Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX01 Review
Review Date: May 4th 2006
(out of 5 stars)
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX01 is one of a handful of compact digital cameras to offer a 28mm wide-angle lens, which provides an entirely new angle of view when compared with conventinal zoom lenses that typically start at around 35mm. 7mm may not sound like much, but it actually makes a big difference, albeit at the expense of noticeable image distortion. The FX01 is a stylish, well made and ultra-compact camera that you can carry with you wherever you go. It's also very responsive with a good Continuous mode. Image quality is on the whole OK, although the inability to alter sharpness in the camera is frustrating as the images are soft by default.
Unfortunately there is an even bigger image quality problem than softness, namely noise. The slowest ISO speeds of 80 and 100 on the DMC-FX01 are perfectly fine, but ISO 200, which isn't exactly a fast speed, displays some noticeable noise and blurring of detail, and ISO 400 is very noisy indeed. The optical image stabilisation system partially makes up for the noise problems, in that you can take a photo at a slower ISO speed and therefore a slower shutter speed, and still get sharp results, without adversely affecting the battery life too much. But it isn't a complete solution - if this was my camera, I would set it to ISO 80 or 100 for every shot, turn on the anti-shake system and pray for good light. You could alternatively run every image through third-party noise-reduction software (a less than ideal solution). Panasonic's attempt to alleviate the noise issue, the new High Sensitivity mode which provides ISO speeds of 800 and 1600, is only a partial solution because the image resolution is automatically reduced, resulting in smaller print sizes. It seems to be an interim fix until the company can come up with a better image sensor than the 1/2.5" one in the FX01.
So overall, the new Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX01 is a stylish, easy to use, point and shoot camera with that 28mm lens as its main attraction. The noise issue is by no means a show-stopper, particularly if you live in a sunny climate or tend to shoot mostly outdoors, but it does stop me from recommending this camera more strongly. If you're really interested in the unique combination of ultra-compact size and wide-angle lens, then the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX01 should definitely be on your shopping list.
PhotographyBLOG is a member of the DIWA organisation. Our test results for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX01 have been submitted to DIWA for comparison with test results for different samples of the same camera model supplied by other DIWA member sites.