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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 Lumix DMC-FS20 


The Panasonic FX30 is a digital camera targeted to point-and-shoot photographers. It has 7.2 megapixel resolution on a 1/2.5 in. CCD image sensor, and a 4.6-16.4mm (28-100mm, 35 mm equivalent) 3.6x optical zoom lens, with a maximum aperture of F2.8(W)-F5.6(T).

We find the overall image quality of the Panasonic FX30 to be very good at ISO 100 with good image detail. Image quality is good at ISO 200 but aggressive noise reduction means that, at higher ISOs, images suffer from noise and loss of detail.

3.6x Optical Zoom
Wide-angle 28mm Telephoto 100mm
Wide-angle 4.6mm
(28mm, 35mm equivalent)
Telephoto 16.4mm
(100mm, 35mm equivalent)

The Panasonic FX30 has a 3.6x wide-angle optical zoom lens with Panasonic's famous MEGA Optical Image Stabilization which helps to reduce camera shake. In the above pictures, we show the coverage for 28mm and 100mm. We love the 28mm wide-angle coverage!

4.6mm, Programmed Auto, Multi-Pattern, 1/125 sec., F2.8, 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, though I've found that sometimes you need to stay at the wide-angle focal length for easier focus lock in extreme low-light.

There is only one metering mode: Intelligent Multiple (i.e., Multi-Pattern).

White Balance Indoors
AWB Custom WB
AWB Custom WB

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 FX30 allows WB to also be set manually. Most P&S digital camera does not provide manual WB, so this is a real bonus! AWB works very well in natural light.

ISO Comparisons
ISO 100
ISO 100
ISO 200 ISO 400
ISO 200 ISO 400
ISO 800 ISO 1250
ISO 800 ISO 1250

You can set the ISO on the Panasonic FX30 from 100 to 1250, plus a High ISO of 3200. The 100% crops above (area delimited by the white square) demonstrate that noise at ISO 100 is under control. Noise starts to be more visible at ISO 200 but is still usable. At ISO 400 to 1250, the presence of noise is clearly visible at full image size and with visible loss of detail.

High Sensitivity - 100% Crop
ISO 3200

The High Sensitivity scene mode boosts the sensitivity to ISO 3200. It looks very noisy and splotchy when the image is viewed at full resolution. If you cared only to print 4x6 in. or display for Web use, as in your blog, see below when the image is resized 450x338 pixels.

High Sensitivity - Resized 450x338 Pixels
ISO 3200

I don't know if anyone can tell the difference when comparing the ISO 100 and ISO3200 pictures at this "for Web display" size. So, don't reject outright that the Hi ISO scene mode (or the other high ISOs) is unusable. It all depends on your intended use, and most P&S photographers who are interested in this camera would probably only use it for small size prints and Web postings. If your use calls for enlargements and more serious purposes, then be aware of the high noise and loss of detail at high ISOs.

Chromatic Aberrations

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 right, shows negligible purple fringing.

Long Shutter Speed
Long Exposure
4.6mm, Starry Sky, Multi-Pattern, 60 sec., F2.8, ISO 100
Self-timer 10 sec., Tripod Used

The Panasonic FX30 allows the use of a long shutter speed of 15 sec, 30 sec. or 60 sec. in Starry Sky Scene Mode (up to 1 sec. only in P). This allows you to take some very nice Night Shots. Generally, with CCD image sensors, noise usually becomes more prominent at slow shutter speeds. The Panasonic FX30 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 countdown.

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 worked very well in low-light, and the AF-assist Lamp made for precise and fast focus lock even in almost complete darkness (I turned off the room light, left only the computer monitor light on, could not see what I was focusing on -- and let the camera's AF do its job).

The last feature we will mention is the Live Histogram. A histogram can be displayed during Shooting Mode and Playback mode. The histogram is invaluable to give an indication of under- and over-exposure (don't rely on the LCD/EVF since the brightness is adjustable, auto brightens, and thus will be misleading).

I find it incredible that Panasonic would equip a P&S digital camera with all these practical features when some more expensive and "for pro" digital cameras do not.

Overall, good to very good image quality and very impressed with all the more advanced features that are included, such as manual WB and Live Histogram.

The pictures in the Panasonic FX30 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 3072 x 2304 pixels original size (click on the image for the original version).

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 bandwidth. Thanks!


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