Compact cameras that pack impressive zoom power are all the rage. Such devices are arguably a must-have for anyone heading abroad who wants to travel light but still capture decent photos. Panasonic has led the charge with its impressive , and now it's packing big zooms into its 'fashion and style' FS range.
But, when the compactlanded at CNET UK recently, we found a fair few flaws. Will its more modest sibling, the Lumix DMC-FS30, fare better? It dispenses with its sibling's touchscreen and is slightly more affordable, at around £140.
Touchscreen be gone
In the past, we've never been totally convinced by Panasonic's 'best of both worlds' approach with its FS-series cameras that paired a touch-sensitive screen with physical controls. It came across as something of a gimmick, as you couldn't wholly rely on the touchscreen.
There's none of that nonsense with the metal and plastic FS30. There's very little temptation to touch the 69mm (2.7-inch), 230,000-pixel screen. It's a boxy camera with decently sized buttons. If you gave a child a crayon and asked them to draw a camera, they'd probably come up with something resembling the FS30. What you see is what you get.
The FS30 also packs a 14.1-megapixel resolution and a folded, optically stabilised, 8x zoom into its otherwise unassuming exterior. You don't get an HDMI output, which would help you make the most of its 720p, hi-def, 30fps video-shooting capability, but the camera does offer standard AV and USB outputs.
The FS30 feels solid. With a weight of 162g and dimensions of 100 by 57 by 28mm, it slips readily into a trouser pocket or handbag.
It takes just over a second to power up the camera, ready for the first shot. As with the FS33, the FS30's focal range is a wide-angle 28-224mm in 35mm film terms. The lens retracts into the body and is protected by a sliding cover when powered down.
The FS30 also has the same 14.1-megapixel, 1/2.33-inch CCD sensor at its core. It offers 40MB of internal storage, allowing up to 15 images to be shot and saved, so you'll want to expand the memory with an SD, SDHC orcard. Committing a maximum-resolution JPEG to memory takes all of 3 seconds, which is average for this class of camera.