The Mission of the 4/3-inch Sensor
The Story Behind LUMIX LX100 Development
Relaying the passion of the people behind the LUMIX LX100 development.
Adding the Final Element — Excellent Image Quality — to the Process of Shooting with the LX100
Please describe your overall imaging goal.
We knew that customers would have high expectations for the LX100. After all, it has the same 4/3-inch sensor as the LUMIX G Series and an F1.7-2.8 / 24-75mm large-diameter lens that stirs up visions of the LUMIX G X VARIO 12-35mm lens that's a well-known interchangeable lens. Our goal was to respond to the surprise and anticipation that people had from the notion that "the image quality of the LUMIX G Series is packed into this compact camera."
We took extra care in "textural rendering." For example, wood grain, metallic luster, textile materials, and people's smooth, attractive complexions. The LX100 also lets you add perspective to your shots with its 24mm wide-angle, so the expression of depth was essential. The F1.7 large-diameter lens, 4/3-inch sensor and Venus Engine made this kind of expression possible.
Image quality is the final element in the various processes of shooting with the LX100, a camera designed to bring pure pleasure to photography. As such, it was vital that we leave the customer with no doubts in the finished photos. And the LX100 also owes its overall quality to many other developers who worked on various aspects of it. We were given the important task of ensuring the LX100's excellent image quality. This was a crucial element in determining the success of so many people's work. These thoughts guided our imaging development.
Maximizing Performance for the LX100
What kind of engineering led to using the 4/3-inch sensor?
Even though the 4/3-inch sensor is used in the LUMIX G Series, its true power cannot be achieved by simply connecting the sensor terminal and camera PCB. Raising the image quality by maximizing the performance with the multi-aspect feature and F1.7 large-diameter lens was made possible by the considerable skill of our sensor block design team. Taking advantage of our experience with the LUMIX G Series also led us to a thorough pursuit of performance, and we devoted our efforts on the area in which the customer held the highest expectations — image quality.
High Sensitivity and High Speed with the 4/3-inch Sensor
What are the strengths of the 4/3-inch sensor?
One is sensitivity. Increasing the sensor size allowed us to raise the sensitivity to ISO25600. Another feature is that the cell size of each pixel was also expanded, so more light could be brought in than was previously possible. On the other hand, unnecessary light also entered. The sensor detects light that is invisible to the human eye, but can't judge whether that light is necessary or not. A filter had been used to keep it within the visible spectrum of the human eye. We reviewed the use of devices such as an IR cut filter between the lens and the sensor, and recollected data, starting from zero, for tuning.
Another feature of the 4/3-inch sensor is its high-speed readout. This affects motion images and burst shots, and the larger the sensor, the more difficult it becomes. Here too, we were able to take advantage of our experience with the LUMIX G Series. In the LX100, we achieved 11 fps burst shooting and, in combination with the Venus Engine, we also succeeded with 4K video.
In terms of high-speed performance, DFD (Depth From Defocus) technology, which instantly calculates the distance to the subject, is also a feature. It was made possible in the LX100 by the Venus Engine. Combining DFD technology with Contrast AF gave us faster, higher-precision AF.
Multi-Aspect — An LX Series Tradition
What are your thoughts about the multi-aspect function?
We were told by the Product Planning Team that they definitely wanted the LX100 to have the multi-aspect function, and our response was, "Of course, it will." We would have been shocked if they had suggested leaving it out. In my personal opinion, an LX camera without the multi-aspect function simply isn't a true LX.
Being able to change the aspect ratio with a switch on the lens barrel, and having the aspect bracket function are LX specialties. When someone decides they want to take a shot with a certain angle of view, a person with a lot of shooting experience can instantly make the change. Now, a novice can also easily try a variety of different angles.
Ready for the Moment a Dream Shot Appears
What point do you want users to enjoy most?
I just want the user to shoot with the fullest possible enjoyment — whether it's a high-sensitivity shot in a dark room, an intuitive adjustment of the shutter speed and aperture, switching the aspect ratio, adding a beautiful bokeh effect with the fully open F1.7, shooting with the 3.1x optical zoom, or taking an ultra close-up with the 3cm macro. The LX100 lets users feel free to try a variety of different shots. As the person in charge of image quality, I devoted my full effort to provide a level of quality that will satisfy the user in all kinds of shooting, and I'm confident that I succeeded.
What's your dream for the future?
There's a photo that I want to take. It's a scene where a space rocket has just been launched, with white and orange flames shooting out against a pitch black, nighttime sky. It would require the rare occurrence of a rocket launch, which are even rarer at night, with an instantaneous shot of the rocket lifting off into space. It would be a very difficult scene demanding high contrast and a wide dynamic range. Someday I want to be holding my camera when this kind of nearly impossible shutter chance appears, and I want to create a camera that'll capture the instant in all of its natural beauty. That's my imaging motivation.
• The product in some images is under development and may be changed without notice.