Panasonic Lumix FS33 Front On
The Panasonic Lumix FS33, is the touch-screen version of the Panasonic Lumix FS30, with a 3.0″ touch screen. It packs an impressive wide-angle 8x optical zoom lens (28-224mm in 35mm equiv.) into a compact body, and features a 14.1 megapixel sensor, optical image stabilisation, HD video, SDXC support, lithium-ion rechargeable battery, and face detection. The Panasonic Lumix FS33 is available in black, red or silver for £139-£149, and the Panasonic Lumix FS30 is available in black, blue, silver, violet for £116.

Panasonic Lumix FS33 Sample Photo Gallery
Panasonic Lumix FS33 Review

Panasonic Lumix FS33 – Digital Camera Review
Review Date: 30/01/2011
Rating: Above Average
Author: Joshua Waller

Lets look at the camera in more detail.

Panasonic Lumix FS33 Front Off
Panasonic Lumix FS33 – Front off

The front of the camera – focus assist lamp, 8x optical zoom lens, flash.

Panasonic FS33 and FS30 Back side-by-side

Panasonic FS33 and FS30 Back side-by-side (Image courtesy of Panasonic, click to enlarge)

Panasonic Lumix FS33 vs FS30: The FS33 features a 3.0″ touch screen that has: Touch Area on screen for AF metering, and an Anti-Reflective Coating, the screen doesn’t let you press an area and then take a photo, you still need to use the shutter release to take the photo after focusing with the touchscreen. The resolution is 230k pixels, the same resolution as the 2.7″ screen on the FS30. Other than the difference in the screen, there are no other differences between these cameras, other than the price and available colours.

Panasonic Lumix FS33 Back
Panasonic Lumix FS33 Back – The back of the camera features a 3″ screen with 230k pixels.

Specifications / Features:
– Sensor – 14.1-megapixel CCD
– Lens – 8x Optical Zoom Lens (28-224mm equiv)
– Screen – 3.0″ 230,000-dot Intelligent LCD with Touch-screen Operation
– Macro – 5cm macro
– Continuous – 1.5fps shooting (full resolution)
– Video – 720p HD video with mono sound
– AF: Normal / Macro, Zoom Macro, Quick AF (Always On), Touch AF
– IS: Optical Image Stabilizer (Mega Optical Image Stabilisation, in lens)
– HD output: No (just AV)
– Red-Eye Reduction: Yes
– ISO: 80 / 100 / 200 / 400 / 800 / 1600 / High Sensitivity (ISO 1600-6400)
– Modes / Scenes: Intelligent AUTO, Normal Picture, SCN, My SCN, Motion Picture, Portrait, Soft Skin, Transform, Self-Portrait, Scenery, Sports, Night Portrait, Night Scenery, Food, Party, Candle Light, Baby1, Baby2, Pet, Sunset, High sensitivity, / Hi-Speed Burst, Flash Burst, Starry Sky, Fireworks, Beach, Snow, Aerial photo, Film Grain, Photo Frame
– Histogram available: No
– Manual Exposure Compensation +/-2.0EV (1/3EV Steps),
– Exposure bracketing: No
– Manual WB: Yes, other options: Auto / Daylight / Cloudy / Shade / Halogen / White Set / (Selectable at Portrait, Soft Skin, Transform, Self-Portrait, Sports, Baby, Pet, High Sensitivity, Highspeed Burst, Photo Frame)
– Additional functions: iA (Intelligent Auto) Mode with Advanced Scene Detection, Color Mode / Color Effect Standard, Vivid, Natural, Black & White, Sepia, Cool, Warm, Aspect Ratios: 4:3 / 3:2 / 16:9

Panasonic Lumix FS33 Top
Panasonic Lumix FS33 Top – The top of the camera.

Box contents: Camera, CD-Rom (PhotoFunStudio 5.0, Manuals), Manuals (basic printed manuals for camera, software), lithium ion battery, battery charger and cable, wrist strap, usb and av cables. No supplied SD card, just some built in memory (40mb).

Panasonic Lumix FS33 Bottom
Camera Bottom – tripod mount, battery / memory compartment.

Battery life: Battery life is rated at 300 shots according to CIPA standards. I was able to take around 200 photos before the battery went flat. This is average for a compact camera. As the camera uses lithium ion batteries, a spare is recommended.

Panasonic Lumix FS33 size vs Sony Cybershot W320

Panasonic Lumix FS33 size vs Sony Cybershot W320 (click to enlarge)

Recommended accessories: A large SD or SDHC memory card, 4gb or larger is recommended: SD Cards at Amazon: 1GB, 2GB. SDHC Cards at Amazon: 4GB, 8GB, 16GB, 32gb. A case is also a must buy for any digital camera, the Lowepro Rezo 20 fits the Panasonic Lumix FS33/FS30 snuggly, and if you want a bit more room, and a weatherproof case, have a look at the Lowepro Apex 20AW.

Speed: 1.7 seconds to switch on and take a photo (slightly better than average). Continuous shooting (flash unavailable) at full resolution: 0.9 seconds between shots, slightly better than 1fps second (slightly below average). 1.6 seconds between shots in normal mode (average, flash off), 2.5 seconds with flash on. Shutter response seemed very quick at <0.1 seconds (good). Menus and playback… (see below)

Ease of use / Menus: The touch screen system / menus / operation / buttons are probably the most awkward aspect of using this camera. Unfortunately it’s not just me, others who have used this camera have found it difficult and counter-intuitive to use, resulting in frustration and missed shots. Playback is particularly frustrating as you can’t seem to hold the (small) arrow buttons to scroll around the pictures making reviewing the images in detail very slow. Likewise navigating the menus can be slow and difficult compared to a normal camera with buttons. For this reason alone, it is worth looking at the FS30 instead (or hoping newer Panasonic touchscreens perform better).

Buttons / Ergonomics: The buttons that the camera features are decent, slightly on the small side. The mode button is slightly recessed to avoid accidentally pressing it, however I would have much prefered a mode dial, as you often need to press the mode dial to confirm the mode you are in. The camera design and build quality are good, with a metal body, however the front is quite slippery with no hand grip – there’s also very little on the back to hold on to, as the back is dominated by the large touch screen.

Video: The camera recorded HD videos at 1280×720 at 30fps, with mono sound, as a Quicktime Movie (.MOV) file. Unfortunately optical zoom isn’t available when recording, and has to be set before recording any video. Quality seems good.

ISO / Noise / Low light performance: The Panasonic Lumix FS33 has ISO options from ISO80 up to ISO1600. You are best trying to stick to ISO80 to ISO400, as detail and colour start dropping off when you go up to ISO800. When you go up to ISO1600 detail and colour dramatically drops off, so is best not used at all. ISO800 can be used in some circumstances but isn’t recommended. At ISO400 and below the results are quite good, and luckily the camera rarely uses ISO800, and hardly ever uses ISO1600 when on automatic modes. In normal modes the slowest shutter speed is 1/8th of a second, so you may find you need to bump the ISO speed every now and again, or try and find a suitable scene mode.

Conclusions

Green trees - Photo

Image Quality: Image quality is generally good, with good colour, detail, exposure, white balance, and focus. The lens performed well, and vignetting was not noticed, neither was excessive barrel or pincushion distortion. There was some noticeable purple fringing but this was generally controlled well. Noise was occasionally an issue, particularly above ISO400, and it would be nice to see slightly better dynamic range and flash performance, as red-eye was often seen. The camera’s video quality is good. (8/10)

Everything else (the camera as a whole): Lots of scene modes, but lacks a Panorama mode or HDR mode. The camera packs a lot of features such as a wide angle 8x optical zoom lens with image stabilisation, 14 megapixel sensor, HD video (720p, although you can’t use the optical zoom while recording), and fits it all into a very compact camera body. Overall, there is very little lacking, and apart from the touch screen, the camera has quite a lot going for it. (8/10)

Value for money: The Panasonic Lumix FS33 is available in black, red or silver for £139-£149, and the Panasonic Lumix FS30 is available in black, blue, silver, violet for £116. Low value for money compared to the non-touch screen version. (7/10)

Above AverageConclusion: Touch screens, when implemented well, as in the Samsung ST550, can make a good camera great, and make it a joy to use, however, when implemented poorly, they can make a good camera bad. Unfortunately the Panasonic Lumix FS33 features an awkward touch screen that makes it especially awkward to use, and sometimes downright frustrating. You can save a lot of money and have a much more enjoyable camera by simply buying the cheaper Panasonic Lumix FS30, a camera, that thankfully doesn’t feature a touchscreen, and instead uses quicker and easier to use controls. Other than the awkward touch screen, the FS33 is a good all round camera with good image quality, good features, and a stylish and compact metal body.

Panasonic Lumix FS33 Rating: Above Average (7.6/10)
Check for the latest prices on Amazon UK

What I Like (Pros):

– Large 3:2 aspect screen (4:3, 3:2, and 16:9 aspect ratios available)
– Compact camera with a wide angle 8x optical zoom
– Optical image stabilisation
– Good image quality at lower ISO settings
– Good detail and colour, good lens quality.
– Punchy, bright, pleasing images
– HD video recording
– Metal body

What I Don’t Like (Cons):

– The touch screen – the non-touch screen version is easier and quicker to use.
– Optical zoom not available while recording videos
– Tripod mount at the very left of the camera
– Noticeable noise in most photos
– Red eye in flash photos (slightly weak flash)
– Some purple fringing but generally low levels
– Lacks built in Panorama or HDR mode
– Very little hand grip

View our Panasonic Lumix FS33 Sample Photo Gallery
The Panasonic Lumix FS33 is available from Amazon UK
Tested with Panasonic Firmware v1.0 – More on the FS33 on Panasonic’s website.

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