CNET examines the photo quality and features of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH27, a budget-friendly 8x, 28mm-equivalent wide-angle compact with a 3-inch touch screen.
These are 100 percent crops from our test scene. The FH27's photo quality is good to very good, but pixel peepers will likely be unsatisfied. Photos are soft even at its lowest ISO sensitivities, but they are consistent up to ISO 400. That means shots taken with plenty of light are quite nice. It isn't until you go above ISO 400 that things get noticeably softer when photos are viewed at larger sizes. Quite a bit of color noise is introduced, too, so things just don't look great, with smeary details and yellow blotching. There are low-light shooting modes on this camera, but the results are really only good for emergencies or at very small sizes. The 16-megapixel resolution is a bit of a waste on this camera; it will buy you more room for cropping or enlarging below ISO 200, but that's about its limit.
The FH27 performs pretty well in macro for shooting close-ups. It can focus as close as 2 inches from a subject and results are generally sharp with very good fine detail. However, when viewed at 100 percent, pictures show noise even at ISO 100.
While the FH27 is by no means as fast as Panasonic's more expensive point-and-shoots, it did pretty well in our performance tests. It can shoot at full resolution at up to 1.1 frames per second with focus and exposure set with the first shot.
The 8x, f3.3-5.9, 28-224mm lens (35mm equivalent) gives you a nice range for framing shots. While the results at 100 percent aren't nearly as sharp and detailed as its macro shots, the FH27's photos are good enough to give you some flexibility when cropping. Just don't expect to make poster-sized prints afterward.
The camera's lens does show minor barrel distortion at the wide end and a slight amount of pincushioning when fully extended. Center sharpness is very good and there's just a little softness out to the sides and in the corners. It's typical to find some fringing in high-contrast areas of photos, but there is almost no fringing visible in photos taken at the lens' widest position, though it does show up at the telephoto end. However, it is only really visible when photos are viewed at full size.
Color is pleasing and natural. If you like your colors more saturated, you can switch from the camera's Standard color mode to Vivid when shooting in Normal Picture mode or Happy in Intelligent Auto. Colors are consistent up to ISO 400; there's a noticeable color shift at the two highest ISO sensitivities. Other than the auto white balance being a touch warm under incandescent lighting, white balance is good. Exposure is likewise good and Panasonic's Intelligent Exposure feature helps improve dynamic range and limits blown-out highlights.
If you want to experiment, Panasonic offers a few of its creative-minded scene modes. On the left are examples of the FH27's Pin Hole and Film Grain modes. On the right from top to bottom are its High Dynamic mode options: Standard, Art, and B&W.