• Price: £375 plus VAT

  • Company: Panasonic

  • Pros: Relatively lightweight and compact dimensions. Bright aperture lens. Hotshoe and accessory port for attachment of optional extras, such as an EVF.

  • Cons: Fixed screen LCD. Priced not a great deal cheaper than one of Panasonic’s interchangeable lens G-series compacts system cameras.

  • Our Rating: We rate this 8 out of 10 We rate this 8 out of 10

If you’ve not yet been swayed by one of Panasonic’s interchangeable lens Lumix G compact system cameras, but would still like to achieve improved quality image, then the metal construction and comprehensively featured LX series is well worth checking out.

The compact LX7 with 3.8x optical zoom offering a 24-90mm equivalent focal range is the latest iteration (replacing the LX5) to go up against its rivals’ best, and gets off to a good start with an extra bright f/1.4 maximum aperture lens delivering those pleasantly attractive shallow depth of field effects.

On paper at least this puts it closely on a par with Samsung’s EX2F, as does a broad ISO range of 80-12800 for low light work. Otherwise a 1/1.7-inch CMOS sensor offering a ‘mere’ 10.1 million pixels feels unnecessarily modest in present company, especially with Sony’s RX100 offering double that resolution, albeit for a higher cost.

Of similar width and depth to Fuji’s XF1, but with a more prominent lens, the LX7, which currently has a street price around £350, finds room for a vacant hotshoe with accessory port as found on its maker’s Lumix G range, plus a rotating lens ring that affords direct control over aperture values and image aspect ratio; 1:1 being offered alongside the more commonplace 4:3, 3:2 or 16:9. Down the left hand side of the lens we also have the digital SLR-like ability to switch between manual focus, auto focus or macro close ups.

Allowing for the smaller overall proportions, there is no optical or electronic viewfinder built-in, whereas the only larger Canon G15 has one, but via the hotshoe we at least have the ability to add one for an additional spend. In lieu of that, images are composed and reviewed via the fixed 3-inch, high 920k dot resolution backplate LCD, located adjacent to a control panel that looks familiar from Panasonic’s point and shoot Lumix models lower down the pricing structure.

Also on the top plate, a stiff-feel 10-option shooting mode dial presents the usual manual and fully auto choices, along with a pair of custom modes and creative built-in filter effects for adding punch to your pictures in-camera. Video recording also features prominently courtesy of a top plate record button, which here affords access to 1920x1080 pixels video clips and a couple of compression formats as well as the creative Photo Style modes also provided when shooting stills.

As a point and shoot camera for those wanting to upgrade to something better or a smaller back up for someone owning a G-series compact, the LX7 cuts the proverbial mustard, but, despite being as consistently competent and reliable as one might hope, in present company doesn’t have enough about it to stand ahead head and shoulders above rivals like the Samsung EX2F or Sony RX100.

This review is taken from our group test of the four best pocket-sized cameras for creative pros.