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The FX500 has an impressive list of features including many not normally found on point-and-shoot compacts, such as aperture priority, shutter priority and full manual exposure modes, with shutter speeds from 60 seconds to 1/2000th and aperture values from f/2.8 to f/8 available in 1/3EV increments. For snapshot shooting it also has conventional program exposure as well as Panasonic's Intelligent Auto mode, in which all camera functions including scene mode, exposure and ISO setting are automatically controlled.
Main shooting mode is selected by pressing the Mode button, and then selecting the appropriate touch-screen panel. The camera has two menu systems; a quick live menu for commonly used options such as drive mode, AF mode, white balance, ISO setting and picture size, as well as a full main menu with four pages of options. The FX 500 is one of the few ultra-compact cameras I've seen that has not only adjustable contrast, saturation and sharpness, but also adjustable noise reduction, something usually only found in digital SLRs and high-spec semi-pro cameras.
The FX500's other main feature is of course the Mega OIS, Panasonic's optical image stabilisation system. This system has won much well-justified praise, and it is one of the most effective on the market, but it is not infallible. I found some camera shake in a shot taken at 1/60th of a second with a focal length equivalent to 75mm, which I would not have expected to see.
As well as these features the FX500 also has a good video mode, shooting at a maximum resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels (widescreen format) at 30 frames per second with mono audio. The optical zoom cannot be used while filming, but the image stabilisation system is active.