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You are hereHome > Digital Camera Reviews > Panasonic FX30

Panasonic Digital Cameras

   


Panasonic FX30 Review

Review Date: Apr 12, 2007

Category: Point-and-Shoot

Panasonic FX30


HANDLING & FEEL

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX30 is a stylish and ultra compact digital camera ("world's slimmest digital camera with a 28mm 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 FX30 is available in 4 different colours: black, silver, blue and taupe (light brown). My review camera has the light brown colour with a satin finish. Depending on how the light falls on the camera, the brown is at times just suggestive (a hint) rather than obvious. An absolutely beautiful camera!

The build is very good with a clean design and intuitive controls. The one negative I have is that the camera does not have a grip: the "clip" that usually serves as a minimalist finger grip in these ultra compact digital cameras is too slippery to serve that purpose here. So, the use of the wrist strap is highly recommended.

The lens is flush with the body when the camera is off, but powered on, the lens extends approx. a further 23mm (< 1 in.).

Performance is great: startup time is about 1 sec., shot to shot times about 1 sec., and there is no practical shutter lag. Autofocus is fast and precise.

STYLE
- Colours: black, silver, blue and taupe (light brown)
- Looks: clean and elegant design
   
FEEL
- slippery (no "finger grip")
- Controls are well positioned and spaced, and intuitive to use
   
DIMENSIONS & WEIGHT
- Ultra Compact
- Dimensions: 94.9 x 51.9 x 22.0 mm /
3.74 x 2.04 x 0.87 in.
- Weight: 132 g ( 0.29 lb)
- 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. 1 sec.
- No practical shutter lag
   

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-A39 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 FX30 top view

The top of the camera has the Power ON/OFF switch, the Shutter Release Button, the Zoom Lever around the Shutter Button, and the Mode Dial which has only a small portion of its wheel outside the body. The Mode Dial has Print, Motion Picture, Macro, Normal Picture, Intelligent ISO, Playback, Simple, and SCN (Scene Modes).

Visual representation of the Mode Dial

A visual representation of the Mode Dial displays on the LCD monitor whenever you turn the dial. The Mode Dial rotates easily using your thumb. It clicks positively in place and I've not had any problem where the setting on the Mode Dial is inadvertently changed.

The Zoom Lever is around the Shutter Button and it takes about 2.5 sec. to zoom from wide to tele. I counted 19 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: 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 5 or 7 images (depending on Quality selected) at 3fps in High Speed mode and 2fps in Low Speed, and an unlimited number of images (depending on the space available on your memory card) at approx. 2fps in Unlimited mode.

You can record movies with sound (until the memory card is full -- though a clip is max 2GB) 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. Sound is always recorded. You cannot use MultiMediaCard (MMC).

Video Storage Capacity
2GB
16:9
848x480
30fps
19m 32s
10fps
58m 10s
4:3 VGA
640x480
30fps
22m 47s
10fps
1h 07m 43s
4:3 QVGA
320x240
30fps
1h 07m 42s
10fps
3h 16m 45s

On a 2GB SD card you will be able to record about 22m 47s of 4:3 VGA (640x480 pixels) at 30fps. If you plan to record lots of clips, we recommend using a 2GB SD or 4GB high-speed (at least 10MB/s) 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 FX30.]

Panasonic FX30 back controls

FUNCTIONS ACCESSIBLE BY CONTROL BUTTONS (top to bottom starting from the Mode Dial)
-

The Mode Dial is mostly inside the camera's body with only a small portion of its wheel protruding from the body. It is easily thumb operated.

As you rotate the Mode Dial, a corresponding visual representation displays on the LCD monitor. This is perfect in low-light situations where there may not be enough light to read the dial.

The Mode Dial rotates freely clockwise or anti-clockwise (i.e. you can keep rotating one direction only).

-

CURSOR buttons.

UP ARROW (Exposure Compensation, Auto Bracket, WB Adjust); RIGHT ARROW (Flash); DOWN ARROW (REView); LEFT ARROW (Self-timer 10s, 2s).

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

Though Playback is on the Mode Dial, the REView button [DOWN Arrow] is more convenient to use. It allows you to review all your captured images and even allows Multi Delete/All Delete. When in REView, a touch of the Shutter Button takes you quickly back to shooting mode.

Note: To play back your movies, you must rotate the Mode Dial to Playback.

MENU/SET button in the middle calls up the Menu; use CURSOR buttons to navigate the Menu screens; press MENU/SET again to accept a screen choice.

-

DISPLAY/LCD MODE. Press button repeatedly to cycle through: Normal, add Histogram, add Grid Lines, No Info displayed.

Press and hold button for more than 1 sec. to activate Power LCD (use in sunny situations) or High Angle.

-

FUNC/DELETE button.

Recording Mode: FUNC. Press to bring up a 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. Press once to delete image displayed; press twice to invoke Multi Delete/All Delete. 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.
- When a White Balance is selected, press UP ARROW repeatedly to call up WB Adjust.
   
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 a large 2.5 in. LCD monitor with a high 207,000 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. The LCD gains up only slightly in low-light. A Power LCD function boosts the LCD backlighting by 40% and makes it easier to view when shooting outdoors in bright sunshine.

There is an effective AF-assist Illuminator and I've found auto focusing to be quite fast and precise in low-light situations.

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

- White Balance
- ISO Sensitivity
- Aspect Ratio
- Picture Size
- Image Quality

REC 2 of 3

- Audio Recording
- AF Mode
- Image Stabilizer
- Burst
- AF Assist Lamp

REC 3 of 3

- Slow Shutter
- Digital Zoom
- Color Mode
- Clock Set

WHITE BALANCE 1 of 2

- Auto WB
- Daylight
- Cloudy
- Shade
- Halogen

WHITE BALANCE 2 of 2

- White Set (Use)
- White Set (Set)

WB ADJUST

- When a WB is selected, press UP ARROW twice to bring up WB ADJUST

ISO SENSITIVITY

- Auto
- 100
- 200
- 400
- 800
- 1250

ISO LIMIT

- Applies only when Intelligent ISO mode is selected on the Mode Dial
- Camera will not go above selected ISO

- 400
- 800
- 1250

ASPECT RATIO

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

PICTURE SIZE

- 7M
- 5M
- 3M
- 2M
- 1M
- 0.3M

IMAGE QUALITY

- Fine
- Standard

AF MODE

- 5-area
- 3-area High Speed
- 1-area High Speed
- 1-area
- Spot

OPTICAL IMAGE STABILIZER

- Off
- MODE 1 - Stabilizer is continuously on
- MODE 2 - Stabilizer is most effective and acts only when the shutter button is pressed

- Press RIGHT ARROW when in the Stabilizer menu to see a demonstration of the effectiveness of IS

BURST

- Off
- High 3fps - max. 5 frames
- Low 2fps - max. 5 frames
- Unlimited approx. 2fps

SLOW SHUTTER

- 1/8 sec.
- 1/4 sec.
- 1/2 sec.
- 1 sec.

- This is the slowest shutter speed made available in P (Normal) mode

COLOR MODE 1 of 2

- Standard
- Natural
- Vivid
- Cool
- Warm

COLOR MODE 2 of 2


- B/W
- Sepia

 

SETUP 1 of 4

- Clock Set
- World Time
- Monitor Brightness
- Guide Line
- Travel Date

SETUP 2 of 4

- Auto Review
- Power Save
- Economy
- Beep
- Shutter Sound

SETUP 3 of 4

- Volume
- No. Reset
- Reset
- Video Out
- TV Aspect

SETUP 4 of 4

- Scene Menu
- Dial Display
- Language

GUIDE LINE

- Rec. Info
- Histogram (Live)
- Pattern

GUIDE LINE - Pattern

- 2 patterns to choose from

SETUP - Auto Review

- Off
- 1 sec.
- 3 sec.
- 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 SETTING FUNC 1 of 6

- Optical Image Stabilizer

QUICK SETTING FUNC 2 of 6

- Burst (Drive)

QUICK SETTING FUNC 3 of 6

- White balance

QUICK SETTING FUNC 4 of 6

- ISO sensitivity

QUICK SETTING FUNC 5 of 6

- Image Size

QUICK SETTING FUNC 6 of 6

- Image Quality

 

PLAYBACK MENU 1 of 3

- Slide Show
- Favorite
- Rotate Disp.
- Rotate
- Date Stamp: will resize the picture (or a copy) to 3M

PLAYBACK MENU 2 of 3

- DPOF Print
- Protect
- Audio Dub.
- Resize
- Trimming

PLAYBACK MENU 3 of 3

- Aspect Conv.
- Copy
- Format

PLAYBACK INFO

 

REVIEW ENLARGE

- 1x, 4x and 8x using Tele

 

PROGRAM AUTO

- Normal (Programmed Auto), Flash mode Auto Red-Eye, WB Daylight, ISO 400, Picture Size 5.5M in 16:9 aspect ratio, Image QUality Fine, Battery Indicator
- Stabilizer Mode 1, Burst High, Color Mode Sepia, Space for 746 images left, Using memory card
- Histogram
- Slow speed indicator
- Exposure Compensation

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

- Starry Sky, Fireworks, Beach, Snow, Aerial Photo
- Underwater

MOVIE MENU 1 of 2

- White Balance
- Aspect Ratio
- Picture Mode
- AF Mode
- Image Stabilizer

MOVIE MENU 2 of 2

- AF Assist Lamp
- Digital Zoom
- Clock Set

MOVIE MENU - Picture Mode

MOVIE MENU - Image Stabilizer

- Only Mode 1 is available

 

SELF-TIMER

- Off
- 10 sec.
- 2 sec.

LCD MODE

- Press LCD MODE for 1 sec. to bring up the LCD MODE menu

LCD MODE

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

ON SCREEN MODE DIAL

- Visual representation of Mode Dial

FLASH

- Auto
- Auto Red-Eye
- Forced Flash (Fill-in Flash)
- Slow Sync/Red-Eye
- Forced Off

EXPOSURE COMPENSATION

- Displays in combination with the Histogram

DELETE SINGLE

 

MULTI/ALL 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. You are able to change battery when the camera is on a tripod. Last, but not least, the tripod socket is metal though not inline with the lens.

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX30 has first class construction, an excellent and intuitive menu structure, and well designed controls. What these all add up to is a digital camera that is both beautiful to see and a pleasure to use.

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