Panasonic DMC-FX100

      Photo Review 8.5

      In summary

      An attractive-looking, well-built, slimline camera that delivers above-average performance for point-and-shoot photographers.We have long believed that eight megapixels is more than enough for a digicam, so we were interested to see whether fitting a 12-megapixel imager in Panasonic’s Lumix DMC-FX100 digicam was a worthwhile exercise. Equipped with the same optically-stabilised Leica DC Vario-Elmarit zoom lens and 2.5-inch LCD as the 8-megapixel FX33 model the FX100 has an identical control layout and many of the same features, although its arrow pad buttons are square instead of round. . . [more]

      Full review


      We have long believed that eight megapixels is more than enough for a digicam, so we were interested to see whether fitting a 12-megapixel imager in Panasonic’s Lumix DMC-FX100 digicam was a worthwhile exercise. Equipped with the same optically-stabilised Leica DC Vario-Elmarit zoom lens and 2.5-inch LCD as the 8-megapixel FX33 model the FX100 has an identical control layout and many of the same features, although its arrow pad buttons are square instead of round.

      Even though the FX100’s sensor is slightly larger, it’s still less than 7.6 x 5.7 millimetres in area, which means photosites have a surface area of less than two microns square. The high resolution of the image files makes them very large, which means the continuous shooting burst rate is significantly slower than lower-resolution digicams.
      Attractive looking, functionally designed and solidly built, the FX100 has a metal case and retracting lens. A sliding switch on the top panel turns the power off and on. Beside it is the shutter button with a surrounding zoom lever. The remaining top panel control is an ‘E. Zoom’ button, which lets you zoom steplessly to the full tele position and engages digital zoom on a second press. A third press takes you back to the wide angle setting.


      Tucked into the top right corner of the rear panel is a semi-enclosed mode dial with eight settings: Scene mode, Simple mode, Playback, Intelligent ISO, Normal picture mode, Macro, Motion picture and Print mode. Most shooting functions are standard for the FX series ““ and the majority of Panasonic’s point-and-shoot digicams ““ and a high level of automated control is applied. Nineteen scene pre-sets are provided.


      Panasonic’s lens-shift Mega O.I.S. makes it easy to avoid camera shake in normal lighting. In more difficult situations, selecting the Intelligent ISO mode engages subject-motion detection circuitry inside the Venus Engine III image processor. This automatically boosts sensitivity to a level the user can pre-set via the shooting menu, starting at ISO 400, with an ISO 1250 maximum.

      This lets the camera shoot at a higher shutter speed to prevent motion blur, while at the same time enabling the user to restrict the possibility for image noise. If the subject is not moving, sensitivity remains low to minimise noise. The camera’s Venus Engine III image processor includes a new noise reduction system that separately detects colour noise and luminance noise and applies appropriate corrections.

      Fine-tuning of exposures is limited to exposure compensation, ISO and white balance controls. Seven ISO pre-sets, ranging from 80 to 1600, are provided in addition to the Auto ISO setting. White balance options cover Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Shade and Halogen. No fluorescent setting is provided but manual measurement delivers good results in such situations.

      A new addition to the shooting menu is Picture Adjustment, which contains settings for sharpness, contrast, saturation and noise reduction with three options for each: high, standard and low. Users can also select one of four Colour Effects: warm, cool, B&W and sepia. Panasonic provides the widest range of image size and quality settings of any manufacturer, starting with three aspect ratios 4:3, 3:2 and 16:9.

      Six image sizes are provided for 4:3 capture and four each for the 3:2 and 16:9 aspect ratios. Two JPEG compression ratios are provided for each image size. Raw file capture is not supported. Typical file sizes are shown in the tables below.

      Aspect ratio






      4000 x 3000




      3264 x 2448




      2560 x 1920




      2048 x 1536




      1600 x 1200




      640 x 480





      4000 x 2672




      3264 x 2176




      2560 x1712




      2048 x 1360





      4000 x 2248




      3264 x 1840




      2560 x 1440




      1920 x 1080



      Video options are also broader than average although, as with most digicams, you can’t zoom while shooting video clips and sound is recorded monaurally. Two image size settings and two frame rates are provided with the 4:3 aspect ratio. You can also shoot in HDTV proportions, with the 16:9 aspect ratio, which also supports two sizes: 848 x 480 pixels and1280 x 720 pixels. However, the frame rate drops to 15 frames/second when you shoot at the highest resolution in the widescreen format. Recording options and times are shown in the table below.

      Aspect ratio

      Image size & frame rate

      Maximum recording

      (1GB memory card)




      640 x 480 pixels at 30 fps

      11 minutes.

      640 x 480 pixels at 10 fps

      32 min. 50 sec.

      320 x 240 pixels at 30 fps

      32 min. 50 sec.

      320 x 240 pixels at 10 fps

      1 hr 35 min


      848 x 480 pixels at 30 fps

      9 min. 20 sec.

      848 x 480 pixels at 10 fps

      28 min. 10 sec.

      1280 x 720 pixels at 15 fps

      no details available

      Playback options are extensive but appear to omit an index view, although single and slideshow views are supported, the latter a straight sequential playback without transition effects. You can tag shots as favourites and allocate them into one of nine categories (based on scene types). Image rotation is also supported, along with date stamping, protecting, DPOF tagging and audio dubbing (up to about 10 seconds per shot).

      Selected shots can be trimmed, re-sized and converted to different aspect ratios (4:3 and 3:2 only). Image files can also be copied from the camera’s internal memory to a memory card ““ and vice versa.

      Pictures taken with the test camera looked sharp and detailed, with accurate colours and a wider than average dynamic range. Exposures were very well positioned and provided a good balance between highlights and shadows. However highlights were easily blown-out with poor exposure metering, suggesting dynamic range headroom is similar to many small sensor digicams. Shots were sharp from edge to edge and distortion was limited to very slight barrelling at the widest angle of view. No vignetting was observed.

      Imatest showed resolution to be higher than we expected and lateral chromatic aberration was relatively low. No coloured fringes were seen in outdoor shots. Imatest showed colour accuracy to be very good with only minor colour shifts in scarlet and olive green hues. Saturation was modest for a digicam, allowing potential for further adjustments.


      Coloured fringing was negligible, even with substantial magnification.

      Image noise was insignificant up to (and including) ISO 400 in both long and short exposures (see Sample Images below). Shots taken at ISO 800 would probably print reasonably well, although noise was visible when they were displayed on a computer screen. Above ISO 800, noise became quite obvious and noise-reduction processing produced noticeable softening. Digital zoom shots were only slightly softened by processing artefacts.


      Digital zoom.

      Video clips were detailed and colour-accurate and motion was smoothly recorded with the 30 fps frame rate but quite jerky at 15 fps and slower. The flash was somewhat under-powered and could only illuminate an average-sized room at ISO 400 and above. Long exposures taken with the Starry Sky scene mode were very clean and artefact-free.

      The auto white balance setting failed to correct the colour casts of either incandescent or fluorescent lighting but the manual measurement produced excellent colour neutrality with different light sources. The camera’s LCD was almost unusable in bright sunlight but provided a wider than average viewing angle and easy viewing in indoor conditions, in shade and under cloud. Camera menus were well designed and intuitive.

      The test camera powered up and shut down in approximately two seconds. We recorded an average capture lag of 0.8 seconds, which reduced to 0.1 seconds with pre-focusing. The continuous shooting mode recorded three 12M JPEGs at one second intervals and it took 2.2 seconds to process this burst.


      The FX100 is a great little slimline camera for point-and-shoot photographers but serious enthusiasts will find it somewhat limited. Panasonic has extracted excellent performance from the 12-megapixel imager and image processing system. Image quality is as good as we’ve seen from any compact 12-megapixel digicam and noise is very well controlled up to (and including) ISO 400.

      The review camera’s autofocusing and metering systems were fast and accurate and the image stabilisation worked as well as we’ve seen on other Panasonic digicams. We also liked the feel of the square arrow pad buttons. As one of a handful of digicams with a 28mm equivalent lens, it’s definitely worth a look and its easily accessed Intelligent ISO mode and Scene selections are useful for snapshooters.

      If you must have a 12-megapixel digicam, the FX100 would be a good choice. But you can save $170 (and, probably, obtain just as good images for printing) by purchasing the FX33 model ““ which we haven’t yet reviewed. It includes face detection and an Intelligent Scene Selector, neither of which is provided on the FX100.







      Auto white balance with incandescent lighting.


      Auto white balance with fluorescent lighting.


      ISO 80, short exposure.


      ISO 80, one second exposure.


      ISO 400, short exposure.


      ISO 400, one second exposure.


      ISO 1600, short exposure.


      ISO 1600, one second exposure.


      Night shot taken with the Starry Sky scene mode.




      Image sensor: 1/7.2-inch type CCD with 12.4 million photosites (12.2 megapixels effective)
      Lens: Leica DC Vario-Elmarit 6.0-21.4mm f/2.8 zoom (28-100mm in 35mm format)
      Zoom ratio: 3.6x optical. 4.0x digital
      Image formats: Stills ““ JPEG (4:3, 3:2, 16:9); Movies ““ QuickTime Motion JPEG/WAV
      Image Sizes: Stills ““ 4:3 aspect: 4000 x 3000, 3264 x 2448, 2560 x 1920, 2048 x 1536, 1600 x 1200s, 640 x 480; 3:2 aspect: 4000 x 2672, 3264 x 2176, 2560 x 1712, 2048 x 1360; 16:9 aspect: 4000 x 2248, 3264 x 1840, 2560 x1440, 1920 x 1080 Movies ““ 848 x 480, 640 x 480 and 320 x 240 at 30 fps, 1280 x 720 at 15 fps
      Shutter speed range: 8-1/2000 sec. (in Starry Sky mode: 15/30/60 sec.)
      Image Stabilisation: Mega O.I.S. (lens-shift)
      Exposure Compensation: +/- 2EV in 1/3EV steps
      Focus system/range: 9/3/1-area TTL autofocus; range 50cm-Infinity; macro to 5cm
      Exposure metering/control: Intelligent Multiple, Spot (Spot Mode), Center-Weighted metering; Program AE plus 19 scene pre-sets and Simple, Normal and Macro modes
      ISO range: Auto, ISO 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1250, 1600 (ISO 1600-6400 with High Sensitivity mode)
      White balance: Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Shade, Halogen, White Set, White Balance Adjustment: ±10 steps (except Auto)
      Flash modes/range (ISO auto): Auto, Auto/Red-eye Reduction, Slow Sync./Red-eye Reduction, Forced On/Off; range 0.6 to 5.0 metres
      Sequence shooting: Full Resolution Image – 2 frames/sec; Max 5 frames (Standard Mode)/ 3 frames (Fine Mode)
      Storage Media: 27MB of internal memory plus SD/SDHC/MMC expansion slot
      Viewfinder: n.a.
      LCD monitor: 2.5-inch low-temperature polycrystalline TFT LCD (Approx. 207,000 pixels)
      Power supply: Lithium-ion battery pack (3.7V, 1150mAh)
      Dimensions (wxhxd): 96.7 x 54.0 x 24.5 mm
      Weight: 148 grams (without battery and card)





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      Rating (out of 10):

      • Build: 8.5
      • Ease of use: 8.5
      • Image quality: 9
      • OVERALL: 8.5