In use the FH7 is a very quick little camera with no discernible shutter lag and essentially instantaneous AF lock (in good light). The FH7 was designed to be used in point-and-shoot mode and Panasonic’s iAuto mode is the very best intelligent Auto mode I’ve used to date. Put the FH7 in iA mode and the camera will select the appropriate scene mode for the subject, detect and lock on any faces in the frame, balance contrast, sharpen the image and reduce blur automatically. If you are a casual photographer and plan to use the FH7 in iAuto mode full time, this little camera will deliver consistently superior images even if you don’t know the difference between an aperture and a bunch of asparagus.
If you are a more ambitious photographer the FH7 will leave you wanting more. I got used to the FH7’s touch screen pretty quickly, but I never developed any real affection for it. I recently tested Panasonic’s upscale Lumix GF3 and I liked its touch screen and menu system – they are much more responsive and useful than the FH7’s. The FH7 clearly wasn’t designed for photographers who demand a little personal input into the exposure process. The FH7’s menu system isn’t intuitive and it isn’t particularly logical either. If you want to access the exposure compensation mode (to easily and quickly lighten or darken your image incrementally) you’ll find that option buried fairly deeply.
Here’s the bottom line – the FH7 works beautifully as a point-and-shoot. It is small enough to carry it with you all the time, Panasonic’s iAuto mode is absolutely the best auto mode in the business and the FH7’s AF system is noticeably faster than average. We’ll cover the FH7 in more detail in our upcoming full review.
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