In summary, the Panasonic FS15 is an affordable, reliable and responsive pocket-sized compact camera. With a 12-megapixel sensor you can capture good-sized images (4,000x3,000 pixels, fine for A4 prints, just about okay for A3 prints), the 5x optical zoom lens gives you a good range of focal lengths, while the 2.7-inch LCD is clear and quick enough to focus for a £130 compact.
The Normal Picture mode as it enabled us to take control. You can't go as far as setting the aperture – budget compacts rarely provide this manual shooting option - so you're invariably shooting in the widest f/3.3-5.9 apertures (depending on if you're at the 1x or 5x optical zoom end of the lens).
This is ideal for blurring backgrounds when taking portraits of macro shots, and as long as the camera focused on something deep into the scene, these apertures were fine for capturing landscapes that are sharp from foreground to background.
It's quick to start up, nice to handle, the LCD is a good size and image results generally were good. We even liked the choice of music that played when watching slideshows of our images.
We didn't like
As with compacts at the cheaper end of the scale, focusing on the LCD could be slow, and the Panasonic FS15 can take a while to adjust the exposure when moving from bright to dark lighting conditions. And then when you press the shutter button, there's another slight delay which means you can sometimes miss the shot – so it's not perfect for photographing any sports or action.
There's no mode dial and this is more a camera for those who want to leave it full auto mode. All of the camera's buttons are very small, which might annoy some, although we did soon get used to them.
Although you can record 'motion pictures', they're low resolution at 848x480 WVGA size. Images also suffered from a lot of noise when the camera bumped up the ISO to anything over ISO 400 (and up to ISO 1600).
At this price, you can't go far wrong with the Panasonic FS15. You're getting a reliable 12-megapixel camera with a 5x optical zoom that takes (mostly) top shots, and it'll fit unnoticed in your pocket making it ideal to take out wherever you go.
It's easy to operate and if you're feeling lazy, leave it in iA mode, if you want to take control switch to Normal Picture mode, either way the Panasonic FS15's a fun compact camera to own.