Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX01
- Good feature set, Low chromatic aberration, Compact.
- Pictures just average.
A solid camera that has some nice features and takes reasonable quality pictures.
Price$ 659.00 (AUD)
Panasonic's FX-01 is a fairly competent compact camera. The big selling point is its wide angle lens, which is unusual on such a small camera. Lens aside, it doesn't do anything particularly special, but offers a package that combines reasonable image quality with an above average feature set. If you aren't buying a camera to take and print massive enlargements it's a good buy.
Image quality is obviously paramount when it comes to picking a camera, and while the FX-01 didn't perform badly in any of our tests, its results were often slightly below average. We were pleased however with the result in our chromatic aberration test, achieving a score of just .80%. Most cameras hover around the 1% area, so in this regard its performance was quite good.
The sharpness score was slightly less impressive at just 1228. A lot of the 6 megapixel models we've looked at recently have achieved results in the high 1200s or low 1300s, and so while the FX-01 didn't fall too far shy of this it's still behind. Our test shots reflected this, with reasonably clean edges at smaller magnifications, but some noticeable blurring and colour fringing at larger sizes. This model will be fine for day to day snapshots printed at 4 X 6 inches or 6 X 8 inches, but for more robust enlargements it's not so suitable.
The FX-01 was also let down a little by its noise results. It scored .61% which is again not a bad result, but not quite comparable to the scores achieved by other models in this category which average between .4% and .5%. This certainly doesn't have too much of an impact on the photographs, although there were very faint levels of noise visible on some black backgrounds. The camera scaled very well however with higher ISO settings - at its highest sensitivity of ISO 1600 it scored almost as well as ISO 80, indicating that it will perform well in fast paced or dark situations.
Fortunately the camera's performance in our colour tests were a little better. With a score of 7.35 it was slightly above average for a model in this category, though it had slight issues with warm colours: reds, oranges and yellows. The rest of the spectrum was fairly well represented, particularly greens and blues which were virtually spot on, as can be seen in our result graphs.
Overall the FX-01's image quality is fairly good. Its chromatic aberration performance was the one area we were really pleased with. In our other tests it either achieved slightly above or slightly below average results.
The speed tests returned a similar set of results, with the FX-01 achieving average scores. Its .1 second shutter lag was a little sluggish compared to some of the newer competitors, whereas the 1.7 second shot-to-shot time was about what we were expecting. It took roughly 1.8 seconds to power up, which is again on par with the average.
Can you guess the running theme with this model yet? Thankfully the feature list is a little more robust - the continuous shot modes are quite good, operating at either three frames per second for six shots on the faster mode, or two frames per second for an infinite number of shots on the slower. However there are just three whitebalance presets, along with a rather simple custom option. ISO settings extend from 80 to 400, although there is a 'High Sensitivity' scene mode which offers ISO 1600. We don't understand why Panasonic didn't just make ISO 1600 an option in the menu system if the camera is capable of performing at this level, as you sacrifice the ability to alter whitebalance when using a scene mode.
There are 17 scene modes in total, which is quite a reasonable number for a compact. As stated earlier, you also have the option of shooting in widescreen, for 16:9 pictures, but this operates at a maximum resolution of 4.5 megapixels instead of the camera's maximum of 6. Still a nifty addition. Rounding out the feature list is Panasonic's Optical Image Stabilisation, which comes on all of their cameras. It does a pretty good job of compensating for those of us with less than steady hands.
The real selling point of the FX-01 however isn't just the ability to shoot in widescreen, but that it can do it in such a small size. Measuring just 94.1mm x 51.1mm x 24.2mm, it's certainly compact. All the buttons are well laid out and easily accessible, which is also a plus. We really like the horizontal function wheel Panasonic is implementing on the smaller compacts, it's intuitive and easy to use.
Overall this is a solid compact camera. The quality of its pictures won't blow you away, but it has a good feature set and is extremely small. If large, high quality prints aren't your main concern the FX-01 may be just what you need.
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