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Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS33 review: Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS33

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The Good Impressive build quality and finish; good value for money; long zoom range.

The Bad Basic 720p movie mode; lens shows some softness at maximum zoom; half-hearted touchscreen interface.

The Bottom Line The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS33 is far from perfect. The movie mode's disappointing, Panasonic's made a half-hearted stab at implementing a touchscreen interface, and the lens could be better. But the FS33 still delivers good pictures, excellent build quality and a very wide zoom range for a camera of this size and price

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8.3 Overall

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Panasonic's FS-series cameras are designed to be simple but classy, and that describes the 14.1-megapixel Lumix DMC-FS33 perfectly. But it still packs a few surprises, notably an 8x wide-angle zoom that Panasonic's somehow managed to cram into a slim, elegant body. That makes the camera's £160 price tag look even more tempting.

Feels pricier than it is
The FS33 arrived at the same time as the Lumix DMC-FS30 and, in case you're wondering, the only difference between them is the size of the display -- it measures 75mm (3 inches) on the FS33, and 69mm (2.7 inches) on the FS30.

What's interesting about the FS33 is that it's almost a compact superzoom, yet it's much cheaper and smaller. There's not much practical difference, after all, between an 8x zoom and a 10x zoom.

Ouch. There's some strong barrel distortion in this shot, although the quality is very good otherwise. The FS33 strikes an excellent compromise between noise reduction and smoothing, too (click image to enlarge)

The FS33 combines a simple, elegant design with a top-class finish and excellent materials. It feels like it should cost more than it does. It's pleasing and responsive in use, too. Panasonic says it's worked on the start-up time, using 'parallel' rather than conventional 'linear' processing so that the camera is ready to shoot in just under a second after you push the power switch. Panasonic's new 'sonic speed' autofocus is fast too, and very nearly up to Sony Cyber-shot standards.

This camera has a touchscreen interface, so you can focus in the normal way or tap on the screen to choose your focus point. Tapping the screen doesn't take the picture as well -- you still have to press the shutter button -- but it's a quicker way of choose the focus point than using directional controllers.

You can't completely control the FS33 with its touchscreen -- you'll have to use its physical buttons too

The picture quality is rather good too. It's best not to expect much from these 14-megapixel sensors, but Panasonic seems to have overcome the usual image-processing issues, combining good textural detail rendition with effective noise control. ISO 800 is dodgy and ISO 1,600 is just a step too far, but the FS33 delivers pictures that are well above average right up to ISO 400.

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