Other aspects of its shooting performance are excellent as well. Shutter lag is low at 0.4 second and 0.7 second in bright and dim lighting, respectively. From shot-to-shot without the flash you're waiting only 1.6 seconds; adding the flash drags that time to 3.8 seconds and is really the only slowdown you'll find. It's time from off to first shot is 1.9 seconds, which is average for its class.
As with just about every Panasonic compact camera we've tested recently, the FX700's photo quality can be very good to excellent up to ISO 200. Go above that and you'll get a significant increase in softness and noise. That's not good considering you'll likely need to use at least ISO 400 when shooting indoors. The f2.2 lens helps you keep the ISO lower, but even photos taken at ISO 100 aren't really sharp, and fine details are smeary when viewed at 100 percent. For printing at and below 8x10 inches with minimal cropping, its lower ISO photos are very good, but if you're expecting more because of the camera's price and feature set you may not be happy with its output. Plus, without an option to shoot in raw, you're stuck with Panasonic's JPEG image processing.
If you like to take close-ups, the FX700's Macro mode can focus as close as 1.2 inches from a subject. If you have plenty of light and use ISO 100, you can get nice results. Still, you may not want to print them much larger than 13x19 inches, as subjects start to look painterly.
Some barrel distortion is expected with a lens this wide, and it's present on the FX700. There is lens distortion in the corners, too, particularly the upper right corner on my review camera. There's also a slight bit of pincushioning when the lens is fully extended. There isn't a lot of fringing around high-contrast subjects. There is some, though like many of the issues with this camera, it's only really visible at 100 percent unless you're sensitive to it.
As long as you're shooting at ISOs below 400, colors are fairly accurate and overall rich and pleasing. Exposure is also very good. And if you're not happy with the results, there are controls for adjusting sharpness, contrast, saturation, and noise reduction. The auto white balance leaned toward too warm indoors, but there is a manual set option as well as a slider so you can quickly move between color temperatures.
One of the big selling points for the FX700 is its movie capabilities, and it delivers. The 1080i AVCHD clips are sharp with good exposure and color. However, because it's recording at 30 frames per second, panning the camera results in a lot of judder. The 720p video appears much smoother, though the video isn't as sharp. Low-light recording suffers from the same noise problems as in photos. The zoom does operate while recording, but its movement is picked up by the stereo mic. If you are recording in a very quiet environment, you will hear it in your movies.
With the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX700, what you're paying for is an abundant feature set in a compact, pocketable body. It does a lot of fun stuff, and generally it's fun to use, too. Certainly a larger, higher-resolution screen would add to the enjoyment. Its shooting performance is excellent for its size, and although all of its "Intelligent" features can get a bit confusing, they do help get the best possible results. The only part of the package that's a letdown is photo quality, in particular photos taken above ISO 200. However, that really depends on your needs and expectations.
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
|Time to first shot||Typical shot-to-shot time (flash)||Typical shot-to-shot time||Shutter lag (dim)||Shutter lag (typical)|
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
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