I bought this camera nearly three months ago as I was about to embark on a 10 day trip across Britain. In fact, I'd been looking at buying a new digital camera for some time, but the road trip spurred me into action and since that time, I've used it on numerous occasions.
I ended up doing an enormous amount of research into what to buy, which I tend to do on even the smallest item so I wasn't going to spend £200 on a new camera without making sure it was the right one.
So what attracted me to this camera? Possibly the fact that my last 35mm camera took 28mm wide pictures and I'd always appreciated the extra width, particularly useful if you're always struggling to fit everyone in!
However the fact this camera is a 28mm equivalent is, in a way, just an incredibly lucky bonus because I would have bought it anyway, based on what I wanted from a camera and what this had to offer. The beauty about this camera however is that not only are you getting a wide angle camera, but you're also getting one with a 10x optical zoom, equivalent to 280mm. In terms of quality compact cameras out there at this price, that offer that range of flexibility, well I can't think of any others.
So, what about the look and feel of the camera. The first thing you notice is the huge 3 inch LCD monitor. The great thing about this is it doesn't make the rest of the camera appear busy or squashed. Everything is well proportioned. The quality of the image shown on the screen is superb, even more so when you consider the size of the monitor, and I`ve never had any problems viewing this even in bright sunlight.
The build quality seems assured, as you would expect from an item made in Japan. Daft it may sound, but little things like the solidly built Off-On button, zoom lever and battery / memory card holder lock just provide that reassurance of quality.
One of the features on this camera is the optical image stabiliser, which is definitely something you will appreciate when using the 10x zoom feature. Start-up is fast, and repeat photos no problem.
But what I really like about this camera is that its so easy to use. I really like things that are menu driven and straightforward. I don't want to change a setting by pressing a series of totally unrelated or illogical buttons (fortunately whoever designed Panasonic telephones didn't also design their cameras!). This is really simple. Believe me, if I can use even quite advanced features on a camera, this must be well designed.
Onto the video. The one thing that is a shame is that there is no zoom when using video. However that is the case on 99.9% of cameras, so I wouldn't let that worry you. The quality again is fantastic. I went sailing in September and genuinely couldn't believe the quality of the film I took. You'll have to believe me, but I really didn't expect anything like that from a compact!
There are loads of different scene types, so many I think they are a bit of a gimmick but having said that, that's probably because I can't imagine I'm ever going to take "Candlelight" or "Underwater" photos, but then again, who knows. There's even "Pet" and "Food" scenes!
The software that's supplied is all very good, light years away from the rubbish you used to get bundled with cameras. This camera has many other features but I think you get the picture by now, sorry about the pun, but this is a fabulous camera which you won't regret buying.