This Panasonic offers 12 megapixels, but do the extra pixels count with the FX100?
Compact cameras with ultra-high 12MP sensors have been available since 2007, but do we really need more pixels?
To accommodate 12.2 million pixels Panasonic has sensibly increased the size of the FX100’s CCD so, although the pixel count has increased, the pixels themselves are the same size as those in its 7MP models. The larger sensor has also meant a new lens design, with Panasonic opting for a 28-100mm equivalent Leica zoom with Mega OIS Image Stabilisation.
In use, Program, Auto and 20 scene modes provide point-and-shoot simplicity, with a maximum ISO 1600 rising to ISO 6400 if you accept 3MP files. Switching to 3MP capture also enables a shooting rate of eight frames per second, compared with one to two frames at the maximum resolution.
Cast in the classic Lumix mould, the FX100 has a solid, but minimal metal shell that’s available in champagne, black and gunmetal silver finishes. A subtly redesigned rear control cluster keeps things neat yet functional, with a bright 2.5in LCD taking care of preview and playback. In addition, the FX100 features Panasonic’s ‘Easy Zoom’ button which takes the lens from its widest to longest focal length (and back again) with a single button push.
There’s a couple of seconds’ hesitation on start-up and a similar pause between shots when taking and reviewing them. However, that’s excusable given the large amount of data the FX100’s dealing with and there are no complaints with the AF – in nine-point mode it’s accurate, though not immediate, with the one-point or three-point high speed modes helping to speed things up.
Panasonic has done two things to help reduce the noise in its debut 12MP compact – it’s made the sensor physically larger and improved its noise-reduction algorithms. Combined, these two things mean there’s a lack of noise in images up to ISO 400, although above this the noise reduction starts to obliterate fine detail and desaturate images, while lending them a watercolour painting-style finish. Up to ISO 400 you can still make a good A3-sized print at 300ppi – or bigger still if you want.
As expected, exposures and white balance are consistently good, giving pictures the best start in life. At times the colours can look a little bit drab and washed out though, which I wasn’t expecting given Panasonic’s usually rich colours.
Value For Money
There’s a price to pay for 12MP – in this case just over £300 – which seems quite high given the camera’s otherwise modest point-and-shoot spec.
With so many pixels, image noise was our biggest worry, but Panasonic has overcome this. As a result, the great image quality and gorgeous design make the FX100 another winning camera in the Lumix line-up