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Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX100 Compact Camera

At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder Panasonic DMC-FX100K Compact Camera

    TechHive Rating

Panasonic's nicely designed, elegantly styled Lumix DMC-FX100 is a near-twin to the Lumix DMC-FX55. Both are reasonably small and light, though they won't slip comfortably into a shirt pocket.

The two Panasonics differ primarily in their maximum resolution and their LCD size: The $400 DMC-FX100 records images at a whopping 12.2 megapixels versus the $350 DMC-FX55's 8.1 megapixels. On the other hand, the DMC-FX55 has a huge 3-inch LCD versus a 2.5-inch screen for the DMC-FX100. Neither camera includes an eye-level viewfinder.

Beyond that, the two cameras have much in common. You get a smooth, precise 3.6X zoom lens that starts at the 35mm equivalent of a 28mm wide-angle lens, giving you significantly more coverage than the 35mm wide-angle lens that most small digital cameras offer. Thanks to a large shutter button and well-placed zoom control, shooting photos is simple and comfortable. One unique feature of the DMC-FX100 is its E.Zoom button, which swiftly shifts the zoom from one end of the focal length range to the other.

Exposure controls on the DMC-FX100 are fairly comprehensive and generally well organized. The standard mode dial shifts the camera from still shooting to movies, to special scene modes, or to photo playback. Unfortunately, the dial's tiny icons can be hard to see, and two-thirds of the dial is hidden underneath the top edge of the camera at any given time. But as you spin the dial, a virtual version pops up briefly on the LCD.

Photo settings are divided between the function button and the menu button. The former opens a one-screen list where you can set optical image stabilization, burst mode, metering mode, white balance, ISO sensitivity, and image resolution. Though it's a good selection, it should have included the camera's automatic focus options and picture adjustments--sharpness, saturation, and contrast--as well.

Whereas the DMC-FX55 provides a joystick for navigating menus, the DMC-FX100 takes the old-school approach of combining four cursor buttons and a center Menu/Set button. This arrangement works a bit more slowly than a joystick, but it's still effective. The top button lets you quickly set exposure compensation; and if you press it twice, you can rapidly set automatic exposure bracketing--especially useful if you're shooting in difficult light. The camera lacks manual focus and advanced controls such as aperture- and shutter-priority or full manual exposure.

Though the DMC-FX100 has a higher pixel count than its sibling, the image quality of its pictures was about the same in our lab tests. Color accuracy and exposure accuracy were about average for recently tested point-and-shoots--good, but not outstanding. But in image sharpness, the DMC-FX100 earned the second-highest score among recently reviewed compact cameras.

The DMC-FX100 is a pleasing package--solidly constructed, with flexible, user-friendly controls and a high resolution for really big prints.

Tracey Capen

This story, "Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX100 Compact Camera" was originally published by Berbee.

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At a Glance
  • TechHive Rating

    A close cousin to Panasonic's FX-55, the FX100 has higher resolution and a higher price, but a slightly smaller LCD.

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