When I reviewed the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX35 back in March 2008 I was impressed enough with that camera's overall performance to buy one for my sister. Subsequent Panasonic offerings that have crossed my path for review purposes didn't produce the same warm and fuzzy feelings as the FX35, but the FP8 has reversed that trend.
The FP8 is a desirable camera by virtue of its sparkling AF performance and speedy shutter lag alone - the camera acquires focus quickly across a broad range of lighting conditions and then takes the shot with little delay. The camera also powers up quickly, recycles its flash promptly and provides a lens that captures images with minimal distortion and defects. There's a 720p HD video capability for those who shoot movies.
ISO noise performance looks average at the lower sensitivities, but at 400 and above it appears to lag a bit behind the best 12 megapixel compacts I've reviewed. The lens maximum apertures are slower than most of the competition, which isn't a good combination with the unremarkable ISO performance.
With only automatic shooting modes the FP8 will appeal primarily to folks seeking minimal involvement in the image capture process, but Panasonic has put in enough user options in the normal shooting mode to keep the more advanced shooters interested, particularly once they get a taste of that speedy AF and almost non-existent shutter lag.
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