Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX5 Review
The third new Panasonic we have seen this year (2004), the Lumix DMC-FX5
combines a 4.0-megapixel imager with an image stabilized Leica 3x optical
zoom lens, packed in a stylish metal body. It offers users point-n-shoot
simplicity with its Simple mode, and also features a variety of pre-
programmed scene modes to ensure you get the proper exposure no matter what
the shooting condition. You can select from five image size choices,
including a HDTV mode, that has an aspect ratio of 16:9, which is designed
to have a higher picture quality for viewing your images on a High-Defintion
The Leica DC-VARIO ELMARIT 3x optical zoom lens offers flexibility in composing your shots with its 35-105mm (35mm equivalent) focal range. The 35mm wide-angle focal length provides a field of view sufficient for most indoor group portraits and outdoor landscapes shots. The 105mm telephoto range enables you to capture details on most distant subjects, and the MEGA O.I.S. (Optical Image Stabilization) helps reduce the occurrence of camera shake at longer focal lengths and slower shutter speeds. A 3x digital zoom feature is also included, but I would recommend not using it, instead crop your photos in an image editor when necessary.
Shooting performance of the FX5 was average. From power up to first image captured measured approx. 4.5 seconds. Shutter lag measured 1/10 of a second when pre-focused and 8/10 of a second including autofocus. Shooting in single exposure mode, it averaged approx. 2 seconds between frames without the use of the flash and about 2.5 seconds with the flash. The FX5 offers two Burst mode settings to choose from (High-speed, Low-speed.) Using the Low-speed setting, I was able to capture 5 frames in about 2 seconds. High- speed captured 5 frames in approx. 1.3 seconds. Our tests were done using a Sandisk Ultra II 256MB SD card, shooting in "Normal" mode, size/quality set at 2304x1728/Fine, flash off, and all other settings at default (unless otherwise noted.) Times may vary depending on lighting conditions, camera settings, media, etc.
I was pleased with our indoor test shots. Portraits of individuals were well exposed and skin tones look very natural. The "Auto" white balance mode works very well, you can see this by looking at the M&M man shot on our samples page . When shooting indoors, you will have to work within the limited range of the flash (about 10ft.), it has sufficient power for portraits of individuals or small groups, but illuminating any large room is out of the question. Outdoors the FX5 does extremely well. Our test shots were sharp, properly exposed, and colors were nicely saturated. When shooting portraits, I found skin tones very pleasing. As I stated before, the 35-105mm (equivalent) focal range allows flexibility in composing your shots, which helps decrease the amount of time spent on cropping and editing your images.
Bottom line - the Lumix DMC-FX5 makes a good choice for anyone who wants a durable, easy to use 4-megapixel camera. Its compact size allows it to be carried in almost any size handbag, and with 4 million pixels of resolution, you can produce photo-quality prints up to 11x14-inches. If you don't need an extremely durable all-metal camera, then I would suggest looking at the Lumix LC70. It has most of the features found on the FX5, and can be had for around $100 - 150 less.
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