Mix in a generous set of 14 scene modes and solid macro capabilities and you have a versatile camera that will appeal to photo enthusiasts looking for a full-featured portable. The only downers in this pretty picture are the lack of an optical viewfinder for backup in dim or very bright light and an otherwise brilliant 64mm (2.5-inch) LCD that can be difficult to view under those challenging conditions. We'd like some provision for external flash, too.
Panasonic has endowed this compact (107 by 56 by 28mm, 184g) camera with more than the usual number of buttons and dials, but the Lumix DMC-LX1 gives you a generous number of options to adjust without a visit to the menu system.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX1's top panel is inhabited by a shutter release with concentric zoom lever, a sliding on-off switch, a button that cycles among two Mega OIS (optical image stabilisation) options -- or switches it off when not needed to improve performance -- and a knurled mode dial. Modes include motion picture, picture review and full auto, as well as two scene positions and the PASM (programmed, aperture priority, shutter priority, and manual) modes favoured by photo enthusiasts. The pair of scene positions, SCN1 and SCN2, each offer the same 14 options (portrait, sports, food, scenery, night scenery, night portrait, baby, soft skin, candlelight, fireworks, party, starry sky, self-portrait and snow), but because the LX1 remembers the last selected scene mode, you can specify two different default settings. Also tucked into the top panel is a pop-up electronic flash.