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----- Background info -----
It always takes me a while to decide on any electronic device, because I don't consider myself an expert in this field, and for 50 positive reviews about something you always get 50 negative ones, which makes the decision even more difficult. I had been toying with the idea of buying a digital camera for months, so when my sister treated herself to a new laptop for Christmas, I decided enough is enough and spent the whole day researching a choosing a camera for myself.
I settled for this Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS30 model in Violet, which is a nice colour, but not a bright very girly violet - it's more toned down and stylish Aubergine colour in my opinion. I had initially placed an order on Amazon, where at £146 I paid about £30 more for the violet colour. The other colours were (starting from cheapest): black, silver and blue. To my disappointment, after 6 weeks of waiting I was told Amazon were out of stock of this colour and model, so I turned to John Lewis and paid £169.5 for exact same product.
The camera comes with a 1-year Panasonic warranty, which I think is not a long time for an electronic device, but I guess most manufacturers nowadays give quite short warranties on their products. John Lewis offered extended warranties for up to 3 years at additional cost, but I didn't opt for these.
----- What comes in a box? -----
* Camera (obviously), no camera case (this can be purchased separately)
* CD-ROM (PhOTOfunSTUDIO 5.0 and QuickTime software included)
* Basic operating instructions
* Accessories: battery, battery charger (battery case and AC lead), USB connector, AV cable (so you can connect the camera directly to TV set), hand strap
* Warranty certificate
----- My experience -----
I am absolutely delighted with this camera. The pictures come out sharp, clear and in great colours. I don't remember any time that I had to delete a picture because it was blurred, dark or with weird colours. I usually take pictures during sporting events and at parties, so mostly it is fast moving objects and dark lighting. This camera takes great quality photos no matter what lighting you have, whether the object is close or far or whether it moves or not.
I have been recently taking a lot of photos of fast moving people as I am a fan and practitioner of capoeira (Afro-Brazilian martial art, for those of you that are curious). All the pictures turn out clear with no smudged or blurry legs or arms.
The same is for the videos - they are what HD movies should be like. They all come out clean with no pauses in pictures. Fast movements are also clear, not blurred, and the sound is pretty good. The only downside with the videos is that you cannot change the zoom setting while you are filming - it is ok to zoom in or out before clicking the record button, but not while the video is being recorded. It is not a major drawback, but worth mentioning. I have found the same minus in all the cameras I used before, so it is not a surprise or a big issue to me.
With other cameras I noticed that pictures and videos can look good when you look at them in the camera, but as soon as this is enlarged and the picture or video gets transferred to the laptop, you find that the quality is not so good. It is different with this camera - pictures and videos are great quality on a small and large scale. This is what I have always been looking for.
I usually use this camera with iA (intelligent auto) mode on as it makes the idea of point and shoot just that. It detects hand shake, object movement, face shape and scene conditions to adjust its settings for a perfect shot. You can, of course, choose some settings on your own. For example, there are 20 scene modes to choose from, you can also change white balance, autofocus mode and ISO sensitivity. I find that iA mode is the easiest way to use this camera and the pictures always turn out great.
Apart of the fantastic quality photos and videos, I am impressed with the longevity of the battery. All my previous cameras had this negative that the battery wouldn't last long. My previous Pentax Optio 50 camera used 2xAA batteries and they would be gone in a few hours. Also, very often the battery would get eaten while the pictures where being transferred from camera to laptop or deleted. So imagine my surprise and delight when I found this battery to last about a week with heavy use for pictures and videos (Panasonic give approximate number of 300 pictures or 150 minutes of recording time for this camera). Downloading the contents to the laptop and deleting pictures doesn't use much battery either. With my normal use, i.e. taking pictures randomly when there is occasion, this will last months. How good is that?!
Transferring photos from the camera to laptop is dead easy - just use the USB connector and link the camera with laptop, then choose PC mode on the camera screen and the pictures appear on your computer screen so you can choose which ones you want to download. You can create various folders for the photos at the same time, delete them, etc. There is no software that you need to install, no CD to use - just simple downloading straight from the camera. Or you can use software included with the camera if you want to be able to edit photos, make slide-shows etc. The images don't take long to download.
The camera doesn't come with much memory (40 MB), so you need to buy a memory card. There are various formats supported: SD, SDHC and SDXC and you could get one that stores up to 64 GB (only for SDXC cards).
I've had this camera now for about 6 months and I haven't had any problems with it yet (touch wood!), even though I dropped it on the ground twice... I did scratch slightly, because it fell onto pavement, but there were no issues with the functionality at all.
----- Recommended? -----
As you can see from my review, I am very happy with this purchase and would recommend Lumix FS30 to my friends. It looks stylish, it is small enough to carry with me and delivers great photos without any effort on my part. If my camera ever gets lost or damaged, I will almost certainly try to buy the same model again.
----- Main features -----
* 14.1 Megapixel
* 8x optical zoom, 4x digital zoom
* iA (Intelligent Auto) mode that makes all pictures turn out great without any manual setting
* Mega OIS. Lens-shift stabilizations
* HD video recording
* Digital red-eye correction, face detection
* ISO sensitivity up to 6400
* 28mm wide-angle Leica DC Vario lens
* Dimensions: 100.0 x 56.5 x 27.8 mm (3.9 x 2.3 x 1.1 in)
* Weight: 138g (without battery)
So my dad recently bought a new camera and offered me his old SLR which is a big chunky piece of kit. I thought that before I bought it I would look into other cameras and found this. I got this for £130 and for that price look at what you get! The 8x optical zoom couples with the intelligent auto function to bring out some great quality photos that rivals the SLR that my dad was offering to me. The lens is apparently one of the best in the industry and it is easy to see why. There are some great shots from the wide angle that lets you capture every detail incredibly easily!
The other built in feature of this camera is the 720p HD video setting! I am yet to investigate this fully but this is a great inbuilt thing that is also very easy to use. It is a shame that you can't actually zoom in and out while you are recording but you can live without it. The main benefit of this camera is the fact that it fits right in your pocket! It's so much better than an SLR for that exact reason! Instead of having a huge camera case that you fiddle around with every time you want to take a picture you can now just grab it out of your pocket and take a picture with ease. An very easy little thing and the computing power of it makes out for some great stuff.
So what do I think? Well this is a fantastic bit of kit. The price is not too high but the outcome is well worth it. The 8x zoom works brilliantly and the SD card makes it easy to transfer files. Well done panasonic!
I must admit, I'm not exactly an expert when it comes to digital cameras, but I have always looked for certain attributes that will tick all the requirements I personally need in a modern camera. I have had few bad digital camera's in the last five years, and gave up this year (2010) and took the lazy way out by using my Blackberry, resulting in not the best quality pictures and a fair amount of motion blur. This Christmas however, my lovely girlfriend got me a Panasonic Lumix FS30 - Black (other colours are available). A quick first glance of the stats and I was impressed, but the proof of the pudding is in the eating as they say, so I used it extensively over the holiday period to find out if this was a camera which I could finally be happy with. I am pleased to say that it is, so here is my review of this smart and neat camera.
--It's all in the Lumix!--
I have been aware of Panasonic's Lumix range for many years, and have often thought about buying one of the range but never got round to it. I was confident in this being a quality camera as my girlfriend's sister, who has a photography degree and works at a studio, recommended this camera to my girlfriend to get me. She herself owns a Lumix DSLR which I have used, and could operate with relative ease. A compact version of this would have been great, and it appears I have got pretty close with this.
People look for different things in camera's, and primarily I look for the quality of the images but more importantly, it's ease of use. I can't stand devices with menus within sub-menus under more sub-menus, fiddly multi-function buttons, nonsensical pico-grams and so on, and was hoping that this wasn't the case with this camera. I also wanted a portable, but not minuscule device, which I wouldn't misplace easily. Any additional features would be a bonus to me.
--Cost and Packaging--
As this was a gift, finding out the price that was paid would seem a little rude, but my girlfriend happily informed me that I needed the documents for the included 3 year warranty, and so happened to acquire the receipt. It cost her £159.99 from Curry's with the warranty. Although this may seem pricey for a mid-range camera, I think it is rather a shrewd deal she got, as it retails for £169.99 in both Argos and Tesco without the warranty, and as much as £250 in high-end specialist shops.
It's packaged in the usual stiff-card box, which somehow always have that uncanny trait of holding everything you get perfectly, but you can never put everything back in correctly! On the lid of the box is an image of the camera (in silver) with it's name in large grey writing, and brief details of it's features. Panasonic's company details and the camera model number is printed on the sides, in several different languages. For some reason, there is also a sticker on the back showing you how to open the box?!! If you couldn't open the box, you would have no chance with its contents!
Included in the box are a basic instruction booklet, a CD-rom containing the full and detailed operating instructions, battery pack and charger and power lead, USB lead for computer and video/audio lead for a TV.
--Looks and Build Quality--
With the brushed black finish to the front and back panels, and a smooth silver metal body showing around the sides, this is a smart looking camera. I know a lot of manufacturers tend to use this colour scheme, but this is the best looking small camera I have seen to date, because everything just feels as if it has been placed correctly and in proportion. On the back, the 2.7" LCD screen protrudes slightly out of the back, with the controls set to the right in perfect placement for your thumb (Right handed). There is also a small raised area next to the camera/viewer slider switch which helps in operating the switch, but also can be used to stabilise the camera while taking high angle shots.
On the front, the lens area protrudes out from the body a little too, but the lens barrel retracts and sits flush when the camera is switched off. The lens cover, split typically into two halves, is coloured in a simple matt grey, but looks nice against the chrome silver border of the whole lens. The flash is mounted just of centre, and the timer assist indicator is placed in the right corner (looking from the front). Printed in silver are Panasonic's boasts of '14 Mega Pixels' and '8x optical Zoom', and the Lumix title is in a silver metal sticker clearly next to the lens.
On the under side are the model numbers, voltage and disposal information, a tripod mounting point and the battery and memory compartment flap. The clip for the latter is made out of an unappealing dull grey plastic, this really is the only downer on the overall aesthetics. The wrist strap, which is coloured again in a darker silver/grey, loops simply to a point on the right hand side, which is also where the USB socket is concealed under a nifty little spring-loaded door. On the top edge, is a nicely sized shutter button surrounded by the zoom/picture view control again finished in the chrome silver to stand out from the smooth silver of the body. The on/off switch is located here too, just off centre to the right, but not too close to the shutter button, and the microphone and loudspeaker are located just to the left, but not so much as if you could accidentally cover them with your fingers whilst holding the camera.
The whole unit feels tightly put together, the slider buttons feel robust and won't snap in a hurry, and the push buttons feel solid, with that reassuring 'click' when pushed. No spongy and silent little controls are on this. I like that, because it feels you are actually controlling something, and it makes the whole experience for satisfying and responsive. Although it may be well built, it certainly wont take kindly to being dropped on any hard surface, and I get the feeling that the screen would break instantly or the plastics would crack. It's not shock-proof, so get yourself a good case. (I have a finepix one).
--Performance and Usability--
As a basic camera, you have seven different image size options to choose from, all simply displayed in the camera settings menu, and I did make the mistake of taking all my pictures on the first day of ownership on it's highest setting, making viewing on the camera's LCD and upload times to the computer quite laborious. Once I had changed this to a lower setting however, uploading was quick and easy (just plug in to the computer, no software needed) without a huge reduction of the image quality. As there is no traditional view-finder of this camera, the LCD screen becomes your eyes, and after switching on (in camera mode) the Lumix logo greets you with a tinkle sound and quickly adopts to viewing your subject matter in a clear, sharp and detailed manner. The size of the screen is great, and I find it performs excellently, with no graphical errors, freezing or juddering. Options available whilst in camera mode are weather or not you want the time, date or grid displayed, which are all controlled simply by the 'Display' button.
As with any new device, I'm always sceptical about the control systems and menu options, and although at first I found myself clicking away aimlessly and staring gormlessly at the display, I quickly found my way around. I particularly like the fact that the primary options are separated into just two simple menu's, one for general settings and one for camera settings, making menu navigation nice and easy. The settings menu is coloured in a clear and bright scheme of black, red and yellow on a white background, which I find easy on the eye and don't find myself squinting at the display.
Staying with the menu's, there is a third 'Mode' menu that could have been removed, as it gives you the options to choose between 'Camera, Scene or Motion Picture (Quicktime Video)', but as there is a nice slider button that switches from Camera to Viewer, this could also control this choice, thus negating the need for the extra menu. This is only a small gripe, but one worth mentioning I feel.
The controls themselves are very well placed, all within a nice operating distant from a typical grasp. They all are nicely sized, not so small as you might have difficultly using them, and are responsive and instantaneous in their actions. The basic layout is that of a D-pad shape, the primary menu button being in the middle and the four surrounding buttons used for menu navigation and for quick adjustments whilst in camera mode (Exposure, Zoom Macro, Flash and Timer). Above this is the aforementioned 'Mode' Button, and underneath are the 'Display' and 'Delete' button. That's another thing I really like, a camera which has a 'Delete' button which actions instantly and doesn't make you scrawl through menus before you can remove a picture.
Once you have acquainted with the controls, it is a very smooth and simple action to take the pictures themselves. The shutter button as a very obvious 'half-point' feel, so finding your focus before taking the picture is quickly done. With some other cameras I have used, you have to guess were this point is, and find yourself taking the picture early, late or not at all! I have not done this with this camera yet, and I attribute that to the shutter buttons design. Around this is the zoom slider, which glides nice and is responsive to your touch. The zooming action itself is certainly very quick, so you have to be gentle with the control.
The picture quality this little camera gives is tremendous, producing a really sharp, well balanced image in mostly all conditions. The 14.1 mega pixels and the wide-angle lens make the image very impressive indeed. The settings can be adjusted of course to suit your preference and conditions, but the iA (Intelligent Auto) feature can be used and does it's work well enough. However, I have found it is not flawless and in some ways takes the fun out of taking pictures, as everything is being adjusted for you. Also, not all image sizes are available in when iA is being used. This function can be disabled or enabled very quickly with it's button located next to the shutter switch, so you can flip between it's settings or your settings in a second.
The motion picture mode, which also has it's own choice of settings, records in a JPEG Quicktime format and with mono sound. As this is not a dedicated digital video camera, I always expect it's movie mode to bare a close quality to that of mobile phones, but this is definitely of higher quality than that. It's just a shame you cannot choose what format you record in, and there is that lack of stereo to contend with, which is why I find it unusual that you can record in HD! This will only of course transfer to your computer, and even though the camera can be linked to a TV with a USB, you will loose the HD quality in the recording. A nice feature yes, but is kind of pointless without stereo sound in my mind.
Other features that are worth a mention are the face detection, which performs without problems and can pick out most peoples faces in clear view. The digital red-eye removal seems to work well, but it's best feature has to be its Mega OIS (Image stabilisation). This was my main problem with older digital camera's, I always got blurring when I wouldn't with an average 35mm film camera. I am surprised I'm saying this, but I haven't had one image yet with any blur, and I have been taking pictures of playing children and family parties, so a lot of movement going on, and still no blur. It really is very, very good indeed!
Weight - 160 grams
Length - 100.0 mm
Height - 56.5 mm
Depth - 27.8 mm
Battery Charger - DE-A60A input 110v to 240v AC
Battery Pack - Lithium-Ion CGA-S/106C 3.6v
Power Source - 5.1v DC
Power Consumption - 1.1W (Rec), 0.6W (Playback)
Max Image resolution - 14.1 Megapixel CCD
Lens - Optical Zoom x8, F=5mm to 40mm (28mm to 224mm)
Digital Zoom - x4
Focus Range - 50cm (wide) 2m (tele)
Burst Speed - 1.5 pictures per second.
Shutter Speed Range - 8 seconds to 1/1600th of a second.
LCD Monitor - 2.7" TFT LCD
Format - JPEG (still) Quicktime JPEG (Motion)
Microphone & Loudspeaker - Mono
Interface - USB 2.0
Analogue Video/Audio Interface - NTSC/PAL Composite
Well, there it is. No mincing of words required here, this is a fantastic digital camera. It looks great, performs great, easy to use, has plenty of features and although some may consider a little costly, it really gives you piece of mind knowing your going to record some of your treasured memories within an impeccable image. Despite it's very few and let's be honest, unremarkable shortcomings, this is a camera I would recommend to anyone. From a student to an architect, from a mother to a entrepreneur, this will be a great bit of kit for you that I can guarantee you will be satisfied with.
Ill-Lumix-ate your photography!
Thanks for Reading. © Novabug
Also posted on Ciao.co.uk