"A top quality ultra-compact camera with optical image stabilization"4.5 starson by aaybee
Pros: Very comact and light, large high resolution LCD screen, and optical image stabilization
Cons: No optical viewfinder, does not zoom during movie recording.
Summary: PANASONIC DMC-FX9 REVIEW
The Panasonic DMC-FX9 is a fantastic ultra-compact digital camera.
I did a lot of research before deciding on this camera, and now after having owned it for about a week I am convinced that I made a good choice. (I previously owned a Canon Ixus V2).
My main criteria were:
1. Must be ultra-compact pocketable size.
2. Must be capable of taking nice sharp, well exposed pictures.
3. Must have a large (2.5 inch) LCD screen with high resolution (>200,000 pixels).
4. Must have a tripod mount.
5. Preferably have Optical Image Stabilisation.
6. Preferably have VGA movie mode at 30 frames per second, with sound.
7. At least 3 times optical zoom.
8. Preferably weigh no more than 150g.
9. Preferably have MPEG4 compression for movie mode.
The FX9 meets criteria 1 to 8. Criteria 1, 3 and 5 taken together count out nearly every other camera!
The high resolution screen is excellent especially when operated in the brightness-boost mode (which I use all the time). The viewing angles for the LCD screen are very good horizontally, but not so good vertically. By this I mean that you can observe the screen from either side without the colours changing much but there are fairly major changes if you tilt the screen towards or away from you.
The movie mode is excellent, especially in 30 fps, VGA (640 X 480 pixels). However in this mode it chews through memory at an alarming rate of around 1.3 Mbytes per second! I would strongly recommend buying a 1 GB SD card if movies are going to be taken. Also note that a high speed card is required – at least 10 Mbytes per second write speed.
Battery life is pretty good and a big improvement on the FX7. It is a pity that there is no option to charge the battery via the USB cable that is provided to transfer images to a computer.
Start-up time is nice and fast; in fact all aspects of the camera are fast and responsive. The high speed focus modes also work well.
White balance is a bit too cool in Auto White Balance mode. It can be set to ‘warm’ in the Colour Effects menu but this takes it a bit too far the other way, although it seems to be a good setting for flash. In the other white balance modes (Daylight, Cloudy, Tungsten etc) you can easily trim the WB via the top button on the navigation pad. This is a nice feature.
Overall I would rate this camera as excellent. Picture quality is above expectations, build quality is very good, movie mode is very good, etc and yet this little gem weighs only 150g complete with battery and SD card!
1. No optical viewfinder. Few ultra-compacts have them now although Canon still does.
2. No MPEG4 compression.
3. Not enough room for your thumb above the navigation pad, although I am getting used to it.
4. Camera will not zoom while recording a movie.
5. A bit noisy at high ISO values but this is to be expected for very small CCD sensors. (And it should be noted that a small sensor is the starting point for an ultra-compact camera).
I could write a book about this camera but I hope the above is helpful to other users and would-be purchasers.
Alan Bottomley, 28 September 2005.