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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


Friday, April 4, 2008 - Here's what I receive in the box:

  • Panasonic FS20 (black body)
  • No memory card
  • Wrist Strap
  • Rechargeable Li-ion Battery DMW-BCE10PP 3.6V 1000mAh (with case)
  • Battery Charger DE-A39B
  • Interface Cables: A/V, USB
  • Manuals: English and French Operating Instructions
  • Software CD: Digital Camera 2.4 (ArcSoft Panorama Maker 4, Panasonic PHOTOfunSTUDIO -viewer- 2.0E, USB Driver 1.0)

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS20 is a new entry-level series and I came into this review with expectations that were not too high. Was I ever wrong! The FS20 is beautifully designed with quality construction. No cheap looking and cheap feeling stuff here. This ultra compact digital camera redefines entry-level standards and raises the bar for others to follow.

I guess Panasonic did not go out of its way to "dumb down" the FS20 or decide to use cheap plastic in its construction. This point-and-shoot digital camera has an effective optical image stabilization; manual WB for accurate colour reproduction when it matters; Guide Lines for easier composition; an Intelligent Auto mode that automatically determines the appropriate scene mode, detects subject movement and selects an appropriate ISO to freeze motion, detects and focuses on a subject's face; and a Quick AF system that starts to focus as soon as you point the camera at your subject. What this all adds up to is a digital camera that seems to be pretty intelligent and gets the shot time after time.

Want more?

The extra large 3.0-in LCD monitor, when set to Auto Power LCD, will adjust its brightness depending on the ambient light. The 4x optical zoom Leica lens starts with a 30mm wide-angle to capture more of a wide landscape or large group shot. The 120mm tele coverage is perfect for portrait shots. An Easy Zoom button will take you to max. tele with a press of the button. You can capture HD movies in the 16:9 Aspect Ratio at 848x480 pixels 30 fps. A Quick Menu button brings up a horizontal menu of items for quick access and setting, saving you the need to delve into the Menu which, by the way, is one of the best I've ever seen.

Image quality at ISO 100 is good with good image detail. ISO goes as high as 1600 (plus a special High Sensitivity scene mode of ISO 6400) and, if you limit yourself to 4x6 in. prints and for Web display uses, you'll be able to use the FS20 as a low-light camera without the issue of noise and image detail loss being too apparent. Of course, better high ISO noise performance would be welcomed.

One drawback that may or may not bother you: Panasonic seems to be introducing the PLAYback/RECord switch in its new digital cameras, and that's generally a bad idea. It does not allow you to review a picture and quickly return back to RECord mode. I always seem to forget it in the PLAYback position after reviewing the pictures and switching the camera off. Then when I switch back on for a quick shot, nothing happens, and it's a few long seconds (and the picture opportunity is gone) before I realize it's still in PLAYback mode. Solution: default the camera always to RECord mode and give us back the dedicated REView button. Why mess with a proven combination?

PHOTOfunSTUDIO -viewer-
PHOTOfunSTUDIO -viewer-

PHOTOfunSTUDIO -viewer- allows you to transfer your pictures from camera to PC and to do simple editing: crop, resize, rotate, Auto Fix, Enhance (Brightness/Contrast, Hue/Saturation, Sharpen/Blur), Red-Eye Removal, convert to B&W, etc.

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS20 is a well-built, beautifully designed entry-level point-and-shoot digital camera that will satisfy many point-and-shoot photographers. It's ultra compact so easily carried in your pocket at all times. Just set it to Intelligent Auto (iA) mode and set Color Mode to Vivid (includes sharpening) to capture great images.

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