The folks at Panasonic obviously don't believe the megapixel wars are over – the recently introduced Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX150 generates absolutely mammoth 14.7 megapixel images.
The FX150 has all the bells and whistles users have come to expect from upper-tier digicams, plus it's small enough to easily drop in a pocket. It features a relatively fast (f/2.8 at full wide angle) 3.6x Leica DC Vario-Elmarit zoom that starts at the equivalent of 28mm, a 2.7 inch LCD, optical image stabilization, an Intelligent Auto mode and manual exposure control, auto bracketing, a histogram, 720p HD video capture, Face Detection AF, a very useful macro mode, manual white balance, very good battery life, and it saves images as either JPEGs or RAW files.
The FX150 looks stylishly retro – rather like an updated Rollei 35S – and is very nicely built. It is also comfortable to hold (although it lacks a handgrip) and easy to use. The menu system is user friendly and easily navigated – all controls are clearly marked and reasonably placed. In addition, the FX150 provides direct access to the most commonly changed features and functions. Focusing speed and response times are impressively quick, but shutter lag is about average. Images are sharp and well exposed. Colors are bright and vibrant without being garish, but noise levels are higher than average (especially noticeable above ISO 400).
I had the FX150 for a bit less than two weeks and the weather here in Kentucky was horrible the entire time, but I still managed to come away impressed with this little Panasonic. The FX150 has a couple of irritating shortcomings and it's probably a poor choice for those who like to shoot in low/dim light. For just about everyone else, the FX150 provides about the same level of creative flexibility as many of today's upper-tier prosumer digicams, but it's smaller, lighter, cheaper, easier to use, sports a true wide-angle zoom, and looks better than most of them.
The FX150 should appeal to serious photographers looking for a pocket digicam, casual photographers who want a current frontrunner in the megapixel race, and hikers/bikers/backpackers/travelers who want lots of photographic options in a small, lightweight, robust "take it anywhere" package.
We'll have our full review of the Panasonic DMC FX150 up in a few days.
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