• Recommended by TR
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX500


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Over the past few years I've watched the development of Panasonic's range of digital cameras with interest. Panasonic was a relatively late entrant into the camera market, launching its first models in September 2001. Its progress since then has been one of quality over quantity, and even today its digital camera range consists of only 16 models, including the L10 digital SLR and the new G1 interchangeable lens camera system. However those 16 cameras are some of the best you can get, and as a result Panasonic's share of the digital still camera market has grown to the point where, at least in Europe, it is now second only to Canon overall, and is actually the market leader in digital compacts. When you consider innovative, high quality products like the Lumix DMC-FX500 this really isn't at all surprising.

The FX500 is a 10.1-megapixel ultra-compact camera featuring a 5x zoom lens with a 25mm-equivalent wide angle and optical image stabilisation, and a three-inch LCD monitor with a touch-screen interface. Currently selling for just under £190 the FX500 is an expensive camera, but it does offer a lot of quality and performance for the money. The body is mostly aluminium, with a hard-edged shape that is unlike other models in Panasonic's range. Build quality is exemplary, and the camera feels extremely strong and well made. It is available in black or silver, with both colours finished in an attractive brushed texture.

Unusually for a camera with a touch-screen interface the FX500 also has a complete set of conventional controls. This is because the touch-screen is only used for functions where it is actually an advantage, such as large buttons for main mode selection, fast and responsive sliders for aperture and shutter speed control, and the touch-operated AF/AE system. This is an extremely useful function, in which any object in the frame can be selected by touching the screen, and the camera then tracks the object if the camera moves, adjusting focus and exposure accordingly. If the object moves out of the frame, the camera remembers what it looks like for a few seconds and picks it up again if it comes back in. It is very impressive technology and works extremely well, even in quite low light.

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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 :

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... 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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