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Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX60 review

Ben Pitt
19 Oct 2009
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
200
inc VAT

A beautiful camera with some smart useful features, hampered by a sensor that packs too many pixels into such a small space.

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Specifications

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.

Basic Specifications

Rating****
CCD effective megapixels12.0 megapixels
CCD size1/2.33in
Viewfindernone
LCD screen size2.7in
LCD screen resolution230,000 pixels
Optical zoom5.0x
Zoom 35mm equivalent25-125mm
Image stabilisationoptical, lens based
Maximum image resolution4,000x3,000
Maximum movie resolution1280x720
Movie frame rate at max quality30fps
File formatsJPEG; QuickTime (M-JPEG)

Physical

Memory slotSDHC
Mermory supplied40MB internal
Battery type3.6V 940mAh Li-ion
Battery Life (tested)360 shots
ConnectivityUSB, AV, component
Body materialaluminium
AccessoriesUSB and AV cables
Weight126g
Size54x97x19mm

Buying Information

Price£200
Supplierhttp://www.play.com
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 controlsdynamic range
Manual focusNo
Closest macro focus3cm
Auto-focus modesmulti, centre, spot, tracking, face detect
Metering modesmulti, face detect
Flashauto, forced, suppressed, slow synchro, red-eye reduction
Drive modessingle, continuous, self-timer