Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX50 review:

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX50

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Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX50K (Black)

(Part #: DMC-FX50K) Released: Sep 1, 2006
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3 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Optical image stabilization; large LCD; solid build quality.

The Bad Mediocre photo quality; some controls too small.

The Bottom Line A decent camera, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX50 is held back by less-than-decent photo quality.

6.6 Overall
  • Design 7.0
  • Features 7.0
  • Performance 7.0
  • Image quality 5.0
It's not easy being a 7-megapixel snapshot camera. You have to be fast, cute, cheap, smart, and talented just to get noticed. If you're lucky, your company will give you a clear spot in the lineup with your siblings; if not, you've got to duke it out with a cheaper version of yourself. By these standards, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX50 has a hard life. Forced to share a spot in the line with the marginally less-expensive, nearly identical DMC-FX07, which comes in a peacockish array of colors, the DMC-FX50 has only its slightly larger, 3-inch LCD to jazz up its black (DMC-FX50K) and silver (DMC-FX50S) bodies. And though it has a few things going for it--it's stylish and smart--its poor photo quality and nondescript performance leave it destined to be a wallflower.

It's not just attractive, it's smartly designed. A highly legible menu system with the occasionally helpful descriptor (under Aerial Photo, it cautions Please turn off the camera when taking off or landing) plus a large joystick control make it easy to use and navigate, no matter how challenged your eyesight or coordination. The buttons are a bit small, on the other hand, and some features you'll probably never discover without the manual. For instance, you can tweak the white balance presets toward red or blue, which you get to by selecting the up arrow--exposure compensation--three times.

For operation, you have a choice among automatic, more automatic (a Simple mode with plain-English options), and preset automatic (18 scene modes, including the aforementioned Aerial Photo for shooting from airplane windows and two Baby modes, which store a birth date each for age-stamping your kids' photos). It has two automatic ISO setting modes, the typical mode which optimizes for the scene exposure, and Intelligent ISO, which also takes into account subject motion, and therefore selects from a higher set of ISO speeds. Other Panasonic niceties include optical image stabilization and an LCD High Angle mode for shooting overhead. The lens is a limited 28mm-to-102mm, 3.6x zoom, though the wide-angle certainly comes in handy for vertical applications, such as real estate.

Click here for more on the FX50's design and photo quality.

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