Panasonic DMC FX33: Go to your happy place

The Panasonic Lumix DMC FX33 is an 8-megapixel camera with optical image stabilisation in a tiny package that takes us to our Bruce Willis-inspired happy place

In a dank, dark dungeon in the Tower of London (well, a conference room) Panasonic yesterday previewed its new Lumix DMC-L10 dSLR camera and MyPlace Web site. The site, in association with World Heritage, encourages you to submit photos of your favourite place in Britain. This started us Cravers dreaming of our happy place, and it involved beer, a 110-inch LCD projection TV and Die Hard on HD DVD.

When no-one was looking, we also managed to snaffle one of only 30 Lumix DMC-FX33s in the UK, and this puts us in a very happy place indeed.

A Leica 3.6x zoom lens does the looking, with a pleasingly wide 28mm equivalent, as opposed to the typical 35mm or disappointing 38mm on some compacts. An 8.1-megapixel 1/2.5-inch sensor does the capturing, with a Venus Engine III image processor doing the brainwork.

Face detection is in there, and if you're feeling lazy, you can activate Panasonic's new Intelligent Auto function, which acts like Pentax's 'green mode' to gently pluck all control from your quivering fingers and do everything except press the shutter for you.

There's not an ounce of fat on the FX33. The LCD display is the usual 64mm (2.5 inches), although Panasonic compensates for not giving us a bigger screen by making the camera itself little larger than the screen. Apart from the small area to the right of the display where the controls sit, the FX33 is all screen, with no wasted real estate.

The impressive 22mm depth, flush-folding lens and long, low profile make the FX33 seem more like a mobile phone in size and shape. All this makes it even more impressive that the camera packs in MegaOIS optical image stabilisation, shifting the camera's inner bits so your jittery hands don't shake up your image. We're off to our happy place.

Update: A full review of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX33 is now available. -Rich Trenholm