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Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX500 - Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX500

By Cliff Smith



  • Recommended by TR
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX500


Our Score:


The FX500's overall performance is just as impressive as its specification. It starts up in a little over two seconds, which is nice and quick, and shuts down again even faster. In single-shot mode at maximum image quality its shot-to-shot time is approximately two seconds, while in unlimited continuous mode it can shoot at approximately 1.3 frames per second, adjusting exposure and focus for each shot and including both an audio cue and a live monitor view, which is pretty impressive. There is also a burst mode which fires up to three shots in just under 1.5 seconds.

The FX500 has multiple focus area modes, including several that are labelled as being high speed. These modes are indeed slightly quicker, but even the non-high-speed modes are not exactly slow. Focusing is quick and accurate in good light, although it does slow down somewhat in lower light conditions. However the low light focusing is exceptionally good, and if it can't achieve focus it sets the lens to pan-focus, so that everything from about 50cm to infinity will be reasonably sharp. This is a lot better than setting focus to infinity as most cameras do in this situation.

With such excellent design and performance it would be a shame if image quality was to let the camera down, but thankfully this is not the case. The 10.1MP sensor records a good level of fine detail, and the Leica-branded lens provides plenty of it, with a minimum of wide-angle distortion and excellent corner sharpness, although some of this may be due to distortion correction by the image processor. Colour rendition in the default setting is very natural, with good detail in saturated areas. The dynamic range is also better than average for a 1/2.33-in 10MP sensor. The exposure meter tends to favour highlights, but the sensor recodes good shadow detail which can be brought out in post-processing.

Noise control has previously been Panasonic's Achilles' Heel, but the company has made a lot of progress in this area lately. The FX500 produces good clean images at 100 and 200 ISO, and at 400 ISO the noise reduction is a lot less heavy-handed than it used to be. There is even still some fine detail at 800 ISO, although image quality at the maximum 1600 ISO setting is a bit ropey.


The Panasonic FX500 is a superbly well made camera with a wide range of useful features and arguably the best implementation of touch-screen technology on any current compact camera. It looks great, performs well, and produces superior image quality. It may be expensive, but there's no doubt it's worth every penny.


November 4, 2008, 3:32 am

This could be the answer to my photographic requirements! I've waited almost a year to find something to replace my appalling Ricoh R6. Both the Casio Z1080 and Panasonic FX30/FX35 were on my hit list but I held back for some of the new models.

Thankfully this review didn't focus on just Mega Pixels. Is this the best ultra compact camera? I need one mainly for indoor night time (flash) shots.


November 4, 2008, 4:24 am

Not only Cliff gave the FX500 a warm review, just take a look here:


PK Son

November 4, 2008, 11:32 am

Great review! I'm still on the hunt for a point and shoot, and this sounds great! (It's not as expensive here in Korea..)

I found an error in your tech specs on video, though..

The FX500 can record 1,280 x 720 pixels at 30/15 fps (although not sure what the 30/15 means, on other websites I've seen it at 15fps.) check it out here : http://www.panasonic.net/av...

Thanks for the review!

Cliff Smith

November 4, 2008, 6:29 pm

Thanks for spotting that PK Son, I've ammended the features table accordingly.


November 5, 2008, 1:44 am

I have an FX500 and I can tell you that it shoots 1280 x 720 at 30fps; however you can lower this to 15fps if you want to save memory space.

PK Son

November 5, 2008, 2:48 pm

PS3 : wow! really? it shoots at 30 fps? So full HD with mono sound? How's the video quality? This just might be my point-and-shoot!

Cliff : No problem! Great to be of help! I always enjoy your reviews. :)


November 5, 2008, 7:33 pm

PK Son: The video quality is very good for a stills camera, even in low light. I have noticed that occasionally bright lights in otherwise dark scenes / rooms can cause a vertical 'streak' effect, something which I have observed with video on other stills cameras, but for the most part the video quality is very good. You can't use the zoom whilst filming, but this is much less of a drawback than you might think. The files are stored as .mov files which are quite large, however I re-encode mine to much smaller MP4 AVC (ie h.264) files in Nero Recode with no discernable loss of quality.

PK Son

November 6, 2008, 12:00 am

Thanks a bunch PS3. (how's the PS3 btw?) Thanks for the info, I am seriously contemplating getting this camera.. it sounds pretty cool. I was looking for a camcorder, but if this supports HD (regardless of size), then I am almost onboard. Plus Cliff gave it a pretty good review, so that would tip the scales for me. (Which is why I got my Nikon D40x, and then D80, and D300)

So, I guess you enjoy the FX500, and the video features? This sounds like gold.. It means I don't need a Sanyo Xacti.. Exactly what I was waiting for.. Thanks man.


November 9, 2008, 10:15 pm

A bit puzzled what to choose. Do u plan to review Lumix FX-150? Seems better one, considering much larger sensor 1/1.72 to opposite 1/2.33 FX500 has?


February 11, 2009, 10:12 pm

Can someone tell me if the sound quality is sharp? i am on the verge of buying this but if the sound quality for the video is muffled and horrible i won't bother


April 2, 2009, 7:06 am

I recently bought the FX500 at closeout price ($219 US, almost half it's original price of $399), and I love it. The images at default settings are a little less saturated and sharp than the default settings from the FX35 (which I originally purchased but sold because I couldn't tolerate not having control over aperture and shutter speed). But, with contrast, sharpening, and saturation boosted in the FX500's in camera settings, I think the FX500 is equal to or superior to the FX35. I can't comment on video quality, because I don't use it for that. I don't understand Cliff's rating criteria, though. He gives the FX35 a 9 for image quality and a 9 for value, and as I said I think the image quality is equal. And the FX500's list price is only $50 more than the FX35. Surely the inclusion of aperture and shutter priority, as well as manual modes, not to mention the 3in. touch screen LCD are worth the extra fifty. And the larger 3in. LCD makes framing the shot the way I want much easier. And all Panasonic cameras that have adjustable brightness on the LCD are actually visible in bright sunlight, something which can't be said for a lot of otherwise good cameras.


April 5, 2009, 9:38 pm


Thanks for your comment. I do not own any cameras at all, but recnetly decided that I want a digital one. I went to Best Buy last month, just to see what they are all about and there was a young salesman there who raved about Panasonic; He said that Best Buy had recently stopped selling them, but that I should look online for one. Well, I have been reading and reading about theh Fx500, Fx3, TZ5, etc... and, as you prob. know, there are such mixed reviews about the Fx500 in particular. I think that much of the disappiontment stems from people feeling that the quality of pics does not merit the price tag; I am speaking of many people who seem to have paid $300+ for it. Currently, it can be gotten for under $180.00 and I am wondering if this is a camera that has more strengths than weaknessess and even were it not worth $300.00, it is certainly worth $180.00. I like the idea of a touch screen, but more importantly, since I am learning, I want something that is also manual so that I can learn some basics about photography in general. Still trying to decide and want to just hurry up and make a decision. It has been weeks!


April 9, 2009, 2:07 pm

If you can get this camera for $180, that's a steal of a deal. I don't think any other camera at that price could compete for features (25mm Leica lens, manual controls, 3in. touch screen)and price. No, it's not as good as an LX3, P6000, G10, GX200, or DSLR, but they cost more. I showed a friend of mine at work some 8x10s that I had printed, and he said "These look like postcards taken by a pro". I think most people that criticize compact cameras are DSLR users, who are too picky. Yes, small sensor cameras are noisier than larger sensor DSLRs, but unless you do a lot of low light hi-ISO flashless work, or are making wall sized blow-ups, you're not going to notice. I've been a photographer all my life, and I think I'm pretty picky, and the FX500 is the best digital camera I have ever owned. And I've owned Nikon, Olympus, Canon, Fuji, and Sony cameras.


April 10, 2009, 7:03 am

Thanks again. Yes, the price has been falling like crazy on line; about $10.00 a week for the past month. I am goint to just get one this weekend. I could have had ont for $157 (open box but no blemishes) delivered, but I hesitated too long. Still, I know I will get a really good deal on it. You have helped me make my decision.


August 6, 2009, 2:03 pm

For those in the UK... dabs.com is currently clearing out silver FX500s for £140 including delivery, which makes it the best price I've see anywhere for a mainstream dealer.

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