When Panasonic announced the FX500 back in March 2008 as the "flagship" of the FX line, it became their first camera to feature a touch screen interface. Now the FX580 has been put in play as the successor to the 500, and folks who are familiar with the earlier camera will have a hard time telling it from the new kid on the block unless they're close enough to read the "12 megapixels" script on the camera body.
But while the physical resemblance is virtually identical, the FX580 has received some hardware enhancements to introduce some separation from the FX500, which no longer appears on the Panasonic roster. Chief among these is the Venus Engine V processor which allows the inclusion of the advanced iA (intelligent auto) shooting mode that includes a face recognition feature along with "high speed, high performance, and low power consumption".
The same physical sized 1/2.33 inch sensor gets a resolution increase to 12.1 megapixels and an 80 ISO sensitivity setting is added to the mix. Video options include 720p HD at 30fps.
The metal camera body seems solid and well built, and image quality looks good (at 80 ISO) with accurate color using auto white balance on sunny days and with flash. Shutter lag appears to be good and AF acquisition times have been generally good.
I've only scratched the surface shooting the FX580 at this point, but the camera is shaping up as a good performer overall after an admittedly brief trial period thus far. How good remains to be seen.
As always, our full review will offer a complete look at the camera's performance and image quality. Keep your eye DCR for our review of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX580.