Saturday, January 13, 2007

Panasonic DMC-FX01 - initial review

Yesterday I got my Panasonic FX01 digital camera. It seems to be everything I want (or at least would settle for) in a camera: small size, image stabilized, decent pictures, good movies, low cost, and a starry sky mode for my husband. I have taken some excellent, sharp pictures with it along with a bunch of mediocre to terrible pictures. Now I just need to learn how to increase my number of good pictures.
Panasonic DMC-FX01
First Impressions
The camera is small. I keep accidentally putting my finger in front of lens when turning it on. I find the interface intuitive (or at least not too bad after reading the manual). My husband thinks the interface is laid out well, but he gets thrown by needing to use the arrow keys to go "deeper" into menus instead of selecting set. That part of it doesn't bother me. As a lot of other reviews have said, the pictures can be noisy although this is mostly in low light situations. I got the white camera, which looks fine to me. It was the cheapest of the color choices. Here are some pictures I have taken:
pancake pile

First mountain shot with FX01
I did take plenty of pictures of my kids and family, but I don't usually post those publicly. I'll see if I can get a few pictures of myself that I don't mind posting.

The movies are great. They look really good to me, very smooth and clear. The sound sounds OK to me as well. No zoom during movies though.

Starry Night mode (long exposures 15, 30, or 60 s) seems to work OK. My husband tried it out last night on 15 seconds. It looks pretty good.

Here's the moon taken by my husband through his telescope (astrophotography) exactly as it came out of the camera. There's some chromatic aberation, but all in all it looks pretty good. (click on the picture to see the full sized image):

  • Set PICT ADJ to natural or change iso sensitivity (otherwise your pictures will be noisier than they should be)
  • If your pictures are coming out darker than you see on the LCD, check the exposure compensation and also change the Slow Shutter setting to be longer. By default it is at 1/8 s but you can change it up to 1 s. (If it picks a longer exposure, you'll need a tripod or table to stabilize the camera)
  • Use Mode 2 for image stabilization
  • If you want to take movies, get a 1 GB or 2 GB card. (FX01 can't handle any bigger than 2GB.) I have a 512 MB card right now and I can fill the thing up in a couple of hours if my kids are being cute.

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