There are a lot of people out there who simply want an affordable camera that takes a decent picture in auto, has some extra zoom power, and can still be slipped in a pocket. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH27 is just that. With camera manufacturers trying to jam in as many features as possible in some models, the FH27 is notable for having only two big features: an 8x, 28mm wide-angle lens and a 3-inch touch screen. The rest of it is pure point-and-shoot backed by Panasonic's reliable Intelligent Auto (iA) mode, a healthy selection of scene modes, and 720p HD movie capture. The touch screen adds a bit of glitz, helping it stand out in the congested compact-camera market.
|Key specs||Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH27|
|Dimensions (WHD)||3.9x2.2x1.1 inches|
|Weight (with battery and media)||5.6 ounces|
|Megapixels, image sensor size, type||16 megapixels, 1/2.3-inch CCD|
|LCD size, resolution/viewfinder||3-inch touch-screen LCD, 230K dots/None|
|Lens (zoom, aperture, focal length)||8x, f3.3-5.9, 28-224mm (35mm equivalent)|
|File format (still/video)||JPEG/Motion JPEG (MOV)|
|Highest resolution size (still/video)||4,608x3,456 pixels / 1,280x720 pixels at 24fps|
|Image stabilization type||Optical and digital|
|Battery type, CIPA rated life||Li-ion rechargeable, 250 shots|
|Battery charged in camera||No; external charger supplied|
|Bundled software||PhotofunStudio 6.0 (Windows), Super LoiLoScope (trial version; Windows)|
The FH27's photo quality is good to very good, but people expecting to be wowed by its 16-megapixel resolution may be disappointed. Though subjects look somewhat soft from the get-go, there isn't much difference from ISO 100 to ISO 400. That means shots taken in good lighting are quite nice and thanks to Panasonic's "Intelligent" technology, you can pretty much leave it in auto and get solid results. It isn't until you go above ISO 400 that things noticeably decline--especially at larger sizes--with smeary details and yellow blotching from noise. If you need something for great low-light shots, this isn't your camera. It does have low-light shooting modes, but the results are really only good for emergencies because of heavy noise reduction and off colors. Then again, if you just need shots for small prints and Web use, the high-ISO results might be acceptable.
Color is pleasing and natural. If you like your colors more saturated, you can switch from the camera's Standard color mode to Vivid when shooting in Normal Picture mode or Happy in Intelligent Auto. Colors are consistent up to ISO 400; there's a noticeable color shift at the two highest ISO sensitivities. Other than the auto white balance being a touch warm under incandescent lighting, white balance is good. Exposure is likewise good and Panasonic's Intelligent Exposure feature improves dynamic range and limits blown-out highlights.
Video quality is on par with a basic HD pocket video camera; good enough for Web use and nondiscriminating TV viewing. Panning the camera will create judder that's typical of the video from most compact cameras. The zoom lens does not function while recording, but you do have a digital zoom. I suggest not using it as the results are not pleasant.
|General shooting options||Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH27|
|ISO sensitivity (full resolution)||Auto, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1,600|
|White balance||Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Shade, Incandescent, Manual|
|Recording modes||Intelligent Auto, Normal, Scene, MyScene, Movie|
|Focus modes||Multi AF, Macro AF, AF Tracking, Touch AF|
|Macro||1.9 inches (Wide); 3.3 feet (Tele)|
|Metering modes||Face, AF Tracking, 11-area Multi, Spot, Touch area|
|Color effects||Standard, Vivid, Natural, Black & White, Sepia, Cool, Warm, Happy (only in iA Mode)|
|Burst mode shot limit (full resolution)||100 shots|
The FH27's shooting options are fairly bare-bones; it's definitely geared for people who prefer to shoot in auto. In the Mode menu you'll find Panasonic's Intelligent Auto, which handles just about everything for you, as well as a Normal Picture mode that gives you the most control over results, with settings for focus, color effects, white balance, ISO, and exposure compensation. If you like scene modes, the FH27 has 27 of them. The list includes familiar modes like Portrait, Sunset, and Night Scenery, as well as High-Speed Burst for action and High Sensitivity for low-light photos (both capturing images at 3 megapixels and below). You get a few creative shooting modes such as Pinhole and Film Grain to experiment with. A MyScene option is also available, letting you associate a favorite scene mode with a spot in the shooting modes. Lastly, there is a Movie mode capable of capturing video in up to 720p HD resolution.