The auto exposure (AE) only 7.2 megapixel Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX30 is one of the top models of Panasonic’s ultra-compact FX line. The heart of the FX30 is its f2.8-f5.6/4mm-16mm (equivalent to a 28mm-100mm lens on a 35mm camera) 3.6X Leica Vario Elmarit zoom. The FX30 was (according to Panasonic) is the world’s smallest digicam with a 28mm zoom. Most ultra-compact digicam zooms start at about 35mm, so that bit of extra width gives the FX30 a slight edge when it comes to shooting groups, cramped indoor venues, and landscapes. Despite its diminutive size (94.9mm/3.75in X 51.9mm/2.06in X 22mm/0.87in) the FX30 also features image stabilization and the same hi-res 207,000 pixel 2.5 inch LCD that graces the prosumer Panasonic’s FZ8 megazoom.
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Consumers who love the convenience and immediacy of a pocketable ultra-compact P&S digicam but yearn for the performance and image quality of a prosumer digicam will adore the snazzy little FX30. Construction is robust (tough all metal body available in four colors). Operation is dead simple and all controls are logically placed and easily accessed – except for the minuscule, partially hidden, mode dial.
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Image quality is reliably very good to excellent (outdoors in good light) with essentially no effort on the part of the photographer. Noise is slightly above average, but the FX30’s target audience is unlikely to lose much sleep over that statistic. Images are very sharp with slightly hard contrast and colors are hue accurate and slightly over-saturated. Shadow detail is decent, but there is a slight tendency to clip highlights and some very minor chromatic aberration (purple fringing) is visible in high contrast color transition areas at the wide end of the excellent Leica zoom.
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Sporting a 28mm zoom, 7 megapixels, and a large hi-res LCD the snappy pocket-sized FX30 may be one of the best choices for consumers searching for a capable and easy to use ultra-compact P&S digicam. We’ll have an in-depth review up in a few days.