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Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS10 review

Ben Pitt
27 Jul 2010
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Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS10
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
110
inc VAT

Poor screen viewing angles aside, this is a capable all-rounder at a very reasonable price

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Specifications

1/2.33in 12.0-megapixel sensor, 5.0x zoom (28-140mm equivalent), 145g

On paper, the FS10 matches countless compact cameras we’ve seen recently: 12-megapixel sensor, 5x zoom stabilised lens, 2.7in LCD screen and 720p video mode. However, at £110 it undercuts its rivals by around £40.

Let’s get the bad news out of the way first. The screen looks OK when viewed head on but at any other angle its colours become badly skewed. We tend to hold compact cameras with our elbows pressed against our sides for stability, but doing so means viewing the screen slightly from above.

On the FS10 this caused the preview image to become washed out, not so much that it was unusable but enough to make exposure judgements impossible. We found ourselves adjusting the way we held the camera to avoid the problem. Meanwhile, viewing from below or the sides causes colours to become inverted, so this isn’t a great camera for huddling around to share photos with or for snapping over the heads of crowds.

If you can live with these limitations, the FS10 has a lot to offer. Its controls are simple and quick to use, with a dedicated button to activate the fully automatic Intelligent Auto mode plus a Quick Menu button to access the most commonly used photographic functions. It’s a fast performer, too, with responsive autofocus helping it to an average of 1.9 seconds between shots. It managed 1.6fps in continuous mode, which is superb for a camera so affordable.

Image quality is excellent for the price, too. The lens doesn’t bear the Leica logo seen on pricier Panasonic cameras but its corner-to-corner sharpness was excellent and there were barely any chromatic aberrations. Colours were balanced and natural, although highlights were often clipped in high-contrast scenes.

The digital processing had its work cut out suppressing noise at high ISO sensitivities, but while ISO 800 shots were notably lacking in colour fidelity, they still looked reasonably clean and detailed on casual inspection. The Intelligent Auto mode lived up to its name, picking the ideal settings to produce presentable shots indoors without the flash. Videos were a little noisy and the zoom was fixed while recording, but it’s great to have 720p recording at this price.

It’s frustrating that Panasonic didn’t see fit to give the FS10 a 10- or even 8-megapixel sensor, as this could have reduced noise levels and still captured more than enough detail. We currently have an odd situation where many premium compacts use 10-megapixel sensors, but if you’re on a budget it’s hard to find a camera with less than 12 megapixels. However, if we compare the FS10 with its peers, it looks extremely attractive. It’s small, reasonably handsome, easy to use and its image quality is thoroughly dependable on automatic settings. The screen stops it getting full marks, but this is the best camera we’ve seen for those on a tight budget.

Basic Specifications

Rating****
CCD effective megapixels12.0 megapixels
CCD size1/2.33in
Viewfindernone
Viewfinder magnification, coverageN/A
LCD screen size2.7in
LCD screen resolution230,000 pixels
Articulated screenNo
Live viewYes
Optical zoom5.0x
Zoom 35mm equivalent28-140mm
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 slotSDXC
Mermory supplied40MB internal
Battery typeLi-ion
Battery Life (tested)310 shots
ConnectivityUSB, AV
HDMI output resolutionN/A
Body materialaluminium
Lens mountN/A
Focal length multiplierN/A
Kit lens model nameN/A
AccessoriesUSB and AV cables
Weight145g
Size55x98x23mm

Buying Information

Warrantyone-year RTB
Price£110
Supplierhttp://www.askdirect.co.uk
Detailswww.panasonic.co.uk

Camera Controls

Exposure modesauto
Shutter speedauto
Aperture rangef/2.8-9 (wide), f/6.9-20 (tele)
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