The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS33 isn't the sleekest or lightest compact camera for its price range, but given that its housing an 8x optical zoom within its body (and of course it's still perfectly pocketable) we can forgive that small misgiving.
Also on board is a 14.1 megapixel sensor, HD video recording (720p), ISO range from 80-1600 (6400 expandable) and a touch-screen LCD.
There's a minimal number of buttons on the rear of the camera, instead much of the operation can be carried out via the LCD touchscreen. The on-off toggle switch, rather than button, is quicker and easier to use than many other compacts, while the shutter release and zoom switch both feel solid.
On the top of the camera you'll also find a dedicated iA button, a handy button when you want to quickly revert to automatic settings in a hurry, or for everyday users unconcerned with changing the operation.
We found it a little bit irksome having to scroll through the touchscreen menu when you wanted to change basic things that would normally have their own button (i.e. macro mode) but thankfully there is at least a "quick menu" for the most used things like flash, picture size, etc.
Unfortunately we found the touch-screen to be less than responsive, and changing anything requires a heavy touch, and of course you won't be able to use it on a cold night with gloves, something to bear in mind.
On a more positive note, the camera is quick to boot up and use. You can go from off to focused in just a couple of seconds, and with iA (intelligent auto) switched on, this would be great in a hurry when capturing the shot was the most important thing.
Shooting options are kept minimal and fuss free. Along with iA, there is 'normal picture mode' which allows you to change certain settings such as ISO, white balance, colour mode and so on.
Scene mode contains all the usual suspects such as portrait, beach, landscape and so on. The only creative filter here is film grain mode, which is nice to have, but it's a shame there's not a few more carried over from Panasonic's premium compact, the Lumix LX5.