Star Struck: Is the Panasonic LX100 II worth the upgrade?
Since the long-awaited announcement of the LX100 II, I’ve been checking the specification to see if there are any hidden incremental goodies that were missed. Not so: The list of changes — despite the four-year wait for action — is minimal. Since the LX100 II is likely to become the next D-Lux, it’s important to take a hard look at the new features because, frankly, the old D-Lux or old LX100 could now be the better buy.
The most obvious difference and something we can’t overlook is the larger sensor. The LX100 II gets the 20MP sensor from the GX9 while the original LX100 was equipped with the previous-generation 16MP sensor. Yet even that isn’t quite what it seems. Since this is a cropped four-thirds sensor (a factor of 2.2 instead of 2 to 1) the usable pixel count on the new model is still only 17MP. The D-Lux and the old LX100 make do with 12.8MP.
The bigger sensor will clearly make a difference, but the question is whether that difference is significant to warrant upgrading to the new model. As we know from other cameras, such as our favourite Leica X1/X2 models, they are still producing impressive imagery over six years after they were launched, despite the advance in sensor technology.
Other improvements are less momentous. The LCD monitor has a small bump in resolution, from 921 to 1240k and it is now touchable. Neither feature would fill me with lust. What else? Oh yes, the longest shutter speed has been increased from 60s to 1800s. Yawn. Again, nothing I would be very interested in.
The LX100 II and the new D-Lux (when/if it arrives) will undoubtedly be the better camera to own. But the price difference is sufficient to make you sit back and take stock.
The original LX100 is available new at just under £500 and there are good second-hand models to be had for half that price. Prices will soften from now on if you wait a month or two. The new Mk.II currently costs £849 and, again, wait a few months and it will be discounted. The Leica D-Lux will probably cost north of £1,000 when it is announced, but the current D-Lux is available new for £800 and for around £500 on the used market.
Both the old and the new cameras retain the crowning glory of the LX100, that superb Leica DC Vario-Summilux f/1.7-2.8 ASPH 24-75mm zoom which is perfectly matched to the sensor.
This is a real gem and turns the LX100 or D-Lux into a fantastic travel camera. It doesn’t have the reach of the latest 1in-sensor cameras, such as the C-Lux or the RX100 VI, but its image quality is absolutely outstanding. A digital crop to the equivalent of, say, 150mm or 200mm (even on the old sensor) could outshine an optical zoom on a 20MP 1in sensor.
What do I recommend? If you already own the LX100 or D-Lux I’d stay with it. I don’t think it is worth swapping to the new model unless you get a really good deal. The cameras even look identical. If buying new, the decision isn’t so clear-cut. If I were in the market I would probably go for the new LX100 II (waiting a few months for the price to settle). But I would also be sorely tempted by a good used D-Lux for around £500. In fact, you could argue that this upgrade has just injected the old D-Lux with a new lease of life. Hang on to it.
The paucity of changes to the LX100 II leaves me wondering whether this is simply an interim, midlife-crisis upgrade. Perhaps we will see a completely new model sooner rather than later — yet another reason to stick with what you’ve got.