It had to happen sooner of later. Panasonic has finally changed the design of its flagship luxury compact model, a body shape that has been around since the launch of the original DMC-FX1 in 2003, and continued virtually unaltered through the FX3, FX33, FX35, FX37, FX40 and even last year's FX60. However Panasonic has just launched the latest in the series, the new Lumix DMC-FX70, and has changed the design. Don't get too excited though; they've only changed one end of it.
Like previous FX-series models the FX70 is a high-spec luxury ultra-compact designed as much for style as for performance and picture quality. The body is all aluminium, finished in either matt black or silver with chrome trim. It is a very slim and lightweight camera, measuring 102.5 x 55 x 22.8mm and weighing 165g including battery and memory card. The lens folds flush with the body, and the shape of the body makes it easy to slip into a pocket for a night out. Despite its slim profile the camera is easy to hold, and the rounded right-hand end of the body feels comfortable in the hand.
As usual with Panasonic the build quality is superb, with tight panel joins and solidly mounted and well labelled controls. The buttons are a bit on the small side, but they operate with a nice positive action. Also as usual Panasonic has used a small slider switch on the top panel as the on/off switch, and this could possibly snag on the lining of your pocket, but that's a very minor quibble on a very elegantly designed camera.
The FX70 is so new it's not even in the shops yet, and even the recommended retail price has yet to be confirmed. If previous models are any precedent then it's likely to go on sale at around £260, although with all the new features it may be more. I'll update the review when I hear from Panasonic.