The FX70’s overall performance is reasonably good, although it’s not going to be winning many races. It starts up and is ready to take a picture in approximately three seconds, and in single-shot mode the shot-to-shot time is approximately 1.7 seconds, which is fairly quick, but you have to time the shutter press just right or it misses the next shot. In continuous mode it is limited to a three-shot burst in just under two seconds.
As usual with Panasonic compacts the FX70 has multiple autofocus modes, including face detection, a very effective subject tracking system, spot AF, single-zone high speed, multi-zone and touch-controlled zone AF. In all modes focusing is quick, accurate and reliable, and it operates extremely well in low light. For very low light the camera has an AF assist lamp with a range of around three metres.
In terms of image quality the FX70 has both good and bad points. At low ISO settings the quality is very good, although I did notice a slight tendency towards over exposure that robbed some images of colour saturation. Dynamic range is a bit limited in standard mode, with little shadow detail, but this is boosted in iAuto mode. The lens quality is also generally good, with nice edge-to-edge sharpness and very little chromatic aberration. There is some barrel distortion at wide angle, but this is only to be expected from a 24mm lens.
The only real problem is image noise, an inevitable consequence of a massively overcrowded sensor, which is visible in almost all images, even as low as 100 ISO. The noise reduction system seems to be tuned to produce the best results at 200 ISO, but from 400 ISO upward noise becomes increasingly severe. The 1600 ISO maximum has reasonable colour balance, but is really only suitable for very small image.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX70 is an attractively designed and well made luxury compact that will appeal to the style-conscious. The touch-screen interface works well, and the camera is easy to use and pleasant to handle. It’s a bit light on features, but the HD video quality is excellent and the fast lens and wide zoom range are a bonus. Image quality and performance could be better though. It all depends on how expensive it is when the price is finalised.
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