The FH25's shooting options are fairly bare-bones; it's definitely geared for people who prefer to shoot in auto. In the Mode menu you'll find Panasonic's Intelligent Auto, which handles just about everything for you, as well as a Normal Picture mode that gives you the most control over results, with settings for focus, color effects, white balance, ISO, and exposure compensation. If you like scene modes, the FH25 has 27 of them. The list includes familiar modes like Portrait, Sunset, and Night Scenery, as well as High-Speed Burst for action and High Sensitivity for low-light photos (both capturing images at 3 megapixels and below). You get a few creative shooting modes such as Pinhole and Film Grain to experiment with. A MyScene option is also available, letting you associate a favorite scene mode with a spot in the shooting modes. Lastly, there is a Movie mode capable of capturing video in up to 720p HD resolution.
While I wouldn't recommend the FH25 for regularly shooting active kids and pets, the camera is pretty quick for its class, especially in terms of shutter lag and autofocus. The time from off to first shot is very good at 1.3 seconds. The shutter lag in bright conditions (how quickly a camera captures an image after the shutter-release button is pressed) averaged 0.3 second in our lab tests and just 0.6 second in dim lighting. Its shot-to-shot times are good, at 1.6 seconds without the flash and 2 seconds with it. The FH25 can shoot at full resolution at up to 1.1 frames per second with focus and exposure set with the first shot. The camera's 3-megapixel High-Speed Burst mode can capture at up to 4.4fps. The quality is fairly mediocre, suitable for Web use or small prints with little or no cropping or enlarging. (Note: This shooting performance is for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH27. The FH25 uses the same sensor, processor, and lens as the FH27 and as such we expect it to perform identically.)
The FH25's design isn't all that different from its predecessor, the FH20. Panasonic basically added a sliver of a grip on the front right so you have something more than the brushed metal body to hold on to. On top are the power switch, shutter release, and zoom ring, and the E.Zoom button. That last one quickly zooms the lens completely out with one touch. However, press it again and it activates the extended optical zoom that basically crops the 16-megapixel image down to its center 3 megapixels. This is not a true optical zoom, but a variation of a digital zoom, making its name misleading. Press the button a third time and the lens goes back to its starting position.
In lieu of the 3-inch touch screen on the slightly higher-end FH27, the FH25 has a 2.7-inch LCD and all the physical controls you'll typically find on a point-and-shoot camera. On the back, to the top right of the LCD, is a switch to go from shooting to playback. Below that, to the left, is a Mode button followed by four navigational buttons that double as exposure, flash, macro, and timer controls, and a Menu/Set button that will bring up the rest of the camera settings. There's also a Display button for changing what information is visible on screen. Again, it's all pretty simple. The only confusing bit may be the Quick Menu button (Q.Menu) on the back at the lower right. This button gives you quick access to mode-specific shooting options, so you can do things like change picture resolution without diving into the main menu.
On the right side of the body is a small door concealing the only output: a Micro-USB/AV port. The battery and memory card slots are on the bottom, protected by a locking door. Battery life is good, CIPA-rated for 250 shots; using the zoom and shooting video will put dents in that life, though.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH25 is a good walking-around camera, something you just stick in your pocket and use when you're out for the day and want to be able to capture some moments here and there. Someone doing a lot of indoor or low-light shooting or trying to capture active kids and pets might not be happy with it, but it's otherwise a solid choice and an excellent value.
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