Panasonic Lumix FX75: Video and Image Quality

by Jim Keenan Reads (290)
Editor's Rating
7.25

TG Ratings Breakdown

    • Image/Video Quality
    • 8
    • Features
    • 7
    • Design / Ease of Use
    • 7
    • Performance
    • 7
    • Total Score:
    • 7.25
    • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10

Video Quality
The FX75 can capture video at 1280×720 resolution in both AVCHD Lite and Motion JPEG formats; AVCHD Lite is recommended for viewing on HD televisions and JPEG for computer/internet applications. AVCHD Lite requires compatible devices for playback while Motion JPEG is more widely recognized at this point. Video(s) for this review were captured in Motion JPEG. FX75 video quality is average in this format. There’s a second or two blackout of the monitor when you initiate video capture so tracking moving subjects can be problematic at first.

Auto focus and zoom are available and there is a wind cut setting that may be enabled. The AF Tracking option described in the Shooting Performance section is also available for video capture. Maximum continuous recording time is 29 minutes and 59 seconds with a 2GB maximum for Motion JPEG.

Image Quality
Still images were pleasing and accurate as to color rendition and sharpness.

Panasonic FX75 Test Image Panasonic FX75 Test Image

The FX75 also provides a range of color options for shooting in normal picture mode, and a “happy” color mode for intelligent Auto.

Panasonic FX75 Test Image
Standard
Panasonic FX75 Test Image
Natural
Panasonic FX75 Test Image
Vivid
Panasonic FX75 Test Image
Black & White
Panasonic FX75 Test Image
Sepia
Panasonic FX75 Test Image
Happy (iA)

There’s a high dynamic shooting option in the scene menu, and the camera’s intelligent Exposure and intelligent Resolution features may be enabled for shooting in normal picture mode. I shot the mission fountain in normal mode, then with intelligent Exposure enabled and finally with both intelligent Exposure and Resolution.

Panasonic FX75 Test Image
Normal mode
Panasonic FX75 Test Image
Normal + iExposure
Panasonic FX75 Test Image
Normal + iExposure + iResolution

The three shots are similar, and histograms are the best way to visualize the differences but highlights were lost to a greater degree without iExposure enabled, and iExposure also brought out a bit more detail in shadow areas. The shot with iExposure and iResolution enabled was a virtual twin for the iExposure only shot.

Here’s an important point to note when enabling iExposure for shooting with normal picture mode – if you set the ISO at 80 or 100 and have iExposure enabled, the camera is free to adjust the ISO from what you have set. You might be happily firing away thinking you’re shooting at 80 ISO when the camera has actually been using a different (and potentially noisier) setting. Most of the shots used to illustrate this review were made with iExposure disabled.

While the FX75 lacks manual exposure controls, there’s a hidden treasure waiting in the scene menu for folks who want a little more input into the image capture process.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you fireworks.

Usually I tend to avoid shooting in scene modes because they typically set the ISO for the shot. That’s exactly what fireworks does, and that’s why it’s a hidden treasure – it sets the ISO at 80. Fireworks also gives you a 2 second shutter time if you turn the stabilizer off, and you also have +/- 2 EV of exposure compensation available.

The two shots that follow were made on a tripod in fireworks mode and with +2 EV of exposure compensation. I used the self timer to fire the shutter and these shots came at 9:09 PM local time – right at the start of astronomical twilight, which means the sun was about 18 degrees below the horizon. It was dark, but the +2 EV compensation turned the 2 second firework shutter into 8 seconds for each shot. How come two shots made seconds apart at the same ISO and shutter speed aren’t exposed exactly the same? I zoomed in a bit on the second shot and the lens aperture changed from f/4 to f/5.5 due to the focal length.

Panasonic FX75 Test Image Panasonic FX75 Test Image

Between the fixed ISO, exposure compensation and varying apertures based on focal length, fireworks give you an admittedly small window of manual exposure options, but some options are better than no options in my book.

Auto white balance worked pretty well for a variety of lighting conditions, and while we’ve switched lamps to 5500K fluorescents for our studio shots, the FX75 shot a bit warm under 3200K incandescent lamps. There are daylight, cloudy, shade, halogen and custom settings available.


Auto White Balance, 5500k fluorescent light

The FX75 uses Panasonic’s intelligent multiple metering system for exposure calculation, and it performed well in average lighting conditions but had a tendency to lose highlight in scenes with high contrast. Things were a little better with iExposure enabled in normal picture mode, but the camera seemed to lose highlights virtually any time a scene had high contrast. Shooting an FX75 in normal picture mode with a bit of under exposure compensation would probably be my setup of choice.

Noise performance in the FX75 was average. ISO 80 and 100 sensitivities were pretty clean and hard to tell apart. ISO 200 has some small hints of noise creeping in – a small loss of detail in the bear’s nose and the filter package, for example. Moving to ISO 400 is a definite step down from 200 – still usable for small images, but becoming marginal for large print work.

Panasonic FX75 Test Image
ISO 80
Panasonic FX75 Test Image
ISO 80, 100% crop
Panasonic FX75 Test Image
ISO 100
Panasonic FX75 Test Image
ISO 100, 100% crop
Panasonic FX75 Test Image
ISO 200
Panasonic FX75 Test Image
ISO 200, 100% crop
Panasonic FX75 Test Image
ISO 400
Panasonic FX75 Test Image
ISO 400, 100% crop
Panasonic FX75 Test Image
ISO 800
Panasonic FX75 Test Image
ISO 800, 100% crop
Panasonic FX75 Test Image
ISO 1600
Panasonic FX75 Test Image
ISO 1600, 100% crop

ISO 800 is another notch worse and 1600 takes an even more dramatic downturn, becoming the ISO of last resort. There is a high sensitivity mode in the scene menu that permits capture of images at 3 megapixels or less at the “standard” quality setting. ISO is adjusted automatically between 1600 and 6400, so just like Forest Gump’s box of chocolates you never know what you’re going to get.

Additional Sample Images

Panasonic FX75 Test Image Panasonic FX75 Test Image
Panasonic FX75 Test Image Panasonic FX75 Test Image
Panasonic FX75 Test Image Panasonic FX75 Test Image


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