Point-and-shoot digital cameras have traditionally been the go-to option for conveniently capturing images anywhere. Since most people own a smartphone with a decent camera, this function has become somewhat diminished. Today, point-and-shoot cameras must offer something more in order to justify a place in our pockets.
Panasonic's Lumix DMC-LX7 does just that, and at a cost ($350) that’s lower than most other advanced point-and-shoots makes it a great holiday gift. It features outstanding image quality, thanks in large part to its image sensor and compact Leica lens. Although the sensor on the LX7 isn't exactly enormous, it's above average for point-and-shoot cameras, and it's much larger than the sensors found in the majority of smartphone cameras. With a larger sensor, you can capture more detail in your images and produce clearer photos in low light.
The 24 mm to 90 mm Leica lens has an impressive maximum aperture of f/1.4. This aperture is wide for a point-and-shoot camera and it makes for crisp shots, including portraits with beautifully blurred backgrounds. Additionally, a wider aperture means more light can get to the sensor. In low-light situations, or at high shutter speeds, a wide aperture can make all the difference.
On the other hand, the 90 mm maximum focal length of this Panasonic is shorter than many advanced point-and-shoot models. While it will still produce far better results than using the digital zoom function of your smartphone, you won’t be able to zoom in as closely compared to the other cameras on our lineup.
As far as aesthetics, build quality and user-friendliness is concerned, the LX7 is exceptional. Its body is compact, unobtrusive and convenient to carry. Additionally, photography enthusiasts will appreciate its advanced manual controls.
Many modern cameras are incorporating Wi-Fi, NFC (near-field communication) and GPS capabilities to boost their functionality and perhaps compete with smartphones. The LX7, however, features none of these. While this may disappoint those seeking a highly connected camera, purists may appreciate the LX7's unwavering focus on image quality.
Panasonic also offers good support for the Lumix DMC-LX7. In addition to a one-year warranty, Panasonic provides online product information resources such as downloadable manuals, FAQs and tutorials. Panasonic representatives are also easy to reach via email, phone or live chat.
Despite a few missing connectivity features, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7 is an excellent option for a Christmas gift. Its compact size means you can take it anywhere, while its high-quality sensor, impressive lens and smart manual controls make it a solid upgrade from any smartphone shooter.