Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH22 Review
The class of compact digital cameras is crowded and the competition is fierce. With all the choices of compact digitals, the Panasonic Lumix FH22 is an honorable point and shoot that delivers great quality photos at a competitive price. Some of the other compact point and shoots are the respective Nikon Coolpix, Canon Powershot, Fujifilm Finepix, and Sony Cybershot line. The Lumix FH22 is what you would expect out of a compact digital camera. It's small, takes good pictures, and can even record video. This is a great market for consumers. There are two reasons why this is such a good market. One, these compacts are small and portable yet they are versatile in their capabilities. And two, there are many manufacturers competing for your hard earned dollar which in turns drives down the price and also increases the quality of their represented products.
There are many different classes of compact digitals. As a shopper like yourself, I separate the classes of cameras by their prices. In my head, I see the $100-$150 class, the $200 class, and the $300 plus class. Anything more than that, I think would be more suitable to enthusiast photographers. The Lumix FH22 is in the second class of compact digitals. It does everything good.
After trying out many point and shoots, I continued to gravitate
towards the Sony Cybershots unless something was better for my needs.
I wanted a camera I can turn on, point, shoot, and have a great picture
without much fiddling. Don't get me wrong. I love having the options
to play around with the settings and tweak things but in my opinion,
a good compact should be easy to use and perform well in all conditions.
Some of the Nikons had terrible blur and Canons just performed average in my testing. There were two cameras that did the job well and they were the Sony Cybershots and the Olympus Stylus. They took great shots consistently. From my initial testing, the Lumix FH22 perform slightly better than the Sony Cybershot in terms of speed and in automatic picture taking. The Olympus Stylus was on par with the FH22 but I was turned onto the FH22's ability to record 720p HD.
Using the FH22 was very easy compared to all of the other point and
shoots in it's price range. You turn on the camera, hit the "iA"
intelligent auto button next to the shutter, press the shutter halfway
and wait for the green light. Then you press the shutter fully. I found
that the FH22 takes great pictures in nearly all situations. It may
be trivial to rave about the automatic modes on a compact digital but
you wouldn't believe how poorly many cameras perform in their intended
use. With other cameras in the same class, I found many irritating
Poor exposure, heavy noise, and severe motion blur made me question
the pedigree of these respected brands. That is one thing the FH22 does
extremely well. Of course there is a manual mode where you can play
around with different settings such as white balance, iso, exposure,
flash, and auto focus. There are also cool features equipped like images
stabilizer and face detection. The 8x optical zoom is nice since most
cameras in it's class still have a 4x optical zoom. The Lumix sports
a 14 mega pixel sensor under the hood which will satisfy consumers
to compare numbers. The clarity and ability to auto correct settings
will impress more advanced photographers. The last feature that had
become a benchmark in comparing digital cameras is video recording.
Like many point and shoots in it's class, the Lumix FH22 is able to
record video in 720p HD. This is where things get a little strange.
Putting in a 16gb SDHC card made no difference compared to an 8gb card.
Recording in HD remained at 8 min 24 seconds. Very strange. I figured
it out. It turns out the camera is able to record in 720p HD fine but
only in 8 min 24 seconds intervals. The format of the video is somewhat
primitive. It only records in .mov motion jpgs. This results in videos
with very large file size. The benefits is no artifacts due to no video
compression but at nearly twice the size of .avi's, only video editors
or enthusiast could really tell. This is a shortcoming since the Sony
Cybershot is able to continuously record 720p HD over an hour with only
a 4gb SDHC card.
Despite the somewhat primitive video recording, videos were crisp and clear. While the large file size is inconvenient, I was able to overlook the limitations and focus on why I needed a compact digital. For quick and easy snapping of photos. There was only one other camera that rivaled the Lumix in terms of quality automatic point and shoot. This was the Olympus Stylus. I ultimately chose the Lumix FH22 due to it's HD recording and also it's build quality. While I'm not to fond of the touch screen interface of the Lumix, the controls were simple and the menus were easy to navigate. This camera does a great job at choosing the right setting although I find the pictures a bit lacking in color reproduction. I've owned Fujifilm's Finepix compacts in the past and have been loyal to them for years. After taking some time off from the casual photography scene, I'm please to see how much better compacts have gotten. Naturally, I gravitated towards the Finepix but was sorely disappointed by the pictures. After trying the Lumix, I happily ended my relationship with Fujifilm.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH22 is an excellent compact digital that will hold it's own in it's class. The ease of use with it's intelligent auto mode takes out all the guess work and let's you take dependable perfect pictures every time. With this camera, you can pull it out of your pockets, turn it on and take a picture in less then 5 seconds. That's the beauty of owning this camera. It has been a joy being able to take professional macros to wide angle landscapes without having to dig through the settings. This is an excellent compact digital camera in the $150-$200 price range. I give this camera an 8.5 out of 10 stars. 1 point taken from the huge file format for videos and another half point for the recording time limits. Overall, I would recommend this camera to anyone in the market for a hand-held digital. Look out for my review on the Sony Cybershot. It is a camera comparative to the Lumix. My brother owns the Cybershot DSC W350 and it would be interesting to compare the 2.
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