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You are hereHome > Digital Camera Reviews > Panasonic FS20

Panasonic Digital Cameras

   

Panasonic FS20 Review

Review Date: Apr 29, 2008

Category: Point-and-Shoot

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS20

HANDLING & FEEL

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS20 is a stylish and ultra compact digital camera with a 30mm wide-angle lens that can be easily slipped in a trousers pocket or small fashion purse. It uses the Secure Digital (SD and large capacity SDHC) memory card.

The FS20 is a new series targeted to those looking for an affordable and easy-to-use point-and-shoot digital camera. The build is very good with a clean design and intuitive controls. A vertical chrome bar serves as a handy grip. The use of the wrist strap is still highly recommended.

The lens is almost flush with the body when the camera is off, but powered on, the lens extends out approx. 19mm (0.75 in.).

Performance is good: startup time is about 1 sec., shot to shot times about 3 sec. (with writing the image to memory card taking about 2 out of these 3 seconds). In good lighting and with a contrasty subject, there is no practical shutter lag. Otherwise, autofocus which is fast and precise in good lighting, can take up to 1 sec. in low-light.

STYLE
- Colours: black, silver or pink
- Looks: clean and elegant design
   
FEEL
- Quality
- Controls are on the small side but quite intuitive to use
   
DIMENSIONS & WEIGHT
- Ultra Compact
- Dimensions: 94.9 x 57.1 x 22.9 mm /
3.74 x 2.25 x 0.9 in.
- Weight: 154 g ( 0.34 lb) with Battery and SD Memory Card
- Takes 1 rechargeable Li-ion battery DMW-BCE10PP 3.6V 1000mAh (@ 280 shots/charge)
   
SPEED OF OPERATION
- Startup with lens extension and LCD turning on in approx. 1 sec.
- Shot to shot time approx. 3 sec.
- No practical shutter lag in good lighting and with contrasty subjects
   

Included in the box is a rechargeable Li-ion battery that can take about 280 shots with LCD on (CIPA standard) on a fresh charge and a Battery Charger DE-A39B that will recharge a new battery in approx. 120 min. The Battery Charger is of the type that plugs directly into a wall electrical socket.

Controls

Panasonic FS20 top view

The top of the camera has, from right to left, the E.ZOOM (Easy Zoom) Button, the Shutter Release Button, the Zoom Lever around the Shutter Button, and the Power ON/OFF switch. The one hole to the left is the Microphone, and the 3 holes are for the Speaker. There is no Mode Dial; it has been replaced by a MODE button on the back of the camera.

The Easy Zoom button allows you to conveniently and quickly zoom all the way to max. Tele (Optical, Extended, then Digital, if set ON). Then press E.ZOOM again to quickly return to max. wide.

The Zoom Lever is around the Shutter Button and it takes about 2.5 sec. to zoom from wide to tele. I counted about 22 intermediate steps, which makes it possible to stop the zoom pretty much at the point where you want it to. This is is excellent since other digicams typically give you only 9 or less steps.

Image Stabilizer Mode1 and Mode 2

To select an Optical Image Stabilizer mode, you'd need to go into the Menu or Q.MENU: set it to OFF when putting the camera on a tripod; MODE 1, if you want to see the effect of image stabilization at all times; MODE 2, for the most effective stabilization, which takes place just before the image is taken.

Burst Mode

Burst Mode allows you to take up to 3 or 5 images (depending on Quality selected) at 2.5fps, and an unlimited number of images (depending on the space available on your memory card) at approx. 2fps in Unlimited mode.

# Images (Fine)
50MB
4GB
4:3
3648x2736
10M
9
799
3072x2304
7M EZ
14
1127
2560x1920
5M EZ
20
1611
2048x1536
3M EZ
32
2481
1600x1200
2M EZ
51
3877
640x480
0.3M EZ
249
17729
3:2
3648x2432
9M
11
898
3072x2048
6M EZ
15
1265
2560x1712
4.5M EZ
22
1797
2048x1360
2.5M EZ
36
2757
16:9
3648x2056
7.5M
13
1060
3072x1728
5.5M EZ
18
1494
2560x1440
3.5M EZ
27
2102
1920x1080
2M EZ
47
3649

 

# Images (Standard)
50MB
4GB
4:3
3648x2736
10M
20
1570
3072x2304
7M EZ
28
2215
2560x1920
5M EZ
40
3101
2048x1536
3M EZ
62
4772
1600x1200
2M EZ
97
7299
640x480
0.3M EZ
405
24821
3:2
3648x2432
9M
22
1772
3072x2048
6M EZ
32
2481
2560x1712
4.5M EZ
45
3446
2048x1360
2.5M EZ
69
5170
16:9
3648x2056
7.5M
26
2067
3072x1728
5.5M EZ
37
2885
2560x1440
3.5M EZ
53
4002
1920x1080
2M EZ
92
6894

You can record 2GB clip movies with sound (until the memory card is full) at either 848 x 480 (16:9 aspect ratio) or 640 x 480 or 320x240 pixels (both at 4:3 aspect ratio) at 30fps or 10fps. You cannot zoom during movie recording.

Video Storage Capacity
4GB
16:9
848x480
30fps
19m 21s
10fps
57m 37s
4:3 VGA
640x480
30fps
22m 34s
10fps
1h 07m 05s
4:3 QVGA
320x240
30fps
1h 07m 04s
10fps
3h 14m 55s

On a 4GB SDHC card you will be able to record about 22m 34s of 4:3 VGA (640x480 pixels) at 30fps. If you plan to record lots of clips plus still photos, we recommend using a 4GB high-speed (at least 10MB/s) or higher capacity SDHC memory card. [Note than if you opt to use a 4GB card, ensure it has the "SDHC", and not just the "SD", logo; only the SDHC 4GB card is usable in the FS20.]

Panasonic FS20 back controls

FUNCTIONS ACCESSIBLE BY CONTROL BUTTONS
-

PLAYback / RECording switch.

-

The Mode Button brings up a selection of Shooting Modes on the LCD:

  • Intelligent Auto
  • Normal Picture
  • Scene Mode 1
  • Scene Mode 2
  • Motion Picture
-

DISPLAY. Press button repeatedly to cycle through: Normal, add Guide Lines (selected in SETUP), No Info displayed.

-

JOYSTICK.

There are no ARROWS button per se, but there is a small joystick that juts out and you move it UP, DOWN, RIGHT and LEFT to act as the ARROWS buttons:

  • UP ARROW (Exposure Compensation, Auto Bracket)
  • RIGHT ARROW (Flash)
  • DOWN ARROW (Macro)
  • LEFT ARROW (Self-timer 10s, 2s)

Bringing up Auto Bracketing using the UP ARROW (press twice) is super convenient!

In Intelligent Auto mode, UP ARROW toggle the LCD Backlight ON and OFF.

Press the JOYSTICK in to activate MENU/SET, which calls up the Menu.

-

Q.MENU/DELETE button.

Recording Mode: Q,MENU. Press to bring up a Quick Menu displayed across the top of the screen; a quick and convenient way to change options without going into the Menu proper.

Playback Mode: DELETE. I've always loved the way the Delete function is implemented on Panasonic digital cameras. All three Delete options are now conveniently accessible on this one screen: Single, Multi and All. No need to access the Menu!

   
EXPOSURE COMPENSATION
- Exposure Compensation is accessed with the UP ARROW
- Once set, the Exposure Compensation Indicator conveniently stays displayed on screen until it is reset to "0"
- Range: -2 EV to +2 EV (13 steps in 1/3 EV increments)
- The screen brightness will increase or decrease to reflect the value you use
- Note: the exposure compensation value selected is retained even when the camera is turned off. So remember to reset to "0" after using it or the next time you turn the camera on, your shots may be over- or under-exposed.
- Press UP ARROW again to call up Auto Bracket. Very convenient.
   
SHUTTER SPEED RANGES
- P: 1 - 1/2,000 sec.
Fireworks scene mode: 2 sec.
Night Scenery scene mode: 8 sec.
Starry Sky scene mode: 15, 30, 60 sec.
   

LCD & Menus

There is no viewfinder but an extra large 3.0 in. LCD monitor with a high 230,000 pixels resolution. The LCD has a fast enough refresh rate for a smooth display. The LCD monitor's brightness can be adjusted in MENU/SETUP. An Auto Power LCD function boosts the LCD backlighting automatically depending on the ambient lighting and makes it easier to view when shooting outdoors in bright sunshine. The LCD gains up only slightly in low-light.

There is an effective AF-assist Illuminator and I've found auto focusing to be quite fast and precise in low-light situations. Of course, it depends on your subject having good contrast.

Panasonic's menu structure is probably the best there is. It is very easy to understand and use. Where necessary, the menu becomes transparent to allow you to see the effect of your choices (e.g. for WB and Color Effect). There are 3 RECord and 4 SETUP pages worth of menu settings.

REC 1 of 3

- Picture Size
- Image Quality
- Aspect Ratio
- Intelligent ISO
- ISO Sensitivity

REC 2 of 3

- White Balance
- AF Mode
- Quick AF
- Burst
- Digital Zoom

REC 3 of 3

- Color Mode
- Image Stabilizer
- AF Assist Lamp
- Clock Set

PICTURE SIZE

- 10M
- 7M
- 5M
- 3M
- 2M
- 0.3M

IMAGE QUALITY

- Fine
- Standard

ASPECT RATIO

- 4:3
- 3:2
- 16:9

INTELLIGENT ISO

- Camera automatically selects Shutter Speed and ISO depending on subject movement in order to reduce blur
- Camera will not go above selected max ISO

- 400
- 800
- 1600

ISO SENSITIVITY

- Auto
- 100
- 200
- 400
- 800
- 1600

WHITE BALANCE 1 of 2

- Auto WB
- Outdoor, Clear Sky
- Outdoor, Cloudy Sky
- Outdoor, Shade
- Halogen Lighting
- Manual WB

WHITE BALANCE 2 of 2

- Set Manual WB

AF MODE

- Face Detection
- 9-Area
- 1-Area High Speed
- 1-Area

BURST

- Off
- 2.5 fps (max. 3 Fine, 5 Standard)
- @ 2 fps (becomes progressively slower, until memory card is full)

Note: - For even faster burst, see Hi-Speed Burst scene mode

COLOR MODE 1 of 2

- Standard
- Natural
- Vivid
- B/W
- Sepia
- Cool

COLOR MODE 2 of 2


- Warm

OPTICAL IMAGE STABILIZER

- Off
- MODE 1 - Stabilizer is continuously on (useful when trying to compose at full tele)
- MODE 2 - Stabilizer is most effective and acts only when the shutter button is pressed

 

SETUP 1 of 4

- Clock Set
- World Time
- Monitor Brightness
- LCD Mode
- Beep

SETUP 2 of 4

- Volume
- Guide Line
- Travel Date
- Economy
- Auto Review

SETUP 3 of 4

- No. Reset
- Reset
- USB Mode
- Video Out
- TV Aspect

SETUP 4 of 4

- m/ft
- Scene Menu
- Format
- Language
- Demo Mode

WORLD TIME

MONITOR BRIGHTNESS

LCD MODE

- Off
- Auto Power LCD
- Power LCD (for sunny situations)
- High Angle

BEEP

- Beep Level
- Beep Tone
- Shutter Volume
- Shutter Tone

VOLUME

GUIDE LINE

- Rec. Info
- Pattern

SETUP - Auto Review

- Off
- 1 sec.
- 2 sec.
- Hold (the picture is displayed until you touch the shutter release or another button)
- Zoom (the picture is displayed for 1 sec. then enlarged 4x and displayed for 1 more sec.)

LANGUAGE 1 of 2

 

LANGUAGE 2 of 2

 

 

QUICK MENU - STABILIZER

- Off
- Mode 1
- Mode 2

QUICK MENU - BURST

- Off - Single
- Burst
- Unlimited

QUICK MENU - AF MODE

- Face Detection
- 9-Area
- 1-Area High Speed
- 1-Area

QUICK MENU - WB

- AWB
- Daylight
- Cloudy
- Shade
- Halogen
- White Set

QUICK MENU - ISO

- Auto
- 100
- 200
- 400
- 800
- 1600

QUICK MENU - PICTURE SIZE

- 10M
- 7M
- 5M
- 3M
- 2M
- 0.3M

QUICK MENU - LCD MODE

- Off
- Auto Power LCD
- Power LCD
- High Angle

 

PLAYBACK MENU 1 of 3

- Calendar
- Title Edit
- Text Stamp
- Resize
- Trimming

PLAYBACK MENU 2 of 3

- Aspect Conv.
- Rotate
- Rotate Disp.
- Favorite
- DPOF Print

PLAYBACK MENU 3 of 3

- Protect
- Copy

PLAYBACK INFO

 

REVIEW ENLARGE

- 2x, 4x, 8x and 16x using Tele

 

SHOOTING MODES

- Shooting Modes are selected on the LCD screen after pressing the MODE button

PROGRAM AUTO

- Normal (Programmed Auto), Flash mode Auto, WB Halogen, ISO 400, Color Mode Natural, Picture Size 10M in 4:3 aspect ratio, Image Quality Fine, Battery Indicator
- Stabilizer Mode 1, Macro ON, Space left for 399 images
- Quick AF
- Auto Power LCD, Self-timer 10s
- Guide Lines displayed

SCENE MODES 1 of 2

- Portrait, Soft Skin, Self-portrait, Scenery, Sports
- Night Portrait, Night Scenery, Food, Party, Candle Light
- Baby1, Baby2, Pet, Sunset, High Sensitivity

SCENE MODES 1 of 2

- Hi-Speed Burst, Starry Sky, Fireworks, Beach, Snow, Aerial Photo
- Underwater

- Hi-Speed Burst scene mode allows you to take up to 100 pictures at a fast 6fps (resolution limited to 4:3 2M, 3:2 2.5M, 16:9 2M)

SCENE MODE HELP

- Press the DISLAY button to bring up a help screen

MOVIE MENU 1 of 2

- Picture Mode
- Aspect Ratio
- White Balance
- AF Mode
- Digital Zoom

MOVIE MENU 2 of 2

- Color Mode
- Image Stabilizer
- AF Assist Lamp
- Clock Set

MOVIE MENU - PICTURE MODE 4:3

- 640x480 @ 30fps
- 640x480 @ 10fps
- 320x240 @ 30fps
- 320x240 @ 10fps

MOVIE MENU - Image Stabilizer

- Only Mode 1 is available

 

SELF-TIMER

- Off
- 10 sec.
- 2 sec.

FLASH

- Auto
- Auto Red-Eye
- Forced Flash (Fill-in Flash)
- Flash Off

EXPOSURE COMPENSATION

 

DELETE

 

A couple of other nice features: the hinged plastic Terminal door opens up wide to allow unimpeded access [don't you hate fighting with a rubber flap?] to the AV OUT/DIGITAL (USB) socket and DC IN socket. There is a very nice Battery/Card door and the battery has a latch to keep it from accidentally falling.

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS20 is another of Panasonic's beautifully designed digicams with lots of attention to details. Being ultra compact, the FS20 can be easily slipped into a jeans pocket. It is an easy-to-use entry-level digital camera with an intuitive menu structure and well designed controls.

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