Panasonic Lumix DMC-FP8 Review
|Dimensions:||3.8 x 2.3 x 0.8 in.
(96 x 60 x 20 mm)
|Weight:||5.4 oz (153 g)
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FP8 is a stylish ultra-compact digital camera with an effective resolution of twelve megapixels from a 1/2.33" RGB CCD image sensor, which Panasonic has coupled to a Leica DC Vario-Elmar branded 4.6x optical zoom lens with a useful 28mm-equivalent wide angle. Importantly, the Panasonic FP8's lens features a true optical image stabilization system with which to fight blur caused by camera shake. The DMC-FP8's POWER O.I.S. system is said to offer double the stabilizing power of the company's previous MEGA O.I.S. systems. The Panasonic FP8's lens has a two-step aperture that offers F3.3 and F10.0 at wide angle, or F5.9 and F18.0 at telephoto. The minimum focusing distance for the Panasonic DMC-FP8 is ordinarily 30 centimeters, but drops to just five centimeters at wide angle when switched to Macro mode.
There's sadly no optical viewfinder, with the Panasonic FP8 instead opting solely for a 2.7" LCD display with 230,000 dot resolution on which images and videos are both framed and reviewed. Back-panel control buttons have a blue backlight that should help in low-light shooting, although the control labels aren't backlit so you'll need to remember the function of each button. The Panasonic DMC-FP8 has an 11-point multi-area autofocus system which also includes a single-point "high speed" focusing mode. As with many 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. In addition, the FP8 can be programmed to recognize the faces of three specific individuals for labelling purposes. The Panasonic Lumix FP8 also has an implementation of autofocus tracking, which can monitor a subject as it moves around the frame, continuing to update autofocus as required.
ISO sensitivity ordinarily ranges from 80 to 1600, with the ability to extend this as far as ISO 6400 equivalent in High Sensitivity Auto mode. Shutter speeds from 1/2000 to 60 seconds are possible. The Panasonic DMC-FP8 uses Intelligent Multiple metering, and offers six white balance settings including Auto, Manual, and four fixed presets. A whopping selection of twenty seven scene modes let users tailor the look of their images, useful given that the Panasonic FP8 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 five commonly used scene modes. A five mode flash strobe includes red-eye reduction capability, and has a rated range of up to 5.5 meters at wide angle, or 3.1 meters at telephoto. The Panasonic DMC-FP8 also includes the company's Intelligent Exposure and Intelligent ISO functions as seen on past models, plus an updated Intelligent Auto mode which is now linked to the POWER O.I.S. system to correct for camera shake.
As well as JPEG still images, the Panasonic ZR1 can capture 30 frames-per-second movies with monaural sound at resolutions of 1280 x 720 pixels or below, although the compression used is the older QuickTime Motion JPEG type so file sizes are likely to be hefty. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FP8 stores its images and movies on Secure Digital or MultiMediaCards, including the newer SDHC types. There's also a generous 40MB of built-in memory. Connectivity options include a USB 2.0 High-Speed connection, plus standard definition NTSC / PAL video output. The Panasonic FP8 can also output high-definition video via an optional component cable, and is compatible with Panasonic's proprietary "VIERA Link" system that allows the connected TV's remote control to be used to navigate the camera's slideshows. Power comes from a proprietary Lithium Ion rechargeable with ID-Security feature that prevents use of counterfeit or third-party batteries, and is rated as good for 380 shots on a charge to CIPA testing standards. The software bundle includes PHOTOfunSTUDIO v4.0, ArcSoft MediaImpression, and ArcSoft Panorama Maker.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FP8 will ship from September 2009, with expected pricing of $300 or thereabouts.
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