Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS42 digital camera

A cheap compact digital camera that does the basics well

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS42
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS42
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS42
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS42
  • Expert Rating

    3.50 / 5

Pros

  • Vibrant colours, cheap, decent low-light performance

Cons

  • Images could be sharper, nothing to make it stand out from the crowd

Bottom Line

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS42 is an ultra-affordable compact camera that does the basics well. It might not excel in any one area, but at this price, it's not supposed to. A good choice for skint casual users.

Would you buy this?

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS42 is an entry-level compact digital camera aimed at casual photographers and shoppers on a budget. It’s the most modestly priced camera that Panasonic offers, trumping the dirt-cheap Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS62R by $80. As you’d expect, image quality and manual features are not strong points of this camera, but it offers a decent performance for the asking price.

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS42 is quite attractive for a sub-$200 camera. Okay, so there’s no mistaking it for a Canon IXUS 120 IS or Leica C-LUX 3, but it cuts an elegant figure nonetheless. There are three different colours to choose from: black, silver and pink.

Measuring 98x55x22mm and weighing a mere 112g, the DMC-FS42 strikes a good balance between portability and usability — it’s neither too small, nor too large. This helps to keep the user interface roomy and uncluttered, with decent sized buttons.

Despite its small size, the 2.5in LCD display does a good job of displaying images -- handy for passing around amongst friends. You can even add dinky borders to the frame before shooting, if you like that sort of thing.

Like the DMC-FS62R, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS42 produces acceptable results, especially for unfussy shooters. The 10.1-megapixel CCD sensor is capable of taking surprisingly vivid images that are more than suitable for medium-sized printing. Despite being a little on the soft side, our test shots exhibited no glaring flaws (unlike certain other entry-level cameras we could name). Naturally, the DMC-FS42 works best in bright, sunny environments, with noise coming to the fore at ISO 400 and above.

If you can stomach the presence of grain, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS42 does a pretty good job in dim environments, too. When we used the camera at night, it captured a fair amount of detail in shadowy, dimly lit areas. Unlike the DMC-FS62R, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS42 lacks an optical image stabiliser. This means you’ll need to employ a tripod or keep a steady hand when using slow shutter speeds.

But this is a pretty small quibble — compared to other cameras in its price range, there really isn’t much to complain about. The 4x optical zoom lens is nothing to sniff at either. (Most entry-level units offer 3x optical zooms.)

Like many budget-level point-and-shoot cameras, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS42 doesn’t have any manual modes to speak of. Thankfully, the Intelligent Scene Selector does a good job of adjusting shutter speed and exposure on the fly. For those who prefer a slightly more ‘hands-on’ approach, a brace of scene modes, colour effects and white balance presets await you in the menu screen. Naturally, face detection is also included, along with Intelligent ISO (which delivered mixed results) and a so-so SD video mode.

All up, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS42 is an average all-rounder that neither wows nor disappoints when it comes to image quality and features. Nevertheless, it remains well-worth considering thanks to the ultra-low asking price.

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