Normally I use large DSLR or a bridge camera, but I wanted a small camera that would fit in my pocket when I don't want to carry a large camera with me, this camera is just about small enough to fit into a large pocket.
What attracted me to this particular model was its 10x zoom range from 28mm to 280mm (35mm equivalent) and its reasonable 9.1mp resolution.
I went out and took some pictures with this camera, and some more almost identical pictures with a Canon EOS DSLR, and the pictures from the Panasonic fared very well in comparison.
I was expecting the picture quality from a 10x zoom on such a small camera to suffer, but I was pleasantly surprised, the pictures were sharp throughout the focal range, even at its longest focal length, and there was no apparent chromatic aberrations, (colour fringing around high contrast subjects) plus the image stablizer worked well in all but very dim light conditions.
As in all compact cameras the image censor is very small, and cramming 9 or 10 megapixels onto such a small censor often causes problems with digital noise, especially at higher ISO settings, This camera also scored very well here with digital noise not apparent at all at ISO 100 or 200. gradually worsening at higher ISO settings but still well within acceptable levels for a compact camera, the cameras built in noise reduction causes some fine detail to be lost at higher ISO settings, but this is only apparent at higher magnifications of the image.
At very low light levels this camera performs reasonably well compared to some of the competition, and flash exposures are excellent, full of detail and well exposed.
The autofocus is reasonably fast and accurate in most cases, only struggling in very low contrast or difficult to focus subjects, and the face detection works well, macro will focus as close as 5cm at the 28mm setting.
The camera itself feels solidly built, the menu's are logically laid out and fairly easy to navigate, and you will soon get to grips with it.
There are more than enough modes on it to keep the budding photographer happy, with 2 auto settings and 22 auto scene modes to cover most conditions, and an exposure compensation setting of (+/- 2 at 1/3 stop increments) for those awkward situations when one of the auto modes will not give a correct exposure, although there is no manual setting.
The LCD monitor is a large 3" monitor, and is very clear, making it easy to compose your pictures and to view pictures afterwards, although such a large screen could be vulnerable to damage so a good quality padded camera case is recommended.
A seperate optical viewfinder would have been a welcome addition to make taking pictures of moving subjects easier to take, especially at longer focal lengths, but most compact cameras do not have them anymore.
It does have a video and sound recording function, but I have not tried that yet, so I cannot comment on that, except that the microphone is positioned on the top left of the camera where it could easily be covered by a finger.
Well built and easy to use.
Better picture quality than many compacts.
10x zoom covers the most usefull range from wide angle to a decent telephoto.
9.1mp resolution is more than enough for all but the biggest enlargements.
It is compatible with SDHC cards.
Large clear screen.
Video and sound recording function.
A printed manual, not one of those pdf files on a disc.
User settable ISO.
Enough exposure modes to cope with most situations.
Good as a second camera when it would not be practical to take a larger camera.
Good price for what you get.
No SD card supplied, so you will need to buy one seperately.
No viewfinder other than the LCD screen.
Microphone could have been sited better.
No manual exposure setting, but the exposure compensation does help.
Can be a little complicated at first for novice users, but the manual is good.
A little too big for small pockets.
This is a good camera for anyone who wants to replace a cheaper outdated camera with something that will take decent pictures and has a good zoom range, and for anyone who wants a small camera as a backup to a larger camera.
All in all this is a very good little camera for the price, with very little to be said against it, and it comes highly recommended.
This review can also be seen on Ciao! under the name of Markh5682