Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX60 review

Compact metal-bodied cameras have now upped their pixel count so that they can compete head-on with digital SLR cameras. One such is the 12-megapixel Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX60.

Of course, you’re not going to get the same picture quality or level of user control with the FX60 as with a DSLR – but compacts have the crucial distinction of being easy to take anywhere.

The FX60 carries a f/2.8 - f/5.9 Leica lens, which certainly lends an air of professionalism. And it lists a wider than usual 25mm-125mm 5x zoom function, with the help of 0.3mm super-thin aspherical lens. Inside the FX60 is a 1/2.33in CCD sensor (slightly smaller than that found in the comparable Canon Ixus models). Framing and viewing pictures is via the rear 2.7in LCD screen, which is bright and sharp enough for relaxed use.

Start-up time is a prompt two seconds. Many key functions are accessible through good mechanical switches. First, there’s the easy-to-use on/off switch on the camera’s top; next you’ll be flicking between shoot and playback mode with another easy switch to the right of the screen. Below that sits the typical compass-style navigation buttons, which double-up as shortcuts to timer, exposure compensation, flash and macro buttons.

In its tidy blue finish (also available in black, silver and violet), we liked the relative simplicity of the FX60’s design and functions. The FX60 will also shoot high-definition video. Given the size and cost of this camera, you shouldn’t expect broadcast-quality footage. It can shoot at 1,280 x 720 resolution, but films were distractingly noisy and grainy in anything other than bright sunlight, although motion was convincingly fluid at its 30fps. Overall, its HD still beats VGA-res video as found on most compact cameras.

Photos were rendered tidily, if a little low in contrast and lacking convincing colour. In lower light levels, unsurprisingly, the FX60 struggled without the help of flash. Despite the lens credentials and extra megapixels on offer, we rated pictures slightly behind our reference three-year-old 6-megapixel Ixus 65, as the Panasonic FX60’s pictures just lacked the depth and dynamics of the Canon.

OUR VERDICT

Pictures in average-to-bright light conditions appeared fine, but we were less convinced by low-light photos and grainy, colour-limited HD video. However, for ease of use and functional controls, the FX60 wins our admiration for its simplicity of operation and solid build quality.

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