Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH25 -
Editors' note: Almost all of the design, features, and shooting options--including the camera's imaging sensor, processor, and lens--are identical between the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH25 and the
There are a lot of people out there who simply want an affordable camera that takes a decent picture in auto, has some extra zoom power, and can still be slipped in a pocket. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH25 is just that. With camera manufacturers trying to jam in as many features as possible in some models, the FH25 is notable for having only one big feature: an 8x, 28mm wide-angle lens. The rest of it is pure point-and-shoot backed by Panasonic's reliable Intelligent Auto (iA) mode, a healthy selection of scene modes, and 720p HD movie capture.
|Key specs||Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH25|
|Dimensions (WHD)||3.9x2.2x1.1 inches|
|Weight (with battery and media)||5.6 ounces|
|Megapixels, image sensor size, type||16 megapixels, 1/2.3-inch CCD|
|LCD size, resolution/viewfinder||2.7-inch LCD, 230K dots/None|
|Lens (zoom, aperture, focal length)||8x, f3.3-5.9, 28-224mm (35mm equivalent)|
|File format (still/video)||JPEG/Motion JPEG (MOV)|
|Highest resolution size (still/video)||4,608x3,456 pixels / 1,280x720 pixels at 24fps|
|Image stabilization type||Optical and digital|
|Battery type, CIPA rated life||Li-ion rechargeable, 250 shots|
|Battery charged in camera||No; external charger supplied|
|Bundled software||PhotofunStudio 6.0 (Windows), Super LoiLoScope (trial version; Windows)|
The FH25's photo quality is good to very good, but people expecting to be wowed by its 16-megapixel resolution may be disappointed. Though subjects look somewhat soft from the get-go, there isn't much difference from ISO 100 to ISO 400. That means shots taken in good lighting are quite nice and thanks to Panasonic's "Intelligent" technology, you can pretty much leave it in auto and get solid results. It isn't until you go above ISO 400 that things noticeably decline--especially at larger sizes--with smeary details and yellow blotching from noise. If you need something for great low-light shots, this isn't your camera. It does have low-light shooting modes, but the results are really only good for emergencies because of heavy noise reduction and off colors. Then again, if you just need shots for small prints and Web use, the high-ISO results might be acceptable.
Color is pleasing and natural. If you like your colors more saturated, you can switch from the camera's Standard color mode to Vivid when shooting in Normal Picture mode or Happy in Intelligent Auto. Colors are consistent up to ISO 400; there's a noticeable color shift at the two highest ISO sensitivities. Other than the auto white balance being a touch warm under incandescent lighting, white balance is good. Exposure is likewise good and Panasonic's Intelligent Exposure feature improves dynamic range and limits blown-out highlights. (Note: This photo quality analysis is for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH27. The FH25 uses the same sensor, processor, and lens as the FH27 and as such we expect it to perform identically.)
Video quality is on par with a basic HD pocket video camera; good enough for Web use and nondiscriminating TV viewing. Panning the camera will create judder that's typical of the video from most compact cameras. The zoom lens does not function while recording, but you do have a digital zoom. I suggest not using it as the results are not pleasant.
|Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH25|
|ISO sensitivity (full resolution)||Auto, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1,600|
|White balance||Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Shade, Incandescent, Manual|
|Recording modes||Intelligent Auto, Normal, Scene, MyScene, Movie|
|Focus modes||Multi AF, Macro AF, AF Tracking, Touch AF|
|Macro||1.9 inches (Wide); 3.3 feet (Tele)|
|Metering modes||Face, AF Tracking, 11-area Multi, Spot, Touch area|
|Color effects||Standard, Vivid, Natural, Black & White, Sepia, Cool, Warm, Happy (only in iA Mode)|
|Burst mode shot limit (full resolution)||100 shots|
The FH25's shooting options are fairly bare-bones; it's definitely geared for people who prefer to shoot in auto. In the Mode menu you'll find Panasonic's Intelligent Auto, which handles just about everything for you, as well as a Normal Picture mode that gives you the most control over results, with settings for focus, color effects, white balance, ISO, and exposure compensation. If you like scene modes, the FH25 has 27 of them. The list includes familiar modes like Portrait, Sunset, and Night Scenery, as well as High-Speed Burst for action and High Sensitivity for low-light photos (both capturing images at 3 megapixels and below). You get a few creative shooting modes such as Pinhole and Film Grain to experiment with. A MyScene option is also available, letting you associate a favorite scene mode with a spot in the shooting modes. Lastly, there is a Movie mode capable of capturing video in up to 720p HD resolution.
While I wouldn't recommend the FH25 for regularly shooting active kids and pets, the camera is pretty quick for its class, especially in terms of shutter lag and autofocus. The time from off to first shot is very good at 1.3 seconds. The shutter lag in bright conditions (how quickly a camera captures an image after the shutter-release button is pressed) averaged 0.3 second in our lab tests and just 0.6 second in dim lighting. Its shot-to-shot times are good, at 1.6 seconds without the flash and 2 seconds with it. The FH25 can shoot at full resolution at up to 1.1 frames per second with focus and exposure set with the first shot. The camera's 3-megapixel High-Speed Burst mode can capture at up to 4.4fps. The quality is fairly mediocre, suitable for Web use or small prints with little or no cropping or enlarging. (Note: This shooting performance is for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH27. The FH25 uses the same sensor, processor, and lens as the FH27 and as such we expect it to perform identically.)
The FH25's design isn't all that different from its predecessor, the FH20. Panasonic basically added a sliver of a grip on the front right so you have something more than the brushed metal body to hold on to. On top are the power switch, shutter release, and zoom ring, and the E.Zoom button. That last one quickly zooms the lens completely out with one touch. However, press it again and it activates the extended optical zoom that basically crops the 16-megapixel image down to its center 3 megapixels. This is not a true optical zoom, but a variation of a digital zoom, making its name misleading. Press the button a third time and the lens goes back to its starting position.
In lieu of the 3-inch touch screen on the slightly higher-end FH27, the FH25 has a 2.7-inch LCD and all the physical controls you'll typically find on a point-and-shoot camera. On the back, to the top right of the LCD, is a switch to go from shooting to playback. Below that, to the left, is a Mode button followed by four navigational buttons that double as exposure, flash, macro, and timer controls, and a Menu/Set button that will bring up the rest of the camera settings. There's also a Display button for changing what information is visible on screen. Again, it's all pretty simple. The only confusing bit may be the Quick Menu button (Q.Menu) on the back at the lower right. This button gives you quick access to mode-specific shooting options, so you can do things like change picture resolution without diving into the main menu.
On the right side of the body is a small door concealing the only output: a Micro-USB/AV port. The battery and memory card slots are on the bottom, protected by a locking door. Battery life is good, CIPA-rated for 250 shots; using the zoom and shooting video will put dents in that life, though.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH25 is a good walking-around camera, something you just stick in your pocket and use when you're out for the day and want to be able to capture some moments here and there. Someone doing a lot of indoor or low-light shooting or trying to capture active kids and pets might not be happy with it, but it's otherwise a solid choice and an excellent value.
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