Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX38

Slim compact camera with 25mm wide-angle lens

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX38
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX38
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX38
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX38
  • Expert Rating

    4.00 / 5

Pros

  • Slim design, great colour balance, 25mm wide-angle lens, intelligent automatic modes

Cons

  • Some detail loss at higher sensitivities, pricey

Bottom Line

Panasonic's Lumix DMC-FX38 is a great compact camera for cashed-up consumers. It combines impressive image quality with a slim, stylish and sturdy design as well as a 25mm wide-angle lens, making it suitable for a variety of tasks.

Would you buy this?

Looking extremely similar to the Lumix DMC-FX36, Panasonic’s Lumix DMC-FX38 is another fantastic point-and-shoot camera. It sports a 10-megapixel sensor, an ultra-wide 25mm lens and all of the usual automatic modes Panasonic users know and love. We were a little disappointed that little seems to have changed from the previous model, but this is nonetheless an attractive if somewhat pricey camera.

The one change we did notice is the 5x optical zoom (the Lumix DMC-FX36 had a 4x zoom). This isn’t a big change, but it's welcome nonetheless. The lens has the same awesome 25mm wide view as its predecessor, which makes for great landscape shots and group pictures.

On the whole we were impressed with image quality. The pictures were slightly on the soft side, with Imatest picking up some undersharpening. However, they were still detailed and crisp and we’d be happy making decent-sized enlargements. Chromatic aberration levels were somewhat high but not deal-breaking, with some minor haloing on high-contrast edges and detail loss towards the edges of the frame.

Colour balance was excellent. Colours were almost spot-on, with reds and yellows not too strongly saturated and greens and blues looking rich and vivid. Exposure was also well handled; highlights were not too blown out and shadow detail was excellent.

Noise was relatively well controlled. At large magnifications there was some very minor graininess evident even at low sensitivities but it wasn’t prominent enough to be troublesome. The noise correction algorithm does a good job of keeping the shots speckle-free, but it does so at the cost of clarity. Everything up to ISO 800 will be fine for small prints but you’ll notice some detail loss with bigger enlargements.

The unit's speed was fairly average. It exhibited 0.09 seconds of shutter lag, 2.2 seconds between shots and a start-up time of 2.4 seconds. The burst mode was a very quick 3.1 frames per second — but only up to three shots. There is also an 'infinite' mode that slows the shooting down a touch to 2.5 frames per second.

The features list is what you’d expect from a Panasonic compact. It has all the automatic beginner modes that Panasonic has been touting over the last few years, including intelligent ISO and intelligent exposure along with the more general intelligent auto. These modes do a pretty good job of calibrating settings and should prove great for beginners.

There are also standard compact camera features such as custom white balance and metering and focus controls. Face detection is also included and the 5x optical zoom is backed by Panasonic’s excellent Mega Optical Image Stabilisation.

In terms of design Panasonic has made basically no changes to this unit, but that’s fine because everything works pretty well. It is slim yet solid, with the entire body constructed of metal. The controls are simple and intuitive and the menu is clear and to the point.

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