Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS30 Review

August 6, 2010 | Gavin Stoker | Rating star Rating star Rating star Rating star


The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS30 (also known as the DMC-FH20) is a slim and stylish digital camera with a versatile 8x, 28-224mm optical zoom lens. The FS30 also features a a 2.7-inch LCD screen and can record HD movies in 1280 x 720p at 30fps. The 14.1 megapixel DMC-FS30 offers Panasonic's now standard Intelligent Auto mode for quick and easy shooting, Quick AF system, Venus Engine IV image processor, High Sensitivity mode and Extra Optical Zoom. The FS30 / FH20 is available in silver, black, blue or violet for £179 / $179.

Ease of Use

Although we're already into mid summer, this could be the affordable 'travel zoom' you've been waiting for. The 14 megapixel, 8x optical zoom DMC-FS30 - or DMC-FH20 as christened in the states - was announced earlier this year in tandem with the previously reviewed FS33 model, and, unsurprisingly, the two share boxy, rectangular dimensions.

In fact Panasonic admits that this FS series model - promising high-grade features yet simple operation, in being the lower-priced sister strand to the FX family - is identical to its sibling save for screen only. In the absence of optical viewfinder the FS30 offers a more modest 2.7-inch LCD at 230k dots resolution to the FS30's 3-inch touch screen, sporting the same count. Of course this means that the F30 is the marginally cheaper than the FS33 at a manufacturer's asking price of £179.99, compared to £199.99, in the UK. So £20 extra buys you the larger monitor and touch-screen capability, or save the modest additional outlay for holiday spending money and go for the FS30 as presented here.

As the two cameras are close siblings, many of the conclusions we came to in our earlier test of the FS33 are still going to hold water. Both cameras share the same wideangle folded zoom lens, equivalent to 28mm-224mm in 35mm film terms, which stays close to the body and is protected by an automatic sliding lens cover when inactive. Plus, at its core we get a 14.5 megapixel 1/2.33-inch CCD sensor, delivering a 14.1MP effective resolution.

Panasonic's effective subject-recognising intelligent Auto mode with dedicated iA top plate button makes a re-appearance in support of the point and shoot brigade, as do HD movies - here of the 1280x720 resolution at 30fps Motion JPEG format variety. This option is selected like the other stills/video capture settings via a press of the dedicated 'mode' button on the back plate, which falls under the thumb as a forefinger hovers over the shutter release button.

With everyone switching from analogue to HD TVs, it's getting increasingly common to find an HDMI port on even a modestly-priced snapshot model like this, but Panasonic hasn't supplied one for the FS30, just standard AV/USB output hiding under a small flap at the camera's right side (if viewed from the back). With a 40MB internal capacity good for up to 15 shots, memory is expandable courtesy of SD, SDHC and newer high capacity SDXC cards, the latter offering up to 2TB of storage. In terms of getting up close and personal, macro/intelligent auto capability is again up to a closest distance of 5cm from your subject.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS30 Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS30
Front Rear

The FS30 feels convincingly solid when gripped in the palm. It weighs a manageable 162g, and with overall dimensions of 100x56.5x27.8mm, marginally different to its sibling, slips easily and unobtrusively into trouser pocket. It's the manufacturer's usual mix of metal and plastic construction, with an attractive brushed metal faceplate. The thumb rests on a small square of nine raised nodules providing some 'grip' at the back, leaving the forefinger free to hover over the shutter button on the top plate, encircled by a zoom lever.

The internally folded lens is supported when extended by Mega Optical Image Stabilisation to help combat the effects of camera shake. To the right of the lens is a porthole-shaped window housing AF assist and self-timer lamp, with a narrow lozenge shaped built-in flash top left. When holding the camera this is set just close enough to the lens - and at sufficient distance from the sides - to avoid fingers accidentally obscuring it, a common problem with pocket models.

As mentioned at the outset, the top plate features a dedicated intelligent Auto (iA) button for point and shoot simplicity - the FS30 comparing scene and subjects with on-board parameters and selecting the most appropriate - along with the expected on/off power switch, holes for both built in microphone and speaker, plus, the largest control of all, the shutter release button; this is handily encircled by a lever for operating the zoom. The Lumix takes just over a second to power up - speedy, considering the lens extends to maximum wideangle setting in tandem with the rear LCD bursting into life - and a further three to commit a maximum resolution still image to memory, both of which are average timings for this class of camera.

If 8x at full 14.1MP resolution isn't enough for your purposes, the FS30/FH20's range can be further boosted to a maximum equivalent 16.9x (or 473mm equivalent) courtesy of Panasonic's Extra Optical Zoom function. Since this utilises only a central portion of the CCD rather than its entirety, capture resolution plummets to three megapixels. Otherwise the zoom lens glides through its basic optical range in all of three seconds. Annoyingly it's disabled when shooting video and merely stays put at the point it was left when recording began - commenced with a press of the shutter release button, rather than dedicated recording button.

One aspect of the FS33's operation we did slightly miss was the ability to adjust the positioning of the auto AF point simply by tapping the screen with a fingernail. Here without the interactive aspect of a touch screen it's the usual case of pointing the camera at the subject to which you want to bias focus/exposure, then pressing the shutter release button down halfway and finally re-composing the frame before pressing the shutter release fully. General operation response times are quick with Panasonic claiming the official time it takes for 'sonic speed' auto focus to lock crisply onto target is 0.35 seconds, courtesy in part of the FS30/FH20's Venus Engine IV processor.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS30 Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS30
Side Top

In the absence of a dedicated shooting mode dial or wheel, on the FS30 we have an unassumingly small 'mode' button. A press of this summons up a quartet of text options on screen - for 'normal' picture (full auto) mode, 25-option Scene mode including photo frame and film grain settings, My Scene mode (more of the same, but the camera retains your previous choice enabling a quick return to it), plus - of course - motion picture/movie mode. As mentioned that's a maximum 1280x720 pixels at 30fps, WVGA 848x480 pixels, standard VGA 640x480 pixels of QVGA (320x240) selectable. White balance and colour mode can also be manually adjusted for shooting movies, as can they for stills.

Top right of the mode button is a simple slider switch, used for swapping between capture modes and playback. What this means is that a half press of the shutter release button won't throw the user back into capture mode should they happen to be reviewing images when a photo opportunity unexpectedly presents itself. The switch has to be thrown first.

Below this and the mode button is a 'cross keys' control pad, with central Menu/Set button and four individual buttons assigned separate functions ranged around it. At 12 o'clock is a means of adjusting exposure (+/- 2EV). At three o'clock we have a button for the flash settings, at six o'clock a third governing the macro shooting option, whilst the fourth button at nine o'clock is for calling up the self-timer choices.

Beneath this and bottom right of the camera back we the 'Q.Menu' (Quick Menu), a press of which brings up a toolbar of key shooting options on screen to save otherwise having to dip into more comprehensive menus to adjust the likes of resolution, white balance or ISO. Here manually light sensitivity settings range from ISO80 up to ISO1600, with a boosted ISO6400 option accessible if shooting in High Sensitivity scene mode, though the camera itself decides when it will aim this high.

To the left of this is an identical size self explanatory display button. With subsequent presses of 'display' on-screen information is turned off to display a clean, uncluttered image, and/or a nine zone compositional grid is overlaid for those wishing to practice their photographic 'rule of thirds'. If pressed in playback mode instead, on-screen info is merely turned on or off to display a clean image to the viewer. A feature set that's pretty much what we'd expect from a sub-£200 camera.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS30 Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS30
Memory Card Slot Battery Compartment

A press of 'menu' button in capture mode meanwhile and a folder of basic shooting options (three screens of five choices each) are presented to the viewer in thin but perfectly legible black type on a white background. Again picture size, sensitivity, white balance and AF mode can be adjusted here. Panasonic further offers up a palette of colour modes, with standard and natural options joined by the more visually dynamic vivid, plus black and white, sepia and cool options. There's also an automatic red eye removal option that can be variously enabled or disabled. The second folder presented here governs the set up options; time and date settings, operational volume, LCD brightness, reset and format options.

Another press of the menu button, this time in playback/review mode, and users are given the ability to crop and re-size images in-camera should they wish to do so, as well as choose favourites and earmark specific shots for printing.

With a lug for attaching a wrist strap at the right hand side of the camera - if viewed from the back - the opposite side is devoid of any distinguishing details whatsoever. The base of the unit meanwhile features a screw thread for attaching a tripod over to the lens side, but not directly beneath, and at the opposite side a protected slot for a media card - here SD, SDHC or even higher capacity SDXC - plus battery. Battery life is good for 300 images from a full charge, which is identical to its FS33 sibling and like that model is respectable for its class.

But, as ever, the proof is in the images the FS30 delivers. The manufacturer is known for a reliable and consistent performance, so we potentially have high hopes for the FS30. And yet, in cramming 14 megapixels onto its sensor has Panasonic's ambition outstripped its performance? Read out to discover our verdict…

Image Quality

All of the sample images in this Review were taken using the 14 megapixel Fine JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 5Mb.

Though occasionally confused by busy scenes the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS30's iA mode mostly does a sterling job of automatically adjusting settings to suit, leaving the user free to concentrate on their subject and their framing rather than fiddling around with camera settings.

Generally though, and taking into account that this is a humble point and shoot just-shy-of £200, shots are among some of the sharpest we've seen from a pocket camera of its ilk, unless shooting handheld at maximum telephoto which did result in some loss of definition. Detail is well defined though and images require minimal if any processing straight out of the camera.

Like its Lumix forebears the FS30 provides warm colours - and especially so if turning on the vivid colour option. Pixel fringing, though there if you're really looking for it, is nevertheless kept well under control. Similarly, shots taken at maximum 28mm equivalent wide angle reveal good edge-to-edge detail and minimal barrel distortion. There's also just enough of this camera to get a reasonably firm grip on and avoid too much in the way of blur when shooting hand held, though as mentioned results at maximum telephoto inevitably come out a little soft on occasion.

Given the amount of pixels crammed on to its sensor, the FS30's performance in low light is a respectable one. As our test shots show, detail is held well up to and including ISO800, only really softening - and revealing tell-tale fuzziness - at maximum manually selectable ISO16000 option. Overall not a bad performance at all - and especially so given the modest pricing.


There are 6 ISO settings available on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS30. Here are some 100% crops which show the noise levels for each ISO setting.

ISO 80 (100% Crop)

ISO 100 (100% Crop)


ISO 200 (100% Crop)

ISO 400 (100% Crop)


ISO 800 (100% Crop)

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)


Here are two 100% crops which have been Saved as Web - Quality 50 in Photoshop. The right-hand image has had some sharpening applied in Photoshop. The out-of-the camera images are a little soft at the default sharpening setting and benefit from some further sharpening in a program like Adobe Photoshop. You can change the in-camera sharpening level via the Picture Adjust menu option.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)


Chromatic Aberrations

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS30 handled chromatic aberrations very well during the review, with limited purple fringing present around the edges of objects in certain high-contrast situations, as shown in the example below.

Example 1 (100% Crop)


The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS30 offers a Macro setting that allows you to focus on a subject that is 5cms away from the camera when the lens is set to wide-angle. The first image shows how close you can get to the subject (in this case a compact flash card). The second image is a 100% crop.

Macro Shot

100% Crop


The flash settings on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS30 are Auto, Auto/Red-eye Reduction, Forced On, Slow Sync./Red-eye Reduction, Forced Off. These shots of a white coloured wall were taken at a distance of 1.5m.

Forced Off - Wide Angle (28mm)

Forced On - Wide Angle (28mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

Forced Off - Telephoto (224mm)

Forced On - Telephoto (224mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

And here are some portrait shots. As you can see, neither the Flash On or the Auto/Red-eye Reduction settings caused any red-eye.

Forced On

Forced On (100% Crop)

Auto/Red-eye Reduction

Auto/Red-eye Reduction (100% Crop)


The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS30's maximum shutter speed is 60 seconds in the Starry Sky mode, which is great news if you're seriously interested in night photography. The shot below was taken using a shutter speed of 8 seconds at ISO 80. The camera takes the same amount of time again to apply noise reduction, so for example at the 15 second setting the actual exposure takes 30 seconds.

Night Shot

Night Shot (100% Crop)

Sample Images

This is a selection of sample images from the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS30 camera, which were all taken using the 14 megapixel Fine JPEG setting. The thumbnails below link to the full-sized versions, which have not been altered in any way.

Sample Movie & Video

This is a sample movie at the quality setting of 1280x720 at 30 frames per second. Please note that this 7 second movie is 27.1Mb in size.

Product Images

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS30

Front of the Camera

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS30

Front of the Camera / Lens Extended

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS30

Isometric View

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS30

Isometric View

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS30

Rear of the Camera

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS30

Rear of the Camera / Image Displayed

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS30

Top of the Camera

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS30

Bottom of the Camera

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS30

Side of the Camera


Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS30

Side of the Camera

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS30

Memory Card Slot

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS30

Battery Compartment


So apart from the smaller screen, lack of touch panel operation, and slightly different button layout at the back, the Panasonic FS33 and FS30 are one camera and the same, with a modest price difference. For a manufacturer's suggested £179.99 and with street costings undoubtedly better still, we'd argue it is hard to go wrong if choosing the FS30/FH20 as your travel companion this summer.

Reliably consistent images are delivered with minimal fuss. The advantages of having a higher 14 megapixel resolution won't be lost on the mass market, and the 8x zoom reach is perhaps even more useful as regards offering a greater variety of creative framing options than you'd normally expect from sub £200 snapper. Shame perhaps that although it offers HD movies it doesn't feature any HDMI output for hooking directly up to your flat panel TV, and also that the zoom stays fixed in place in video mode once recording has commenced, but then if there weren't these omissions we'd have very little to grumble about.

So while photo enthusiasts will inevitably want to cast their steely gaze elsewhere, for £179 the DMC-FS30 feels good value indeed and will more than satisfy those users looking for a portable pocket camera for their travels - and who are content to simply point and shoot in the main.

4 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 4
Features 4
Ease-of-use 4
Image quality 4
Value for money 5

Review Roundup

Reviews of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS30 from around the web. »

Pushing the envelope on the smaller compacts, Panasonic have unveiled the FS30 which boasts an 8x optical zoom and 14.1Mp resolution crammed into a slinky metal body. Priced at £174, the camera seems very competitive in the market with 14Mp, 8x optical zoom and intelligent automatic systems. But what have Panasonic done to keep the price so low? The absence of a Leica endorsed lens which is usually fitted to a Panasonic compact is a clue.
Read the full review » »

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH20 is a stylish compact digital camera with an effective resolution of 14.1 megapixels and an 8x optical zoom lens with a useful 28-224mm equivalent wide-angle setting. The Panasonic FH20's lens features a true optical image stabilization system to combat camera shake. The Panasonic FH20's lens has a two-step aperture that ranges from f/3.3 to f/10 at wide-angle, or f/5.9 to f/18 at telephoto. The minimum focusing distance for the Panasonic DMC-FH20 is ordinarily 50 centimeters, but drops to just five centimeters at wide-angle when switched to Macro mode.
Read the full review »



Camera Effective Pixels 14.1 Megapixels
Sensor Size / Total Pixels / Filter 1/2.33 type / 14.5 Total Megapixels / Primary Color Filter
Aperture F3.3 - 5.9/ 2-Step (F3.3 - 10 (W) / F5.9 - 18 (T))
Optical Zoom 8x
Focal Length f=5-40mm (28-224mm in 35mm equiv.)
Extra Optical Zoom (EZ) 9.5x (4:3 / 10M), 11.3x (4:3 / 7M), 13.5x (5M) 16.9x(under 3M)
Lens LUMIX DC VARIO / 9 elements in 7 groups / (3 Aspherical Lenses / 6 Aspherical surfaces)
Optical Image Stabilizer MEGA O.I.S. (Off / Auto / Mode1 / Mode2)
Digital Zoom 4x / ( Max. 32.0 x combined with Optical Zoom without Extra Optical Zoom ) / (Max. 67.5 x combined with Extra Optical Zoom)
Focusing Area Normal: Wide 50 cm - infinity / Tele 200 cm - infinity / Macro / Intelligent AUTO : Wide 5 cm - infinity / Tele 100cm - infinity
Focus Range Display Yes
AF Assist Lamp Yes
Focus Normal / Macro, Zoom Macro, Quick AF (Always On)
AF Metering Face / 9 pt/ 1pt
Shutter Speed Still: approx. 8 - 1/1600 sec / Starry Sky Mode : 15, 30, 60sec.
Shutter Interval 1.2 sec


ISO Sensitivity i.ISO / 80 / 100 / 200 / 400 / 800 / 1600 / High Sensitivity (ISO 1600-6400)
Optical Image Stabilizer Photo & Movie
Intelligent ISO Control Photo
Face Detection Photo
Intelligent Scene Selector Photo (Portrait, Scenery, Night Portrait, Night Scenery, Sunset, Macro)
Digital Red Eye Correction (Red-Eye Removal) Photo
iA Direct Button Yes
File Format Still Image: JPEG(DCF/Exif2.21) / Motion picture: QuickTime Motion JPEG
Mode Switch [Recording] / [Playback]
Mode Dial / Mode Button Intelligent AUTO, Normal Picture, SCN, My SCN, Motion Picture
Still Image Scene Mode Portrait, Soft Skin, Transform, Self-Portrait, Scenery, Sports, Night Portrait, Night Scenery, Food, Party, Candle Light, Baby1, Baby2, Pet, Sunset, High sensitivity, / Hi-Speed Burst, Flash Burst, Starry Sky, Fireworks, Beach, Snow, Aerial photo, Film Grain,?Photo Frame
Continuous Shooting Mode High-speed Burst Mode: approx. 4.6 frames/sec (image priority) / (recorded in 3M for 4:3, 2.5M for 3:2, 2M for 16:9)
Unlimited consecutive shooting 1.5 frames/sec
Flash Burst Continuous Shooting Mode Max. 5 images (Standard mode)
Motion Picture Recording [4:3] VGA: 640 x 480 pixels, 30fps (Motion JPEG) QVGA: 320 x 240 pixels, 30 fps (Motion JPEG) / [16:9] WVGA: 848 x 480 pixels, 30 fps (Motion JPEG) / [HD Movie] 1280x720 pixels, 30fps (Motion JPEG)
Exposure Program AE
Exposure Compensation 1/3 EV step, +/-2 EV
Backlight Compensation Yes (only in Intelligent AUTO mode)
Light Metering Intelligent Multiple
Aspect Ratio 4:3 / 3:2 / 16:9
Still Picture Recording [4:3] 4320x3240(14M) / 3648x2736(10M EZ) / 2560x1920(5M EZ) / 2048X1536(3M EZ) / 640X480(0.3M EZ) / [3:2] 4320 x 2880 (12.5M) / [16:9] 4320 x 2432 (10.5M)
White Balance Auto / Daylight / Cloudy / Shade / Halogen / White Set / (Selectable at Portrait, Soft Skin, Transform, Self-Portrait, Sports, Baby, Pet, High Sensitivity, Highspeed Burst, Photo Frame?
Quick Menu Yes
Color Mode / Color Effect Standard, Vivid, Natural, Black & White, Sepia, Cool, Warm
Composition Guide line Yes (1 pattern)
Auto Review 1sec, 2sec, Hold
Easy Zoom / Zoom Resume No / No
Macro Zoom Yes
Orientation Detector Yes
Scene Mode Help Screen Yes
Self Timer 2sec / 10sec
Focus Icon Select Yes


Playback Mode Normal Playback, Slideshow, Category Playback, Favorites Playback
Thumbnails / Zoomed Playback 12,30-thumbnails / Max 16x
Calendar Display / Dual-Image Playback Yes / No
Set Favorites / Rotate Image Yes / No
Playback Motion Picture Yes ( Motion JPEG)
Slideshow Mode All / Category / Favorites / BGM Effect (Natural / Slow / Swing / Urban / OFF)
Delete Image Single / Multi / All / All except Favorites
DPOF Print Setting / Set Protection Yes / Yes
Resize / Trim / Aspect Conv. / Leveling Yes / Yes / No / No
Copy / Title Edit / Text Stamp Yes / No / Yes (only Baby, Pet, Travel)
PictBridge Support Single / Multi / All / Favorites / DPOF


OSD language Japanese, English, German, French, Italian, Spanish
Travel Date / World Time Yes / Yes


Dimensions (W x H x D) 100.0 x 56.5 x 27.8 mm / excl. protrusions: 22.4 mm (3.94 x 2.22 x 1.09 in / excl. protrusions: 0.88 in)
Weight Approx. 160g with Battery and SD Memory Card (0.35 lb) / Approx. 138g without Battery and SD Memory Card (0.30 lb)


LCD Monitor 6.7cm (2.7") TFT Screen LCD Display (230K dots) / Field of View : approx. 100% / AUTO Power LCD mode, Power LCD mode, High Angle mode
Built-in-Flash Auto, Auto/Red-eye Reduction, Forced On, Slow Sync./Red-eye Reduction, Forced Off / 0.6 - 5.8m (Wide/ISO Auto), 1.0 - 3.2m (Tele/ISO Auto)
Recording Media Built-in Memory, SD Memory Card, SDHC Memory Card, SDXC Memory Card
Built-in-Memory Approx. 40MB
Microphone / Speaker Mono / Yes
Interface AV Output (NTSC/PAL, NTSC only for N. America), USB2.0 Full-speed, DC Input (requires optional DC Coupler)
Power ID-Security Li-ion Battery Pack (3.6V, Minimum: 740mAh) (Included) / AC Adaptor (Input: 110-240V AC) (Optional)
Battery life (approx.) 300 pictures (CIPA Standard)*1
Included Software PHOTOfunSTUDIO 5.0 Edition / QuickTime / Adobe Reader
Standard Accessories Battery Charger, Battery Pack, Battery Case / AV cable, USB Cable, AC Cable / Hand Strap, CD-ROM

Further Specifications

NOTE • Motion pictures can be recorded continuously for up to 15 minutes in European PAL area.

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