Product Type: Panasonic digital cameras
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Finally, A Digital Camera that I can Live with!
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS30
Member Name: Novabug
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS30
Advantages: Quality Pictures and viewing screen, easy to operate, Good looking . . . etc etc . .
Disadvantages: I smidge pricey for a mid - range Camera, maybe . .
--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
Summary: A superb camera, that's all there is to say!
|Ease of use:|
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