Though it looks like just another dime-a-dozen 6-megapixel/3X zoom digital camera, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX3 has a handful of low-light extras that set it above the sea of snapshooters.
With Panasonic's MEGA Optical Image Stabilization and ISO 1,600 sensitivity, the FX3 has an edge over other point-and-shooters in low-light and action shots. These extra features pit the camera against the image stabilization-equipped Casio Exilim EX-Z600 and the ISO 1,000-capable Sony Cyber Shot DSC-W50. Like these and other low-end cameras, the DMC-FX3 has a 2.5-inch LCD but no optical viewfinder.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX3 's predecessor, the DMC-FX7, impressed us with solid optics and strong image quality, though it lacked a VGA movie mode, and its sensor could reach only ISO 400 sensitivity. The FX3 keeps the good parts of the FX7 and strips away the bad, with a full 30fps VGA movie mode and high ISO sensitivity. It keeps the FX3's 35mm-to-105mm-equivalent Leica lens, which, while not especially wide or fast, is well made. These improvements make the DMC-FX3 look like a fine successor to the FX7. The FX7 should not be confused with the Panasonic Lumix FX07, the FX3's 7-megapixel bigger brother.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX3 ships in September 2006 with a suggested retail price of $280.