Ultimate Travel Camera - That Almost Was LUMIX LX10

This is the promised follow up about a camera that I purchased, sort of liked and then sold in short order. After much toiling I purchased the Panasonic LUMIX LX10 last year and initially really [sort of] liked it. It’s a small, sleek (errr...slick), functional and well appointed carry-everywhere-with-you camera. Yet, it wasn’t ultimately what I was hoping for. Let’s break it down and I’ll share a few images from my short journey with the LUMIX to see why it didn’t make the cut.

 One of the bright spots of the LX10 was the macro capability. Here we see  Photo Lego Dude  committing for the shot in Hawaii.

One of the bright spots of the LX10 was the macro capability. Here we see Photo Lego Dude committing for the shot in Hawaii.

Form Factor & Reliability

One of the major factors in deciding on an everyday carry is the size & how it fits in your hand. The LX10 nailed both of those well enough, but it was almost too small without the addition of some sort of grip as it was a very slick camera to hold onto. Thankfully I never dropped it but came close a few times (love that wrist strap). The much lauded Sony RX100 series suffers from the same design flaw as well. A bit of grippiness could have gone a long way in keeping this thing around. The on/off switch was also unfortunately very easy to activate and I’d sometimes reach into my bag only to find the battery was drained. Clearly not a good thing if time is of the essence for a particular scene.

After a short time of use the lens closure (automatic cover) developed an annoying issue. It wouldn’t fully close or open when turning the camera on/off. This of course didn’t affect the way it captured photos per se, but was a pain as I needed to pay attention so as to not miss a photo opportunity with the closure stuck half open (assuming the battery wasn’t dead). I ultimately sent it back for warranty twice for this issue and it worked great after the second fix. Nonetheless, I wasn’t overly impressed and lost weeks of time without the camera while it was being repaired.

Mt. Rainier looking formidable above the clouds. I believe big zooms on compact cameras are in the gimmicky range but occasionally they are useful.

What I Liked

For a small body and 1” sensor the LX10 actually captured pretty decent photos.  The Leica f/1.4-f/2.8 lens is an excellent addition that I felt without the camera would have been pure ‘meh’. It is decently sharp with a useful 24-72mm optical zoom range and a slightly useful digital zoom for a touch more reach.

The articulating screen while fairly standard on cameras these days is a welcome & useful addition for low angle shooting. I’ve really adapted and gotten used to having an articulating screen and fully believe they belong on modern cameras.

The macro capability was actually quite good for such a small sensor and the focusing range nearly down to an inch it makes for easy floral shots or of course Lego Photograhers.

Gimmicks

Though technically most cameras come with what are better known as ‘features’ I like to call them ‘gimmicks’ depending on their usefulness. Things such as the aforementioned articulating screen and 4K focus stacking are arguably useless if they are not well executed. The 4K focus unfortunately stacking falls in the gimmicky range. I was looking forward to this feature for shots of Photo Lego Dude’s adventures, but in the end the results always left something to be desired. Better to manually stack images in Photoshop for truly sharp results.

How about that touch screen you say? Actually yes, it was useful and I enjoyed being able to select focal points with it and navigating the less than stellar menu system with relative ease. Seems everything is touch screen these days and that isn’t always a bad thing. So not quite gimmicky.

 Low light/indoor shooting was mildly effective with the LX10, if you bumped up the ISO image quality was quickly lost. At the Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo.

Low light/indoor shooting was mildly effective with the LX10, if you bumped up the ISO image quality was quickly lost. At the Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo.

 Chicago at night. One of the few favorite images that I captured with the LX10, for those that like natural star bursts f/8 worked perfect in this case.

Chicago at night. One of the few favorite images that I captured with the LX10, for those that like natural star bursts f/8 worked perfect in this case.

 What else does one do in Tokyo but visit a cat cafe? LX10 had the occasional great natural tones with good enough light.

What else does one do in Tokyo but visit a cat cafe? LX10 had the occasional great natural tones with good enough light.

 The LX10’s portability was one of it’s best features, small & lightweight makes it great for coming along on the ride or in the backcountry.

The LX10’s portability was one of it’s best features, small & lightweight makes it great for coming along on the ride or in the backcountry.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately I found the LX10 uninspring and at times frustrating to shoot with but also occasionally useful and fun. I’ll probably miss it at times, but it wasn’t a camera that I felt I could get repeatable results with or print with confidence if I did capture a good moment. Would I recommend it as a general point & shoot for vacation memories or backpacking camera? Certainly. But for the discerning pro or enthusiast who needs a little more from their everyday carry looks elsewhere. Something like say...oh a Fuji X100 series.