Introducing Nauticam NA-LX100
The Panasonic LUMIX DMC-LX100 Camera
Camera manufacturers continue to pack larger sensors and more competent image processing into compact cameras. The LX100 is an exciting example of just that, with perhaps more solid features per square inch than any other camera on the market. For starters, there is a true Four Thirds sensor, cleverly used to support the multiple aspect ratio creative option on the camera. Then there is the very fast lens (f1.7 at the wide end, and f/2.8 zoomed), with a very useful 24mm - 75mm equivalent range. Using the equivalent aperture comparison technique, this lens is on average at least a stop faster than Canon G7X and G1XII, Fujifilm X30, Sony RX100II and RX100III, and the Panasonic LX7, across the entire focal length.
The biggest new feature here is 4K video. Panasonic has managed to squeeze 100Mbps 4K video into this compact camera. And unlike that ubiquitous POV camera, the u/w videographer gets control over things like the FOV (zoom), aperture, shutter speed, white balance, gain, photo style (contrast, saturation, noise reduction, sharpnes).
Panasonic LUMIX DMC-LX100 Key Specifications
- 13MP Four Thirds CMOS Sensor
- Expanded ISO 100-25,600
- 24-75mm equivalent f/1.7-2.8 zoom lens
- 1/4000 sec max shutter speed
- 4K/30p UHD video recording
The Nauticam NA-LX100 Underwater Housing
Nauticam first "supported" the LX series with the LX5 in early 2011, recognizing the image quality and capabilities of this compact system. The housing for the LX7 followed suit in 2013. The NA-LX100 benefits from this lineage, and is the most refined of the LX housings to date. This is a compact underwater housing designed to allow the user to harness the full potential of advanced compact camera in water.
All of the basic functions and ergonomic enhancements that Nauticam users have grown to know and love are incorporated in NA-LX100. The housing is machined from a solid block of aluminum, then hard anodized to seal out corrosive salt water. It is closed via a simple, yet secure locking rotary latch. The right side of the housing is sculpted to fit the palm of the user's hand, and Nauticam's two-stage shutter release lever provides clear differentiation between the half press and full press shutter release positions. All functions are clearly labeled, and an m14 accessory socket allows an optional vacuum valve to be installed.
The LX100 camera presents some unique challenges to the housing designer – the aperture ring, aspect ratio dial, and on/off switch, in particular. Although this necessitates pre-setting these three controls when inserting or removing the camera, this housing does provide the user complete and very ergonomic control over these vital functions, even going so far as to label the stops/positions for all three controls.
The NA-LX100, like the NA-G7X released earlier, features the new Nauticam interchangeable port system for compact cameras with long throw lenses. Called the "N50" mount, it allows optical solutions to be precisely dialed in for maximum performance in water. Ports are attached via a bayonet fitting, and locked securely in place.
The zoom lever is placed for easy access allowing the video maker smooth zooms. A locking ring prevents over zoom when using the short port.
This housing also includes handle brackets for use with the optional Flexitray or Easitray, providing additional stability – important when shooting high resolution video.
The Nauticam leak alarm and vacuum monitoring system is installed as standard equipment. This system provides an audible and visual alert to any water entry in the housing, and when combined with an accessory M16 Vacuum Valve (#25612) the water tight integrity of the system can be tested before ever entering the water and monitored during every dive.
The NA-LX100 is the most rugged, ergonomic, and well designed option to take this powerful, yet compact camera underwater.
The New N50 Port System
Because of the specific camera and lens function of the Panasonic LX100, a special port system is required to fully realize the potential of accessory wide angle lenses underwater.
The NA-LX100 "standard" port, supplied with the housing, allows full zoom through and is wide enough to be shot with the lens at full wide with no vignetting. An optional flip mounting attachment (25107 M67 Flip Diopter Holder for NA-LX100 Standard Port) allows use of standard accessory macro lenses. This port is ideal for mid-range fish portraiture style shooting, close-up, and macro with add on wet-lenses.
A dome port solution is also available, restoring the in-air field of view of the lens with some zoom through possible. This is a lightweight configuration that offers a surprisingly wide angle of coverage. This port is called N50 3.5″ Acrylic Dome Port (#38702).
An optional N50 Short Port with M67 Thread for Wide Angle Lenses (#38701) is also available, offering precise placement of wide wet-lenses very close to the camera's lens at its wide angle zoom position. Zoom through is not available with this port, but it does offer the widest coverage possible with minimal vignetting for wide angle photography. Testing indicates that the Inon UWL-H100 (either in the m67 mount or the LD mount) is an ideal wide angle lens for the NA-LX100.