DigitalCameraReview.com
Panasonic launches flagship Lumix FX500, new touch screen ultracompact
by David Rasnake -  3/16/2008

Having hit consumers with a barrage of new compact digicams just last month at PMA, Panasonic is back at it again today with the announcement of the 10.1 megapixel Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX500.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX500
(view large image)

Most prominent among the FX500's specs is its 3-inch, 230K-dot touch screen LCD. According to Panasonic, the touch screen interface allows users to set AF points and metering areas simply by touching them, and provides a unique slider-style setup for controlling aperture and shutter speed in the FX500's manual and aperture/shutter priority modes.

Unlike other touch screen models that have come to market to date, the FX500 doesn't rely exclusively on its touch interface: the latest Lumix has a hybrid control arrangement that includes a joystick (a staple of Panasonic's current FX models) as well, for added flexibility.

As a new flagship model for the FX line, the FX500 also comes with a wide-angle (25mm at the wide end, in the familiar 35mm format) Leica DC Vario zoom lens. Intelligent Auto (iA), Intelligent Scene Selector, and Intelligent ISO options, which have become standbys on Panasonic's higher-end compacts of late, show up on the FX500 as well. Optical image stabilization, courtesy of Panasonic's Mega O.I.S. system, is an expected inclusion at this price point. Improved AF and face detection tracking systems are also key specs sheet highlights.

Still photo shooting at 16:9 aspect ratios is nothing new, but being able to shoot 30 fps video at 1280x720 is still a relatively unique capability. These HD optimized still and video options, in addition to an on-camera HD output, should make getting crisp movies and images from your camera to your HDTV a relatively simple affair.

Of course, comparisons between the FX500 and Sony's popular T200/T300 touch screen concept, which sports specs nearly identical to the Lumix's, are both obvious and inevitable. The FX500 is undoubtedly an interesting move for Panasonic, another electronics giant turned high-style camera maker, who appears to be pushing harder than ever to challenge Sony on what has long been its home turf with this announcement. If Panasonic can bring the improved high ISO performance we've seen in other new Lumix models to bear on this entry as well, they should be well positioned to do some market share stealing, in our estimation.

Black and silver versions of the FX500 should be available in May; suggested retail price for the new model is around $400.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX500 Specifications:

Sensor10.1 megapixel, 1/2.33" CCD
Lens/Zoom5x (25-125mm) Leica DC Vario-Elmarit, f/2.8-5.9
LCD/Viewfinder3.0", 230K dot TFT touch screen LCD
SensitivityISO 100-1600
Shutter Speed60-1/2000 seconds
Shooting ModesIntelligent Auto, Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, Manual, Scene, Motion Picture
Scene PresetsPortrait, Soft Skin, Self-Portrait, Scenery, Sports, Night Portrait, Night Scenery, Food, Party, Candle Light, Baby 1, Baby 2, Pet, Sunset, High Sensitivity, Hi-Speed Burst, Starry Sky, Fireworks, Beach, Snow, Aerial
White Balance SettingsAuto, Daylight, Cloudy, Shade, Halogen, White Set
Metering ModesIntelligent Multiple, Center-Weighted, Spot
Focus ModesFace, One-Point, One-Point High Speed, Three-Point High Speed, Nine-Point, Spot, Touch, Macro
Drive ModesNormal, Burst, Self Timer
Flash ModesAuto, Red-Eye Reduction, Forced On, Slow Sync/Red-Eye Reduction, Forced Off
Self Timer Settings
10 seconds, 2 seconds, Off
Memory FormatsSD, SDHC
Internal Memory
Yes
File FormatsJPEG, Motion JPEG
Max. Image Size3648x2736
Max. Video Size
1280x720, 30 fps
Zoom During Video Not Specified
BatteryRechargeable 1000 mAh lithium-ion, 280 shots
ConnectionsUSB 2.0, AV output, HD AV output, DC input
Additional FeaturesMega OIS Image Stabilization, touch screen interface, Venus Engine IV processor, Intelligent ISO, Intelligent Scene Selector