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Panasonic FS20 Review
Date: Apr 29, 2008
The Panasonic FS20 is a digital camera
targeted to point-and-shoot photographers. It
has 10.1 megapixel resolution on a 1/2.33 in. CCD
image sensor, and a 5.2-20.8mm (30-120mm, 35 mm
equivalent) 4x wide-angle optical zoom lens, with a maximum
aperture of F3.3(W)-F5.8(T).
We find the overall image quality of the Panasonic
FS20 to be good at ISO 100 with good detail and low noise for a digital camera in this category. As is usual with cameras in this category, images at higher ISOs suffer from noise and detail loss.
(30mm, 35mm equivalent)
(120mm, 35mm equivalent)
The Panasonic FS20 has a 4x wide-angle optical
zoom lens with Panasonic's famous MEGA Optical
Image Stabilization (O.I.S.) which helps to reduce camera
shake. In the above pictures, we show the coverage
for 30mm and 120mm. We love the 30mm wide-angle
coverage that allows us to capture wide landscapes! The O.I.S. ensures that images do not suffer from camera shake even at the long end of the telephoto.
|5.2mm, iA, Multi-Pattern,
1/640 sec., F5.6, ISO 100
Macro can be as close as 5 cm (2 in.) at wide-angle.
AF is fast (especially when using the 1-area
High Speed AF), works very well in good light
and even in low-light as long as your subject has enough contrast to allow focus lock.
There is only one metering mode:
Intelligent Multiple (i.e., Multi-Pattern).
As the above two pictures show, the Auto White
Balance (AWB) is not quite accurate indoors under
artificial lighting [I have two ordinary household
tungsten light bulbs on the ceiling]. Fortunately,
the Panasonic FS20 allows WB to also be set manually and bring out the real colours.
Most P&S digital camera does not provide manual
WB, so this is a real bonus! AWB works very well
in natural light.
You can set the ISO on the Panasonic FS20 from
100 to 1600, plus a high ISO of 6400 in High Sensitivity scene mode. The 100%
crops above (area delimited by the white square)
demonstrate that noise at ISO 100 and 200 is under control.
Noise starts to be more visible at ISO 400 but
is still usable. At ISO 800 to 1600, the presence
of noise is clearly visible at full image size
and with visible loss of detail.
Sensitivity - 100% Crops
The High Sensitivity scene mode boosts the sensitivity
to ISO 3200 and 6400, both at 3M resolution only (3M at aspect ratio 4:3; 2.5M at 3:2 and 2M at 16:9). It looks very noisy and splotchy
with loss of image detail when the image is viewed at full resolution.
Sensitivity - Resized 450x338 Pixels
you care only to print 4x6 in. or display for
Web use, as in your blog, the ISO 3200 image can be quite acceptable.
CA is not really a problem in everyday shots.
In the above photo, the area delimited by the
red square, and reproduced at 100% crop at bottom
left, shows negligible purple fringing.
|5.2mm, Starry Sky, Multi-Pattern,
60 sec., F3.3, ISO 100
Self-timer 10 sec., Tripod Used
The Panasonic FS20 allows the use of a long shutter
speed of 15 sec, 30 sec. or 60 sec. in Starry
Sky Scene Mode (only up to 1 sec. only in P). This
allows you to take some very nice Night Shots.
Generally, with image sensors, noise usually
becomes more prominent at slow shutter speeds.
The Panasonic FS20 has special noise reduction
(NR) that automatically kicks in at shutter speeds
of 1 sec. and slower and you'll notice aprox.
twice the processing time before the next picture
can be taken. I like that there is a countdown
of the long shutter speed as well as of the "signal
processing" (noise reduction) time displayed
on screen. Some digital cameras leave you "in
the dark" forcing you to do your own mental
To test this noise reduction algorithm, we take
a low-light indoors shot using a long shutter
speed of 60 sec. The NR works quite well. The
AF works well in low-light, and the AF-assist
Lamp helps to obtain precise and fast focus lock.
There is no Histogram either Live or in Playback.
Overall, good image quality for this category of entry-level point-and-shoot digicams. Just set the shooting mode to iA and Color Mode to Vivid to obtain sharp and saturated colors right out of the camera.
The pictures in the Panasonic FS20 Photo Gallery
page provide a good sample of what the camera
is capable of. I have provided samples at 800x600
pixels (compressed to Quality 60/100 in Photoshop
Elements) as well as the 3648 x 2736 pixels original
size (click on the image for the original version). Note that depending on the shooting mode and ISO used, some pictures are smaller.
You can safely assume that most macro shots
and slow shutter speed shots required the use
of a tripod (due to the effective image stabilization,
the use of a tripod was restricted to the long
shutter speeds). Any image that is adjusted for
levels in Photoshop has "_adjusted"
appended to the file name (though the original
sized image is, of course, not adjusted).
I have defaulted the image size to 800x600 pixels.
For those who have their monitor resolution set
to 1024x728 pixels, everything should snugly fit
and you should not have to scroll to see the whole
image. If your monitor is set to 800x600 pixels
resolution, start the slide show and then scroll
to the right to position the image within your
screen width. Then, press F11 (if you are using
Internet Explorer) to switch to full screen mode,
and the image should fill your screen nicely.
Press F11 again at any time to switch your monitor
display back to normal mode.
To return to this page from the Photo Gallery,
click on the animated graphics of the camera.
Please open and download the original size version
only if you need to and only once
to your hard drive -- and save me some precious