Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS33 Review
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS33 (also known as the DMC-FH22) is a slim and stylish digital camera with a versatile 8x, 28-224mm optical zoom lens. The FS33 also features a 3 inch touch-sensitive screen combined with four major operation buttons and can record HD movies in 1280 x 720p at 30fps. The 14.1 megapixel DMC-FS33 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 FS33 / FH22 is available in silver, black or red for £199 / $199.
Ease of Use
Promising high-grade features from a user-friendly package, from the outset the 14 megapixel Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS33's makes a reasonable fist of delivering on such PR-speak. Also reasonable is the cost, at a very affordable manufacturer's suggested price of £199 in the UK.
Attention grabbing spec includes a large 3-inch, 230k dot resolution touch panel LCD in the absence of optical viewfinder at the rear, folded 28mm-224mm wide angle optical zoom with 8x reach at the front. Plus, at its heart, a 14.5 megapixel 1/2.33-inch CCD sensor, delivering a 14.1MP effective resolution. As expected Panasonic's reliable intelligent Auto mode (with dedicated iA top plate button) and HD movies - here of the 1280x720 resolution at 30fps Motion JPEG format variety - and selected via an on-screen icon, also make an appearance.
There's no HDMI port though, just standard AV/USB connectivity with a joint port hiding under a small flap at the camera's side. With a 40MB internal capacity, compatibility is offered with SD, SDHC and newer high capacity SDXC cards, so memory is as expandable as you'd want.
The usual mix of metal and plastic construction, yet with attractive brushed metal faceplate disguising the latter element, the FS33's solid feel convinces when gripped in the palm. The thumb rests on a small square of 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 Lumix weighs a manageable 162g, and with overall dimensions of 11x56.5x27.2mm, slips just as easily and unobtrusively into trouser pocket as it does jacket or, presumably, handbag. For those who are swayed by such things, the Lumix is available with silver, red or more sophisticated black faceplate we had in for review.
The brushed metal faceplate of the camera, as mentioned, resembles so many of its predecessors and indeed competitors, dominated by internally stacked lens mostly hidden within the body when not in use, supported when extended by Mega Optical Image Stabilisation to help combat the effects of camera shake. This degree of conventionalism is continued in the porthole-shaped window housing AF assist and self timer lamp top right of the lens, and narrow lozenge shaped built-in flash top left. When holding the camera this is set just close enough to the lens - and away from the sides - to avoid fingers accidentally obscuring it, a common problem with pocket models.
The top plate features a dedicated intelligent Auto (iA) button for point and shoot simplicity - the FS33 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 two seconds to power up and a further three to commit a maximum resolution still image to memory, both of which are average timings for this class of camera.
The FS33's zoom power, supported by its manufacturer's 'Mega' optical image stabilisation, can also be boosted, here to an equivalent 16.9x 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 (the incremental alternatives are 9.5x at 10 megapixels or 13.5x at 5MP). Otherwise the zoom lens glides through its basic optical range in all of three seconds. Annoyingly perhaps, it's disabled when shooting video and merely stays impotently at the point it was when recording commenced.
Although mostly offering 'hands off' point and shoot convenience, the FS33's auto AF point can usefully also be adjusted simply by tapping the screen with a fingernail, should the user wish to bias focus on a subject other than that which is dead centre of frame. Macro close ups are down to 5cm from your subject.
General operation response times are quick - virtual controls responding instantly to a finger tap - 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 its Venus Engine IV processor.
Like its forebears the FS33 doesn't rely on touch screen alone for operation however; the keys to its right on the backplate also have to be pressed and prodded before anything will occur. This bet-hedging mix of physical buttons and virtual ones thus requires a period of familiarization. The mode button located here at the top of a vertical row of four controls in the absence of a dedicated dial, virtual or otherwise, summons up a quartet of icons on screen - for 'normal' picture (full auto) mode, 24-option Scene mode, My Scene mode (more of the same, but the camera saves 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, or standard VGA 640x480 pixels selectable.
As a further time saver a press of the 'Q.Menu' (Quick Menu) button bottom right of the backplate 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 stretch this high.
Wedged in between mode and Q,menu buttons are self explanatory buttons for display and menu. 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. Again this is pretty much what we'd expect from a camera around the £200 mark.
A press of 'menu' button in capture mode meanwhile and basic shooting options (four screens of just three choices each) are presented to the viewer in larger-than-average type, each one set into a panel that extends almost the width of the screen, the size and dimensions therefore making it easier to select with a finger tap. At the bottom left of the screen are recognizable camera and spanner icons for variously selecting capture or set up modes, with, in the middle bottom of screen, forward and back buttons which the user can utilise to scroll back and forward through the available choices. Over to the right hand side is a large-ish button marked 'exit' so the user can quickly return to using the LCD for shot composition.
|Memory Card Slot||Battery Compartment|
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. The final button on the camera back is a sliding switch for alternating between capture and review modes; though this keeps things simple we're not great fans of the switch as it means the user has an extra task to perform should a photo opportunity suddenly present itself whilst shots are being reviewed. Unlike on other models that offer a dedicated button for playback, users of the FS33 cannot lightly press the shutter release button to 'jump' back into shooting mode - said switch has to be flipped first, losing potentially valuable seconds.
Admittedly this is nit picking as in almost every other regard operation is fluid and the FS33 is a capable performer. 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 respectable for its class.
But, as ever, the proof is in the images the FS33 delivers. The manufacturer is known for a reliable and consistent performance, so we potentially have high hopes for the FS33. And yet, in cramming 14 megapixels onto its sensor has Panasonic over egged the pudding? Read out to discover our verdict…
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.
Given that this is a humble point and shoot just-shy-of £200 model, shots are among some of the sharpest we've seen from a pocket camera of its ilk, especially useful for macro/close up shots. Detail is well defined and images require minimal if any processing straight out of the camera.
Like its Lumix forebears the FS33 provides warm colours but if we're being unduly critical has occasional colour cast/white balance issues. Colours can at times look unrealistically vivid/over-saturated - particularly natural expanses of green and blue. That said, the 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.
Pixel fringing, though there if you're really looking for it, is nevertheless kept well under control, and in that respect the FS33 makes a better fist of it than recent Fuji and Sony competitors we've tested. 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 results at maximum telephoto inevitably come out a little soft on occasion.
Given the amount of pixels crammed on to its sensor, the FS33's performance in low light is a respectable one. As our test shots show, detail is held well up to and including ISO 800, only really softening - and slightly at that - at maximum manually selectable ISO 1600 option. Overall not a bad performance at all, any criticism we have feeling like we're poking holes rather than slamming the camera out right.
There are 6 ISO settings available on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS33. 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)
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS33 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-FS33 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.
The flash settings on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS33 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)
Forced Off - Telephoto (224mm)
Forced On - Telephoto (224mm)
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 (100% Crop)|
Auto/Red-eye Reduction (100% Crop)
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS33'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 1 second at ISO 800. 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 (100% Crop)
This is a selection of sample images from the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS33 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
Front of the Camera
Front of the Camera / Lens Extended
Rear of the Camera
Rear of the Camera / Image Displayed
Top of the Camera
Bottom of the Camera
Side of the Camera
Side of the Camera
Memory Card Slot
At times it seems like - despite the imagined 'killer' threat from the camera phone - digital snapshots are not only still needlessly plentiful, but also nigh indistinguishable, blurring into one multi-coloured mass. At first glance Panasonic's Lumix DMC-FS33 likewise appears to be digicam landfill, outwardly little different from its equally slender and admittedly not unattractive pocket-sized predecessors.
However first impressions are there to deceive, this user-friendly compact rising above the synthetic sludge by offering a better than average spec list for the relatively modest £199 manufacturer's UK asking price, with street and online prices cheaper still.
Commendably it ticks most of the boxes for the latest must haves. Reliably consistent images are delivered with minimal fuss once the user has become familiar with the tandem button/touch screen operation. The advantages of having a higher 14 MP 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 £199 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 you can't always have everything.
That said, while photo enthusiasts will inevitably want to cast their steely gaze elsewhere, for £199 the DMC-FS33 feels very 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.
|Ratings (out of 5)|
|Value for money||5|
Reviews of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS33 from around the web.
The Lumix DMC-FH22 is an ideal touchscreen compact for users who just want to snap pictures easily.
Read the full review »
|Camera Effective Pixels||14.1 Megapixels|
|Sensor Size / Total Pixels / Filter||1/2.33-inch / 14.5 Total Megapixels / Primary Color Filter|
|Aperture||F3.3 - 5.9/ 2-Step (F3.3 - 10 (W) / F5.9 - 18 (T))|
|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), Touch AF|
|AF Metering||Face / 9 pt/ 1pt / Touch Area on screen|
|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|
|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 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?|
|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|
|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 27.2 mm / excl. protrusions: 21.8 mm (3.94 x 2.22 x 1.07 in / excl. protrusions: 0.86 in)|
|Weight||Approx. 162g with Battery and SD Memory Card (0.36 lb) / Approx. 140g without Battery and SD Memory Card (0.31 lb)|
|LCD Monitor||3.0" TFT Touch Screen LCD Display (230K dots), AR Coat / 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|
|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|
|NOTE||• Motion pictures can be recorded continuously for up to 15 minutes in European PAL area.|