The Reason

There comes a time in your life when the festive season has turned more like a chore than a celebration. First there’s the spending. You spend more than five hundred ringgits on new clothes and dresses, many will only be worn once or twice afterward. Especially so for my baju melayu which I see no reason to wear on other occasions. Not to mention the money you have to set aside to give out to kids and my relatives. I don’t know how you guys do it, I can barely set aside money for my savings let alone spend freely on others.

And then there’s the annual balik kampung exodus. That’s the worse of the lot. Despite my meticulous planning, taking alternative routes and shortcuts, I was still stuck for 15 hours on the road last weekend. And for the return trip I spent almost the same amount of time on the road. There’s no escaping from these horrible but expected jams during the festive season. My final grouse is how I was made to visit relatives that I practically never see or care for during the rest of the year. Yeah I know I sound like a jerk but I’m introvert and anti-social, what do you expect? My ideal day during a festive season is just hanging out at home, playing games, going out for a run in the park or just doing nothing. No need to spend lavish amount of money on things I don’t need and spending time and energy on stuff I don’t really care about.

Yet I am still doing all those things year in and year out, without fail. Why? Because it’s the socially acceptable things to do. Because sometimes in life it matters not about my happiness but those dear to me. I spend hundreds of ringgit once a year so that my wife and kids could celebrate Eid with shiny new clothes and dresses because apparently that’s what made them happy. I give out money to my nephew, niece, cousins and my relatives because it’s the tradition and also it makes them happy too. Finally, I spend over 24 hours on the road for a return trip to my home town and my in law’s place because it’s what make my wife and kids happy. She get to see her parent, her siblings and my kids get to play with their cousins. And also my grandma and mom would be glad to see me (I presume) for only the fifth or sixth time in the year. You see even if I don’t like it, I still do it anyway for reasons stated above. It’s for love, for tradition. I don’t want to raise a generation who will forsake their tradition and responsibilities just because I didn’t like it.

Panasonic Lumix DMC LX7 review

I was pretty satisfied with my first mirrorless camera the Nikon 1 J1. It does its job well, taking beautiful pictures with the prime lens and also the VR 10-30mm lens. But as well, there comes a day when even good could be better. Hence why I decided to let it go and get myself an upgrade. I had a few mirrorless camera in mind and had actually ordered a Sony A5100 camera online only to cancel it a few hours later. It’s all because a photographer friend of mine recommended this Panasonic Lumix DMC LX7 camera instead and I’m sold by the specs.

The LX7 is not really a mirrorless camera but more of a high-end point and shoot camera. The main selling point is the f/1.4 aperture Leica zoom lens which is better than all the previous digital camera I’ve ever owned. The 10.1 megapixel sensor might not seems much but the photo quality is comparable to that of a mirrorless camera of a bigger size if not better.

I will not bore you with all the geeky details or go through the technical specifications of the camera. Instead I will review it from the perspective of a totally amateur photographer. I see that it has full manual control. The menu dial has the usual settings - Manual, Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority, Programmed AE, Scenery and intelligentAuto among others. Sometimes I try to use the Programmed AE mode which I got from YouTube which doesn’t always work well in all situations. So far the intelligentAuto has been my best friend since it’s fast and it just works.

The LX7 also comes with a Neutral Density (ND) filter which is supposed to offer the ability to shoot at wider apertures in bright light without your images suffering from blown highlights. Truth is, I don’t use that filter so much because usually I don’t have the time to tinker with the settings while shooting. Being a compact camera, the LX7 features a fixed zoom camera and is not detachable. However the 3.8x zoom lens offers the same 24-90mm focal range which is equivalent to a 35mm lens. Using the electronic zoom dial instead of the manual take some getting used to. Honestly I feel manual zoom feels a lot more comfortable and quicker but it’s a trade off I’ll have to live with.

Sample photos

Video-wise, it can record full 1080p HD (the bare minimum by today’s standard, I know) but the recording quality is pretty good, comparable to that of a flagship smartphone. The aperture ring in front of the camera gives you the option to switch from f/1.8 to f/8. Next to the ring is the aspect ratio selection which allows you to quickly switch between 1:1, 4:3, 3:2 and 16:9.

Compared to my previous Nikon 1 J1, the LX7 weights or feels slightly lighter on my hand. The camera shares the same predominantly metal finish and looks very much like a premium camera. That said, the camera took one full second from the moment you turn on the switch until you can actually shoot which could be faster for sure. The fact that the zoom will return to the last position it was before being turned off could either help you shoot faster or make you waste more time adjusting it.

On the field, the LX7 performs admirably well. Overall image quality is very good and the camera coped well under a range of lighting conditions. I had no problem capturing photos with good amount of depth of field and despite the meagre 10.1MP resolution, this camera delivers quite an impressive levels of detail too. So is the Panasonic LX7 better than my previous camera? In several ways yes. The impressive f/1.4 Leica lens is a major plus point for the camera as well as the zoom and macro capabilities. I can’t say I don’t totally miss the replaceable lens on a mirrorless camera though. While the Leica lens itself is pretty good as it is, there’s no option to upgrade it to a better one in the future, ever.

If you’re not too fussy about fixed lens and such, the LX7 is an excellent choice for amateur photography enthusiasts. I got mine second hand for less than a thousand ringgit which is a bargain for its features. Its successor, the LX100 cost almost 3 times as much and the next best thing, a mirrorless camera with a decent lens will cost me no less than 2,000 ringgit right now which I don’t have the budget for. All things considered, the LX7 is probably the right camera for me at the time and still is, at least for now. Until I have the budget for a better camera.