At last, I’ve found my new hiking camera to replace my Konica Minolta DiMAGE G400.
The camera is the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FP8. It’s not the latest (it was released in September of 2009) or greatest (there are some negatives – as with all small point and shoots) but the Lumix FP8 has most if not all the features I am looking for in a hiking camera:
- It has an internal lens
- It’s ultra compact
- It’s a point and shoot
- It’s has a Leica wide angle (28mm) lens with 4.6x optical zoom (128mm) and image stabilization
- Fast setup time and near zero shutter lag
- Capture good quality images
Other features that weren’t on my must have list but comes with the DMC-FP8:
- 12-megapixel sensor
- HD video (720p)
- 2.7-inch LCD
- Long battery life (380 shots)
- 28 scene settings
- LED lighting rear controls
The only two things that would be nice to haves are:
- Manual controls
- Optical viewfinder
The DMC-FP8 was well regarded by pros and users alike.
The FP8 looks a lot like the Panasonic’s first rugged compact camera, the Lumix DMC-TS1, and shares some common features. One of this feature which I like the most, is the use of an internal lens that do away with moving parts outside the camera. However, the FP8 is not designed for a dunging in the river or a 5 foot drop to the floor like the shockproof and waterproof TS1. Without the added shockproof and waterproof skin, the FP8 is also a lot cheaper, smaller and lighter than the TS1.
The only problem, which is a minor one that I have experienced with the internal lens located at the corner of the camera is that my finger sometimes show up in the pictures. The lens has no cover and is prone to scratches and dirt.
The FP8 is fast. From the time I turned the camera on and bring it up to eye level, it is ready to snap a picture. Quick autofocus and low shutter lag and to the FP8’s ability for capturing more spontaneous shots that would otherwise be missed.
I love the Intelligent Auto (iA) feature. It automatically selects from one of six preset scene modes to correct any exposure, focus and camera shake issues and lets me quickly switch between iA and a preselected scene from one of 28 scene settings available.
I usually shot with the iA setting but I also use the Movie mode during hikes and bike rides with the camera mounted on the bike’s handle bar. In these outdoor settings where I want to take HD videos most of the time and also take still images when appropriate, I set the camera to Movie mode and use the iA button to switch between the two.
The wide-angle 28mm lens is a great improvement over the usually 35mm on other point and shoot camera for landscape shots, and the 128mm telephoto allows just enough reach for scenes best taken a few steps back.
The controls were unintuitive at first, but once you work with the control buttons a few times, they are fairly easy to use.
Image quality is more than what I would expect from a camera the size and price of the FP8. For websites and viewing on a monitor, image quality is very good and more than acceptable. You’ll get the best results with pictures taken outside with good lighting and maybe a monopod or tripod. However, if you plan to make prints larger than 8×10 inches, results may be disappointing.
I looked at other cameras before settling on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FP8 due to its simplicity, features and great price.
I would highly recommend the Lumix DMC-FP8.
Other cameras I looked at were:
These are considered outdoor camera or rugged cameras that are waterproof, rustproof and shockproof.
In depth review of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FP8 at imaging-resource.com.
Quick review of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FP8 at CNET.com.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS2 Review at imaging-resource.com.
Review of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS3 at imaging-resource.com.