Can the Panasonic Lumix FX700, a touchscreen enabled 14MP compact with full manual controls, be the perfect DSLR backup? The Panasonic Lumix FX700 review finds out....
The Panasonic FX700 is a 14MP compact that crams a fairly impressive amount of technology into a comparatively small frame. With full manual controls, a 3inch touchscreen and the ability to shoot HD movies only having a 5x optical zoom is something of relief so as to not overstretch the pocketable compact.
Panasonic Lumix FX700 review – Features
Part of the reason the Panasonic Lumix FX700 is so compact is the absence of buttons, as trying to wedge all of the potential functions and features into a limited amount of space would lead to miniscule controls or confusing double-functionality. Instead a touchscreen is employed, which has both positive and negative sides.
When using the screen to focus and take images it’s perfectly reactive, although annoyingly slightly missing an icon can lead to an undesired shot being taken. As the icons lining the sides of the screen, such as flash controls and the mode menu, don’t always immediately react to a touch the combination can rapidly grow frustrating. The shutter speed and aperture controls simulate dials, meaning both need to used in a similar fashion by dragging the finger across.
The sluggish reaction of the screen combined with the inability to simply press the value you’d like to select becomes increasingly annoying as the selection of those values is delayed. When large, finger-sized buttons are on screen the whole process is far easier, so the likes of changing modes is reasonably straightforward.
The exposure compensation is also unavailable for manual alterations, meaning whenever the camera allows for shutter speed, aperture or both to be changed it attempts to compensate often resulting in unusable images.
Panasonic Lumix FX700 review – Design
The lack of controls does make the body of the Panasonic Lumix FX700 impressively sparse, as only two buttons and a switch remain at the rear.
For those wanting to change anything more involved than going between record and playback or activating the movie mode the touchscreen is required, which makes the Panasonic FX700’s intention as a basic compact clear. In spite of the space on offer none of the remaining controls, bar the shutter release, are particularly large, with both the on/off switch and playback/record switch being surprisingly small. This doesn’t hinder the operation of either though, as both lock into the desired position with ease.
Otherwise the camera is thin, light and well balanced for one-handed operation, with the flash and microphone well out of the way of any stray fingers to obstruct.
The rubberized black body also makes the camera simple to grip, even with damp hands, although the dull finish could do with a touch of sheen. Both ports are well hidden under a side flap, as is the battery and SD card, making the Panasonic Lumix FX700 a class act of a camera from an aesthetic point of view.
Panasonic Lumix FX700 review – Image Quality
In terms of image quality the control method, unfortunately, must be called into question once more. The touch focus is impressively rapid but annoyingly inaccurate, taking a snap in a fraction of the time that the same process using the shutter release takes, but often getting such a specific depth to lose detail elsewhere. This is particularly frustrating, as the camera is capable of taking some excellent images when the standard process is used.
The Panasonic Lumix’s metering marginally favours the darker tones, although not to the extent of losing detail in the highlights, and colour quality has enough warmth and vibrancy to make the tones welcoming without straying into over-saturation. In decent enough lighting, and even at a high level of magnification, there isn’t a huge degree of pixel smoothing in evidence and detail can be easily picked up without the telltale loss of graduation in the tones. In lower light conditions noise is visible from around the 800 mark, obvious at 1600 and the increased 6400 high sensitivity settings isn’t particularly worth using for shots that are intended to be printed.
Panasonic Lumix FX700 review – Value
As far as the rrp is concerned £349 is around average for the feature set, but with the likes of the Canon S95, Sony HX9 and Fuji F550 EXR occupy the surrounding area it’ll be difficult to place the FX700 at top spot.
The control method and restrictions on manual overrides makes the Panasonic Lumix FX700 something of a letdown