With a slim body and a large touchscreen the FX77 is quite the looker, but do its results fare as well? The What Digital Camera Panasonic Lumix FX77 review finds out
Panasonic Lumix FX77 review – Features
The FX77 is one of the latest mid-range compacts to adopt a large touchscreen LCD in place of almost all physical controls. The 3.5in screen fills the rear of the model, and displays images and videos at 230k-dots, although images taken at the camera’s full resolution only fill its centre. Panasonic has also equipped the new arrival with a 12.1MP Hi-Speed CCD sensor capable of Full HD video recording too, although the camera is only capable of recording mono sound.
Despite its slim body, the camera manages to squeeze in a 5x optical zoom which offers a range of 25-125mm. A Mega Optical Image Stabilisation (MEGA O.I.S) system is included within the lens, which is said to keep images sharp through compensatory lens movement, while an additional ISO sensitivity-based Motion Deblur option works with the mechanical system to help counter both user-induced camera shake and subject motion.
Driving all this is the company’s Venus Engine FHD, which incorporates a number of additional ‘Intelligent’ technologies. These include Intelligent ISO control which picks the appropriate sensitivity for the scene being captured, as well as the Intelligent Scene Selector which does the same with the camera’s scene presets. There’s also Face Detection and Recognition, as well as AF tracking, and all of the above are helpfully incorporated within the camera’s Intelligent Auto mode.
Panasonic Lumix FX77 review – Design
The only physical controls on the camera are found on its top plate: power, shutter release and video buttons, as well as a zoom rocker used to regulate the lens’s focal length. Everything else is accessed through the display, where options are divided between Recording, Motion Picture and Set-up menus. Here, things can get a little frustrating, as the camera only displays a function’s name and purpose when its icon is pressed. Obviously, with commonly used icons such as flash and timer options the user can work things out for themselves, but it’s not quite as convenient for the lesser used options, particularly the slightly more cryptic ones in the set-up menu.
This frustration aside, there’s little to complain about with the camera’s build, design and operation. At just over 20mm thick the model should fit into even small pockets, while the simplicity of its external controls makes for an attractive minimal design. The body feels solid, and both the HDMI port and battery cover are sufficiently protected, although the zoom rocker barely protrudes from the top plate, and so is a touch less convenient to operate than it should be.
Performance and Image Quality
Panasonic Lumix FX77 review – Performance
The FX77’s screen resolution is disappointing, although it does displays a clear, balanced and stable feed (something we’re used to seeing across the Lumix product line). It’s as responsive as expected, only being slightly trickier to use upon image playback, and it supports the Touch shooting function well: you simply press the screen where the subject is positioned and the camera will either track the subject or focus and release the shutter, depending on what you’ve set it to do.
There’s little shutter lag as this happens and the image is displayed promptly, which is also the case when the camera is operated in the more orthodox manner. Focusing speeds are good, and the lens moves swiftly and quietly, although it’s not quite the speediest performance we’ve seen at this level.
Panasonic Lumix FX77 review – Image Quality
Thankfully, an overall good performance is matched by equally pleasing image quality. The camera’s metering system is (by and large) spot on, and although highlights do occasionally blow out this appears to be more to do with the limitations of the sensors inside all such cameras rather than through metering error. Images’ colours are also pleasing, although now and again the camera’s Auto White Balance system does have a tendency to produce warm casts. Image noise, meanwhile, only becomes an issue from about ISO 800 onwards, although the effects of noise reduction can be seen in images shot on all sensitivities.
There is a little distortion at the 25mm setting, but chromatic aberrations are kept to a minimum. Despite a little corner softness at the widest apertures, the camera does well to keep things sharp when the lens is stopped down (although the user has no control over this), and even at the telephoto end of the zoom images appear with good detail and sharpness, apart from on the handful of occasions when the image stabilisation systems visibly struggle. The overall level of detail in images, however, is a little lower than expected, although this only becomes apparent when viewing images at actual size (100%).
Finally, the camera’s video quality generally impresses, producing clean, steady footage and a good level of visible detail. The zoom moves quite slowly during recording, although this appears to be intentional so that focus may be continuously maintained. Changes in scene brightness record smoothly, while audio quality is reasonable but can sound a little tinny.
Value and Verdict
Panasonic Lumix FX77 review – Value
The FX77 has already fallen by around £40 from its £250 RRP, and once it drops below the £200 mark it should be one of the more tempting lifestyle compacts on the market. Although it lacks some of the more interesting features seen on competing models, much of what it does offer is designed to simplify image taking for the less experienced shooter. This, coupled with its stylish, well-built body, makes it a decent proposition for younger, less experienced users, who are interested in point-and-shoot simplicty.
Panasonic Lumix FX77 review – Verdict
There’s plenty to like about the FX77, from its large and responsive touchscreen and decent focusing performance through to its reasonable image quality. It’s a pity images aren’t a little more detailed, but with regards to reliability and performance this is a winning compact.