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I had bought this digicam back in 2009 and it still works to this day. The Lumix FS7 is an attractive little camera. It will fit in your pocket easily and is moderately thin. It is also packed with a Lecia lens. I don't know much about lenses, but I assume they are the Panasonic equivalent of Carl-Zeiss.
What it has is a 10mpx photo chip, 2.7" TFT Screen, 4x optical zoom, 4x digital zoom (total 16.0 x combined with Optical Zoom) and it comes with standard 50mb of memory - not a lot for pictures. However it houses SD, SDHC and MMC cards. I bought a SDHC as it is the faster and smaller format of SD card.
Using the camera feels light and very easy to take pictures with. The large display shows a clear picture although when moving the camera too fast, it lags behind. Theres quite a decent viewing angle and the brightness adjustments can help take pictures in various lighting conditions.
I found the camera to start up quickly; although not the fastest it was still under 5 seconds. I haven't really noted how quickly it does shot-to-shot but I believe it to be fast enough and probably between 2 to 3 seconds.
The Intelligent Auto or iA is a unique feature to the Lumix and can identify the subject in the frame. There are a wide range of iA sets one of which was my favourite; Flower. I photograph quite a lot of flowers and the intelligent autofocus and image stabilisation meant that I could take pictures even in windy conditions.
Images are of excellent quality. Really you can't differentiate between this and higher priced digital cameras with the naked eye. Even in poor lighting the camera will repeatedly take beautiful pictures thanks to its LED flash. There are various ISO settings to play with and each setting helps to adjust to various lighting conditions.
Lumix FS7 menu is pretty simple to use. The 4 buttons at the back with a central Select allowes for easy navigation and each item is well layed out and clear to understand.
In terms of its reliability, this camera has been faultless and I would have expected no less from Panasonic. The materials used feel very solid and there is an air of class around the black matte finish.
I can't really say much else but would like to finish with how good the camera looks and feels. For this price you really can't go wrong with the Panasonic Lumix FS7.
I happened to win a Panasonic DMC-FS7 back in June 2009 which was a welcome replacement to the rather bulky Canon Powershot A50. At first I wasn't overly impressed by the quality of a few of the photos I took but now in 2011 it's something that rarely leaves my bag and has captured some great memories.
At 10 megapixels, yes you can get far more for your money now but even a camera with more MPs won't guarantee perfect pictures and I admit most of the bad pictures are down to my error or just playing around with different settings. There are extra costs with this camera such as getting a memory card as the internal memory is small - I've got 7 pictures and a 28 second video and that's it full. Plus there's no case provided although having said that, the only small scratch on mine is on the screen (which doesn't affect viewing) where my young cousin dropped it onto concrete so it's been very durable.
Like most (if not all) of the Lumix range, the camera gives several options to make photo taking easy - Intelligent Auto, Normal Picture, Portrait, Scene Mode and Motion Picture. iA is also an extra button beside the zoom so it's quick and easy to switch between two functions. Although iA does give very detailed photos it's not one of the functions I use often because it can eat up a lot of memory and tends to focus on everything where sometimes I just want the subject to be focused on. The menu is very easy to navigate but there are a lot of options so while it's perfectly fine to leave the menu as it is, you can get creative and take a more manual approach with colours, quality, size, aspect ratios, ISO and more. I'm definitely not a professional photographer but I do enjoy changing a few of the settings to see what I can achieve.
Scene mode is one of the functions I use most because there is a noticeable difference between each and they do make it easy to get a better photo. A few of them are fun like Transform which will make the subject skinny/fatter and Photo Frames to High Sensitivity and Sports to help capture movement better. Starry Sky is my absolute favourite but can be a tricky one to use as it will capture the night's sky with clouds, stars and moon but with the shutter speeds set to 15/30/60 seconds means any movement at all will ruin it and sometimes just pressing the shoot button will move the camera. When it works (which is often), it's really beautiful. I also like Baby options as I put in the dates my of my niece and nephew's births so when I'm taking a picture of either of them I know how old they are in years, weeks and days.
There's a 4x optical zoom Leica lens. It's easy to zoom in on pictures but I feel even with the autofocus, it can become quite grainy when it does hit the 4x. The only time zoom won't work is with Motion Picture so you need to have it already zoomed in before starting filming. The optical image stabiliser is definitely a useful feature as I never use a tripod but even switching that feature off, some of the photos don't blur as expected even while moving the camera around but making sure it's on will greatly reduce the chance of blurring. Depending on the mode there can be quite a delay between taking each picture but there are burst options. With these though you can't use the flash.
I use Motion Picture a lot. The camera will take a few seconds to focus itself but generally I do get good videos out of it. They're far from as sharp as the photos but sound quality is great and they play back well on the camera as well as my laptop. I don't like that the format for the videos is .MOV because they can't be edited in Windows Movie Player which I use often as it's on most computers so I have to convert each file first which can take a lot of time. The files can be directly uploaded to YouTube and Facebook as this format though. Motion Picture will also save a photo from the beginning of the video but this is where you can tell there's a huge decrease in quality.
The screen on the camera is a good size at 2.7" so it's easy to see what you're taking a photo of. The only exception is during bright sunlight and there's no viewfinder so you can end up guessing what you're taking. It's also not very easy to view photos during playback in bright sunlight. The display gives the option to show details such as how many photos can be taken under that function to a grid or remove all details. Generally I'm very impressed from viewing the photo on the small screen to transferring them to my laptop but there have been a couple of occasions where the photos just weren't as highly detailed on the laptop as they seemed on the camera. Lighting does play a big part in the quality but even indoors in lower light it still can perform well. The flash is bright without being overly blinding and generally doesn't wash out the subject unless being too close or increasing the exposure.
Deleting photos and videos is easy straight from the camera with the option to multi delete. Even after all these years I still end up pressing the wrong button when it comes to deleting them so I have to reselect them. If you've got a card slot in your laptop/computer then I'd recommend using that over the cable because you can delete multiple photos far quicker directly from the SD card whereas you can only delete one at a time when connecting via cable.
Like many digital cameras these days, the FS7 is slim and compact not too dissimilar in size to my phone in fact so it is easy to carry around compared to a DSLR. I've got no complaints about battery life at all. I'm still using the original battery and even after a week of daily photos, viewing photos, viewing videos etc. it still doesn't need charged. I think that was one of the things I was worried about compared to my Canon A50 because AA batteries are easy enough to buy in the shops if they do happen to run out while on holiday but if I know I'm going away for longer I will take the charger just in case.
The camera is available in silver, black and pink. I didn't get to choose as it was a competition win so ended up with the black but I'd have been happy with any. The silver does look a bit cheap against the black but it's a good sturdy camera. At the time it was priced at around £130 and now down to around £70 which I'd say is a good price for it. Obviously I'd still much rather have a DSLR but for taking on trips or just carrying around for any photographic opportunities that might arise, it's perfect. The colours are vivid, it films well even if at a lower quality to photos and it has some great functions to make the most of different situations.