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Performance also looks good, with a start-up time of a fraction over two seconds. Continuous shooting is not bad, with a high-speed mode that can fire off six shots in about 2.5 seconds at full resolution, a low speed mode that does the same in four seconds, and a true continuous mode that can shoot at a rate of ten frames every eight seconds until the memory card is full, although that performance may vary depending on the speed of your memory card.
Focusing is quick, and thanks to the built-in AF illuminator it can focus in darkness at a range of several metres. Don’t think this makes it good for low-light photography though, because the built-in flash has a few problems. It is very under-powered and at 80 ISO it only has a range of 2.2 metres. The camera will try to get around this by increasing the CCD gain in Auto mode to compensate, which gives it a range of 4m, but the resulting pictures are very noisy. Fill-in flash worked well at close range though, filling in the shadows in a crowd scene nicely.
The camera has a decent range of options too, with multiple flash modes, several focus point options, 14 scene modes and of course the OIS anti-shake system, which may be a bit superfluous on a camera like this, but does at least work. The movie mode isn’t bad either, with the now standard 640x480/30fps.
Metering was generally good for most normal shots, but I did notice that it had a tendency to get things seriously wrong on shots with predominantly very light or very dark backgrounds. It is supposed to be an intelligent multi-zone metering system, but it behaved more like a fairly crude centre-weighted meter, and under some circumstances needed the repeated use of the exposure compensation function to finally arrive at a good shot.
So there are a few niggles, but that’s not exactly unusual, so why am I so massively disappointed by the Lumix FX9?
One word: picture quality.
Alright, two words then.
When I looked at the test shots I’d taken with this camera, I was appalled by what I saw. I even checked the EXIF data for each shot to make sure I hadn’t somehow accidentally set the camera to 400 ISO. But no, there it was in the image information; the shots were indeed taken 80 ISO, but were so noisy that they looked much faster.