One of the latest compacts equipped with touch-shooting, the FS37 also packs in an 8x optical zoom and high resolution sensor. The What Digital Camera review of the Panasonic Lumix FS37 finds out whether its the ideal photographic companion for the casual user
Panasonic Lumix FS37 Review – Features
Touchscreen LCDs are increasingly relied upon these days, for smartphones, compacts and other devices, but the performance of these varies from functional to frustrating. Panasonic’s FS37 is of the latest compacts to employ the technology, and with a strong zoom range and HD movie capabilities it seems intent on combining convenient control with high-level specs.
The zoom itself begins from 28mm and travels up to 224mm, and with three aspherical elements in its construction it should do well to correct for aberrations. The lens also squeezes in Panasonic’s MEGA O.I.S. image stabilisation technology, which shifts elements to counter image blur, while the 16.1MP sensor behind it promises to capture plenty of detail.
As with previous Lumix models, Panasonic has graced the FS37 with a range of ‘Intelligent’ technologies. The Intelligent ISO control regulates the camera’s sensitivity to choose the most appropriate setting for the scene being shot, while the Intelligent Scene Selector does the same for scene modes. Intelligent Resolution technology is also present, and is said to adjust processing for different areas of the scene, so that outlines, soft gradation areas and detailed textures are treated to best enhance the details in each.
The display has been fitted with Intelligent LCD technology, to automatically adjust brightness according to shooting conditions. The display itself is a capacitive touchscreen, which measures 3in in size and has a 230,000dot resolution, putting it on a par with similar touchscreen models around this price.
The camera’s standard sensitivity range is a little narrow at just ISO 100-1600, although a further High Sensitivity option increases this to a setting equivalent to ISO 6400. High-definition video recording is on hand, recording to the 720p standard at 24fps, while a range of scene settings cover all the common options in addition to processing effects such as Pin Hole and Film Grain.
Panasonic Lumix FS37 Review – Design
Despite its price tag, the camera’s construction is largely metal which gives it a solid build quality. It’s perhaps a little chunkier than what we’re used to seeing, although considering its 8x optical zoom range this is understandable. Like its zoom range, its design is somewhere in between Panasonic’s cheaper FS models and the superzoom TZ series, with a (very) slight protrusion on one side which serves as a grip, and a more defined ring which encircles the optic.
The top of the camera has the standard power switch, zoom rocker and shutter release button, as well as an Easy Zoom button which immediately zips over to the other extreme of the camera’s lens. The back of the camera, meanwhile, offers no physical controls, only a 3in touchscreen. Most of its buttons are generously sized, although their functions are typically only described by an icon until they are pressed, which isn’t particularly helpful.
The touchscreen itself is of the less advanced capacitive variety, and so isn’t quite as responsive as the resistive screens incorporated into similar models. Its 230,000 dot resolution isn’t particularly surprising at this level, although its narrow viewing angle can sometimes make it difficult to view.
Performance and Image Quality
Panasonic Lumix FS37 – Performance
The display comes on quickly once the camera is turned on, although it takes a little longer for the camera to be fully operational. The screen is generally bright enough for standard shooting conditions, although it lacks a little bite when compared with similar £150 cameras which offer slightly better contrast. Still, it displays the scene realistically, and so it can be relied upon when it comes to adjusting white balance, colour and so on.
While not blisteringly quick, the camera’s focusing system works well, only slowing in darker lighting conditions. There’s only a little sound from the lens as it focuses, and the zoom moves quickly through its range, although some might appreciate a slower pace here for more precise control, considering that the Easy Zoom Function can be used to quickly go from one end to the other. The touch-shooting control is impressive, though, with particularly fast focus and instant capture once the subject has been pressed on screen.
Panasonic Lumix FS37 – Image Quality
The overall standard of images from the FS37 is high. The sensor picks up good detail and when the lens is stopped down sharpness is maintained well to the edges and corners of the frame. The camera’s noise reduction system does well to keep noise minimum at lower sensitivities while preserving good details, although, inevitably, some softening and processing artefacts are visible.
The camera’s metering system performs well, even when faced with the usual headache of balancing bright skies and darker foreground details, and the only images in which any adjustment is necessary are those where the scene contains too wide a dynamic range for the camera’s sensor.
As with many similar cameras, highlight details are lost a little prematurely, although this is usually a consequence of the metering system’s accuracy (as opposed to underexposure which would preserve these). Still, the sensor is highly populated, and fewer pixels would undoubtedly allow it capture a wider dynamic range.
There’s little to fault with the camera’s auto white balance and colour reproduction, though, and straight out of the camera the majority of images appear accurate and pleasing. The only problem here is an occasional tendency for the camera to produce marginally warmer images than expected, typically noticeable by a warm magenta tint over neutral areas.
Value and Verdict
Panasonic Lumix FS37 Review – Verdict
For its £150 price the FS37 combines a useful
zoom range with respectable image quality, and the touch-shooting
function makes light work of picking out the appropriate subject. It’s a
shame that the rest of the display-oriented performance falls behind,
notably the narrow viewing angle and the awkwardness of its menu system.