Panasonic Lumix LX7.
Still the one
The low-down: This 10-megapixel compact camera with a Leica-brand image-stabilised 24mm-90mm lens is the latest iteration in the LX range of top-level compacts from Panasonic. The lens aperture range is from f1.4-f2.3. An internal neutral density filter is fitted. Control layout is excellent, with settings for aspect ratio, aperture and focus mode on rings around the lens. Not everything is intuitive and you will need to refer to the user manual for some functions. There is a pop-up flash, and an optional electronic viewfinder fits into the accessory slot under the hot shoe. Movie mode is full-HD 60p. There is a PASM mode selector plus Panasonic's generally reliable ''intelligent'' auto. The 75mm LCD is high resolution.
Like: Image quality is as good as it gets in a compact. The lens-concentric control rings are a nice touch. Image noise and noise reduction are well controlled. RAW capture is a feature.
Dislike: The function control knob takes a bit of getting used to and needs the user manual for understanding.
Verdict: In 2008, Panasonic took the audacious step of ending the pixel wars and declaring what every serious photographer knew - fewer pixels are often better. And a shorter zoom lens will have better contrast and sharpness over its focal length range than a long zoom. The LX3 shook up the business and forced other brands to follow suit, all with 10-megapixel cameras with short-range zooms. In the latest version Panasonic has made the lens a little faster (brighter), which means that at its 90mm extension, wide, open backgrounds can be nicely blurred for portraits. Panasonic invented this category and it is still the one to beat.