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Panasonic’s new Lumix DMC-FX01 digital camera efficiently squeezes a 6MP resolution, a 3.6x optical zoom, and an MEGA Optical Image Stabilizer feature all into a very lightweight and extremely compact body. The DMC-FX01 doesn’t disappoint, offering numerous upgrades on older FX models, and then some.

While still maintaining the same compact body size as past models, one major difference is that the DMC-FX01 incorporates a 28mm -102 mm (35mm equivalent) 3.6x optical zoom Leica DC lens. This allows for wider shots, whether you are shooting group table shots at a wedding, wide mountainous landscapes or massive architectural structures.
The lens is comprised of seven elements in six groups, incorporating four aspherical lenses to generate high optical performance. The zoom ratio can be extended up to 5x in 3MP resolution mode with minimal deterioration, thanks to the Extra Optical Zoom feature. By using the central part of the CCD, this very powerful function allows you to easily shoot and magnify even the most distant subjects. The zoom is also quiet, smooth, and swift.

Panasonic has long been at the forefront of image stabilization technology, which the company first developed for its camcorder products many years ago. The DMC-FX01 utilizes dual image stabilization modes: MEGA Optical Image Stabilization (O.I.S.), and High Sensitivity Mode. The MEGA O.I.S. compensates for shaky hands to give you steady, focused images. We liked the High Sensitivity mode, which allowed us to shoot at sensitivity settings up to ISO 1600. This is an added benefit for indoor photography where you might be shooting at faster shutter speeds.

The DMC-FX01 offers the same sturdy, elegant design as previous models in the series. Our test unit featured a stylish silver metallic finish, but in some areas, the camera is also available in black, pink, and white.

The overall layout of buttons and controls is quite good on such a compact unit. The large, bright 2.5-inch screen takes up most of the back of the unit. The zoom, shutter, optical image stabilization and power controls are located on the top of the camera, all within easy access. Located on the back are the menu controls and the mode dial, which allow you to select from normal, macro, simple, scene, movie and playback modes. The unit also offers a Power LCD function, which helps you see the screen even on the sunniest of days. All you need to do is hold the Display/LCD button down a little longer and then select Power LCD mode from the screen. The LCD backlight gains up to approximately 1.4 times brighter to produce clear, easily viewable images, even in bright sunlight.

As far as speed goes, the DMC-FX01 incorporates the Venus Engine Plus LSI for high performance image processing while still going light on the battery. We found it to have a remarkably quick AF response time, especially in 1-point high speed AF mode.

If you’re into scene modes, the DMC-FX01 offers a whopping 18 different options, including: Scenery, Sports, High Sensitivity, Portrait, Night Portrait, Night Scenery, Self Portrait, Food, Fireworks and Starry Sky. When you select the mode you want, the camera automatically sets the exposure and white balance settings for you. The video mode has the ability to record at 30fps in standard TV format. In addition, users also have the ability to shoot motion video in a widescreen format-ideal for viewing on the newest widescreen televisions.

Panasonic has really done their homework the last few years to become a major player in the digital camera arena. If you are looking for a tiny, take-anywhere digital camera that captures great photos and features dynamite Leica optics, look no further than the Panasonic DMC-FX01.

What’s Hot

28mm wide-angle 3.6x optical zoom Leica DC lens
Mega Optical Image Stabilization
3 Aspect Ratio Shooting Options
Sharp LCD Screen
Solid, Stylish Construction
Good Movie Mode
Miniature size, Lightweight body

What’s Not

Some Noise Issues
No Viewfinder

Key Specs

Lens: Leica DC Vario-Elmarit Lens: 7 Elements in 6 Groups (4 Aspherical Lenses/4 Aspherical Surfaces)
Digital Zoom: 4x
Selection of 3 Aspect Ratios: The aspect ratio is easily selectable between 16:9 wide, 3:2 and conventional 4:3 to shoot in the framing aspect that best suits the subjects’ composition or the image’s purpose of use
Battery Life: CIPA estimate of 320 on a single charge of the unit’s Li-ion battery pack (3.7V, 115mAh)
Dimensions: 3.70 W x 2.02 H x 0.95 D inches
Street: $349.95
What’s in the Box?: The 6MP Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX01 digital camera, battery charger, Li-ion battery pack, battery carrying case, SD memory card (16 MB), AV cable, USB cable, CD-ROM software, strap, 108 page printed operating manual