Panasonic LUMIX DMC-FS15 digital camera
This powerful Panasonic digital camera snaps 12-megapixel photos and has a 5x optical zoom
- Good Intelligent Auto setting, wide-angle 5x zoom lens, great macro mode
- No HD video recording, comparatively small screen
If you’re looking for an alternative to the benchmark models of Canon’s IXUS compact camera line-up, the Panasonic LUMIX DMC-FS15 is a great choice. It offers a good lens and intelligent picture modes, though it has a smaller screen than we would have liked and lacks high-definition video recording.
Price$ 439.00 (AUD)
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The Panasonic LUMIX DMC-FS15 is a 12-megapixel digital camera that packs a 5x zoom lens and good optical image stabilisation into a thin, well-built body. Up against stiff competition from the Canon IXUS 100 IS and its ilk, the Panasonic performs well. It has a useful Intelligent Auto setting, as well as a stabilised 5x optical zoom and a versatile 29mm wide-angle lens.
A thin but powerful flash is built into the face of the Panasonic LUMIX DMC-FS15 at the top; you’ll need to make sure your fingers aren’t covering it when you’re composing a shot. The regular assortment of buttons can be found on the top and rear. The camera has a zoom rocker that is quite resistive to push: we often found our finger sliding past the rocker rather than pushing it. The 2.7in LCD screen is smaller than we would have liked (3in seems to be the de facto standard now).
Anyone who’s used a Panasonic digital camera before will be familiar with the interface: large white text and symbols make it easy to see what you’re doing, even with the camera at arm’s length. The screen is sharp and detailed, letting you check your subject is in focus. The menu system is easy to navigate, with functions well labelled and common options easy to choose.
The camera’s Leica lens is a versatile one, with a 29mm wide angle that makes it easy to take group photographs. It’s slightly wider than the Canon IXUS 100 IS's 33mm, while its 5x zoom is significantly ahead of the Canon camera’s 3x zoom. Panasonic’s immodest MEGA O.I.S. optical image stabilisation system is a good one, allowing blur-free shooting at speeds as low as 1/10th of a second in our testing.
The Panasonic LUMIX DMC-FS15 has plenty of different modes to suit those who want a little more control over their photography. We found the best results came from leaving the camera in its Intelligent Auto mode rather than searching through the grid of different picture modes. The camera can take care of itself most of the time, regularly selecting the correct picture mode for the situation. Macro photography is very simple; even in iA mode the camera was quick to select macro mode and focus correctly.
Starting up in a little over a second, the Panasonic LUMIX DMC-FS15 is a good choice for anyone interested in quick snaps. To turn on the camera, focus and take a photo takes around two and a half seconds, while shot-to-shot time is an appreciably speedy 2.3 seconds.
The lens is the standout feature of this camera. At both minimum and maximum zoom levels we were pleased with a lack of distortion, with sharpness levels only dropping off at maximum zoom towards the edges of the frame. Colours are well represented, tending towards vibrant rather than natural, but we did not notice any over-saturation or significant loss of detail in high-contrast areas. This digital camera is also a good performer when it comes to image noise, with only ISO 800 and 1600 introducing significant grain. The highest ISO setting is predictably grainy and lacking detail, but it’s better in this respect than similar compact cameras we’ve tested like the FujiFilm Finepix F60fd.
If we had to nit-pick, we would have liked to see better quality video recording from the Panasonic LUMIX DMC-FS15. The best quality setting records 848x480 video at 30 frames per second, while competing cameras can capture video at the same framerate with a 720p high-definition resolution.
The Panasonic LUMIX DMC-FS15 is slightly cheaper than the Canon IXUS 100 IS, despite having a similar feature set and performing slightly better.
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