Nikon D800 vs Panasonic LX100
The Nikon D800 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in February 2012 and September 2014. The D800 is a DSLR, while the LX100 is a fixed lens compact. The cameras are based on a full frame (D800) and a Four Thirds (LX100) sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 36.2 megapixels, whereas the Panasonic provides 12.7 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon D800 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.
The physical size and weight of the Nikon D800 and the Panasonic LX100 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The LX100 can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the D800 is only available in black.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Panasonic LX100 is considerably smaller (58 percent) than the Nikon D800. It is worth mentioning in this context that the D800 is splash and dust resistant, while the LX100 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the LX100 has a lens built in, whereas the D800 is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup. You can compare the optics available for the D800 and their specifications in the Nikon Lens Catalog.
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras there.
|1.||Nikon D800||146 mm||123 mm||82 mm||1000 g||900||Y||Feb 2012||2,999|
|2.||Panasonic LX100||115 mm||66 mm||55 mm||393 g||300||n||Sep 2014||899|
|3.||Canon 5D Mark IV||151 mm||116 mm||76 mm||890 g||900||Y||Aug 2016||3,499|
|4.||Canon G1 X Mark II||116 mm||74 mm||66 mm||553 g||240||n||Feb 2014||799|
|5.||Canon 5D Mark III||152 mm||116 mm||76 mm||950 g||950||Y||Mar 2012||3,499|
|6.||Nikon D850||146 mm||124 mm||79 mm||1005 g||1840||Y||Jul 2017||3,299|
|7.||Nikon D810||146 mm||123 mm||82 mm||980 g||1200||Y||Jun 2014||3,299|
|8.||Nikon Df||144 mm||110 mm||67 mm||760 g||1400||Y||Nov 2013||2,749|
|9.||Nikon D610||141 mm||113 mm||82 mm||850 g||900||Y||Oct 2013||1,999|
|10.||Nikon D4||160 mm||157 mm||91 mm||1340 g||2600||Y||Jan 2012||5,999|
|11.||Nikon D600||141 mm||113 mm||82 mm||850 g||900||Y||Sep 2012||2,099|
|12.||Nikon D800E||146 mm||123 mm||82 mm||1000 g||900||Y||Feb 2012||3,299|
|13.||Nikon D700||147 mm||123 mm||77 mm||1074 g||1000||Y||Jul 2008||2,999|
|14.||Panasonic LX100 II||115 mm||66 mm||65 mm||392 g||300||n||Aug 2018||999|
|15.||Panasonic FZ1000||137 mm||99 mm||131 mm||831 g||360||n||Jun 2014||899|
|16.||Panasonic G6||122 mm||85 mm||71 mm||390 g||340||n||Apr 2013||599|
|17.||Panasonic GM1||99 mm||55 mm||30 mm||204 g||230||n||Oct 2013||749|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. The manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The LX100 was launched at a lower price than the D800, despite having a lens built in. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.
The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. A large sensor will generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Nikon D800 features a full frame sensor and the Panasonic LX100 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the LX100 is 79 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.0 and 2.2. The sensor in the D800 has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the LX100 offers a 4:3 aspect. The LX100 has the particularity of featuring a switch that allows to toggle between multiple aspect ratios, while maintaining the same field of view and full image resolution.
Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors.
With 36.2MP, the D800 offers a higher resolution than the LX100 (12.7MP), but the D800 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.88μm versus 3.82μm for the LX100) due to its larger sensor. However, the LX100 is a much more recent model (by 2 years and 7 months) than the D800, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels.
The resolution advantage of the Nikon D800 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the D800 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 36.8 x 24.6 inches or 93.5 x 62.4 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 29.4 x 19.6 inches or 74.8 x 49.9 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 24.5 x 16.4 inches or 62.3 x 41.6 cm. The corresponding values for the Panasonic LX100 are 20.6 x 15.4 inches or 52.2 x 39.2 cm for good quality, 16.4 x 12.4 inches or 41.8 x 31.4 cm for very good quality, and 13.7 x 10.3 inches or 34.8 x 26.1 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Nikon D800 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 6400, which can be extended to ISO 50-25600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100 are ISO 200 to ISO 25600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-25600.
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). Of the two cameras under review, the D800 provides substantially higher image quality than the LX100, with an overall score that is 28 points higher. This advantage is based on 3 bits higher color depth, 1.9 EV in additional dynamic range, and 2.4 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
| DXO |
|1.||Nikon D800||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/30p||25.3||14.4||2853||95|
|2.||Panasonic LX100||Four Thirds||12.7||4112||3088||4K/30p||22.3||12.5||553||67|
|3.||Canon 5D Mark IV||Full Frame||30.1||6720||4480||4K/30p||24.8||13.6||2995||91|
|4.||Canon G1 X Mark II||1.5-inch||13.0||4160||3120||1080/30p||21.5||10.8||581||58|
|5.||Canon 5D Mark III||Full Frame||22.1||5760||3840||1080/30p||24.0||11.7||2293||81|
|6.||Nikon D850||Full Frame||45.4||8256||5504||4K/30p||26.4||14.8||2660||100|
|7.||Nikon D810||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/60p||25.7||14.8||2853||97|
|8.||Nikon Df||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||none||24.6||13.1||3279||89|
|9.||Nikon D610||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/30p||25.1||14.4||2925||94|
|10.||Nikon D4||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||1080/30p||24.7||13.1||2965||89|
|11.||Nikon D600||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/30p||25.1||14.2||2980||94|
|12.||Nikon D800E||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/30p||25.6||14.3||2979||96|
|13.||Nikon D700||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||none||23.5||12.2||2303||80|
|14.||Panasonic LX100 II||Four Thirds||16.8||4736||3552||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|16.||Panasonic G6||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||21.3||11.5||639||61|
|17.||Panasonic GM1||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60i||22.3||11.7||660||66|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the LX100 provides a better video resolution than the D800. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/30p, while the Nikon is limited to 1080/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the LX100 has an electronic viewfinder (2764k dots), while the D800 has an optical one. Both systems have their advantages, with the electronic viewfinder making it possible to project supplementary shooting information into the framing view, whereas the optical viewfinder offers lag-free viewing and a very clear framing image. The viewfinders of both cameras offer the same field of view (100%), as well as the same magnification (0.70x). The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Nikon D800 and Panasonic LX100 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|3.||Canon 5D Mark IV||optical||Y||3.2||1620||fixed||Y||1/8000s||7.0||n||n|
|4.||Canon G1 X Mark II||optional||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||5.2||Y||Y|
|5.||Canon 5D Mark III||optical||Y||3.2||1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.0||n||n|
|14.||Panasonic LX100 II||2764||n||3.0||1240||fixed||Y||1/4000s||11.0||n||Y|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The D800 has one, while the LX100 does not. While the built-in flash of the D800 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.
The reported shutter speed information refers to the use of the mechanical shutter. Yet, some cameras only have an electronic shutter, while others have an electronic shutter in addition to a mechanical one. In fact, the LX100 is one of those camera that have an additional electronic shutter, which makes completely silent shooting possible. However, this mode is less suitable for photographing moving objects (risk of rolling shutter) or shooting under artificial light sources (risk of flickering).
The Nikon D800 and the Panasonic LX100 both have an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.
The D800 writes its imaging data to Compact Flash or SDXC cards, while the LX100 uses SDXC cards. The D800 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the LX100 only has one slot. Both cameras can use UHS-I cards, which provide for Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s.
For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Nikon D800 and Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|3.||Canon 5D Mark IV||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||Y||Y||-|
|4.||Canon G1 X Mark II||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|5.||Canon 5D Mark III||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|14.||Panasonic LX100 II||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||Y|
It is notable that the D800 has a microphone port, which is missing on the LX100. Such an external microphone input can help to substantially improve the quality of audio recordings when a good external microphone is used.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Nikon D800 (unlike the LX100) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
The LX100 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Panasonic. In contrast, the D800 has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the D800 was succeeded by the Nikon D810. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Nikon and Panasonic websites.
So what is the bottom line? Is there a clear favorite between the Nikon D800 and the Panasonic LX100? Which camera is better? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Advantages of the Nikon D800:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (36.2 vs 12.7MP) with a 72% higher linear resolution.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (28 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- Richer colors: Generates images with noticeably better colors (3 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (1.9 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (2.4 stops ISO advantage).
- Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
- Better sound control: Has a headphone port that enables audio monitoring while recording.
- Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
- Easier setting verification: Features an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 3.0") for image review and settings control.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- More flexible: Can take a variety of interchangeable lenses, including specialty optics.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (900 versus 300) on a single battery charge.
- Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.0 vs 2.0).
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in February 2012).
Reasons to prefer the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100:
- Flexible image proportions: Has a multi-aspect sensor that allows for alternative image shapes.
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 1080/30p).
- More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (11 vs 4 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
- Ready to shoot: Comes with an integrated lens, while the D800 requires a separate lens.
- More compact: Is smaller (115x66mm vs 146x123mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight even though it has a lens built in (unlike the D800).
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
- More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a built-in lens.
- More modern: Reflects 2 years and 7 months of technical progress since the D800 launch.
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D800 is the clear winner of the match-up (19 : 13 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision. A professional wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Nikon D800 and the Panasonic LX100 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera and Best Travel-Zoom Camera listings whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the D800 or the LX100 perform in practice. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate.
This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.
|1.||Nikon D800||5/5||+ +||82/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2012||2,999|
|2.||Panasonic LX100||5/5||+ +||85/100||5/5||5/5||Sep 2014||899|
|3.||Canon 5D Mark IV||4.5/5||+ +||87/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2016||3,499|
|4.||Canon G1 X Mark II||3/5||+||77/100||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2014||799|
|5.||Canon 5D Mark III||..||+ +||82/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2012||3,499|
|6.||Nikon D850||4.5/5||+ +||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jul 2017||3,299|
|7.||Nikon D810||5/5||..||86/100||5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2014||3,299|
|8.||Nikon Df||4/5||..||81/100||4/5||4/5||Nov 2013||2,749|
|9.||Nikon D610||4/5||+ +||87/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2013||1,999|
|10.||Nikon D4||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2012||5,999|
|11.||Nikon D600||4/5||+ +||87/100||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,099|
|12.||Nikon D800E||..||..||84/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2012||3,299|
|13.||Nikon D700||..||89/100||+ +||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2008||2,999|
|14.||Panasonic LX100 II||4.5/5||+||82/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2018||999|
|15.||Panasonic FZ1000||4/5||+ +||82/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2014||899|
|16.||Panasonic G6||4/5||+ +||..||5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2013||599|
|17.||Panasonic GM1||3/5||+||78/100||5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2013||749|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
Specifications: Nikon D800 vs Panasonic LX100
Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.
|Camera Model||Nikon D800||Panasonic LX100|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Fixed lens compact camera|
|Camera Lens||Nikon F mount lenses||24-75mm f/1.7-2.8|
|Launch Date||February 2012||September 2014|
|Launch Price||USD 2,999||USD 899|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon D800||Panasonic LX100|
|Sensor Format||Full Frame Sensor||Four Thirds Sensor|
|Sensor Size||35.9 x 24.0 mm||15.7 x 11.8 mm|
|Sensor Area||861.6 mm2||185.26 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||43.2 mm||19.6 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||36.2 Megapixels||12.7 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||7360 x 4912 pixels||4112 x 3088 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.88 μm||3.82 μm|
|Pixel Density||4.20 MP/cm2||6.85 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/30p Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 6,400 ISO||200 - 25,600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||50 - 25,600 ISO||100 - 25,600 ISO|
|Image Processor||EXPEED 3||Venus|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||95||67|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||25.3||22.3|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||14.4||12.5|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||2853||553|
|Screen Specs||Nikon D800||Panasonic LX100|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||2764k dots|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||no Top Display|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.2inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||921k dots||921k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Nikon D800||Panasonic LX100|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/8000s||1/4000s|
|Continuous Shooting||4 shutter flaps/s||11 shutter flaps/s|
|Electronic Shutter||no E-Shutter||up to 1/16000s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||Intervalometer built-in|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF or SDXC cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||UHS-I||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Nikon D800||Panasonic LX100|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||no PC Sync|
|USB Connector||USB 3.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||no MIC socket|
|Headphone Socket||Headphone port||no Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||no NFC||NFC built-in|
|Body Specs||Nikon D800||Panasonic LX100|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||not weather sealed|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||900 shots per charge||300 shots per charge|
146 x 123 x 82 mm
(5.7 x 4.8 x 3.2 in)
115 x 66 x 55 mm
(4.5 x 2.6 x 2.2 in)
|Camera Weight||1000 g (35.3 oz)||393 g (13.9 oz)|
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