The FS62’s performance is remarkable for a budget camera. It starts up in approximately two and a a half seconds, and in single-shot mode it has a shot-to-shot time of approximately 1.7 seconds, which is quick by any standard. Its performance in continuous shooting mode is even more impressive, shooting at a consistent 1.6fps at full resolution. There aren’t many cameras that can match this even at twice the price.
The autofocus system isn’t particularly fast, but it is accurate and reliable, and operates well in low light. It has an AF assist lamp for operation in very low light, but it has a relatively short range of only about 1.5 metres. The flash is also a little underpowered, and doesn’t live up to its claimed 6.3m maximum range except at very high ISO settings. It is well metered however, and avoids burning out highlights at close range.
Image quality is often a problem with budget cameras, but not so with the FS62. Exposure metering and colour rendition are extremely accurate, and the optical quality of the lens lives up to the Leica name, with excellent corner-to-corner sharpness, minimal barrel distortion and no visible chromatic aberration at any focal length. Noise control isn’t quite up to the standards of Panasonic’s more expensive cameras, but it is far from disappointing, producing consistently usable results at 400 ISO, although the harsh noise control at 800 and 1600 ISO significantly reduces fine detail. Dynamic range is also better than average, with good shadow and highlight detail in all but the highest contrast lighting, although highlights do tend to over-expose. There are cameras that cost twice as much that can’t match the quality of the FS62, making it outstanding value for money.
With the kind of build quality, performance and image quality usually associated with cameras costing twice the price, the Panasonic Lumix FS62 represents possibly the best value for money of any current compact camera. A genuine bargain.
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