With a 3in touchscreen, high-resolution sensor and range of automated technology, is this the perfect fuss-free compact for under £200? The Panasonic Lumix FS22 review takes a closer look...
Panasonic Lumix FS22 Review – Features
Panasonic’s FS range is positioned between the company’s most basic offerings and the more advanced delights of its FX series, and the FS22 is the latest member. It arrives with a 16.1MP CCD sensor twinned with a 28-112mm optic, plus MEGA O.I.S (Optical Image Stabilisation) technology to help keep images sharp. 720p HD movie recording at 24fps also features, as does Sonic Speed AF technology which claims to lock onto subjects promptly.
Elsewhere the camera boasts a range of automated technology, such as the Intelligent Scene Selector which is part of the camera’s Intelligent Auto (iA) shooting function. This, Panasonic claims, selects the most appropriate scene mode for the scene being shot, while Intelligent Resolution technology is said to process outlines, detail texture areas and soften gradation areas separately. No control is provided over metering patterns, though, and there’s no HDMI port in addition to the standard mini USB type for transferring media either.
Panasonic Lumix FS22 Review – Design
Around the back there’s a 3in LCD screen with touchscreen functionality built in, which allows for images to be focused and captured simply by pressing on the subject. With the only physical controls being a power switch, zoom collar and shutter release button, practically all operation happens through the screen itself, which has both its merits and its foibles; on the plus side all controls are visible in low light, but on the other hand their role is only explained by a small icon unless they are specifically selected, which is particularly annoying when in the somewhat cryptic setup menu.
Performance & Image Quality
Panasonic Lumix FS22 Review – Performance
It’s also possible to zoom to the other end of the lens’s focal range at the press of a button – which is handy when you realise how slowly the lens moves through its focal range – although the further option of regulating the zoom through the touchscreen seems to have been included only because the possibility was there; quite why anyone needs to use this slightly awkward control when the zoom collar works perfectly well is a mystery.
Aside from this, there’s little to frustrate with the camera’s operation. Although the start-up time could be improved, once the camera is on it performs well. As promised, the focusing system is prompt and there’s practically no shutter lag, which together mean that the touch-control shooting option is not just usable but often useful. Colour reproduction on the screen is a little more saturated than faithful, but not to the point where you may feel like shooting settings need to be altered.
Panasonic Lumix FS22 Review – Image Quality
Left on its Intelligent Auto mode the camera captures well exposed and colourful images, its auto white balance system behaving as it should. The lens shows very little distortion at its wideangle setting and sharpness generally extends well into the edges of the frame, although some softening in the corners is often visible. There’s a touch of purple fringing around high-contrast corners, but this isn’t prominent enough to be an issue.
While the level of detail in captured images is perfectly respectable for a camera at the price point, as soon as you go over ISO 160 the issues associated with having so many pixels on such a small sensor become apparent, namely noise and noise reduction which leave images with a gritty and overprocessed texture, even in fine light. This is a pity, as the camera otherwise produces images of a more than reasonable standard.
Value & Verdict
Panasonic Lumix FS22 review – Value
Having just been launched, the Lumix FS22’s asking price sails close to its £169.99 RRP. For this reason it may be worth waiting a while for a number of retailers to begin stocking the model, as it’s likely to come down in price and become more affordable. Is it worth £170 right now? Probably not, although once it drops below the £150 barrier it’ll be a strong competitor against similar entry-level compacts such as the Samsung SH100.
Panasonic Lumix FS22 review – Verdict
On the whole, the FS22 produces pleasing images and the lack of buttons around the back allows for a good-sized display, but the touchscreen can be awkward to operate and the menu system isn’t always the most helpful. With over 16MP on its small sensor the camera’s issues with image noise also come as little surprise. A decent compact that’ll be all the more worthy of purchase once the price drops.