Panasonic Lumix DMC-FP3 review: Panasonic Lumix DMC-FP3

Though it boasts Panasonic's Sonic Speed AF system, the FP3's shooting performance is pretty average. The one thing it does do fast is start up; slide down the lens cover and fire in 1.1 seconds. The shutter lag in bright conditions (how quickly a camera captures an image after the shutter-release button is pressed) averaged 0.5 second in our lab tests. However, in dim lighting it only increased to 0.7 second, which is good. Its shot-to-shot times are slow, though, at 2.8 seconds without the flash and 4.5 seconds with it. The FP3 can shoot full-resolution bursts up to five shots at 1.1 frames per second. The camera's 3-megpixel Hi-Speed Burst mode can capture at up to 4.6fps. The quality is fairly mediocre: suitable for Web use with little or no cropping or enlarging.

Photos produced by the FP3 are OK for casual snapshots in bright conditions, but if you plan to do a lot of shooting indoors or in low light you should pass on this camera. At and below ISO 200, photos have little noise and good fine detail despite being somewhat soft. It isn't until ISO 400 that noise and noise suppression soften details and create yellow blotching. Unfortunately, this is the starting point for indoor shooting. They'll be good enough for smaller prints with minor cropping and Web use. At ISO 800, photos take on a soft, painterly appearance and the yellowing gets more noticeable; detail is pretty much gone. At ISO 1,600, photos are for the most part unusable, because they are covered in faint yellow splotches along with a good amount of noise. The FP3 has a High Sensitivity mode for really low-light situations. It uses ISOs from 1,600 to 6,400 and captures at resolutions up to 3 megapixels. The results are not good, but will do in a pinch if you can't use the flash.

Photos are at their sharpest when the camera is in macro. Sharpness is good at the center, but gets softer out to the sides and corners. There is minor barrel distortion at the lens' widest position. There is the tiniest bit of pincushion distortion when the zoom is extended, but it's basically imperceptible. Purple/blue fringing is minimal in high-contrast areas, too. It's only really visible when photos are viewed at 100 percent.

Color is pleasing and natural, but not accurate. 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.

The HD video quality is good, basically on par with HD minicamcorders. The biggest problem is there's noticeable judder when panning the camera or shooting fast-moving subjects; 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.

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FP3 is an OK snapshot camera. Its best qualities are its attractive design and easy operation. However, that easy operation is reliant on a touch-screen that is ultimately frustrating to use if you want to do anything fast. If you're patient and your photos are destined for online sharing or you take all of your photos with plenty of light, the FP3 is passable.

Shooting speed (in frames per second)
(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)  
Nikon Coolpix S640
1 
2.7 
2.4 
0.8 
0.4 
Canon PowerShot SD1400 IS
1.5 
4.9 
2.7 
0.7 
0.5 
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FP3
1.1 
4.5 
2.8 
0.7 
0.5 
Canon PowerShot SD1300 IS
1.4 
4.7 
3 
0.7 
0.5 
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W350
1.9 
3.9 
3.1 
0.7 
0.4 

Typical continuous-shooting speed (in fps)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

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Quick Specifications See All

  • Digital camera type Ultracompact
  • Optical Zoom 4 x
  • Optical Sensor Type CCD
  • Sensor Resolution 14.1 Megapixel
  • Image Stabilizer optical (MEGA O.I.S.)
  • Optical Sensor Size 1/2.33"
  • Lens 35 - 140mm F/3.5