Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX01 Review - Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX01EB Review

The Mega OIS system defaults to ‘on’ when the camera is first used, but can be manually de-activated via a small button on the top panel. It has two operational settings. In the first mode it operates continuously and affects both the live monitor view and the final picture. In mode two it only operates when the shutter is pressed, but has a more powerful effect. This is the default mode, and the most useful. In practical use I was able to take sharp hand-held shots at 1/15th of a second on a medium zoom setting, which is quite impressive.

Other picture controls are quite limited. The only unusual one is a menu option to select the aspect ratio, either a TV-sized 4:3, a 35mm-sized 3:2 or widescreen 16:9. However since both the latter two settings crop the image from the full-frame 4:3 ratio, they are less good for overall image resolution.

The feature which sets the FX01 apart from its almost-identical twin is its 3.6x optical zoom lens which covers a focal length range equivalent to 28-102mm. There are very few compact cameras with such a wide angle lens, most having only the equivalent of 35 or even 38mm. The unusual dual-lens Kodak V705 which I reviewed last month has an ultra-wide 24mm lens, but it is a physically larger camera. This wide-angle facility makes the FX01 a very useful camera for large group photos or panoramic holiday landscapes, exactly the sort of thing for which people buy a pocket compact in the first place.

The FX01 has another unusual feature related to the zoom lens, and one which I find rather puzzling. It has “Extra Optical Zoom”, which means that as long as you’re not using the maximum picture size the zoom range extends to 5x, giving it a maximum telephoto length equivalent to about 140mm. I have to admit that I’m not entirely sure how this works. It doesn’t appear to be a digital effect, and apart from the fact that you are forced to shoot at a resolution of 3 megapixels (2048 x 1536) there is no noticeable loss in image quality. However the difference between 102mm and 140mm isn’t that great, so is a little extra magnification worth sacrificing half your picture resolution?

Physical performance is well up to scratch, with the camera starting up in less than a second. The FX01 has three continuous shooting modes. In high-speed mode it can fire off six frames at three frames a second, in low-speed mode it fires six frames at two frames per second, while in unlimited mode it can keep up 1.5fps until the memory card is full.

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