A beautiful camera with some smart useful features, hampered by a sensor that packs too many pixels into such a small space.
1/2.33in 12.0-megapixel sensor, 5.0x zoom (25-125mm equivalent), 126g
We like to believe that the camera-buying public is getting wise to the fact that more megapixels doesn’t necessarily mean a better camera.
Manufacturers are certainly looking for other ways to tempt customers, offering features such as HD video and smile detection. Panasonic’s FX60 is one of the few models we’ve seen in recent months that instead makes a serious attempt to raise the stakes for image quality.
Its most impressive features are part of its Leica-branded lens. This has a healthy 5x zoom range, starting at an ultra-wide-angle 25mm focal length, whih is remarkable for such a slim camera. The lens is also home to Power OIS, Panasonic’s new optical image stabilisation system. Comparing it to previous Lumix cameras, we found that it was no more reliable at a 1/30s shutter speed and 100mm focal length, keeping around 75 per cent of shots sharp. However, it managed to maintain this success rate at shutter speeds as slow as ¼s. No other compact camera we’ve tested has surpassed 30 per cent at this shutter speed.
The ability to shoot steady ¼s exposures in low light is fantastic, but moving subjects will appear blurred. Fortunately, the FX60’s Intelligent ISO mode usually avoided this problem by identifying the amount of motion in a scene and adjusting the shutter and ISO speeds as necessary.
Innovations aside, the lens excelled at its traditional role of focusing a sharp, distortion-free image on the camera’s sensor. Corner sharpness was particularly impressive, and the autofocus was fast and reliable. Sadly, though, the sensor didn’t pull its weight, displaying a little noise at ISO 100 and significant amounts at ISO 400 and above. Panasonic’s noise-reduction processing did an admirable job of disguising it, but fine details were inevitably lost in the process.
It coped a little better in low light than other cameras with 12-megapixel, 1/2.33in sensors that we’ve tested, but that’s not saying much. Videos are recorded at 720p and benefited from the improved stabilisation, but they too were noisy, and focus and zoom remain fixed for the duration of clips.
Image quality may have its ups and downs, but the FX60 is an unequivocal delight to use. Its sleek, curvy body looks gorgeous and, despite the lack of manual exposure options, there’s a good range of accessible controls for those who want to venture beyond the Auto mode. Performance is generally excellent, although it’s disappointing that continuous shooting is limited to three shots at the top quality setting.
There’s a lot to like about the DMC-FX60, but as with so many ultra-compact cameras these days, its minuscule, high-resolution sensor lets it down. The improved stabilisation makes up for it to an extent by allowing slower ISO speeds to be used in low light. However, Fujifilm’s F200EXR with its innovative sensor produces better photos in all lighting conditions.
|CCD effective megapixels
|LCD screen size
|LCD screen resolution
|Zoom 35mm equivalent
|optical, lens based
|Maximum image resolution
|Maximum movie resolution
|Movie frame rate at max quality
|JPEG; QuickTime (M-JPEG)
|3.6V 940mAh Li-ion
|Battery Life (tested)
|USB, AV, component
|USB and AV cables
|ISO range (at full resolution)
|80 to 1600
|auto, 4 presets, manual
|Additional image controls
|Closest macro focus
|multi, centre, spot, tracking, face detect
|multi, face detect
|auto, forced, suppressed, slow synchro, red-eye reduction
|single, continuous, self-timer