If you're both a photography enthusiast and a central Florida theme park fan, chances are you've hauled your big DSLR camera throughout the park on a day-long photo safari, all because you later wanted to have the manual control for nighttime creativity. But wouldn't it be great if you could have all that flexibility in a compact, pocketable camera, without having to lug extra lenses and an external flash?
In the last few years, the major camera makers have been in a stiff competition to see who can best serve the niche market of photographers looking for shutter speeds and aperture in a point-n-shoot form factor. It's been a win-win for us pro-sumers, with options like Sony's RX100, Canon's S120 and Fuji's XF1 offering true 'pocketability' while delivering an amazing array of manual controls and decent sensor sizes, for those times when you are looking for near-pro performance from your point-n-shoot.
For me, I've become particularly fond of the remarkable Lumix LX7, the latest in a line of compact cameras produced by the consortium between Panasonic Corp. and Leica Camera AG of Germany. I recently had the opportunity to borrow a friend's LX7 for a nighttime photo safari at Disney's Hollywood Studios. The camera boasts a stunning f/1.4 Leica DC Vario-Summilux lens, which more than makes up for the camera's smallish, 10-megapixel sensor. The results --all shot at night-- showcase the incredible dynamic range of the compact camera, which fit comfortably in my front pant pocket.
The current price tag of $330 for the LX7 (Amazon.com) makes it one of the best values for a high-end point-n-shoot compact cam on the market.
• Click here to see my 59-image, Colors of Hollywood photo gallery from the Lumix LX7 test shoot.