July 18, 2012, 1:09 PM — All of a sudden, you've got a very difficult decision to make if you're looking to buy a premium point-and-shoot camera. Panasonic's Lumix DMC-LX7, the follow-up to the popular Lumix LX5, offers a category-leading F1.4 aperture at the wide-angle end of its zoom, making it a standout option for low-light shooting and shallow depth-of-field effects.
In addition to the LX7, Panasonic announced a few more cameras and a lens today, including a new mid-level Micro Four-Thirds model, two new megazoom cameras, and a Wi-Fi-enabled camera with a 10X-optical-zoom lens.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7: The Fastest Fixed-Lens Camera Out There
The 10-megapixel Lumix LX7 retains the retro look, physical knobs and buttons, hot shoe, and manual controls of the LX5. It also has a 3.8X-optical-zoom lens (24mm to 91mm) like the LX5, but its F1.4-aperture lens at the wide-angle end is a few steps faster than its predecessor--or any other fixed-lens camera out there, for that matter. The aperture is still very wide at the telephoto end, with a maximum aperture of F2.3 at full zoom. That's rare, too.
Another notable change is the sensor, which is a 1/1.7-inch-type CMOS sensor rather than the CCD sensor found in the LX5. With the new CMOS sensor, the LX7 now captures 1080p high-definition video at 60 frames per second, and you're able to use the camera's manual aperture and shutter controls as you're filming. Panasonic has also added top-mounted stereo mics to the camera.
There are a few more big changes, too. The Lumix LX5 offers quick aperture adjustments via a click-ring around the lens, and you can deploy a built-in neutral-density (ND) filter by adjusting a little dial above the 3-inch LCD on the back. There are some new in-camera options to go along with the new sensor, as well, including an 11fps burst mode at full resolution, an HDR mode, a 3D still mode, and several creative filters.
Like its predecessor, the LX7 shoots in RAW; has a hot shoe on top of the camera for external flashes, microphones, and electronic viewfinders; offers Panasonic's fast autofocus system; and provides quick access to macro mode, exposure lock, and other settings via physical buttons and switches. It's expected to cost around $500 when it hits stores in mid- to late August.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G5: A Smaller, Lighter DSLR Alternative
The Lumix G5 is a new mid-level mirrorless camera in Panasonic's G series of Micro Four-Thirds System cameras. It has a body that's shaped like a DSLR, but it feels significantly smaller and lighter in the hand.