Panasonic's latest unassuming compact delivers a smidgeon of style and performance for a pocket-friendly price. See what else T3's camera expert had to say in the Lumix DMC-FS18 review
Panasonic point and shoots offer consistency of output and a user-friendly feature set that in combination means that little if anything needs to be done post-capture to get images looking their best. A case in point is the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS18, new to its ‘Fashionable and Stylish’ range with an £159.99 asking price. The headlines features are a 16.1 megapixel effective resolution plus 4x optical zoom retracted within the body when inactive and the equivalent of 28mm to 112mm in 35mm terms. The slender 18.8mm ‘wide’ proportions ensure it has the requisite eye appeal, with black finish accentuating its slenderness.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS18 controls (ease of use)
The control layout here is straightforward. Set into a chrome strip up top we get an on/off switch, shutter release button ergonomically encircled by a zoom lever, while at the back the most clearly marked switch is for swapping between stills/video capture and playback. We get a self-explanatory mode button, rather than standard dial, ranged alongside. Four way control pad and regulatory (for Panasonic) Q.Menu (Quick Menu) button complete the picture. A press of the latter and access is provided to a toolbar of commonly used settings, saving on drilling down into the menus proper.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS18 screen
Both 1280x720 pixels HD video clips and still photos are framed and reviewed via the aid of adequately visible if so-so in terms of spec 2.7-inch, 230k dot resolution LCD, here presented in 4:3 aspect ratio with a 100% field of view. The screen does however auto-adjust according to ambient light levels, with 11 incremental steps to choose from, so clarity’s assured at all times.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS18 speed
Response times are here average for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS18’s sub £200 class, despite its maker’s zippy claims for its latest generation Venus Engine IV processor. There’s a couple of seconds wait while it powers up from cold. In stills mode the lens moves relatively sluggishly from maximum wideangle to extreme telephoto in around three seconds. It takes a second or so to find focus and exposure and two to three seconds to commit a max resolution JPEG to card.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS18 battery
Like the rest of this camera’s performance, battery life is neither remarkable nor disappointing, but rather on a par with snapshot rivals courtesy of 260 shots from a full charge of its NCA-YN101H lithium battery. Enough for a weekend’s play at least.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS18 pictures and video
Unfortunately the gnat-like buzz of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS18’s zoom means that it is disabled when recording video, which along with the lack of Full HD shooting, no HDMI output, mono sound and no dedicated record button makes it appear that video here has been scaled back to match the budget price point. However again quality is on a level with most £150 snappers and in terms of stills the prognosis is better. Under ideal blue sky conditions, primary colours really pop and if there’s a slight softness over all it’s only really noticeable on close scrutiny.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS18 verdict
Whilst the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS18 may be modest in its ambitions and is your usual run of the mill rectangular pocket snapper, the build quality is high, the feature set ticks all the boxes we’d expect for the budget price tag, and whilst shots could be sharper, colours are vivid and pleasing results are to be had straight from the camera. Which, at the end of the day, is all one can ask from its ilk.