Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH5 review: Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH5

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Typical Price: $249.00
3 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Compact form factor. Decent battery life.

The Bad Very poor video performance. Blown-out highlights and lacklustre image quality. Few features compared to other cameras in this price bracket.

The Bottom Line Unless you need a slimline, bare-bones camera, steer clear of the FH5 and get one of the many more pleasing options in the Lumix compact range.

6.7 Overall

Design and features

Editor's note: this camera is the same as the Lumix DMC-FH2, with the differences being a higher resolution sensor (16-megapixels on the FH5 vs. 14-megapixels on the FH2) and a shorter battery life (260 shots on the FH5 vs. 270 shots on the FH2).

This bare-bones slimline camera isn't going to turn too many heads with its design, given that it's encased in a brushed metal finish with precious few buttons and dials to get stuck into. Along the top sit a shutter button, zoom rocker and the power switch, while at the back things are even more simple with a 2.7-inch, 230,000-dot screen flanked by menu and control buttons.

Taking up a tiny footprint thanks to its 1.8cm depth, photographers with larger hands might find the controls just a tad too dainty. Take, for example, the switch that changes between playback and camera modes — so tiny you need to get a fingernail into it. Elsewhere on the spec sheet, top-line numbers are pretty consistent with a camera in this price-range, with a 28mm wide-angle lens, optical image stabilisation and 4x optical zoom. Inside is a 16-megapixel CCD sensor, in front of which sits a Leica-branded DC lens with a slow maximum aperture range of f/3.1-6.5.

Within the camera, options are kept very simple, with just intelligent automatic, normal picture, scene modes and movie mode to choose from. Colour modes available include the now-Panasonic regulars of "happy" (saturates colours), black-and-white, sepia and standard colour. Connectivity is via a single AV/proprietary mini-USB out, and the FH5 uses a rechargeable lithium-ion battery with SD/SDHC/SDXC cards.

Performance

General shooting metrics (in seconds)

  • Time to first shot
  • JPEG shot-to-shot time
  • Shutter lag

Continuous shooting speed (longer bars indicate better performance)

  • Panasonic Lumix FH50.9
  • Sony Cyber-shot W5700.5

Panasonic rates the battery of the FH5 at 260 shots.

Image quality

Given the Leica-branded lens, we had high hopes for the FH5. Unfortunately, our hopes were dashed on looking at the test images that we took on this camera. Colours were dull, highlights were blown and the lens exhibited flaring issues when there was a lot of light present in our photos. Macro performance was lacklustre, and even low ISO levels produced images that, when observed at full magnification, looked noisy and over-processed. Like other cameras of the 16-megapixel variety, there's definitely no need to pack so many pixels onto such a tiny sensor.

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