Quick start up
Great features for the price
No mode dial
Focusing and shutter lag
Delay when firing flash
High noise levels at high ISO
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The Panasonic Lumix FS15 is a very slim, small and cheap compact digital camera, and the latest addition to Panasonic's FS series.
The FS15 is a slick-looking little number with a stylish brushed metal casing and boasts a 5x optical wide-angle to telephoto Leica DC zoom lens – that's 29-145mm in old 35mm film SLR money. This is backed up further with a 4x digital zoom.
Not much bigger than an Apple iPod, there's still room inside the Panasonic FS15 to stash a 12-megapixel sensor ready to record 4,000x3,000-pixel JPEG images. A large and clear 2.7-inch 230,000-dot LCD fills the rear of the camera leaving room for the bare minimum of buttons.
But the Lumix FS15 doesn't need a mode dial or masses of buttons as it aims to do all the hard work for you. Leave the camera in iA (intelligent Auto) mode, and it'll activate AF (autofocus) tracking, Intelligent Exposure, Face Detection, Intelligent Scene Selector, as well as the built-in Mega O.I.S. (Optical Image Stabilizer), and Intelligent ISO Control.
All the clever iA modes work together to try and make sure your photos are in focus – or focusing on people's faces – and well exposed.
There's also the Normal Picture mode, giving you access to the Macro mode, flash setting, exposure compensation and the self-timer. There is a dedicated Portrait mode plus enough Scene modes to keep two football teams and several substitutes busy (there are 26 Scene modes).
Like all Lumix cameras, the Panasonic FS15 can take 1,920x1,080 pixel high-definition quality photos that are ideal for full-screen viewing on a wide-screen (16:9) HDTV. You can also record WVGA (or 848x480-sized) videos at 30 frames per second (fps) for up to 15 minutes.
Switch the FS15 to Burst mode and, in the lower 3-megapixel picture size, it'll rattle off 5.5fps – that's faster than most entry-level DSLRs. Although remember you're capturing smaller images.
The Panasonic also has a few other fun functions such as a choice of tunes to listen to when watching slideshows in Playback mode.
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