Steve's Conclusion

By

Steve's SnapShot
FS25n_slant.jpg
  • 12-megapixel image sensor
  • Leica 5x wide view (29mm) zoom lens
  • MEGA O.I.S. system
  • 28 exposure modes (including iAuto)
  • Face Detection
  • 3.0-inch LCD with High Angle mode
  • 1.7fps burst mode
  • WVGA (848x480) video mode
  • SD/SDHC/MMC card slot
  • Li-ion battery pack
Pros
  • Compact, lightweight and durable metal body
  • Plenty of resolution for 13x19-inch or larger prints
  • Loaded with user-friendly exposure options
  • Nice 3.0-inch LCD
  • Versatile 5x zoom
  • Good image quality outdoors
  • Captures pleasing people photos
Cons
  • Slower than average shooting performance
  • iAuto tends to overexpose at times
  • Movie quality leaves one wanting more
  • Poor microphone placement
Timing Test Results
  • Power up to first image captured = 2 seconds
  • Shutter lag when prefocused  = less than 1/10 of a second
  • Shutter lag with autofocus = approx. 5/10 of a second
  • Shot to shot delay wo/flash = 2.5 - 3.5 seconds
  • Shot to shot delay w/flash = 3.5 - 4 seconds
  • Nomral burst = 3 images in 1 second (3fps)
  • Continuous burst = 10 images in 7.6 seconds (1.3fps)
Bottom Line
The Panasonic Lumiz DMC-FS25 is a worthy competitor in the sub $250 category.
Pick This Up If...
You enjoy capturing snap shots of friends and family, want an easy to operate camera, or if you are one who wants to be able to tuck the camera away easily in your pocket or handbag.
Panasonic has upgraded their popular ultra-compact Lumix DMC-FS20 from last year with the DMC-FS25. Improvements consist of more resolution at 12-megapixels and a more versatile 5x optical zoom. Most all of the FS25's other features have been passed down from its predecessor. These include the iAuto (intelligent Auto) shooting mode, a 3-inch LCD screen, Li-ion power source, MEGA O.I.S. image stabilization system, face detection, movie mode, built-in flash memory, and a SD/SDHC/MMC card slot. The FS25 is a compact point-n-shoot, designed for those who want a feature filled, pocketable camera with a reasonable price tag.


While packed with 28 different exposure modes for various types shooting situations, we feel the iAuto option will be the best choice for most users. iAuto is comprised of six key elements:

  • MEGA O.I.S. - gyro-sensors in the lens detect and counteract camera-shake
  • Intelligent ISO Control - the camera analyzes the subject for movement and lighting conditions, then increases the ISO and shutter speed to help produce blur free images
  • Intelligent Scene Selector - detects what type of subject you are shooting and chooses the appropriate Scene mode
  • Intelligent Exposure - adjusts the brightness levels in an image to enhance dark (shadow) areas
  • Face Detection AF/AE - finds and locks on to faces (up to 15) and adjusts focus and exposure accordingly
  • AF Tracking - follows your subject, keeping them in focus even when moving around inside the frame.

When using iAuto, the camera will automatically select the exposure settings for your current shot as well as choose the correct scene mode that best fits your subject (like landscape, portrait, etc.). This allows you to focus more on framing that perfect snap shot, without having to worry about camera settings. For those who like to have some control, the FS25 does offer a Normal or Program AE mode. While still mostly automatic, Normal mode does offers some advanced settings for options like ISO, metering, white balance, focus, etc. Whether you're a beginner or novice, the DMC-FS25 has an exposure mode that will suit your experience level.

The body design of the FS25 is almost identical to the FS20. Only a few minor changes have been made. This camera is what we consider an ultra-compact, as it will fit in the small pocket without much fuss. Although small, I found the camera was still very easy to handle and operate. The controls on the back are very small, so if you have large fingers like myself, you have to pay close attention when pressing them. The zoom controls are in a very comfortable position, mounted around the shutter release. This offers effortless zooming and snapping.

The majority of the back of the camera is taken up by a large 3.0-inch LCD screen. This display offers decent resolution at 230k pixels, providing a nice clear image with good color rendition. Monitor performance was good in various lighting conditions. While the display gains up well in marginal light, it would benefit from a non-glare coating when shooting outdoor. The FS25 features the same menu system found on most of Panasonic's consumer models, which we found was very easy to navigate, and offers logical operation. If you've owned a Lumix model in the past, you'll be right at home.

While most of Panaosnic's consumer models are quite responsive, that was not the case with the FS25. While featuring a fast start up time, and decent shutter lag response, the camera doesn't quite stack up to the competition in other areas. Shutter lag is almost instantaneous when the camera is pre-focused and about 5/10 of a second when allowing for autofocus. With the camera in single shot mode, the shot to shot delay ranged from 2.5 - 3.5 seconds between frames without the flash, and 3.5 - 4 seconds with the flash on; just a bit slower that its predecessor. The camera also has two continuous shooting modes. In normal burst mode the camera will take a series of 3 images in just 1 second (3fps). The continuous burst mode was able to capture 10 images in 7.6 seconds, falling short of Panasonic's claim of 1.7fps in continuous mode. All of our tests were completed using an OCZ Class 6 4GB SDHC memory card, Normal shooting mode, ISO Auto, flash off and all other settings at the factory defaults unless otherwise noted. Times may vary depending on lighting conditions, camera settings, media, etc

When shooting outdoors, I found the FS25 was able to produce pleasing landscape type photos as well as portraits. Again, the iAuto mode produced the best, most of the time. I did find a few instances where the camera would produce an over exposed image. Switching to Normal mode with the ISO set low, would then produce a better looking photo. This happened with our canon and restaurant shots on the sample page. You can see an example from both iAuto and Normal modes. Color saturation was nice an rich, which will help you prints to really stand out. While colors are pleasing, they are not what I'd call natural. Image noise was well controlled when using the ISO auto setting, and the camera did a good job at keeping the sensitivity down; the highest setting we saw the camera choose was ISO 400.

Small cameras mean a small flash unit. The FS25's built-in speed-light offers a claimed range of approx. 17 feet at wide angle using ISO Auto. I find that find of range hard to believe, and the only way you'd achieve a decent exposure of a subject 17 feet away would be by boosting the sensitivity to ISO 800 or above. Doing so would increase noise, which will decrease the likely-hood that you will capture a nice usable photo. I found shooting from about 6 feet away, using the zoom to tightly frame my subject produced pleasing results. Flash exposure looks good, and facial detail is sharp. The Face Detection system worked very well, finding and locking on my subject's face almost immediately. It also handled small children without a problem.

The FS25 offers three resolution setting to choose from for movie mode, WVGA (Wide 848x480), VGA (640x480) or QVGA (320x240). The frame rate is fixed at 30fps. We used the wide aspect (16:9) video mode for all of our tests. Overall, It produced decent videos, however with the advances in HD video on digicams these days, the FS25's video mode leaves one wanting more. Our indoor sample shows a good amount of compression artifacts, and even outdoors you can see a good amount of noise. I also found the microphone is Very sensitive, picking up all kinds of background noise inside as well as the slightest breeze outdoors.

Battery life was good for an ultra-compact. Panasonic claims you can capture up to 330 photos on a single charge. We were able to capture over 100 still, a dozen or so short video clips, and conclude most of our other tests on a single charge. As long as you remember to charge the camera for a good two hours before leaving for a family event, you should be fine. However, if you are planning a vacation or plan on shooting over 250+ photos in a single day, I highly recommend you add a second pack to your purchase. They battery is charged outside of the camera, so you can use one while charging another.

Bottom line - the Panasonic DMC-FS25 is a decent ultra-compact digicam that produces nice 12-megapixel images indoors and out, offers a versatile zoom range (29 - 145mm eqivalent), and loads of user friendly features and exposure options; including the capable intelligent Auto exposure mode. The camera has it's Pros and Cons, but overall is a nice camera that should serve you well. With a street price of $249 or less, the Lumix DMC-FS25 offers good "bang for your buck".

Visitors of Steves can visit the stores below for real-time pricing and availability. You can also find hot, soon to expire online offers on a variety of cameras and accessories at our very own Camera Deals page.

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