Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH5 Overview
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH5 is a stylish ultra-compact digital camera with an effective resolution of 16.1 megapixels from a 1/2.33" RGB CCD image sensor, which Panasonic has coupled with a Lumix DC Vario-Elmar branded 4x optical zoom lens. The lens design is said to be new, and allows a 20% reduction in camera body depth thanks to the retraction mechanism used. The DMC-FH5's lens offers a 35mm-equivalent range from a useful 28mm wide angle to a 112mm telephoto and features a true optical image stabilization system with which to fight blur caused by camera shake. The Panasonic FH5's lens has a two-step aperture that offers a choice of either f/3.1 or f/9.0 at wide angle, and a rather dim f/6.5 or f/20.0 at telephoto. The minimum focusing distance for the Panasonic DMC-FH5 is ordinarily 50 centimeters, but drops to just five centimeters at wide angle when switched to Macro mode. Full-resolution burst shooting is possible at a rate of two frames per second, achieved in part thanks to use of the latest generation Venus Engine VI image processor.
The Panasonic FH5 doesn't include an optical viewfinder, instead opting solely for a 2.7" LCD display with 230,000 dot resolution on which images and videos are both framed and reviewed. The display includes an 11-step automatic brightness adjustment, aiming to provide good visibility in a range of viewing conditions. The Panasonic DMC-FH5 has an eleven-point multi-area autofocus system which also includes a single-point focusing mode. Like almost all digital cameras these days, there's also a face detection function, with Panasonic's implementation using the information to adjust both focus and exposure to properly capture your subjects' faces. Unlike some cameras, the FH5 doesn't attempt to recognize the faces of specific individuals, nor to differentiate between adults and children, though.
ISO sensitivity ordinarily ranges from 100 to 1600, with the ability to extend this as far as ISO 6400 equivalent in High Sensitivity mode. The Panasonic DMC-FH5 also includes the company's Intelligent ISO mode as seen on past models. Shutter speeds from 1/1,600 to 60 seconds are possible. The Panasonic DMC-FH5 uses Intelligent Multiple metering, and offers six white balance settings including Auto, Manual, and four fixed presets. A vast selection of 28 scene modes let users tailor the look of their images, useful given that the Panasonic FH5 doesn't offer aperture-, shutter-priority, or fully manual modes. There's also an Intelligent Scene Selection function, which can automatically select from a subset of six commonly used scene modes. A five mode flash strobe includes red-eye reduction capability, and has a rated range of up to 3.3 meters using Intelligent ISO.
As well as JPEG still images, the Panasonic FH5 can capture 24 frames-per-second movies with monaural sound at high definition 1,280 x 720 pixel (720p) resolution, and 30-frames-per-second standard definition movies at 640 x 480 pixel (VGA) resolution or below, although the compression used is the older Motion JPEG type, so file sizes for high-def movies are likely to be hefty. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH5 stores its images and movies on either SD, SDHC, or the latest SDXC types. There's also a pretty generous 70MB of built-in memory. Connectivity options include a USB 2.0 High-Speed connection, plus standard definition NTSC video output. Power comes from a proprietary 660mAh Lithium Ion rechargeable battery pack, and is rated as good for 260 shots on a charge to CIPA testing standards. The software bundle includes PHOTOfunSTUDIO v6.0, Quicktime, and Adobe Reader.
US-market pricing and availability for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH5 will be announced approximately 30 days before the camera ships, and hence weren't available at press time. Available body colors will include silver, black, violet, and gold.