Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS20
- Improved Intelligent Auto mode; vibrant 10.1Mp images; large, good quality LCD screen
- Occasionally lethargic shutter response times, Easy Zoom seems pointless, not compatible with FS5 marine case
The DMC-FS20 is every bit as impressive as the FS5; offering the same hassle-free interface with a slightly bigger LCD. If you're a casual happy-snapper with exacting standards (and zero patience), it will definitely satisfy.
Price$ 549.00 (AUD)
In recent years, it has become customary for camera manufacturers to release a tiered range of models at barely distinguishable prices; presumably in an attempt to cover every shopper's budget. For proof, look no further than the Lumix DMC-FS20, a premium point-and-click camera that retails for just $50 more than its sister model (the Lumix DMC-FS5).
As you would expect, there isn't a whole lot to separate the DMC-FS20 from its similarly priced sibling. Both models come equipped with an identical 30mm Leica lens with 4x optical zoom and a 10.1-megapixel CCD sensor (capable of capturing stunning high-definition images at a resolution of 1290x1080 pixels), as well as the same basic modes and features. So what does your extra 50 bucks get you, exactly? In short, a slightly bigger LCD screen; up from 2.5in to a full 3 inches. Otherwise, both cameras are practically identical in every way.
To the average buyer, this might seem like a pretty good deal ($50 isn't exactly a lot of money after all), but there are a few disadvantages to be aware of. For starters, while the larger display certainly looks a lot nicer, it means that the DMC-FS20 has a noticeably shorter battery life. Plus, its slightly bulkier size has rendered it incompatible with the FS5/FS3 marine case (an underwater housing for Lumix cameras). This makes the DMC-FS5 a better companion for seaside holidays; at least until Panasonic releases a similar marine case for the DMC-FS20. Apart from these small caveats, the DMC-FS20 is every bit as impressive as the FS5; offering exceptional image quality and easy operation.
As with the other cameras in Panasonic's Lumix compact range, the DMC-FS20 utilises the latest 'Intelligent Auto' (iA) technology. iA is designed to take the complexity out of photography by continually auto-adjusting settings behind the scenes; allowing you to take attractive photos with zero effort. It encompasses everything from the appropriate scene mode to ISO sensitivity, and usually the results are surprisingly accurate. For its latest generation of iA cameras, Panasonic has thrown in a few additional enhancements; including automatic exposure and built-in red-eye reduction software (though the latter isn't present on this particular model).
We're happy to report that the DMC-FS20 utilises Intelligent Auto just as effectively as the other iA units we've looked at. As we tramped our way through a variety of lighting conditions and environments, it mixed and matched camera modes with considerable success. As mid-afternoon gradually gave way to night, our test shots remained well balanced and relatively crisp without any manual input necessary. All up, we would probably rate iA's performance as being on par with the 'auto fix' on a top-notch editing application.
Another neat feature offered by Intelligent Auto is the Face Detection System. Using complex computerised algorithms which we find mildly terrifying, it allows cameras to 'see' faces in an image before adjusting the focus and exposure accordingly. Up to 15 faces can be detected in any one frame, with handy box indicators highlighting targeted noggins. Again, we found this feature to be a great time-saver that works better than it has any right to (making the inevitable global destruction by an army of super-smart cameras worth it).
For those who would prefer a hands-on approach, the DMC-FS5 has 20 scene mode presets which can be accessed from the menu screen. Needlessly to say, there's a mode for practically every conceivable situation. Other manual features include multiple flash modes, adjustable white balance and ISO sensitivities (up to 1600), a high-speed burst mode offering up to six shots per second, macro modes, adjustable image sizes, exposure settings and a self timer.
In terms of build quality and design, the DMC-F20 is indistinguishable from the rest of the Lumix compact range; which is to say it's a bit plain and simple; but small enough to fit in your pocket. The controls are well laid out with a straightforward menu interface that the average novice will have no problems navigating. Meanwhile, the 3in LCD did a great job of displaying our pictures, with the automatic 'backlight booster' assisting clarity in sunny conditions. If you're the type of user who frequently previews your happy snaps, this is one area where the DMC-F20 trumps the FS5, with the slightly roomier screen definitely boosting clarity.
Much like with the DMC-FS5, we found that the FS20's shutter release speed to be a tad less zippy than advertised. Despite running on Panasonic's latest Venus Engine IV processor, the response time between pressing the shutter button and capturing a shot tended to vary. Likewise, the Easy Zoom, which automatically shifts the lens to its full magnification, felt as superfluous and ill-placed as it did on the FS5. Otherwise, this is a superb compact camera that has been tailor-made with point-and-shooters in mind.
Join the PC World newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Dell XPS 13 laptop (early 2015 model)
- 2 Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ70 compact camera
- 3 HP Stream 8 tablet with Windows 8.1
- 4 Samsung Gear VR virtual reality headset
- 5 Alienware 13 gaming laptop
Join the PC World newsletter!
Best Deals on GoodGearGuide
Latest News Articles
- Canon's 5DS SLR has a monster 50.6 megapixel image sensor
- Olympus targets movie makers with OM-D E-M5 Mark II camera
- Sony unveils cheapest 4K camcorder yet
- HTC's Re lifestyle camera goes on sale for $249
- Sydney Airport lost property auction: you'll be amazed at what some people left behind
GGG Evaluation Team
First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.
The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.
The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.
My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.
- FTDigital Ad Operations ManagerQLD
- FTDigital Ad Operations ManagerNSW
- CCInformation ArchitectNSW
- FTEmail Campaign Manager - leading fashion group!NSW
- FTDigital Producer - Mobile AppsNSW
- FTDigital Producer - ConsumerNSW
- CCSenior Release EngineerNSW
- FTCRM Campaign ManagerNSW
- FTDigital Communications Specialist | Internet Services| BrisbaneNSW
- FTApplication Support SpecialistNSW
- CCSenior Systems EngineerNSW
- FTMarketing Executive | MusicNSW
- FTSenior SQL DBANSW
- CC.Net Solution ArchitectNSW
- FTProduct Producer | MobileNSW
- CCMobile iOS DeveloperNSW
- FTMobile Sales managerNSW
- FTMedia Sales Executive - Client Side!!NSW
- CCMobile Designer / Developer - IOSNSW
- FTAgency Sales Manager - Software Sales - Major Global Tech Company!NSW
- CCDBA (Oracle/SQL)NSW
- FT.Net Solution ArchitectNSW
- CCMobile Designer / Developer - IOSNSW