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Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS15 review

A 12-megapixel digital compact camera packed with hi-tech features

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The Panasonic FS15 is certainly a stylish looking digital camera – the brushed metal finish will please boys wanting a not-too-girly-looking compact. With a 5x optical zoom lens, 12-megapixel sensor and 2.7-inch colour LCD, you're good to go.

The first thing that strikes you when using the Panasonic FS15 is how small (only 97x54.4x21.7mm) and light (138g) it feels. We could easily slip this silvery beauty into our jeans pocket and leave it there unnoticed until we spotted a photo op. This means the buttons are also tiny, but you soon get used to using them.

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The second thing that hits you is how quickly the FS15 starts up. Switch it on and you're (almost) instantly ready to take photos. The LCD is bright and clear and, unless in very low light, it kept up with whatever we were trying to focus on, as long as you give the FS15 a second to display your chosen scene.

Leica lens

The Panasonic FS15 comes with a 5x optical wide-angle to telephoto Leica DC zoom lens (equivalent to 29-145mm on 35mm film camera) which was good for taking big landscape shots, then zooming in to focus on specific points of interest in your scenes.

The widest apertures on the lens are f/3.3 at the wide-angle end and f/5.9 at the long telephoto end. Both apertures are 'fast' enough to create fast shutter speeds for sharp shots in a variety of photographic situations.

Press the iA (intelligent Auto) button – the button on the top in place of where you'd normal look for the model dial – and you can leave the Panasonic FS15 to decide how to take photos for you.

The FS15 comes with a bunch of iA (intelligent Auto) functions to help you take photos quickly and easily. In iA the camera decides how to take the photo which best suits the situation using its Intelligent Scene Selector to automatically choose between i-Portrait, i-Scenery, i-Macro, i-Night Portrait and i-Night Scenery.

When using iA you only have options to change the picture size (12 to 2-megapixel), turn on the Burst mode and tweak the Colour mode, and then switch the flash off and use the 10-second self-timer. And that's all. Everything else the camera sets automatically for you. It is called iA after all.

Generally the FS15 picked the best iA Scene for our shots although it's frustrating that the camera always wants to fire the flash. However, it's easy to turn this off, so it's not a big problem.

Contrast and exposure

The iA function also includes Intelligent Exposure which is helpful when shooting in mixed lighting – such as bright skies and darker foregrounds – as it aims to automatically adjust the contrast and exposure so the shot comes out as the human eye sees it.

In iA mode the Panasonic FS15 automatically fires up the Face Detection AF (autofocus) mode, which aims to focus on people's faces when taking portraits or group portraits. Like other compacts we've used with Face Recognition, we found the FS15 did well to isolate and focus on faces most of the time.

Reduce camera shake

Like many modern compact cameras, the Panasonic FS15 has built-in image stabilisation – cunningly called Mega OIS (Optical Image Stabilizer) – which helps to reduce any camera shake issues for blur-free shots.

There is also Intelligent ISO Control which bumps up the ISO to reduce any motion blur problems. By upping the ISO the camera then increases the shutter speed to help you freeze whatever you're photographing for sharper shots. This worked after a fashion, but we found shots with an ISO over 400/800 appeared pretty noisy when we zoomed in. And shots of ISO 1600 suffered heavily for excessive grain. But for a £130 compact that's (unfortunately) to be expected.

Tech Specs

Product TypeCompact Camera
Battery Size SupportedProprietary Battery Size
Maximum Video Resolution640 x 480
Effective Camera Resolution12.1 Megapixel
USBYes
Product FamilyLumix FS
HD Movie ModeNo
Memory Card SupportedSecure Digital (SD) Card, Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC) Card, MultiMediaCard (MMC)
Image StabilizationOptical
ColourSilver
Optical Zoom5x
Digital Zoom4x
Brand NamePanasonic
Screen Size6.9 cm (2.7")
Video FormatsQuickTime Motion JPEG
Viewfinder TypeNo
Weight (Approximate)116 g
Flash Memory Capacity50 MB
Minimum Focus Distance50 mm
Maximum Image Resolution4000 x 3000
Maximum Frame Rate30 fps
Number of Batteries Supported1
Battery Built-inNo
Battery IncludedYes
Display Screen TypeLCD
Total Camera Resolution12.7 Megapixel
Height54.4 mm
Width97 mm
Depth21.7 mm
Autofocus Points11
Product SeriesFS
Focal Length5.60 mm to 26 mm
Image FormatsJPEG
Focus ModesAuto
ManufacturerPanasonic
Product ModelDMC-FS15
Product NameLumix DMC-FS15 Compact Camera
Product LineLumix
Aspect Ratio16:9
Manufacturer Part NumberDMC-FS15EB-S
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.panasonic.co.uk
Marketing Information

The DMC-FS15 features a 29mm wide-angle 5x optical zoom LEICA DC VARIO-ELMAR lens (35mm film camera equivalent: 29-145mm). Renowned in the film camera world for its superb performance and compact size, the LEICA DC VARIO-ELMAR lens inherits its outstanding quality and form. The 29mm wide-angle lens can be used to capture groups of people at parties and other indoor scenes, as well as magnificent architectural structures and landscapes. The 5x optical zoom allows you to capture distant subjects without degrading image quality.

Battery Life330 Shot
Package Contents
  • Lumix DMC-FS15 Compact Camera
  • Battery Charger
  • Battery Pack
  • Battery case
  • AV Cable
  • USB Connection Cable
  • AC Cable
  • Hand Strap
  • CD-ROM
Display Resolution230000 Pixel