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Panasonic FX30 Review
Date: Apr 12, 2007
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.
(28mm, 35mm equivalent)
(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
|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).
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.
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.
Sensitivity - 100% Crop
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.
Sensitivity - Resized 450x338 Pixels
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.
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.
|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
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
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