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Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX77 / FX78 Ken McMahon, July 2011
 
   
 

Panasonic Lumix FX77 / FX78 verdict

The Panasonic Lumix FX77 / FX78 is a 12.1 Megapixel compact with a 5x stabilised zoom and a big 3.5 inch touch-screen display with a 16:9 aspect ratio. Slimmer and lighter than previous FX models, the Lumix FX77 / FX78 has a newly designed CCD sensor which provides 1080i video, but lacks the full resolution fast shooting capability of compacts like the FZ700 that use Panasonic's CMOS sensors. It does, however have a Handheld Night Scene mode that produces a composite image from a burst of shots taken in low light as well as a 3D mode.

For everyday point-and-shoot photography the FX77 / FX78 includes intelligent Auto exposure mode with scene detection and Face AF, and in Normal Picture mode it provides control over many aspect of the picture-taking process including ISO sensitivity, white balance and exposure compensation, but lacks any form of semi-auto or manual exposure control. You can, of course, manually focus simply by touching the screen. Other refinements include Panasonic's intelligent ISO and intelligent Exposure features.

Up against models like the Canon IXUS 310 HS and Sony Cyber-shot TX10 the Lumix FX77 / FX78 looks a little lacklustre, But don't rule it out because it lacks headline-grabbing features like fast burst shooting, HDR compositing, panoramas and creative filter effects. If you regard those things as fancy frills, you'll be happy you spent your money on more 'useful ' things like a big 3.5 inch touch-screen and a 5x optical zoom.

   
 
 

 

Compared to Sony Cyber-shot TX10

     
 
 
     

The Panasonic Lumix FX77 / FX78 is similar in weight and dimensions to the Cyber-shot TX10, it has a slighly larger screen and a longer zoom lens, a lower resolution sensor and lacks the Cyber-shot TX10's water, dust and shockproof casing.

Like the Canon IXUS 310 HS / ELPH 500 HS, the Cyber-shot TX10 packs in a lot of features and while the Lumix isn't short of a trick or two it doesn't have the same strength in depth here as the Cyber-shot TX10. Yes it has a 3D picture mode, but it doesn't have the same spread of options. It also has a low-light composite Handheld Night Shot mode, but at reduced resolution and it's burst modes are similarly restricted.

In quality terms we'd say the 12 Megapixel Lumix has the edge of the CyberShot TX10. Plus it offers a similar combination of movie modes and codec choices along with a dedicated physical movie recording button that doesn't suffer from lag to the same degree as the Cyber-shot TX10. Add to that a nice big 3.5 inch screen and if movies are higher up your priority list than smart features then the FX77 / FX78 begins to look very attractive.

See my Sony Cyber-shot TX10 review for more details.


 



Compared to Canon IXUS 310 HS / ELPH 500 HS

     
 
 
     
     

The Panasonic Lumix FX77 is smaller and lighter than the IXUS 310 HS / ELPH 500 HS but manages to pack in a bigger zoom, starting at the same 4.3mm (24mm equivalent) super-wide angle, but extending to 120mm at the tele end.

That doesn't exactly put it in the travel zoom category, but it will get you a little closer to distant action. The Lumix FX77 / FX78 also has a slightly bigger screen.

The IXUS 310 HS / ELPH 500 HS is stronger in lots of other areas though. It has a fast f2.0 aperture (at the wide angle setting) and a full resolution Handheld Night Scene mode.

It has Aperture and Shutter-priority semi-auto exposure modes, as well as a range of fun shooting modes lincluding Smart (smile) shutter, face self-timer and creative filter effects. Finally, the IXUS 310 HS / ELPH 500 HS is a more versatile video camera with 1080p at 24fps, a wider range of movie scene modes, super slow-motion recording and the new movie digest feature.

See my Canon IXUS 310 HS / PowerShot ELPH 500 HS review for more details.


Panasonic Lumix FX77 / FX78 verdict

The Pansonic Lumix FX77 / FX78 is a compact for those who value core features and photographic functionality above novelty and innovation. While there's little that's 'cutting edge' about the Lumix FX77 / FX78, what it does, it does well and reliably. In two crucial areas it offers a little extra than you'll get from many competitor models at this price point. There's the 5x optical zoom, with a great 24mm super-wide-angle starting point extending to a 'portrait plus' 120mm. Then there's that big 3.5 inch LCD which is superb for shooting wide-screen HD video.

The Lumix FX77 / FX78 produces excellent quality images and gave a good account of itself in our high ISO noise tests. However, its Handheld Night Shot mode operates well below its full 12 megapixel resolution and it's burst shooting modes suffer from silimar restrictions. Added to which it lacks the kind of novel and innovative new modes that regularly appear on new models from Sony and Canon. Though these may not appeal to everyone, the lack of them, rightly or wrongly, gives the impression that Panasonic isn't trying to innovate. But if you're looking for a small compact with a big touch-screen, broader than average zoom range for its class, great image quality and excellent HD video recording, then the Lumix FX77 / FX78 is an excellent choice.

 



Good points
24mm super-wide-angle, coverage.
3.5in LCD touch-screen with tap-focusing.
5x stabilised optical zoom.
HDMI port and AV cable.

Bad points
Poor menu navigation.
Reduced resolution in Night shot mode.
Lack of 'fun' or creative modes.



Scores

(relative to 2011 compacts)

Build quality:
Image quality:
Handling:
Specification:
Value:

Overall:

18 / 20
15 / 20
15 / 20
16 / 20
17 / 20

81%


   

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