Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS15

This is an example of a compact camera done right. With its stylish looks and relatively good specs list, the Lumix FS15 won't disappoint unless you're looking for HD video and manual controls.


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While it's not loaded with features like other cameras in the 2009 range from Panasonic, the Lumix DMC-FS15 is a good enough snapper in its own right to eat into the stylish-but-functional market that Canon's IXUS cameras hold in their merciless grip. If you are looking for a simple, go-anywhere point-and-shoot, the FS15 won't disappoint.

Design

It takes a little while for your eyes to warm to the style of the FS15 but just like a good wine, the silver, black or blue design gets better with age. It's relatively spartan on the front, with a slim flash unit nudging into the top of the large lens towards the right side of the 118g camera.

It wore an eensie weensie, teeny weeny, yellow polka dot ... intelligent Auto button. (Credit: Panasonic)

Along the glistening back sit the standard four-way directional buttons, but turn your attention for just a moment to the top where you'll find the power switch (dainty as can be), the shutter and zoom rocker, and this new button that looks almost comically out of place. It's Panasonic's attempt at making the shooting mode selection fairly easy — press the button (denoted with iA for intelligent auto) and you can immediately swap between automatic mode, and not so automatic mode.

Be prepared to enter into a draconian battle with the zoom rocker, for it has enough resistance in it to defend a small nation. If only Panasonic could borrow a little of the stiffness from here and implement it in the other cameras we recently had issues with, the FT1 and TZ7, it would totally resolve their unreliable and far too smooth mode dials.

Apart from this temperamental piece of metal, it's difficult to find fault with the rest of the design of the FS15. The tripod mount isn't located directly under the lens, but that's a minor issue considering that most cameras in this class suffer the same problem.

Features

All the usual suspects fill out the specifications sheet, from a 12.1-megapixel sensor to a 2.7-inch LCD screen. We do like that the FS15 tends to engage in a friendly bit of one-upmanship against its competitors, with a 29mm lens (against the equivalent 35mm or so on other compacts in this class) and a 5x optical zoom. Note the standard Leica optics in that lens, too.

Amateur Sherlocks will value the FS15 too with a slew of detection modes, from subject to shake to motion to face to scene to light. Though we're a little unsure on the necessities of all these, especially listing them individually, they are a part of the features list nonetheless. The tagline that comes attached to the camera is "Trust iA", and given the relative limitations in shooting modes you have very little option but to trust the camera's automatic settings.

Unlike the higher-end models in Panasonic's range, there is no HD video on the FS15, which is slightly disappointing.

Performance and image quality

The FS15 is surprisingly agile, starting up in just 1.1 seconds. The rest of the performance stakes follow suit, with quick shot-to-shot time and little evidence of shutter lag.

In terms of the images this silver bullet can produce, expect the standard sharpness from the Panasonic/Leica combination, with nice pleasing colours that aren't too saturated. Barrel distortion at both ends is kept under control nicely so there's no need for any post-processing. Noise control too is very good, with the only real noticeable grain coming in at ISO 800 and above. ISO 1600 is, as expected, pretty messy, but not as eye-achingly bad as many other compacts in this class.

Click image for a larger version of our noise chart of the FS15. (Credit: CBSi)

Chromatic aberration exhibits itself mostly as purple fringing around objects, but it's not too prominent and you can certainly get a usable shot from most high contrast situations, especially at a smaller print like 10x15cm.

Another surprise is how the FS15 copes really well with macro (both automatically detecting when to activate it in iA mode, and when shooting). A rather cute (and somewhat tacky) inclusion in playback mode is the ability to view slideshows of your photos set to the sweet musak of natural, slow, swing or urban-themed tunes.

Conclusion

This is an example of a compact camera done right. With its stylish looks and relatively good specs list, the Lumix FS15 won't disappoint unless you're looking for HD video and manual controls.

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Beattyknb
1
Rating
 

Beattyknb posted a review   

It has frozen three times, and now seems unrecoverable. So is my investment, as it is one month out of warranty. I have taken fewer than 400 pics. It's a piece of junk. A bargain that doesn't work reliably is NOT a bargain. I'm buying a Canon!

ogion
2
Rating
 

ogion posted a review   

The Good:an ok happy snapper at the start............

The Bad:deteriorates very quickly

we brought this camera just before my daughter was born, it took lovely snaps at the start but after 2500 pictures (8 months) it is now so bad, its shocking. its almost unusable, it has light issues and focusing issues, its shutter speed seems to now be too slow although how can that happen ??? you tell me. very dissapointed to say the least. my mate brought one at the same time as mine and he hated his from the start.

 

Tony I posted a comment   

I am no camera pro. My last camera was a fuji 3 mp which was difficult to load to my computer and took so so pics so if you are a novice as I am, this is for you. So far, I have had this camera for a week. I have found it easy to use, taking pics, & loading them to my computer. Once I learn the fine art of all settings, Im sure I will be very happy. I got mine with all the extras for $150.00 at J& R Music.I really wanted a Canon but I read many reviews of fatal lens errors rendering the camera useless and I saw it on floor demos and that scared me off to Canon. I Love the size, the color, and so far, the ease of use. Have not tried the video as of yet. From 1-10, 10 being the best for the money. I'd rate this an 8 so far!I reasearched other cameras for over a month and chose Panasonic!

 

Emma posted a reply   

hey (:
i have this camera and i noticed you said it was easy to load them on to your computer and im having alot of trouble with that, could you explain how you're uploading your photos?
Im trying to use the grey cord because my priter doesnt work with that memory card, i bought a new card but i still have some very important photos on there.
This is what i have tryed:
1. plugging the thumbdrive type cord in (the grey one) into my laptop and then turning my camera on, but nothing comes up.
and 2. plugging the same cord into my TV because my brother did that once before and it worked but it doesn't work for me and hes away camping with his friends and my parents are anti-technology.

Im normally very good with computers so im find this extreamly frustrating so your help would be greatly appriciated.

Thank-you.

 

Beattyknb posted a reply   

Use a USB card reader. They are inexpensive. Some computers have one built-in

 

Dr Shoy posted a comment   

The Good:Great photos and great battery life

The Bad:flash is super bright in eyes for portrait shot

great camera

Newbo
9
Rating
 

Newbo posted a review   

The Good:Stylish, easy to use, compact, nice zoom facilities, really lightweight, great pics

The Bad:a few buttons seem a bit flimsy

We have just bought the blue one, it looks very stylish. We love the burst facility & the self portrait mode also works well! takes great pictures.

 

Barney posted a comment   

The Good:lots of settings and really easy to use

The Bad:none, at it's price it is fantastic

great photos and at a cheap price. what more could you want.

Star
9
Rating
 

Star posted a review   

The Good:Easy to use, not a lot of button, good pictures

The Bad:Haven't found anything yet

I just got the camera today, and so far i am definitely happy with it, its very easy to use: figured out how to use it without reading the instructions. It takes pretty good pictures. and Overall I'm happy with my purpose and I would recommend this to anyone who wants a good camera at a low price

 

hotdiggeydog posted a comment   

looks like a good canera. Thanks for the reviews guys. Just one ?, when you use the red eye flash does this camera flash twice quickly or oe long flash then takes the pic. Thanks for any imput


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User Reviews / Comments  Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS15

  • Beattyknb

    Beattyknb

    Rating1

    "It has frozen three times, and now seems unrecoverable. So is my investment, as it is one month out of warranty. I have taken fewer than 400 pics. It's a piece of junk. A bargain that doesn't w..."

  • ogion

    ogion

    Rating2

    "we brought this camera just before my daughter was born, it took lovely snaps at the start but after 2500 pictures (8 months) it is now so bad, its shocking. its almost unusable, it has light issue..."

  • Tony I

    Tony I

    "I am no camera pro. My last camera was a fuji 3 mp which was difficult to load to my computer and took so so pics so if you are a novice as I am, this is for you. So far, I have had this camera for..."

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