The Story Behind LUMIX LX100 Development
Relaying the passion of the people behind the LUMIX LX100 development.
A Design that Stimulates the Photographer's Creativity
Please describe the design concept of the LX100.
Our basic goal was to create a digital camera that makes the user want to go out and enjoy taking pictures. So we decided on the concept of "stimulating the photographer's creativity." To enhance the joy of photography, we made the camera body compact so it can be carried around at all times, and we added advanced optical performance without compromising. We also opted for an analog-type manual operation system to provide greater fun with creative photography.
In the process of actualizing the concept, we focused our attention on the LC1. We successfully created a brand new high-end compact digital camera that contains the DNA of the legendary LC1 revived after a decade.
Achieving Both Functionality and a Compact Size
It must have taken a lot of ingenuity to achieve both functionality and a compact size.
We worked hard to lay out a large sensor, a large-diameter lens, a large battery, and a newly added viewfinder in a camera body with a size that's close in to the LX7. The front side of the camera had a large-diameter lens. The rear side was installed with an LCD display. We wanted to keep the height of the camera body the same as that of the LX7, and shave off the corners to provide round corners just like the LC1. On top of that, a high-resolution viewfinder similar to the one on the GX7 had to be mounted.
Unlike DSLM/DSLR cameras, this one needed a motor to drive the zoom lens. The early prototypes were large. We tried many combinations of units and devices before achieving the current size.
We never considered sacrificing functionality or operability for the sake of downsizing the camera body. Since we wanted to create an easy-to-use digital camera that would provide all the fun of manual operation, the camera needed to have an appropriate size. However, the compact size, which is one of the most attractive features of the lens-integrated camera construction, was an absolute prerequisite.
To that end, we eliminated all frills unrelated to camera operation while tweaking the sizes and layout of the grip and control devices.
Why did you opt for an external flash?
We designed the camera to use an external flash so ample space could be provided for the buttons, dials and other parts of the top control cluster.
The LX100 adapts the basic style of a "camera with a viewfinder" to enable steady hand-held shooting. When mounted with an external flash, the LX100 presents an iconic silhouette. The attractive exterior design could not be achieved if a conventional popup flash had been built into the camera body.
Pursuit of Comfortable Camera Operation
Did you pay any particular attention to the layout of buttons and other controls?
We positioned the aperture ring toward the front end of the lens barrel. If the aperture ring were located close to the camera body as in an ordinary lens, the right hand holding the grip would contact the left hand when it turns the aperture ring. The location of the aperture ring was one idea for achieving both a compact camera body and comfortable lens operation.
The filter button is also easily accessible. The LX100 allows manual adjustment of the exposure and application of a filter effect. This expands the possibilities for photographic creativity.
The exposure compensation dial is positioned as close to the edge as possible to allow it to be operated while looking through the viewfinder.
If you look closely, you can see that the cursor dial on the rear side has a rib-on-rib surface. We provided as many edges as possible in this limited space so the finger catches the dial firmly for easy, reliable turning. We paid meticulous attention to many details such as these in order to provide the ultimate in ease of use, while maintaining the compact camera size.
Did you also pay special attention to the click feeling of rings and dials?
Oh, of course. When moving the shutter speed dial from position A to another position, did you feel a certain resistance? That resistance tells you that the dial has moved to a new setting position without you visually confirming the dial position. We discussed extensively about the operation feeling before the design stage. We compared our company products, other companies' products, DSLM/DSLR cameras, compact cameras and products other than cameras in order to determine the most suitable operability, lightness/heaviness of operation, click feeling and turning torque.
Various Different Looks under Different Lighting Conditions
Please describe the selection of materials, finishes and colors.
To add a quality appearance to the leather-like surface of the grip, we created original grips in black and brown for the LX100. For the silver body color, we match the color of the "L" badge with the grip.
We selected metal for the body casing material, and chose colored surface treatments to attain a quality finish. For example, the machined rings are lustrous, while the camera body has a matte finish. Although both are black in color, the black colors are slightly different, creating an enhanced three-dimensional effect. Depending on the lighting conditions, the camera has various different looks.
To create a sharp and edgy design for the top control cluster, we accepted a request to use a metal for an attractive finish. It was difficult to form the top section of the camera to have a certain height, but we didn't compromise.
We had opposing ideas from time to time, but we came to a mutual agreement as we were all committed to making a quality camera. What's so wonderful is that everyone worked so hard to achieve such a diversity of demands and requests.
A Sincere Manufacturing Attitude Resonates with Users
How do you want users to enjoy shooting with the LX100?
Since so many people have smartphones today, they take pictures at various occasions and situations. Still, it seems that people mainly take ordinary snapshots with their smartphones. The LX100 not only captures images beautifully in Auto mode, but also lets the user easily control the expression by varying the aperture setting and shutter speed. I want users to enjoy the photographic potential that the LX100 offers.
I want people to enjoy touching, operating and taking pictures with the LX100 to their hearts' content. People may see the surrounding scenery differently when they take the compact, analog-like LX100 with them to town. I'd be delighted if people would keep the LX100 with them at all times and just enjoy shooting.
What's your next dream?
Panasonic has a design philosophy called "Future Craft." In pursuit of this philosophy, true craftsmanship was built into the LX100. If customers grow to like photography more by using the LX100, we'll be more than happy. We'll continue to create products that exceed user expectations by developing them from the standpoint of the users.
• The product in some images is under development and may be changed without notice.