Panasonic launches flagship Lumix FX500, new touch screen ultracompact

Discussion in 'Digital Camera News' started by David Rasnake, Mar 18, 2008.

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  1. David Rasnake

    David Rasnake News/Review Writer News/Review Writer

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    Interesting observation, chengdude. We haven't heard anything about the FX35's official demise, though we almost never do (as a manufacturer, you can often upset your retailers if you announce that a product is "replacing" another currently-on-the-market product), so it's possible that this is Panasonic's long-term plan.

    I haven't checked the numbers yet, but I'm wondering if the FX500 is going to be as small as the FX35 (looks like it's not). Also, I'll be interested to see whether the joystick control on the FX500 allows you to skip the touch screen altogether: I think there are a lot of users who find touch screens a little to gimmicky, and want an interface that's a little more familiar.

    dr
     
  2. chengdude

    chengdude New Member

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    I actually meant I can't see how the FX-35 is going to sell enough to justify its (very brief) existence considering everything Panasonic added (or put back) in the FX-500 will only set you back an extra $70. Maybe aggressive discounting or a manufactuer's price drop will further separate the two, but for now the FX-35 is looking like a dud.

    The FX-500 is only larger in one dimension to accommodate the bigger screen it carries over the FX-35.

    I'd agree with those who find a touchscreen gimmicky, but if Panasonic can pull off everything else and make it all work, I could get used to it!
     
  3. David Rasnake

    David Rasnake News/Review Writer News/Review Writer

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    I don't know. We were very impressed with the FX35, and again, I think it goes back to whether touchscreen control is "mandatory" (for lack of a better word) on the FX500. I certainly hear what you're saying, but I think a lot of shooters (I'll include myself here, though maybe I'm the only one :) ) may resist the touchscreen. Assuming there's some appropriate price slotting, the FX35 may yet do alright.

    Whatever happens, it's going to be interesting...

    dr
     
  4. ddf

    ddf New Member

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    I have the original FX-01 (bought before a US road trip so wanted the 28mm wide-angle spec without having to go to the bulk of the Canon S80 that was the only option at the time) and am looking at both FX-35 and FX-500 now as I want the USB2 transfer speed, better noise reduction and a few of the other upgrades.

    Despite comments here, I think there will be a continuing role for the FX-35.

    It is 13% lighter and 13% less bulky than the FX-500 (data from Panasonic site). The biggest functional benefit on the 500 seems to be the 5x zoom (to 125mm up from 100mm). A local retailer has told me that the 3-inch LCD on the 500 does not give you a bigger preview display as edge space is used for icons - and I'm yet to be convinced by the whole touch-screen thing. (But then, I thought I'd never buy an iPod either...)

    I've seen encouraging reviews that show Panasonic seems to be addressing their noise issue with the improved Venus engine, so I may stay with them rather than switching to Canon and having to learn a whole new set of operating protocols.

    Looking forward to seeing the experts' views of the 500 before I decide.
     
  5. davidackorn

    davidackorn New Member

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    I have read on other threads that this camera has very high noise, even at low ISO. Now, I don't know how correct these claims are.

    In general, if a camera with such a high resolution exhibits a high noise, would reducing the resolution improve the noise?

    My understanding is that this camera has a pretty nice sensor (at 1/1.7"). If reducing the resolution from 12MegP down to 6/7MegP would reduce the noise, then this camera should have an unbelievable picture quality.

    Does the question make sense? Reducing the recording resolution from 12M down to 7M to improve SNR (signal to noise ratio).

    Thanks,
    David
     
  6. Andy Stanton

    Andy Stanton Super Moderator Super Moderator

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    I don't think it would reduce the noise, but I don't know the technical reasons why it wouldn't. Noise continues to be a major issue with all non-SLR digital cameras. If your method were the easy way to reduce noise, noise wouldn't be the issue it is.
     
  7. David Rasnake

    David Rasnake News/Review Writer News/Review Writer

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    Hi David,
    Are you referring to the FX500? If so, it has a smaller 1/2.33" sensor - the same one seen in the FX35. Theoretically, noise performance will be the same, so take a look at the noise progression from the FX35 review and judge for yourself.

    As Andy said, reducing the capture size doesn't usually have any impact on noise levels. Photosite density on the sensor remains the same regardless of the captured size.

    dr
     
  8. davidackorn

    davidackorn New Member

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    Thanks.

    I just bought a FX33 and expect to have it in a couple of days. I will play around to see if in addition to reducing the ISO if there is another way to reduce the noise.

    My thought was that depending on the processing algorithm we might see that: a) reducing pixels might actually combine several captured pixels into one pixel when creating the file (thereby reducing the error), b) reducing pixels might ease the load on the processing and improve overall noise reduction.

    Also, it turns out I was looking at FX100 specs when I said it had a large sensor size of 1/1.72". Both FX100 and FX500 seem to suffer from the same high levels of noise, however.

    When will you have a review of the FX500?
     
  9. David Rasnake

    David Rasnake News/Review Writer News/Review Writer

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    It makes sense abstractly, but what you refer to (combining several photosites for a lower-res image - what's called "binning") isn't the way most digicams work when they shoot at lower resolution (in part because one of the results of this process is higher sensitivity - that's another topic...). There have been several similar discussions on this forum and elsewhere if you want to read more, but the consensus seems to be that because noise is, to a degree, inherent to the sensor, shooting at lower resolution may mask it slightly, but you'd ultimately get better results with a lower-res sensor. Unfortunately, most 5 megapixel cameras, for instance, only gained up to around ISO 400/800.

    Some people have reported that they perceive less noise in lower-res images, but of course the issue there is that the images are lower res. In most cases, the same thing is going on whether you resize the image in camera or on your computer: you're taking a 10 megapixel image, for example, "averaging" it down to 5 megapixels by combining information from (in this case) two photosites into one, and then outputting it. This is no different from what goes on when you print a 10x10 300dpi print at 5x5 300dpi. You're not changing the noise that's there, but you may be smearing it out so that it's less noticeable at the final size. That was a convoluted explanation, but I hope it makes sense.

    We'll hopefully be getting a review unit of the FX500 soon, but I don't have any confirmation of that as yet.

    dr
     
  10. davidackorn

    davidackorn New Member

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    Thanks David.

    Did you ever do a review of FX100? I keep seeing the sensor referred to as 1/1.7". Doesn't this mean a larger sensor? If so, should one expect lower noise with a larger sensor? Why would they go from a larger sensor to smaller one in the next generation?

    By the way, I saw a review of Leica Digilux and was drooling over the pictures. I mean they are only 7Meg pixel and have an unbelievable clarity and crispness. I wish I had the money!

    At this point I am debating returning my FX33 when I get it in favor of FX100 or FX500. The problem with FX100 is that it doesn't have face recognition nor orientation sensor (is my research right?). But it costs about $150-200 less than FX500. What's Panasonic up to with coming out with a replacement of FX33 (that is, FX36) in three months, and then replacing IT with FX500 a month later?

    -DA
     
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