Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX07
- Good colour representation, Nice continuous shot mode
- Noisy pictures, Poor sharpness
While it does offer some nifty features, the FX07 produces noisy pictures no quite on par with other competing models.
Price$ 659.00 (AUD)
The newest entry into Panasonic's lineup of compact cameras, the Lumix DMC-FX07 is a decent but not outstanding compact camera. Its 7.2 megapixel sensor didn't perform quite up to expectations in our sharpness and noise tests although its colour results were significantly better. It does however offer a few features including ISO settings up to 1600, widescreen shooting and optical image stabilisation, which make it somewhat more of an attractive choice.
The big selling point of this model is the high sensitivity settings combined with Panasonic's optical image stabilisation. ISO can be manually set up to ISO 1600, but using the 'High Sensitivity' scene mode bumps this up even further to 3200. High ISO settings are beneficial both in low light and high speed situations, and help reduce blurring, however this also has the side effect of generating a lot of image noise.
The FX07 suffered quite badly in this regard. Even at its lowest setting of ISO100, it received a score of .88% in Imatest, which is quite poor. Upon inspecting the shots it was clear there was some noticeable noise, but this was extremely fine white speckling, rather than the blotchy, colourful haze we've seen on some other models, making it less of a problem than it could have been. The image noise isn't really visible at smaller magnifications and will only become an issue if you're enlarging your prints.
At higher ISO settings however this blotchy noise was exactly what we encountered. At both ISO 800 and 1600, as well as when running the 'High Sensitivity' scene mode, our shots were virtually unusable. The noise was thick and quite large, and was visible even at smaller image sizes. It is great that Panasonic has included higher sensitivities as they allow more creativity, but a little more work needs to be done to make them truly useful.
The FX07's performance in the rest of our image quality tests was a mixed bag. It scored just 1188 in our sharpness test, results that are not on par with other 7 megapixel models (these usually score 1300-1400). On the other hand, it achieved an extremely low chromatic aberration score of just .66% which is a very strong result for a compact camera. Our test shots were quite crisp and clear, and although the sharpness score is what we'd expect from a 5 megapixel model, the low chromatic aberration goes some way to rectifying the issue.
Our sharpness test did however highlight another issue with this camera, and that is high levels of undersharpening. This refers to the sharpening algorithm within the camera that is applied to the picture after it is taken, and while not as problematic as oversharpening, it is still an issue to aware of. It is most visible in some of our outdoor shots, where the edges aren't nearly as clean as they should be.
Thankfully the FX07 achieved strong results in our colour tests with a score of 7.31 in Imatest. Our test shots showed a little oversaturation in the blue and red spectrum, and Imatest confirmed this, but surprisingly green was the least accurate colour. In general our shots were colourful and well balanced so this should please most people.
This performance carried over into our speed tests as well, with the FX07 performing quickly in all areas. Its .08 second shutter lag is competitive with other models, while its 1.1 second shot to shot time and 1.5 second power-up time are even more impressive. Overall this is an extremely speedy camera.
Panasonic's optical image stabilisation (O.I.S) technology is quite well known by now as it has been on all of their cameras over the last year or so. It helps remove blurring from shots stemming from unsteady hands or long exposures. It is much more useful on an advanced camera with proper shutter controls and a bigger zoom, but even on the 3x zoom FX07 it is a nice addition, and helps combat hand shake.
Other than the O.I.S, the FX07 has a fairly standard Panasonic feature set. It has the option to shoot in widescreen, but this simply drops the resolution to 5.5 megapixels and places black bars on either side of the screen, rather than being true 7 megapixel widescreen. There are white balance presets as well as a manual setting and a variety of autofocus options. We quite liked the three continuous shot modes: the high speed option takes 4.5 shots a second up to a limit of six shots, while the other two modes both operate at three frames per second but are unlimited. These are quite a bit quicker than your average compact, and having both modes available is a definite bonus.
The FX07 follows the traditional design Panasonic created with prior models such as the FX3. It is slim and quite lightweight at just 175g and the chassis is made entirely of matte silver metal. It looks fairly stylish, and is much more solid than your average compact, thanks to the metal design. We love what Panasonic has done with the controls on this model. It uses a standard directional pad and function wheel, but the pad is raised about a millimetre off the back of the unit, which makes it exceptionally comfortable to use.
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