The Panasonic FX50's body has the minimalist styling common on the company's cameras, being almost completely smooth with the exception of controls and a small rectangular trim piece on the front that also serves as a grip for your fingers. Focusing is catered for with a 1, 3, or 9-point autofocus function with AF assist lamp. Exposure modes include a generous eighteen scene modes, including Panasonic's unusual "Baby" modes that allow you to program a date of birth in each, and then have your images tagged with your children's current ages at the time a photo is taken. Exposure variables are determined using an intelligent multiple metering system, and users can tweak the exposure with +/-2.0EV of exposure compensation, in 1/3EV steps. Shutter speeds range from 1/2000 to 60 seconds - quite a bit longer than is common on many digicams - and the Panasonic DMC-FX50 offers automatic or manual white balance control with four presets, and a custom white balance mode - letting you save white balance measurements for common situations for later recall. The Lumix FX50 also includes a built-in five mode flash, with a range of up to four meters at wide angle or two meters at telephoto.
The Panasonic FX50 offers a higher than average movie resolution of 848 x 480 pixels as seen on some of Panasonic's other recent cameras, as well as lower-resolution 640 x 480 and 320 x 240 pixel options - all of which use the QuickTime MotionJPEG format common on most digicams. The Panasonic DMX-FX50 draws power from a proprietary Lithium Ion rechargeable battery pack, and records images on Secure Digital or MultiMedia cards (with a not-so-generous 16MB card in the product bundle - plan to buy a larger card straight away). In addition, the FX50 supports the new SDHC (Secure Digital High Capacity) standard, which extends the maximum capacity to a theoretical 32GB (4GB cards being the largest at the time of this writing), with sustained transfer rates of up to six megabytes per second. There's also both USB computer connectivity, and an NTSC / PAL switcheable video output to show your images on a TV, with the necessary cables included. An Arcsoft software collection rounds out the product bundle.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX50 ships from September, priced at $400.