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Panasonic, a name that automatically makes you think of gadgets, very clever things, and an expensive price tag. But of course we all know that with the price tag comes good quality. And this camera is no exception.
This is a small size 10mp digital camera with a 5x optical zoom, intelligent ISO control and face detection that can be used for both still shots and video and has a nice size screen for you to see your shots on/shoot with.
The zoom is very simply operated by a sliding dial on the top of the camera, as is the photo options. However this dial is made a little easier for those who don't want to read the manual before getting to try it out as there are tiny little pictures on each setting. The photo options are:
-Portrait. This gives you further options for indoor and outdoor portraits, soft skin setting (which makes skin look softer, smoother and better), normal and creative. I especially like the soft skin setting as it gives a rather nice luminescence to the skin and does make imperfections look better without having to worry about Photoshop.
-Scenery. Further options are normal, creative, architecture and nature. The architecture is my favourite as it makes the building features sharper and brings up guidelines on the screen so that you can get your shot straight.
-Sports. Further options are normal, indoor, outdoor and creative. The outdoor in particular is good as it has a much faster shutter speed and deals very well with bright sunlight.
-Night Portrait. Includes portrait, scenery, creative and my favourite - illuminations. This uses a high ISO to minimise the blurriness you may get from hand held shots.
-Scene Mode. This one has a HUGE amount of extra settings - food, party, candle light, self portrait, sunset, beach, high sens, pet, baby1, baby2, starry sky, fireworks, snow, aerial photo, and hi-speed burst. I pretty much use the High Sens mode as my default as it sets the ISO sensitivity higher to reduce blur indoors. The snow mode is also amazingly good as it sets the exposure and white balance perfectly to make sure the snow in your photos looks as white as it does for real. The Starry Sky mode is also a favourite as you can get some fantastic shots when it is really dark and be able to see the stars you've shot clearly - but remember to use a tripod as you won't be able to hold still long enough to do it...or at least I can't.
There is also the video mode (pretty basic but gives good results), a/s/m mode and program ae (Don't worry about these until you read the manual and learn a little about what to use them for - I'm currently reading up on apertures so I can use these functions well) and also intelligent auto - again this seems to be a manual reading area so I'm still in the learning stages!
This is a good little camera with a whole stack of features (some that I'm still learning how to use). It's probably a bit over the top for someone who just likes to take a few snaps every now and then, but if photography is a hobby or aspiration of yours this is not at all a bad camera to start out on. The software that comes with the camera is simply to install and use and won't make you confused. The only issue I've found with this camera is that it doesn't like certain batteries - it got very upset with me for using Sony brand batteries and decided to flip out with the lens going in and out all on it's own while the screen flashed...I'd have laughed had this not happened whilst I was at a huge racing event at Silverstone this year!
Also a final point, remember to buy extra memory for the camera - it has a small amount of onboard memory - which I found was enough for around 30 photo's on High Sens. Perfectly fine for when you are first messing about with it but pretty soon you will need more. Not to worry, it takes the low priced and readily available SDHC cards. I have a 2gb card and have space for over 2000 photos...should be enough!
So all in all this is a good piece of kit - I can't comment price wise as I was given mine as a gift but had I not and I'd seen this in stores, I'd probably have bought it anyway as it is a very nice camera.