Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH20 review: Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH20

Panasonic's Sonic Speed AF system gives the FH20's shooting performance a boost in shutter lag (at least in bright lighting), but overall the camera is average for its class. The time from off to first shot is very good at 1.4 seconds. The shutter lag in bright conditions (how quickly a camera captures an image after the shutter-release button is pressed) averaged 0.4 second in our lab tests. However, in dim lighting it jumps to an average 0.9 second. Its shot-to-shot times are slow, though, at 2.4 seconds without the flash and 5.2 seconds with it. The FH20 can shoot full-resolution bursts of up to five shots at 1.1 frames per second. The camera's 3-megapixel Hi-Speed Burst mode can capture at up to 4.6fps. The quality is fairly mediocre: suitable for Web use or small prints with little or no cropping or enlarging.

Overall photo quality is very good from the FH20, though those 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. Though there's still a fair amount of detail, there's a lot of graininess, color shifting, and yellow blotches throughout pictures.

The camera's lens does exhibit some barrel distortion at the wide end and a slight amount of pincushioning when fully extended. 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. 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. 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.

The HD video quality is good--basically on par with HD minicamcorders. The biggest problem is there's noticeable judder when panning the camera; this happens with most point-and-shoot cameras, though. You don't get use of the optical zoom while recording, but you do get the optical image stabilization.

Panasonic's Lumix DMC-FH20 isn't very exciting, but it is a very good value for those in need of a basic point-and-shoot with a midrange zoom.

Shooting speed (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Time to first shot  
Typical shot-to-shot time (flash)  
Typical shot-to-shot time  
Shutter lag (dim)  
Shutter lag (typical)  
Fujifilm FinePix JZ500
2.7 
2.8 
2.8 
0.6 
0.4 
Nikon Coolpix S6000
0.8 
3.1 
1.7 
0.7 
0.4 
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH20
1.4 
5.2 
2.4 
0.9 
0.4 
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W370
2.3 
4.2 
1.9 
1.6 
0.8 

Typical continuous-shooting speed (in frames per second)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH20
1.1 

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Where to Buy

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH20 (Blue)

Part Number: DMC-FH20A

MSRP: $199.95

See manufacturer website for availability.

Quick Specifications See All

  • Digital camera type Compact
  • Optical Zoom 8 x
  • Optical Sensor Type CCD
  • Sensor Resolution 14.1 Megapixel
  • Image Stabilizer optical (MEGA O.I.S.)
  • Optical Sensor Size 1/2.33"