Renowned as a manufacturer of quality kit, encompassing everything from vacuum cleaners to TV sets and beyond, Panasonic is nevertheless not one of the names that first springs to mind when you're thinking of cameras. Far more photographically famous is the Leica logo that graces the lens of the FX9, but the build quality of the rest of the camera is of an equally high standard.
Feature-rich, the FX9 is built around a 6Mp sensor and has multiple autofocus modes to make the best of any given shooting situation. Around the back, the 2.5-inch LCD is exceptionally clear, while the addition of 16 scene modes help to extend the camera's abilities. The killer feature, however, is the optical image stabilisation system which makes the Lumix FX9 a joy to use in low-lighting conditions.
The rechargeable Li-ion battery has to be removed from the camera before you can charge it, as there's no docking station, but a full charge gives enough power for a healthy 200-shot range. The camera has no internal memory but a 16MB SD card is supplied and the FX9 can use either SD or MMC cards.
Colour rendition from the FX9 proved natural and accurate in our tests and, while contrast was often a bit on the high side, there was minimal washing out of highlights or loss of lowlight detail. The minimum speed rating of the camera is 80 ISO, which makes it a little faster than most of the cameras on test.
However, some images among our test photos were a little noisier than those shot with other cameras. The image stabiliser worked almost but not quite as well as the one on the Konica Minolta X1, and it's definitely a great feature to have in this type of camera. As for the sharpness... the FX9 proved excellent but with a slight tradeoff of jagged edges on some horizontal lines.