Check out an examination of photo quality from the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH20, a budget-friendly 14-megapixel compact featuring a 28mm-equivalent wide-angle lens with an 8x zoom.
Overall photo quality is very good from the FH20, though anyone planning to make prints larger than 8x10 inches will be less happy with the results. Like most cameras in its class, the FP8 produces its best photos below ISO 200. The results are still good at ISO 400, but there's an increase in noise that causes yellow blotches. Detail is strong and subjects are sharp, though, so larger prints and a reasonable amount of cropping are possible. Photos at ISO 800 and ISO 1600 are of limited use. While there's still a fair amount of detail, there's a lot of graininess, color shifting, and yellow splotches throughout pictures.(View larger.)
For people who like to shoot close-ups, the FH20 can focus on subjects as close as 2 inches. The camera focused on the flower in this shot and you can really see the fine detail. It's sharp without looking really oversharpened.(View larger.)
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 FH20's photos are good enough to give you some flexibility when cropping. Just don't expect to make poster-sized prints afterward.(View larger.)
The camera's lens does exhibit some barrel distortion at the wide end (top) and a slight amount of pincushioning when fully extended (bottom). Center sharpness is very good and there's little-to-no drop off out to the sides or in the corners.
It's typical to find some fringing in high-contrast areas of photos, such as around the tree limbs and leaves in this photo. (The top is a 100 percent crop from the bottom photo.) 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. (View larger.)
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. Also, 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, though I missed having the Intelligent Exposure feature on Panasonic's higher-end models.(View larger.)