The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX9 may look like just another ultra-compact camera, but it has one feature that none of the competition has: image stabilization. Most people thing that’s only useful for ultra zoom cameras, but that’s not the case at all. The FX9’s OIS system will give you sharper photos in lower light conditions than a camera without it. That, along with the FX9’s other nice features, makes it a camera that I can definitely recommend.
The DMC-FX9 is an ultra-compact camera with a body made mostly of metal. It’s well built for the most part, save for the cheap plastic door over the memory card and battery compartment. The camera fits well in the hand, and it’s easy to operate. Like most cameras in this class, the FX9 features a 3X optical zoom lens. If you lower the resolution to 3 Megapixel you can take advantage of Panasonic’s extended optical zoom feature, which boosts the total zoom to 4.1X. Another feature commonly found on ultra-compact cameras is a large 2.5″ LCD display, and the FX9 has one of those too. The screen has been greatly improved since the FX7, with superior sharpness and low light visibility. The camera doesn’t have an optical viewfinder, though, which may or may not bother you.
For the most part the DMC-FX9 is a point-and-shoot camera. The only manual control is custom white balance (with a fine-tuning feature) — and that’s a handy one to have. The camera is easy to use, with plenty of scene modes and simple menus. If you need something even easier, put the camera into “simple mode” and you’re set. The FX9’s burst and movie modes are quite good. The burst mode lets you take up to six photos in a row at 2 - 2.6 frames/second, or you can keep shooting until the memory card fills up at a slower 1.1 frames/second. The FX9’s movie mode is much better than on the FX7, and it’s now competitive with other cameras in this class.