Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX33
- Sturdy and sleek design, tons of features, new Intelligent Auto mode, speedy burst mode
- Soft pictures, some noise issues
While image quality isn't the FX33's strong point, it still produces perfectly fine small prints, and thus its novice-friendly feature set and speedy operation makes it a good choice for those after a happy snap camera.
Price$ 659.00 (AUD)
Touting their new Intelligent Auto mode, Panasonic has brought to market their latest compact camera, the DMC-FX33. It is a reasonable choice for consumers after a no-fuss picture-taking solution, offering a good array of features and a slim, sturdy build. However, those looking for high quality pictures may wish to steer clear of this model, as there are a few image quality issues that mar the overall performance.
The key new feature Panasonic has introduced this time around, Intelligent Auto Mode, is targeted at entry-level photographers. By mixing and matching appropriate scene modes, ISO sensitivities and focus modes, this setting attempts to improve upon the standard automatic mode present on all digital cameras; and it doesn't do a bad job. Our shots captured in this mode were well balanced and relatively crisp. Novice users should find this mode suits them perfectly.
However, the aforementioned image quality issues mean that more experienced users may be disappointed with the end product. As usual we captured a variety of test shots and ran our Imatest software to assess the picture quality.
In our sharpness test, the FX33 scored 1533, which is a little low for an 8.1-megapixel model. Imatest also picked up 16.1 per cent under sharpening, which didn't surprise us as our test shots came out with quite a soft look. At small and medium print magnifications this isn't noticeable, but for larger images you'll want something slightly sharper.
Fortunately chromatic aberration wasn't an issue, with Imatest awarding the unit a very low score of 0.017 per cent. There was some very minor haloing in high contrast areas, but it was barely noticeable and no blurring was obvious towards the corners of the frame. There was, however, some barrel distortion evident.
Colour reproduction was decent, even with manually calibrated white balance some colours such as reds and blues came out a little darker than anticipated. Meanwhile in our noise tests, the unit disappointed a little, with our shots coming out quite grainy in places. Running at ISO 100 Imatest gave the FX33 a score of 0.91 per cent for noise which is above many competing models.
We also ran our speed tests, and this model performed quite well. It exhibited a fairly tiny 0.05-second shutter lag, 1.8 seconds between shots and a slightly more sluggish 2.5 seconds power up time. On another note, what was really impressive was the burst mode, which operates at 3.6 frames per second albeit for only four shots. A more sedate three frames per second mode is on offer if you wish for more than just four frames.
The features list is similarly robust, offering ISO sensitivities up to 1600, preset and custom white balance modes, Intelligent ISO adjustment, Panasonic's standard Mega O.I.S (Optical Image Stabilisation) and Face Detect. There are also 22 scene modes and the aforementioned Intelligent Auto option.
As with most Panasonic compacts, the design is sleek and minimalist, with a silver metal body that feels extremely sturdy. It is stylish in a sophisticated kind of way. The controls are laid out in an intuitive manner and novice users should have no trouble operating the FX33.
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