That advanced compacts-including those with large sensors- are fashionable, is not new. Panasonic has decided to raise the ante in this segment, although a little differently and less ambitiously than expected. Instead of a Micro Four Thirds camera as expected, the Lumix DMC-LF1 with a built-in viewfinder was just announced a few weeks ago in Vienna.
Our intuition deceives again. After listening to Panasonic engineers speak of large sensor compacts, it seemed that such a Lumix was just around the corner. Actually it would not be hard admitted place a Micro Four Thirds sensor and a fixed lens of a camera of this type.
Perhaps it is a plan that is still saved in the project folder, but for now the reality is the Lumix DMC-LF1. A compact that has nothing to do with that we had imagined, but brings to the table an interesting novelty: pocket models with built EVF. Something that surely will be talked about in the short term.
The viewfinder, the key
Despite being the most coveted piece, no doubt, of the three innovations that Panasonic showed reporters two weeks ago in Vienna under confidentiality agreement (Lumix GF6, G6 and LF1) this little compact was still not ready to be tested . So now it’s confirmed with some initial thoughts after spending a few minutes with this new Lumix.
Available in white and black, the DMC-LF1 is quite small and light. Enough to squeeze into the category of pocket models. If the Lumix DMC-LX7 provides rugged and raw with a classic wink, here size seems to be more important.
And comparisons are inevitable. Thus, rather than the LX7 or some other high-flying compact, this LF1 especially echoes the Canon PowerShot S110. With the difference, of course, being the Lumix electronic viewfinder.
Although its dimensions are restrained, the presence of this element is key. From what little I could see, the quality is more than acceptable, although the small size of the eye and camera make it generally not too comfortable to use for photographers with glasses. It has diopter correction, but no automatic sensor to switch the screen to the viewfinder. Instead, a dedicated button has been dedicated to this mission.
The ergonomics of the camera are well achieved thanks in large part to the control ring on the lens barrel. Yes, the lateral position of the viewfinder attached to the small size of the camera makes the firing position, working with the viewfinder-reminiscent of the Fujifilm X20, to name a compact model.
Zoom and Wi-Fi
While we wonder whether users actually use the viewfinder or if this is the typical delivery which took years and now can enjoy being ignored, sometimes past, a look at the other features of the camera allows you to guess a few things about their results and philosophy. The sensor is an old acquaintance: a CMOS 1/1, 7 inch and 12 megapixels that, unless improvements have been made to the processor, will offer similar behavior to that seen in the LX7. There is nothing wrong about it (unless we haven’t recovered from the disappointment of not see a Micro Four Thirds sensor in place).
Optics is also a cornerstone of this camera which almost has to define its own category in the window. Front short and bright zoom on the LX, here is committed to a 28-200 mm. A multi-purpose optical, well resolved size, but with a bittersweet light.
And as always happens: a promising f2 angular position and poor F5.9 at longer focal points. It is the price to pay for wanting to have it all in my pocket, and it is impossible not to wonder if a brighter 24-120 mm, for example, would not have been better.
By the way: in line with the latest Lumix G compact signature, this LF1 also has Wi-Fi. Still not a required function in this segment, but welcome anyway.
What about the LX7?
The Lumix DMC-LF1 is not what you expected, right? But after the trauma of seeing our predictions fall on deaf ears, this seems to be a promising model. Hard to put in the window, as all cameras seem to inaugurate something, with future ideas.
Offered as a sort of junior version, in size and price, the LX7 has interest. Same sensor-or very similar-more zoom, less brightness, Wi-Fi … seems a good deal, if it is to sneak a smaller compact into pockets.
Of course, the arrival of the LF1 leads people to look towards the LX7. What place now has a more expensive camera without integrated viewfinder? They are aimed at different audiences, argues the company. And it’s true, but it is impossible not to compare, calculator in hand.
Are the LF the future of LX opening a new niche for themselves-now-a batch of compact Micro Four Thirds sensor? Given the success of the latest predictions, better leave it there and hope to have an operational LF1 between hands to see what it can do.