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Panasonic Lumix DMC-LS85 review

Ben Pitt
10 Jul 2009
Expert Reviews Best Buy Logo
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
94
inc VAT

The LS85 is just what we look for in a low-cost camera, cutting back on frivolous extras but delivering on design, performance and image quality.

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Specifications

1/2.5in 8.0-megapixel sensor, 4.0x zoom (33-132mm equivalent), 128g

Panasonic's camera division is on a roll, picking up two awards in last month's Labs test and two more this month. The LS85 couldn't be more different to the GH1 but it's just as impressive.

It's the cheapest camera in Panasonic's range, although there's no sign of scrimping in the lens. The 4x optical zoom is a pleasant surprise, but the optical image stabilisation is really impressive at this price. The f/2.8 maximum aperture is also welcome, too. There's a trend towards using f/3.5 lenses in compact cameras, so this one captures a little more light. This and the optical stabilisation are good news for low-light photography.

The 2?in screen's 230,000-dot resolution is more detailed than we expected, but colours looked washed out when viewed from above. Otherwise, the LS85 is simple and functional. A Quick Menu button provides access to key settings such as ISO speed, white balance and face detection. There are no metering options, but we can't imagine anyone missing them at this price. The camera was a tad slow to switch on and shoot, at just under four seconds, and focus could be lethargic at telephoto settings. Otherwise, performance was good and the 1.8fps continuous mode was excellent. Use of AA batteries isn't as convenient as a Li-ion battery but 550 shots from two NiMH batteries is admirable.

The lens lived up to expectations and the sensor and image processing didn't let it down. The fully automatic mode delivered well-judged exposures. Details were sharp, colours natural and the modest resolution kept noise levels down. Outdoor shots were very smooth, and while indoor shots without the flash exhibited fuzzy halos around sharp lines, the noise reduction handled this without sacrificing too much detail. Its image quality is the best we have seen for under £100.

Basic Specifications

Rating*****
CCD effective megapixels8.0 megapixels
CCD size1/2.5in
Viewfindernone
LCD screen size2.5in
LCD screen resolution230,000 pixels
Optical zoom4.0x
Zoom 35mm equivalent33-132mm
Image stabilisationoptical, lens based
Maximum image resolution3,264x2,448
Maximum movie resolution848x480
Movie frame rate at max quality30fps
File formatsJPEG; QuickTime (M-JPEG)

Physical

Memory slotSDHC
Mermory supplied50MB internal
Battery type2x AA
Battery Life (tested)550 shots
ConnectivityUSB, AV
Body materialplastic
AccessoriesUSB and AV cables
Weight128g
Size62x97x30mm

Buying Information

Price£94
Supplierhttp://www.amazon.co.uk
Detailswww.panasonic.co.uk

Camera Controls

Exposure modesauto
Shutter speedauto
Aperture rangeauto
ISO range (at full resolution)80 to 1600
Exposure compensation+/-2 EV
White balanceauto, 4 presets, manual
Additional image controlsnone
Manual focusNo
Closest macro focus5cm
Auto-focus modesmulti, centre, face detect
Metering modesmulti, face detect
Flashauto, forced, suppressed, red-eye reduction
Drive modessingle, continuous, self-timer