Available for around £170 in either black or silver, the Panasonic FS37 is a mid-range point-and-shoot compact. Equipped with a 16-megapixel CCD sensor and 8x optical zoom it’s a more modest alternative to Panasonic’s TZ range of dedicated travel compacts.
Recording images at a default aspect ratio of 4:3, the FS37 offers a maximum output of 4608x 3456 pixels at 16MP, with further options to capture at 10MP (3648x2736), 5MP (2560x1920), 3MP (2048x1536)and 0.3MP (640x480). Also offered are 3:2 and 16:9 aspect ratios, although because these are effectively cropped from the sensor, resolution is limited to 14MP (4608x2592) and 12MP (4608x2592) respectively. There is no option to record images as lossless Raw files.
While 4:3 is the default capture setting for still images, the rear LCD displays in 16:9, which not only better accommodates widescreen video but affords a little extra width at each side of the screen in which to position the touch-controls without interfering too much with composition.
Shooting modes are limited to Panasonic’s fully automatic Intelligent Auto mode, a fairly exhaustive selection of Scene modes, a quick-access My Scene mode, and a Normal Shooting mode that offers the greatest degree of user control.
While Intelligent Auto provides a reliable default setting for general point-and-shoot photography, the Normal Shooting mode offers a bit more in the way of flexibility. It’s still a fully automatic option, in that the camera selects the shutter speed and aperture, but you can adjust other settings such as ISO, white balance, autofocus and exposure compensation. In addition, you can also set an appropriate colour profile from a choice of Standard, Natural, Vivid, Black and White, Sepia, Cool and Warm.
The FS37 offers more than its fair share of camera-defined Scene modes that cover a variety of situations. Specific modes on offer include: Portrait, Soft Skin, Self-Portrait, Scenery, Sports, Night Portrait, Night Scenery, Food, Party, Candle Light, Baby1, Baby2, Pet, Sunset, Flash Burst, Starry Sky, Fireworks, Beach, Snow and Aerial Photo.
There’s also a ‘Transform’ option that can be used as a kind of on-the-fly vanity tool to help make people appear thinner or fatter, while ‘Panorama Assist’ helps with the creation of multi-image panoramas by providing a translucent overlay of the previous image to help you line your shots up. Sadly, it won’t then stitch these images together for you - you’ll have to do that bit yourself.