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Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS7

It's always nice to get an early review of a new camera, but this one's so new it's not even in the shops yet. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS7 was only announced a couple of weeks ago, but I've been lucky enough to receive an early review sample of this elegant new pocket compact.

Panasonic's FS series is relatively new, having been launched about this time last year, and has just been expanded by the addition of four new models. As a series, the FS models are simpler and slightly less sophisticated than Panasonic's premium FX models, and are designed to appeal to those looking for an easy-to-use but stylish ultra-compact. The FS7 is a mid-range model in the series, featuring a 10.0-megapixel CCD sensor, 4x optical zoom Leica lens and a 2.7-inch wide-view LCD monitor.

The FS7 has quite a lot of competition in this sector of the market, such as the excellent Canon IXUS 870 IS (£204), the equally excellent Nikon CoolPix S560 (£144), the ultra-slim Sony Cyber-shot T77 (£181) and even the Casio Exilim EX-Z200 (£165). The FS7 will be going on sale at the end of the month with a recommended retail price of £169.99, although some online retailers will undoubtedly be selling it for less.

Despite that very reasonable price, no corners seem to have been cut in either design or manufacture. The FS7 has a strong all-metal body finished in an attractive brushed texture, and is available in black, bright pink or the plain silver shown here. It is a very small and lightweight camera, comfortably into ultra-compact territory. It measures 97 x 54.4 x 21.7 mm and weighs just 139g including battery and SD card. You could slip it into a shirt pocket and barely know you're carrying it.

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