Compact Digital Cameras Under $300 (Part 4) - Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS45

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Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS45

Well Panasonic certainly grabbed our attention with the Lumix DMC-FS45 as we were sent a review sample finished in a fruity shade of purple. Other colors are silver, grey, black or red.

It's curious how the color of the Panasonic gives the impression that it might be a toy when in fact there is a serious 16 megapixel camera lurking inside the svelte aluminum chassis.

Description: Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS45
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS45

You have to dig around in the settings if you want to get the best out of the DMC-FS45 and that can get a trifle confusing.

The Menu Set button in the center of the jog pad brings up three icons for iA Rec, iA Motion Picture and iA Set-up on the 3.0” screen which invites further investigation. Using iA Rec you can set the megapixel figure, turn Burst mode on or off and also select a color mode from Standard, Happy, B&W or Sepia (which aren't as exciting as they sound). The iA Motion Picture menu offers a choice of 720p or VGA settings and the camera set-up menu is amazingly brief and consists of time, date, language and button beep.

Alternatively you can use the Menu button to change the MP rating and the picture and video modes. We have no idea why Panasonic felt this duplication was a good idea.

With the basics out of the way you can give the dedicated Mode button a whirl. The first set of offerings consist of Intelligent Auto, Normal Picture, Miniature Effect and Scene Mode, which looks fairly limited, but your attitude will change when you reach Scene Mode where you can choose from the usual long list. We're talking about 15 options that include some of the most curious things we have ever seen; Portrait, Soft Skin, Scenery, Panorama, Sports and Night Scenery are conventional enough. 'Food' seems to crop up occasionally, while Baby 1, Baby 2, Pet, Sunset, High ISO, Through Glass and Photo Frame seem a bit weird.

Why, you may wonder, do you get Scenes called Baby 1 and Baby 2? it's so you can set the names of your two young kids which rather suggests you're not supposed to take photos of your children once they pass a certain age.

The zoom gave us some fun and games: When you're shooting video the zoom is silent but has a limit of 2X, which is less than we like to see.

On the other hand, when you're taking photos the zoom is provided on a sliding scale. With the camera set to 10MP you can have 6.3X, at 5MP you can have 9x and under 3MP the zoom rises to 11,3x. Added to that you have Intelligent 10x zoom which is a form of digital. Who would have thought that a simple part of the specification could be so complicated?

We were impressed by the photos that we took with the Panasonic and very nearly preferred them to the photos taken with the Canon. On balance the Canon just sneaks it (as it does some astonishing things with color tones).

The Panasonic takes lovely photos and also offers good value for money.

“The Panasonic takes lovely photos and also offers good value for money”


Price: $182.55

Manufacturer: Panasonic


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