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38 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on April 29, 2006
I normally don't write product reviews, but this camera is outstanding. I have wanted to get into more serious photography but don't want to have to lug around an SLR everywhere I go. I'd rather have something I can take anywhere. May get an SLR at some point, but right now I really don't care.

My first digital cam was a Nikon Coolpix 880, which had great manual features and excellent imaging/color. Only problem was the 3.2mp resolution and the fact that I might as well carry around a brick. I bought a Canon SD450 and took it to Panama. I was really disappointed. Generally, Canon photos are sharp with great color. The camera had washed out colors and was susceptible to some serious blur. My friend and I agreed that our girlfriends' Canon A400's (possibly the best 3.2mp camera for novices) took much better photos than this one. Some of the photos actually looked as if they were taken on a video camera. The battery life was tolerable (about 140 pics) but I decided to take it back and get the Panasonic.

The DMC-FK01K takes the best digital photos I've seen outside SLRs. The colors captured by this camera will make your jaw drop. It's that good. I'm surprised at the number of photos I've taken which make me feel like a good photographer. The stabilization feature helps out a lot with blur, but it won't fix everything. The video taken with this thing is incredible and will give you almost 20 minutes of 840 pixel-wide resolution (albeit mono audio) video with great detail on a 2GB high-speed SD card. My friend bought one on the same day as me and told me his is taking some incredible photos in Las Vegas right now. Knowing how this camera does its job, I would have been willing to pay $450 for it.

Rather than do a long, drawn-out diatribe, I'll just list all the fantasic things about this camera, plus a couple of MINOR drawbacks. I have always liked Panasonic products and this is the best one I've seen so far. Prepare to buy lots of fast memory (up to 2GB) - it will be worth it.

ADVANTAGES:

1. Incredible picture quality, particularly colors, with great definition. 3.6X optical zoom makes a big difference, compared with 3.0X.

2. Wide-angle Leica lens is great. 3:2 and 16:9 picture modes take great photos and make you see your prospective photos much differently.

3. Stabilization prevents most blurred photos (read up on how sophisticated this feature is at leica.com via panasonic.com link).

4. Very small - less than 1/2" wider than the Canon SD450. The screen sticks out a bit, so you will a screen protector.

5. Beautiful design - the flat black body with silver/chrome trim looks very cool, like an old camera.

6. Outstanding battery life. I've taken almost 100 photos and some video, and the battery still shows full. People are reporting almost 300 photos before recharging.

7. Great widescreen (mono sound) video - 2GB SD card gives up to 20 minutes at highest resolution, 30fps.

8. Enough near-manual modes to do what is needed (if you buy a small tripod for nightshots - the only way to take night photos, the pictures will turn out amazing).

9. Gorgeous LCD screen with a daylight feature and a great mode which allows you to see the screen when you hold it above your head.

DISADVANTAGES:

1. Image stabilization is not perfect all the time, but is certainly much better than not having it. Helps a lot with video.

2. You can't zoom while you're taking video, so you need to know your shots and anticipate edits.

3. Make sure you're careful of the power switch when putting it in your pocket.

Move over, Canon.

rob
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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on July 1, 2006
Didn't really know what to expect given long term relationships with Canon and Sony. Also, some of the reviews were less-than-stellar on various websites so I entered into purchase with cautious optimism. Mind you, I am not a photographer, but I am always concerned with quality and wanted a camera that fits my point and shoot needs, but is capable of a little more seriousness if needed. I would use it for family vacations, family events and to shoot landscapes for email transmission at work. I purchased the camera on a Wednesday and our family left for vacation on the following Friday. That didn't leave me much time to become familiar with the camera before having to really rely on it. No problem. Out of the box the camera is fairly simple and easy to understand. If you've owned any digital camera before, you'll find navigation simple and straightforward. The screen on camera is awesome, large and bright and I found the menus to be logical. The camera seems a perfect weight as it is not too heavy, but has some heft to give it a solid feel. The black color is fantastic, it is very cool to look at. It is small and light enough to carry in a cargo short pocket without bogging you down. Just make sure you give the camera its own pocket so you don't risk scratching the LCD. The camera has a very quick response time when you power it on and you are instantly ready to shoot. At 6 MP it is almost overkill. I don't make large prints and if I shoot photos at 6MP, they seem so large they are cumbersome to email -many at a time. Regardless, when shooting at 6MP, my untrained eye sees magnificent photos. I'm sure real photog guys could find flaws, but to me none were apparent. Night shots, could pose some challenges, but again, I think unrealistic expectations are part of that. The flash does not cast too far, so if you are shooting in low light at some distance - don't expect a great result. I would think a camera of this size will always have similar downfalls. After reading some reviews I was afraid I wouldn't be able to take quality shots at night. Not the case at all. I have some fantastic night images and some mediocre night images that I just don't think a camera of this stature can handle. Certainly not a problem for me and my intended use. Image stabilization was noticeably good and the ability to select settings appropriate to the scene was useful. The "Easy Mode" allows those without any camera savvy (my 12 year old daughter) to shoot basic photos with ease. The battery life on this camera is stellar. I bought an extra battery for our vacation and didn't even use it until the third day! Battery life was a big concern in cameras past - but not any more. One thing that was a pleasant surprise was the camera's ability to shoot video. Don't get too excited - it's not going to replace your video camera any time soon, but for shooting 30-60 second clips to send to friends or add personality to your vacation album, I was truly impressed. I shot a video clip of our roller coaster ride. My wife and son sat in the first car and I held up the camera to caputure their impressions. Granted, I was jostled and jolted as the wooden coaster took violent shots at me, but the video was surprisingly great. Perhaps today's cameras on this level are all capable of similar feats, but I just couldn't believe it. Overall, I rate this product 5 Stars. Maybe it's a testament to how far technology has come in the last 4 years since my last digital camera purchase. Maybe it's an indictment of the quality of my last camera and how I'd gotten used to mediocrity. I could not be more pleased with this camera. It is ready when I am, lasts a long, long time in between charges, takes great photos, takes great video clips, is small and light, has a wide angle lens, brilliant LCD, image stabilization that really works and sensible menus and settings - what more can I say?
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48 of 51 people found the following review helpful
on March 24, 2006
I got my FX01 recently from Amazon and have played with the camera for a few hours. I also own a Sony W5. The FX01 is a big step forward from the W5:

1) It is much smaller. In terms of volume, the FX01 is about half that of the W5.

2) The optical image stabilizer works, to some degree. I took pictures with both cameras, at about 1/15 speed; the picture from the FX01 is sharper.

3) Movies from the FX01 are steadier and easier on the eyes because of the image stabilizer.

4) The movie resolutions are more flexible: All three resolutions can be either 10fps or 30fps.

5) It uses the less expensive SD card.

6) It has a slightly wider angle lens (2.8), which comes handy when taking group pictures in a small room.

7) It has a bigger LCD (2.5”). However, unlike the W5, the FX01’s LCD protrudes out from the back; a screen protector film is definitely needed.

The only thing I don’t like about the FX01 is the proprietary battery. AA batteries won’t fit in the small body of the FX01. However, I purchased two compatible rechargeable batteries from a vendor at Ebay for only $7.99, which should provide ample power for most day trips.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on May 25, 2006
Wow I love this little camera. Finally a 28mm (35mm equivelent) zoom lens in a really compact body. I've always kept 2 cameras - one little and portable, for quick shots and videos of the kids, and one large and bulky for high-quality, wide-angles, landscapes, architecture, and portraits. I think I'm finally ready to ditch everything in my camera drawer and consolidate on this little Panasonic. This camera addresses virtually every complaint I've had about my past 5 digital cameras.

Pros:

- wide angle lens in a very compact body

- very sharp and bright 2.5" screen - MUCH better than the Canon SD450

- great picts

- great videos

- very rapid response - quick turn-on, quick shutter, quick turn-off

- solid construction, feels good in the hand

- easy to use - buttons and menus are well thought-out and intuitive

- battery life is exceptional

- Anti-shake really seems to work

- surprisingly inexpensive - more bang for the buck compared to comparable models from Canon et al

Cons (I'm hard pressed to criticize this camera)

- lack of zoom ability during videos is annoying

- like most non-SLRs, it is basically impossible to attach filters to the lens (I like to occassionally use a polarizer, and my previous wide-angle camera, the Nikon 8400, also great but far bulkier, has threads that allow you to attach filters)
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on May 20, 2006
After several weeks of online shopping for a digital camera I chose this Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX01. I was looking for a camera to replace my long-time love - a Canon Sureshot, that I'd used for over 20 years! I've had a couple point-and-shoot cameras in between but nothing came close to the great pictures and simplicity of use as that little Canon. I am by no means a professional photographer or techo-wise person, I just wanted a very small point-and-shoot camera to carry in my purse that required little fuss to take great photos of my family doing family things.

My layman's opinion of this camera is that for the price (I paid less than $300), it delivers all that I was searching for. The size is perfect for me, about the size of a pack of cards but at the same time "weighty" enough to hold on to. I like the metal housing and the black color looks great! Various reviews report the battery life to be exceptional and I find this true. I've gone two full days of picture-taking, transferring to PC, vido-shooting, reviewing shots and experimenting with settings with plenty of battery life left. (My last HP digital camera would take less than 16 picures before crying for more juice....arrrrrgh! so battery life was an issue for me) The control buttons are conveniently placed, except I have accidently turned off my OIS a couple times. Avoiding this problem is just a matter of practice on my part.

BTW, the OIS....that is what sold me on this camera! I'm embarrassed to say I was unaware of this feature until I'd started shopping, then I decided I had to have a camera with it. I was all set to buy one of the pricy Canons with IS when I found this Panasonic decided to try it based on reviews I'd read, as well as the great price. My opinion is that this feature is indispensible. Who couldn't use a little help with camera shake? The LCD display is 2.5 inches with brilliant resolution. The menu and controls are so easy to manuver, I'll soon be able to leave my hard-copy manual at home. I especially like the "simple mode" which just displays the very basic features for quick point-and-shoot. The more manual settings are close at hand in those situations where I want more control of my shots.

More advanced reviews of the 6MP, Leica lens, optical zoom capabilities, 15+ scene modes, etc are also out there but I can just tell you that for my use, this camera takes great pictures and is easy to use.

I'll make a couple recommendations for accessories. Get those plastic film screen protectors for that nice big display. They are so cheap and worth every cent to protect it. I also bought a 1 Gig memory card and a semi-hard protective case so the camera wouldn't get squashed in my purse.

You'll love the Panasonic DMC-Fx01. Enjoy.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on July 13, 2006
I wanted to surprise my wife with a new compact camera with some updated features since her beloved Canon SD200 is getting a bit old (although still reliable). We just had our 3rd child, so I felt she could take better pictures with a better camera.

I researched extensively and decided on the Panasonic Lumix FX01. As a bonus, it came in pink....my wife's favorite color.

This camera has some great features like the image stabilizer and 28mm wide angle view. It's also a compact camera (like the SD200) which is a requirement for my wife. A majority of the reviewers liked the camera...for its size, you get some amazing features. For me, the biggest selling point was the wide angle lens (a Leica lens) and 6 megapixels.

When I got the camera, it was fancy looking....All metal construction with a large screen on the back. The menus are easy to use, and there's a simple mode for those that just want to point and click.

I am meticulous about comparing and testing, so I put the SD200, FX01, and my personal Sony DSC-V1 side by side and took over 100 pictures inside with flash and outside in sunlight.

I expected the FX01 to have amazing pictures, but I was actually disappointed. Some of the shots looked slightly out of focus compared to the other cameras' shots.

We take mostly inside shots of our kids with the flash on, and the FX01 did mediocre compared to the other cameras. I noticed the pictures got very dark when I used the zoom. The SD200 had some noticeable noise in some shots, but the FX01 was not much better and was worse at times. My Sony V1 did the best, but this was more of a comparison with the compact cameras.

Pitting the SD200 vs the FX01, I looked for good picture quality....and these cameras rated about the same to me. I looked for sharpness and good focus, and the FX01 just didn't impress me. Of the 100 shots, SOME of the FX01 pictures were better (skin tone and detail), but more were slightly out of focus and dark. Even with all the fancy features of the FX01, I did not feel completely satisfied that it was a better camera than the SD200 because of the image quality....so I'm returning the FX01 today.

I give it 3 stars for its great set of features but only average image quality for indoor shots with flash. I wanted very badly to like this camera, but after all the testing I finally had to admit that it's not a better replacement to our SD200.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on July 1, 2006
I also have a 4MP Canon Ixus 400, and a Canon Pro1. My Ixus is getting on a bit, takes forever to focus, has a screen the size of a postage stamp, takes horrid movies and is twice as fat as this Panasonic. The latest Ixus models address all these things, but don't have the wide-angle lens I love on the Pro1.

The Panasonic FX01's photos aren't as good, if you look at them critically, as my much older Canon Ixus 400. They come out a (little) bit dull and lifeless, don't look quite as sharp, just don't have the same depth of quality.

BUT, the thing is, unless you look closely in Photoshop, or make big enlargements, you're unlikely to see the difference. If you make typical size prints, or view slideshows, you'll be very happy I reckon. And despite Panasonic's reputation for `digital noise', I haven't found it to be an issue (compared with my Canons) up to ISO200, the maximum the camera uses in auto ISO mode.

GOOD STUFF

The wide-angle lens is really good for getting more in when you're standing close to something. Don't underestimate how useful this is.

The image stabiliser makes a real difference when the light gets low (though I found it doesn't help much if you turn the camera on its side to take a portrait or something).

The screen is really sharp, like a mini plasma screen. There's a `bright' mode that makes the screen easy to see in bright light, although you have to go into a menu to select it, and it cancels itself after 30 seconds.

Movies are nice and smooth and look close to real video when you play them through your TV. You can take higher res widescreen ones too, but if you don't have a widescreen TV, don't bother because they look worse on a standard TV. I bought a 2Gb SD card and you can get 22 minutes video on it (less in widescreen).

It's really, really easy to use. The menus are perhaps even better than Canon's menus. An absolute pleasure to use.

Very small, light, slim, stylish, nicely made. Will impress your friends.

Battery seems to last quite a long time, if you enable the economy mode.

Spot focus mode very useful for macros and difficult subjects. Focusing generally reliable and there's an assist light for dim conditions.

Pretty fast to focus and take photos, and fast to switch on and off.

Metal tripod mount.

The black version (mine) isn't just painted black: the black stuff is grippy and slightly rubbery.

BAD STUFF

No optical viewfinder. I still miss that.

There's no panorama stitch mode like on my Canons, and no way to lock exposure like on them either, so don't count on being able to make decent panoramas even in Photoshop.

No spot metering option.

Sometimes I get blurry photos for no apparent reason, like the focus hasn't worked. Doesn't happen often but it's annoying.

Despite claiming to use high speed USB 2.0 transfer, if you download straight from the camera to your computer it takes AGES. Use a card reader.

The screen doesn't have a surround to protect it. So if you lay the camera on its back, you're laying it right down on the screen.

Tiny flash is weak.

High sensitivity mode produces paintings, not photos! A gimmick I think.

No manual control over aperture and shutter.

CONCLUSION

Probably not quite the best ultra compact, though not far off. But it has a wide angle lens and that's the killer because only the hard to find and generally compromised Ricohs have that. If I hadn't wanted a wide angle lens in particular, I would probably have bought a Canon or Fuji. This doesn't even come close to my Pro1, but my Pro1 doesn't fit in my pocket!
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on June 5, 2006
A few months ago, I realized that I had very few family outing pictures over the last couple of years. The reason was that nobody wanted to lug around my digital SLR, even though it was an outstanding camera. The answer was to buy a good camera that fit into my pocket.

After a lot of research, I settled on the Lumix DMC FX01 -- primarily for the image stabilization, the lense quality, and being able to do 28mm. I couldn't be happier with it.

The camera itself is well made and sturdy (with the exception of the door covering the USB connection: it's a bit flimsy). The display is bright and very easy to read. The menus are simple, readable, concise, and don't depend on too many glyphs :-)

The pictures are great, especially outdoors. You do have to learn your camera a bit to take good indoors and low-light photos. I advise experimenting a bit before your kid's birthday party. Remember that you can reduce the shutter speed very effectively with image stabilization, and that helps a great deal with low-light situations.

Image quality is excellent unless you go over ISO 400. At higher ISO speeds, there's a fair amount of noise in the image.

Overall, for a point and shoot camera that fits in my pocket, I'm extremely pleased with the Panasonic. I reviewed Casio, Canon, and Fuji prior to buying this camera and after owning it for a couple of months, I can say that I would make the same choice again.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Wow! This is great! I have a panasonic SLR that does GREAT pics, but this is great for convenience and does a great job. You still get a better pic with the SLR's (of course) but this is nothing to laugh at. I picked one up for $270 new and LOVE IT. It is really tiny but has alot of features, and better zoom. I had a canon SD200 before and this is TONS better than the cannon with a better zoom and better battery life, better everything...and it has image stazilizer!~
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on September 5, 2006
I love this camera. I originally bought it for my wife but I've been using it more than she has. The wide-angle lens is great and I value it much more than a big zoom. It's great for close-up shots, group photos, and landscapes. The 16:9 format is great for landscapes, sunsets, etc. The display is clear and bright but a little slow.

Overall, I'm very happy with the picture quality but there is quite a bit of noise in low light situations and the exposure control is sometimes unpredictable. I also can't seem to get the flash to work just right. If you're too close it washes out the subject and if you're too far it's not effective at all.

Overall I would definitely recommend this camera.
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