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Cameras

Hands-on with the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS5

The 10-megapixel Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS5 boasts a 4x zoom, wideangle 30mm lens and a plethora of interesting features including an instant zoom and quick autofocus

This week, we've got our hands on the 10-megapixel Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS5. Panasonic has rocked our Crave world since the TZ3, and this latest arrival from PMA is shaping up to be just as popular.

Focal length is equivalent to 30mm on a 35mm film camera, which is nice and wide for a compact. The 64mm (2.5-inch) LCD screen detects the lighting around you and controls brightness levels to compensate. Other details include a zoom collar rocker -- a rounded zoom control that surrounds the shutter button -- and an easy zoom button that leaps to the full 4x optical zoom at the touch of a button.

This isn't the prettiest compact on the market; it probably isn't even the prettiest Panasonic. Our silver model isn't that exciting, but the camera is also available in black and red flavours. It's not skinny, either: the raised screen bezel makes it twice the width of the Casio EX-S10 we were wowed by recently, but it's still pocketable. Most importantly, it's absolutely rammed full of features.

Panasonic's Mega OIS is one of the best image stabilisation systems around. It's joined in new models by an autofocus system that gives you options such as face detection and a quick AF system, which constantly looks for something to focus on instead of waiting for you to press the shutter button halfway.

Look out: here comes some science! Panasonic is trumpeting the new Venus Engine IV image-processing doohickey that does the backend mental heavy lifting. It boasts improved dual noise reduction, which works on luminance -- that's light -- and chromatic -- that's colour -- signals entering the camera. Pesky low-frequency noise is thus eliminated from the image, while the edges of each patch of colour are minutely determined to do away with colour bleeding.

The upshot is that typically noisy high ISO speeds look better in low-light situations, and detail is not lost at lower ISO speeds. As always, we'll be testing this in our forthcoming exhaustive review with such cutting edge techniques as Voight-Kampff colour transcopification, Laurel-Hardy contrast testimolography and taking it to the pub.

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS5 is available online for around £180. -Rich Trenholm

Update: Read our full Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS5 review