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Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS37 Digital Camera Review

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS37 Digital Camera Review - The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS37 has Intelligent zoom, a smart touch screen and is put to the test by Daniel Bell.

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Category : Digital Cameras
Product : Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS37
Price : £179
Rating :
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Features
Handling
Performance
Verdict
Specification


Launched in January 2011, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS37 has a 16.1Mp sensor and 8x optical zoom which can be extended upto 18x thanks to the Extra Optical Zoom. The DMC-FS37 costs £179 and is available in silver and black.


Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS37: Features

The headline feature of the DMC-FS37 is the 8x optical zoom lens which can be extended to 18x thanks to the Extra Optical Zoom, although this takes pictures with a resolution of under 3Mp. If that's not enough the camera also has Intelligent Zoom which extends the range by an extra 1.3x.

The sensor has an impressive 16.1Mps, taking pictures is made easy by the Intelligent Auto mode and Mega Optical Image Stabilisation. The DMC-FS37 is capable of shooting at ISO100 - 1600 although this can be furthered to ISO6400 using the high-sensitivity scene mode.

There aren't many buttons to be found on the camera, the majority of the settings are changed via the 3in TFT LCD touch screen.

If you like to shoot videos then there is a 720p HD movie mode which can be uploaded easily onto YouTube and Facebook via a PC. The camera is also able to shoot videos in VGA (640 x 480).

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS37 battery compartment

Key Features

  • 28mm Wide-angle 8x Optical Zoom LEICA DC Lens
  • 16Mp sensor
  • 3in LCD touch screen
  • 10x Intelligent Zoom with Intelligent Resolution Technology
  • iA (Intelligent Auto) Mode with MEGA OIS (Optical Image Stabiliser)
  • HD Movie Recording (1,280 x 720 pixels at 24 fps in Motion JPEG Format)
  • ISO100 - 1600 (High Sensitivity mode ISO1600-6400)
  • 5cm macro mode
  • Scene modes: portrait, soft skin, transform, self portrait, scenery, panorama assist, sports, night portrait, night scenery, food, party, candle light, baby1, baby2, pet, sunset, high sensitivity, hi-speed burst, flash burst, starry sky, fireworks, beach, snow, aerial photo, pin hole, film grain, high dynamic and photo frame.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS37 back

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS37: Handling

The camera is easy to grip and the three buttons on the top are easy to press, with the button for the electronic zoom being a welcome addition. Press this one and the lens is extended to its longest optical length, press it again and it is set to the biggest digital zoom. Press it a third time and the lens goes all the way back to its widest.

  Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS37 Stylus Pen
  Stylus pen
  Burst    
  4:3 16.1Mp 0.66fps
  Flash burst    
  4:3 3Mp 1.1fps
  3:2 2.5Mp 1.1fps
  16:9 2Mp 1.1fps
  Hi-speed burst    
  4:3 3Mp 3.8fps
  3:2 2.5Mp 3.8fps
  16:9 2Mp 3.8fps
The touch screen is a bit of a let down, quite often buttons have to be pressed twice although this does get easier with practice. There is also a Stylus Pen which can be used if your fingers can't do the job. The best place to keep this would be on a key ring as it's bound to be easily lost. As well as changing settings you can chose a point of focus and take an image by pressing on the the touch screen.

Navigation of the menus can also be somewhat of a mystery at times. It mainly relies on pictures to represent what each setting means. Some are easy and logical to work out, however setting one of the various scene modes can involve a little work. Pressing and holding a symbol will give you an explanation of what it means, but if it's not the setting you're after it can be difficult to remove your finger without pressing the option.

The camera has several modes which take a set of pictures including burst, flash burst and high-speed burst. The latter two are only capable at a reduced image size.

During use the focus speed is quick and when in single shot mode the camera takes between 2 and 3 seconds in between shots.

The camera is ready to take pictures within a couple of seconds of switching on. The battery is capable of 250 pictures (CIPA Standard), during testing it was only charged once and showed no signs of running out of power.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS37 top

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS37: Performance

The DMC-FS37 produces great, well exposed images, faithfully reproducing colours and retaining plenty of detail while being easy to use. Panasonic's Intelligent Auto mode makes taking images extremely easy and produces excellent results consistently.

ISO and Noise Performance

Noise is handled really well by the DMC-FS37 at ISO100 and ISO200 with only slight signs of image quality suffering at ISO400. Noise is a touch worse at ISO800, then at ISO1600, the highest ISO that can be set manually, there is plenty of noise which has affected quality but the images are still quite good.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS37 iso100 Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS37 iso200 Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS37 iso400
ISO100, 1/3, f/4.8, 20mm (35mm equivalent: 112mm) ISO200, 1/6, f/4.8, 20mm (35mm equivalent: 112mm) ISO400, 1/13, f/4.8, 20mm (35mm equivalent: 112mm)
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS37 iso800 Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS37 iso1600  
ISO800, 1/25, f/4.8, 20mm (35mm equivalent: 112mm) ISO1600, 1/50, f/4.8, 20mm (35mm equivalent: 112mm)  

The DMC-FS37 takes excellent portrait images, whether using the flash or not although there was a tendency for a hint of red-eye when shooting with the flash. Skin tones are pleasing and the images are flattering for the model.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS37 indoor portrait   Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS37 outdoor portrait
Indoor portrait, 1/60, f/4.8, ISO400, flash on, 20mm (35mm equivalent: 112mm)   Outdoor portrait, 1/80, f/4.9, ISO320, 21mm (35mm equivalent: 118mm)
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS37 sport mode   Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS37 dynamic mode
Sport mode, 1/500, f/4.8, ISO320, 18mm (35mm equivalent: 101mm)   Dynamic mode, 1/1000, f/3.3, ISO400, 5mm (35mm equivalent: 28mm)

Using the sport mode the camera is able to capture the water droplets from the fountain although for subjects moving really fast the camera struggled to take sharp pictures. The Dynamic mode is an excellent feature which retains plenty of detail in the highlights and shadows.

With the DMC-FS37 there are many options when it comes to zoom. When using Intelligent Auto (iA) the 1.3x Intelligent Zoom is automatically applied so the optical range is 1-10x which can be extended to 22x using Extra Optical Zoom.

Put the camera into Normal Picture mode the Optical Zoom range becomes 1-8x, with 8-18x available using Extra Optical Zoom with can then be extended to 72x combining this with the 4x Digital Zoom.

Combined with the Mega Optical Image Stabilisation the 18-72x extra zoom is capable of taking pictures that you wouldn't typically be able to shoot using a compact camera. The images aren't going to make great large prints but they are certainly suitable for use on the web.

There is a minimum focus distance of 5cm and when switching the camera to Macro mode the camera takes superb close-up pictures, such as the daffodil below.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS37 1x with digital zoom on   Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS37 8x with digital zoom on   Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS37 18x with digital zoom on   Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS37 72x with digital zoom on
1x optical zoom, 1/250, f/3.3, ISO100, 5mm (35mm equivalent: 28mm)   8x optical zoom, 1/125, f/5.9, ISO250, 40mm (35mm equivalent: 224mm)   18x with extra optical zoom, 1/125, f/5.9, ISO320, 40mm (35mm equivalent: 224mm)   72x with extra optical zoom and digital zoom, 1/125, f/5.9, ISO320, 40mm (35mm equivalent: 224mm)
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS37   Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS37
Wide-angle using iA mode, 1/1000, f/3.3, ISO160, 5mm (35mm equivalent: 28mm)   Full optical zoom using iA mode, 1/250, f/5.9, ISO100, 40mm (35mm equivalent: 224mm)
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS37   Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS37 macro mode
Full digital zoom using iA mode, 1/160, f/5.9, ISO160, 40mm (35mm equivalent: 224mm)   Macro mode, 1/60, f/3.3, ISO320, 5mm (35mm equivalent: 28mm)

White-balance

Auto-white balance does a really good job and it's unlikely you'll ever need to move away from this setting. In our studio, AWB performance was particularly pleasing under the fluorescent lights.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS37 Auto white-balance in incandescent lighting   Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS37 Incandescent preset in incandescent lighting   Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS37 Auto white-balance in fluorescent lighting
Auto white-balance in incandescent lighting, 1/6, f/3.8, ISO100, 8mm (35mm equivalent: 45mm)   Incandescent preset in incandescent lighting, 1/6, f/3.8, ISO100, 8mm (35mm equivalent: 45mm)   Auto white-balance in fluorescent lighting, 1/2, f/3.8, ISO100, 8mm (35mm equivalent: 45mm)

Video Mode

The DMC-FS37 can record motion pictures in HD (1,280 x 720 pixels at 30 fps in Motion JPEG format) which can then be uploaded onto YouTube or Facebook via a PC. VGA videos (640 x 480) are also possible.

Sample video

Value For Money

Cameras with 16.1Mp sensors and 8x optical zoom are quite rare. The Nikon Coolpix S6100 has 7x optical zoom, 16Mp sensor and costs £199. If you are attracted by the extra zoom possibilities of the DMC-FS37 then you may want to consider the Sony Cybershot H70 which has a 16.1Mp sensor and a 10x optical zoom lens also priced at £199.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS37: Verdict

The DMC-FS37 is very capable of taking superb images as is typical of Panasonic's Lumix cameras, particularly thanks to the Intelligent Auto mode. If you don't desire a compact camera with a more than average optical zoom range then there are cheaper options that deliver a similar performance, such as the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS16. The results achieved with the full range of zoom are impressive and well worth the extra premium. The touch screen did prove to be troublesome at times and the menu system could be easier, but these should not deter you from purchasing the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS37.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS37: Pros

Lots and lots of zoom
Intelligent Auto mode gives great results
Auto white-balance performance
Noise is handled well throughout the range of ISO speeds

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS37: Cons

Touch-screen doesn't alway respond
Menu system is not the easiest to use

FEATURES
HANDLING
PERFORMANCE
VALUE FOR MONEY
OVERALL

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS37: Specification

Price £179.00
Contact www.panasonic.co.uk
Optical zoom 8x optical zoom, 5-40mm (28-224mm in 35mm equiv.), f/3.3-5.9
Resolution 16.1Mp
Sensor size 1/2.33in
Max image size 4608 x 3456
Aspect ratio 4:3
Focus points Normal / Macro, Zoom Macro, Quick AF (Always On), AF Tracking, Touch AF/AE
Focus distance 5cm
File types JPEG
ISO sensitivity ISO100 - 1600 (High Sensitivity mode ISO1600-6400)
Metering system Program AE
Exposure compensation 1/3 EV step, +/-2 EV
Shutter speed range 1/1600 - 8sec (Starry Sky Mode : 15, 30, 60sec)
Frames-per-second 1.7fps
Image stabilisation Mega Optical Image Stabiliser
Movie mode 720p HD
Monitor 3in TFT Touch Screen LCD Display
Media type 70MB Internal, SD, SDHC, SDXC Memory Card
Interface AV Output (PAL), USB2.0 High speed
Power Li-ion Battery Pack (3.6V, Minimum: 660mAh)
Box Contents Stylus Pen, Battery Charger, Battery Pack, AV Cable, USB Cable, AC Cable, Hand Strap, CD-ROM
Size 99.2 x 56.5 x 27.7 mm
Weight 159g (with battery and memory card)

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS37 costs £179.00 and is available from Warehouse Express here:

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS37

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Photographs taken using the Panasonic Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS37

SpiralAll quiet at the British museum
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