Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX33
Not a camera for control-freaks
Review If you're one of those types who enjoys adjusting this and tweaking that to take the pefect picture, the DMC-FX33 from Panasonic will not appeal to you. This camera does just about everything automatically.
You have to admit it, the DMC-FX33 is something of a looker. It’s a compact, light, sleek and stylish camera measuring 94.9 x 51.9 x 22.0mm and weighing 132g. In essence then, it’s highly pocketable and the type of camera that attracts lots of complimentary comments.
Lumix DMC-FX33: something of a looker
The DMC-FX33 is a relatively sparse specimen – this isn’t a model festooned with buttons, flaps and switches – and it’s all the better for it. At the front is the Leica lens, flash and self-timer indicator. On top is the shutter button, a power slider and focus ring.
Around the back is a 2.5in LCD comprising 207,000 pixels. Next to the display is a control dial, along with the customary five cursor-button arrangement for selecting the menu and functions such as flash, macro and the backlight level. Around the side is a small flap concealing a pair of mini USB ports, while at the bottom is a spring-action flap covering the battery and SD Card slots.
In terms of features, it’s a pretty standard list, consisting of a CCD with an effective 8.1-megapixel image sensing capacity; a 3.6x optical zoom equivalent to 28mm-100mm on a 35mm film camera; an ISO range from 100-1600, with a high sensitivity mode of 1600-6400; a shutter speed range from 8s down to 1/2000s; three aspect ratios - 16:9, 4:3 and 3:2; and an image resolution which varies between 3264 x 2448 pixels and VGA (640 x 480).
Decent LCD, well-placed controls
You also get 27MB of internal memory, a face-recognition system, optical image stabilisation and a movie mode that takes VGA-resolutiob video at 30f/s when shooting 4:3 images.
Panasonic and Noise
It's not just the megapixel race that gives us noise on this camera. Panasonics are renowned for noise at anything over ISO100. I use a fantastic FZ20 with that amazing 12x Leica zoom and am constantly impressed by the class-leading glass stuck on the front, and constantly annoyed by the noisy low-light performance.
Swings and roundabouts ... if you live somewhere bright, get a Panasonic and marvel in the optics. If you live in gloomy Scotland, get a Canon or get a tripod and learn to work in low-ISO.
Re: Image Noise
Yep, it's the price we (as a society) pay for being obsessed with the megazoom and megapixel arms race. The sensors have to stay small to allow practical zoom ranges in a pocketable camera, and the (alas) vast majority of people still think an 8Mp camera is inherently better than a 6Mp one, all things being equal, when for the same size sensor the 6Mp one will deliver significantly less noisy images and still be perfectly adequate for printing at typical sizes.
Unfortunately, the manufacturers play to the mass market, and the retailers can't explain this kind of thing to the average customer. Retailers don't want low megapixel cameras on their shelves because they simply don't sell against the often inferior high megapixel stuff. As a result, the megapixels and zoom ranges carry on up and up as the image quality flushes itself down the loo. If you want to avoid bad image noise in a new camera, you have little choice but to go down the dSLR route now.
Still, console yourself with the fact that the successor to this camera (the DMC-FX35, announced in January) has 10Mp and a 4x zoom for only a minutely larger sensor, which will inevitably be still worse on the noisy image front.
Looks that way - probably been used one handed ...
Mine's the mac with the white stains in the lining near the pockets.