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Monday, May 09, 2005

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX8 Review

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX8Stylish and Compact 5-megapixel 3x Zoom, Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX8 with MEGA O.I.S. Affording More Than Double-Extended* Battery Life

Panasonic is introducing the incoming LUMIX model DMC-FX8, a true heir to the world-renowned 5.0-megapixel 3x optical zoom DMC-FX7 with MEGA O.I.S. (Optical Image Stabilizer), with substantially enhanced battery life. The DMC-FX8 boasts high picture quality, large LCD, compactness and stylish design, all those desired for a compact camera. Not only that, FX8 also incorporates the highly commended MEGA O.I.S. while extending the battery life over two times as long as that of the previous FX7, by increasing the included lithium-ion battery capacity by 162% and adopting the power-saving Venus Engine PLUS.

In addition, bright and clear VGA moving picture is recordable at 30 fps thanks to the 9-pixel mixed readout method of new CCD and you can enjoy playing back it with audio on the large LCD. Also, quickened AF speed and the addition of scene mode help screen and three new modes help upgrade the model allowing every user to enjoy taking high quality picture more easily and more comfortably. Like FX7, FX8 also has its color variation in silver or black with a specially coated texture pleasing to touch. DMC-FX8 is the alluring stylish and compact model that carries all the favored advantages while overcoming the weakness of FX7 to meet customers’ demands.

Compact and stylish model with 3x Leica DC lens and 2.5� large LCD
The 5-megapixel LUMIX DMC-FX8 is the slim and stylish model that incorporates 3x optical zoom (equivalent to 35mm to 105mm on a 35mm film camera) LEICA DC VARIO-ELMARIT lens and bright 2.5� LCD monitor. The combination of three aspherical lenses generates high optical performance while preserving the compactness of the unit. Power LCD mode offers 140% brighter backlighting to assure clear view even when sunny outdoors.

MEGA O.I.S. offers clear, sharp images in difficult situations
MEGA O.I.S.(Optical Image Stabilizer) that Panasonic thinks it indispensable for all digital cameras, especially for compact models that lack stability, is incorporated in the entire LUMIX line-up*. Every slight hand-shake movement is detected accurately with the sampling frequency at 4,000 times per second and will be compensated to render clear, sharp images.

MEGA O.I.S. is equipped with 2 selectable modes. In “Mode 1�, the O.I.S. lens continuously compensates for vibration and in “Mode 2�, the O.I.S. lens suppresses hand-shake only at the moment the shutter button is pressed. In this mode, the lens can move in all directions at the moment to maximize its effect, and higher-resolution images can be taken by capturing the image as being close as to the center of the lens. Consequently, since MEGA O.I.S. enables a beautiful picture shot without blurring at slower shutter speeds of more than three steps compared to the conventional models without O.I.S., you can enjoy shooting clear and beautiful pictures easily even in situations using slow shutter speeds, like indoor shots for portraits and nighttime scenery for illuminated objects, as well as in shootings using macro mode.
*Except for LC1.

More than double-extended battery life
By adopting the newly developed lithium-ion battery that increased its capacity by 162% and the Venus Engine PLUS that consumes only 70% of the power Venus Engine II does, FX8 realizes more than two times longer, compared with the previous FX7, battery life to take approx.300 pictures*.
*Based on the CIPA standard.

Higher quality moving images
Newly developed CCD that adopts 9-pixel mixed readout method makes it possible to record beautiful full-size movie in VGA size at 30 fps while FX7 recorded in the size of QVGA. The new CCD enhances the picture quality not only in the resolution but also in the brightness level of the image as it gains much luminous signals. On the sound front, new built-in speaker lets you enjoy playing back movies with audio on the 2.5� large LCD anytime, anywhere.

Faster AF and enhanced options
An AF method can be selected according to the shooting situation: 5-point, 3-point high-speed, 1 point high-speed, 1-point normal-speed and Spot. In the newly incorporated 1 point high-speed AF, the AF time has been dramatically reduced to approx. half the level* of the previous DMC-FX7.

Although screen-freeze in high-speed AF is now minimized, if you take the picture of subject with fast movement, you can select 1-point normal-speed AF which does not have any screen-freeze while focusing.

In addition, AF assist lamp is equipped for expanding the AF ability even at night or under the low-light conditions.
* Panasonic in-house comparison with DMC-FX7 at the wide-end

Easy-to-use scene modes for wider-ranging situations
LUMIX FX series has a mode dial that shortcuts the selection of the scene mode that best matches the situation quickly and easily. DMC-FX8 contains three new modes added over the FX7. “Soft Skin� detects only skin tones and softens detail to produce smoother and more beautiful skin. “Food� catches the natural color of food regardless of the light condition in macro closeup. “Baby� allows easy growth record in which the baby’s time of age according to preset birthday would be automatically recorded onto the image, as well as maximizing the baby’s purity by giving a shade of soft focus on the subject.

This information can be displayed when you playback the images taken in this mode on the camera LCD, and when reviewed or printed via the included LUMIX Simple Viewer. Now FX8 offers a total of twelve* scene modes, still it is easy to select the one out of them thanks to the newly installed Scene Mode Help Screen, that shows the description and the knack for shooting of each scene. This functions shows the description of each mode on the LCD monitor, helps you to select the mode that best fits the shooting condition.

On the other hand, it also offers easy shooting even to the entry-level users by providing the Simple Mode, in which most settings are made automatically. You just aim at the subject, zoom in or out, and press the shutter button. Light is automatically compensated with a single press of the Exposure Compensation button when the subject is backlit.
*Not including Macro Mode directly selectable with the Mode Dial.

High consecutive shooting performance and responsiveness
Last but not least, the DMC-FX8 boasts high consecutive shooting performance as well as the previous FX7 did, realizing the shooting at 3 frames per second at full resolution. You can start it the moment you want thanks to the independent button**, allowing you to record consecutive images and select the best one afterward. And the Unlimited Consecutive Shooting function* allows limit-free consecutive shooting up to the capacity of the SD memory card. The industry-leading release time lag of approx. 0.008 sec minimum does not let you miss the shooting chance and help you to capture the spur-of-the-moment.
*The speed of the unlimited consecutive shooting varies depending on the SD memory card.
**The button also works for “delete� in playback mode.

Other Features
In addition to the ArcSoft PhotoImpression/PanoramaMaker/PhotoBase, another application software LUMIX Simple Viewer for Windows® is included. This software is good especially for the beginners to store, playback, print or attach to E-mail the images via PC readily. Images will be automatically transferred just by inserting the SD Memory Card or by connecting the camera to PC, and they will also be sorted by the date of shooting to streamline bothersome process as simple as possible.

Auto angle detection records whether an image was taken horizontally or vertically. This ensures that when playing back on the LCD monitor and displaying images on your TV by connecting your LUMIX with an AV cable, vertical images are automatically displayed vertically and horizontal images are automatically displayed horizontally.

The large LCD monitor will be turned off automatically while the camera is not in use to save the battery and extend the operation time. This is called Economy Mode and adjustable to two level according to your convenience.

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