and is reserved for when I get heavily into production for some upcoming projects.
There is no reason why a B-roll camera today needs interchangeable lenses if the built-in lens is good enough. “Good enough” is faint praise for the lens on the LX100. It is a Leica DC Vario-Summilux 10.9-34mm F1.7-2.8 lens.
In 35mm terms that is a focal length range of roughly 24 to 75mm, more than enough to handle over 90% of shots, from scene-setting wide to full-face close-up. As for the aperture range of f1.7 to f2.8, well I am more than grateful if I can get f2.8 throughout a zoom lens’ focal range. That f1.7 at the wide end is a real bonus.
According to the specs released so far, the LX100 shoots 4K at 3840 x 2160, 25 fps at 100mbps in MP4. It shoots 1,920 x 1,080 50p in Progressive (MPEG-4/H.264) format or MP4 at 50p. Those specifications are a subset of all that the GH4 can do but are good enough for plenty of professional use.
Other production-level features include highlight/shadow control, focus peaking in manual focus and AF+MF, manual exposure and a level gauge.
Introducing Panasonic LUMIX DMC-LX100 I
The X100 in LX100
The press release photographs of the LX100 remind me more than a little of the Fujifilm X100, the camera that really kicked off digital photography for me after an erratic start with DSLRs. I picked up a Fujifilm X10 when I found I needed a fast zoom for wide to long shots. Both cameras made me wish they were capable of 1080 video as well.
Panasonic’s videos and product gallery show a photographer and cinematographer wandering around a European city, LX100 in hand, bringing their visions into life with ease, with pleasure. That is what I have always wanted for every digital camera I have owned. If the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100 is as capable of that as the videos suggest then I will be very happy indeed.
Panasonic Press: LUMIX DMC-LX100 – Designed to inspire creativity
The new DMC-LX100 creative compact features a 4/3” MOS Sensor, F1.7-2.8 LEICA DC VARIO-SUMMILUX lens, and 4K video recording capability
Sydney, September 16 2014 – Panasonic has announced the powerful new LUMIX
DMC-LX100 creative compact, with an outstanding feature set for the enthusiast:
including a multi-aspect 4/3-inch high sensitivity MOS Sensor; a newly-developed
LEICA DC VARIO-SUMMILUX lens; and 4K video recording.
Other features to support superb photography include: a 2764K-dot Live View Finder
(LVF); 4K Photo mode which allows 8-megapixel still images to be captured from 4K
video images;; Panasonic’s high-speed Depth From Defocus technology; and direct,
intuitive control with dedicated rings and dials, including aperture ring, control ring, aspect ratio switch, shutter speed dial and exposure compensation dial.
The DMC-LX100 will be available in Australia in November 2014 at RRP $1,199.
Doug Campbell, Product Marketing Manager, LUMIX, Panasonic Australia, said: “This
sixth-generation model is designed in line with the LX Series philosophy of providing
high quality imaging, superior responsiveness and creative ease. It will meet the
demands of the most exacting enthusiasts.”
High-sensitivity MOS sensor and LEICA DC VARIO-SUMMILUX lens
The DMC-LX100 has a large 4/3-inch High Sensitivity MOS Sensor with multiple aspect
ratios (4:3/3:2/16:9). The effective area in 4:3 aspect is 12.8-megapixeli resolution, more than 5x larger than the LX7’s 1/1.7-inch sensorii and approx.1.6x larger than the 1-inch sensor. This achieves dramatic noise reduction even when shooting at high ISO (Max. ISO 25600).
The F1.7-F2.8 LEICA DC VARIO-SUMMILUX lens (35mm camera equivalent:
24-75mm) offers impressive performance, and combined with the large MOS sensor,
the rich amount of light produces impressive shallow depth of field. The new 9-blade
aperture diaphragm produces bokeh with a smooth, circular shape. The versatile zoom
range of 24-75mm (35mm camera equiv.) is suitable for a variety of photography from
street shooting to portraits. Landscapes can be captured in dynamic 24mm ultra wide
angle in 4:3, 3:2 or 16:9.
High resolution Live View Finder and intuitive control
The 2764K-dot equivalent LVF offers approx.100% color reproduction. The 16:9 wide
screen provides 1.39x / 0.7x (35mm camera equiv.) magnification and 100% field of
view. The LX100 allows direct, intuitive control with dedicated rings and dials including aperture ring, control ring, aspect ratio switch, shutter speed dial and exposure compensation dial.
4K Video recording featuring 4K Photo mode
The DMC-LX100 is capable of smooth, high quality video recording in 4K (QFHD 4K:
3840 x 2160, at 100mbps/25 fps in MP4); and full-HD 1,920 x 1,080 50p in AVCHD
Progressive (MPEG-4 / H.264) format or MP4 at 50p. The DMC-LX100 complies with
UHS Speed Class 3 (U3) for SD memory cards, which guarantees a constant minimum
write speed of 30MB/s, and is recommended for shooting in 4K.
4K video recording capability also supports ‘4K Photo Mode’, which allows
photographers to capture spur of the moment shots by cutting out individual frames from 4K video to create a 3840 x 2160 8-megapixel equivalent JPEG image. In this mode, the luminance level is adjusted to 0-255 which is suitable for photo. Users can also select any aspect ratio (4:3, 3:2, 1:1 or 16:9) when shooting in 4K photo mode by using the aspect switch.
High speed response and stunning mobility
The DMC-LX100 integrates Light Speed AF with Panasonic’s DFD (Depth From
Defocus) technologyiii which shortens the time to acquire focus. As a result, the
DMC-LX100 achieves high speed AF of approx. 0.14 seciv to capture fleeting photo
opportunities. This improvement achieves greater benefits as focal length increases.
The speed of burst shooting is faster than the DMC-LX7, boasting high speed burst
shooting at 11 fps (AFS) / 6.5 (AFC) to capture fast moving subjects. The DMC-LX100 is capable of releasing the mechanical shutter at max.1/4000 sec (at 25mm wide end) and 1/16000 with electronic shutter, which reduces washouts even under strong sunlight.
- Creative control filter with 22 options for photo and video, even in P/A/S/M
- Wi-Fi connectivity with NFC for smartphone/tablet control
- External Flash (Bundled)
- Highlight/Shadow Control
- RAW data development in-camera
- Focus Peaking to show the peak of focus in MF and AF+MF mode
- Level Gauge to detect the horizontal/vertical angle of view
- Multi-Aspect Bracket allows a still image to be captured in 4:3, 3:2, 16:9 and 1:1
- with a single shutter release
- White Balance Bracket
- Intelligent Auto
- Auto Lens Cap DMW-LFAC1 that opens/closes with retraction of lens movement
- GN58 External Flash DMW-FL580L
- GN36 External Flash DMW-FL360L
(cover photo credit: snap from Panasonic Press)