We would walk 500 miles for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX500, and possibly even walk 500 more. Well, maybe drive that far -- we're not the fittest folk in the world. It's just that the £250 FX500 has 500 effects on us, and in fact they all come down to one thing: we're very excited. We first this 10-megapixel point-and-shoot camera at Easter, and now we've got our hands on it, we see it's as sweet as we'd hoped.
It would probably be quicker to list the things it doesn't do, in compact camera terms, than to list the things it does. But we're going to give you the highlights of this feature-rich little snapper, along with plenty of pictures of the FX500 in action.
The FX500 boasts a 1/2.33-inch CCD sensor. The lens is aligned by Panasonic's proven Mega OIS system to defeat the blurry effects of camera shake. Contrast, sharpness, saturation and noise reduction can all be tweaked. Another feature we enjoyed playing with is the 60 second long shutter option, for interesting low-light shooting. You'll need a tripod for that, mind, even if you do follow the Crave photography masterclass and improvise one out of a wine glass, some gaffer tape and a 1983 Blue Peter annual.
The sharp-eyed among you will notice that we haven't even got to the FX500's two biggest features. Click though the links for more, and photos. -Rich Trenholm
Update: Read our full Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX500 review.
Admittedly, it doesn't look all that from the front. The brushed aluminium face is quite fetching, but it's still boxy -- although the cherry-red version is prettier. There's that unwieldy silver bar for the right hand to grip that Panasonic has been Panasonic constant too: a Leica lens. This one is a stunningly wide 25mm wide-angle lens, making this one of the widest compacts going. As if that wasn't enough, it also packs a 5x optical zoom, making this an extremely versatile snapper. And that's not the only headline feature...on . But there's another
Things hot up even more round the back. This 76mm (3-inch) LCD screen puts modes at your fingertips: it's a touchscreen, and a rather good one. Choose from scene modes like portrait or landscape or food -- if you want to -- by lightly tapping the screen. When shooting, lock focus on to a particular object or person, and have the camera track them around the frame as you move the camera. In playback, tapping zooms and sliding your finger swooshes around the image. And it gets better...
Touchscreens and sliders and manual exposure are made for each other. Unlike other touchscreen compacts, monkeying with exposure doesn't involve tapping at either end: you actually slide the slider handles with your finger. It's responsive enough to deal with stops, the increments that exposure is measured in, although we have to admit we're less keen on the slightly-too-recessed mini-joystick.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX500 is out now for £250 -- for more, check back soon for our full, in-depth, no holds-barred, no button-unpressed review. You'll thank us.