Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX7 Review
iming & Performance
Panasonic has made much of the performance enhancements offered by its Venus II processor, and the FX7 seems to bear out many of the claims. It feels very responsive indeed in use. The only 'fly in the ointment' is the continuous shooting (burst) mode, which we found unable to get even near the quoted maximum 3fps after repeated testing.
All times calculated as an average of three operations. Unless otherwise stated all timings were made on a 2560 x 1920 Fine JPEG image (approx. 1,985 KB per image). The media used for these tests was a 512MB SanDisk Extreme (aka Ultra II) SD card.
|Power: Off to Record||1.4|
|Power: Off to Play||Image displayed||1.6|
|Power: Record to Off||All activity ceased||4.1|
|Power: Play to Off||When buffer is empty||2.1|
|Record Review||Image displayed||~0.9|
|Mode: Record to Play||1.1|
|Mode: Play to Record||Lens already extended||1.0|
|Mode: Play to Record||Lens not extended||3.0|
|Play: Magnify||To full magnification (16x)||~0.8|
|Play: Image to Image||Time to display each saved image||~0.5|
|Play: Thumbnail view||3 x 3 thumbnails||0.9|
|Zoom from Wide to Tele||35 to 105 mm (13 x)||1.7|
|Half-press Lag (0->S1)||Wide angle||~0.5|
|Half-press Lag (0->S1)||Telephoto||~0.8|
|Half to Full-press Lag (S1->S2)||LCD live view||0.09|
|Full-press Lag (0->S2)||LCD live view, wide angle||~0.7|
|Off to Shot Taken||LCD live view||~4.3|
|Shot to Shot||Flash off||1.66|
|Shot to Shot||Flash on (anti red-eye off)||2.50|
|Shot to Shot||Flash on (anti red-eye on)||3.25|
Lag Timing Definitions
|Half-press Lag (0->S1)
Many digital camera users prime the AF and AE systems on their camera by half-pressing the shutter release. This is the amount of time between a half-press of the shutter release and the camera indicating an auto focus & auto exposure lock on the LCD monitor / viewfinder (ready to shoot).
|Half to Full-press Lag (S1->S2)
The amount of time it takes from a full depression of the shutter release button (assuming you have already primed the camera with a half-press) to the image being taken.
(Take shot, AF/AE primed)
|Full-press Lag (0->S2)
The amount of time it takes from a full depression of the shutter release button (without performing a half-press of the shutter release beforehand) to the image being taken. This is more representative of the use of the camera in a spur of the moment 'point and shoot' situation.
(Take shot, AF/AE not primed)
The tables below show the results of our continuous shooting test, indicating the actual frame rate along with maximum number of frames and how long you would have to wait after taking the maximum number of frames before you could take another shot. Media used for these tests was a 512MB SanDisk Extreme (aka Ultra II) SD card. Shutter speed was kept above 1/160 sec during these tests.
Continuous drive mode
In burst mode the FX7 shows a brief review image for each frame taken, but the live preview does not work between frames. There are three continuous drive modes; High (H), Low (L) and No Limit (∞).
Frames in a burst *1
|2560 x 1920 JPEG Fine||Continuous H||1.5 fps||4||2.0s pause*3|
|2560 x 1920 JPEG Fine||Continuous L||1.25 fps||4||2.0s pause*3|
|2560 x 1920 JPEG Fine||Continuous ∞||1.25 fps||limited by card capacity||n/a|
|2560 x 1920 JPEG Standard||Continuous H||1.5 fps||7||2.0s pause*3|
|2560 x 1920 JPEG Standard||Continuous L||1.25 fps||7||2.0s pause*3|
|2560 x 1920 JPEG Standard||Continuous ∞||1.25 fps||limited by card capacity||n/a|
|2048 x 1536 JPEG Fine||Continuous H||1.5 fps||4||2.0s pause*3|
|2048 x 1536 JPEG Fine||Continuous L||1.25 fps||4||2.0s pause*3|
|2048 x 1536 JPEG Fine||Continuous ∞||1.25 fps||limited by card capacity||n/a|
|1600 x 1200 JPEG Fine||Continuous H||1.5 fps||4||2.0s pause*3|
|1600 x 1200 JPEG Fine||Continuous L||1.25 fps||4||2.0s pause*3|
|1600 x 1200 JPEG Fine||Continuous ∞||1.25 fps||limited by card capacity||n/a|
|*1||In a single "burst" (finger held down on shutter release).|
|*2||In H and L mode continuous shooting stops when the buffer is full (4 or 7 frames according to the file quality setting. This is the delay before the next burst|
|*2||This is the average delay (which varies from around 1.6 to 4.0 seconds) and includes refocusing before the next burst.|
Not a bad performance at all, but hardly class-leading, and somewhat disappointing when compared to the quoted speeds from Panasonic (3fps high speed, 2 fps low speed). The buffer clears very quickly, and most of the delay between bursts is due to the fact that you cannot just hold down the shutter and wait - you have to take your finger off the shutter and press it again. This means waiting for the camera to refocus.. If you want to take a really long burst with no pauses you can always switch to the 'no limit' mode (which averages around 2.2 frames per second). Note that when we switched to a slower no-brand card we found the FX7 struggled to keep going after 6 or 7 shots even in the no limit mode, so make sure you buy a fast one if you want to take a lot of extended sequences.
File Write / Display and Sizes
Timings shown below are the time taken for the camera to process and "flush" the image out to the storage card, the timer was started as soon as the shutter release was pressed and stopped when the activity indicator went out. This means the timings also include the camera's processing time and as such are more representative of the actual time to "complete the task". The media used for these tests was a 512MB SanDisk Extreme (aka Ultra II) SD card. .
Time to store
File size *1
Images on a *2
|2560 x 1920 JPEG Fine||~1.9||~1.0||1,985 KB||202|
|2560 x 1920 JPEG Standard||~1.8||~0.9||1,007 KB||396|
|2048 x 1536 JPEG Fine||~1.9||~0.9||1,339 KB||312|
|2048 x 1536 JPEG Standard||~1.7||~0.9||704 KB||606|
|1600 x 1200 JPEG Fine||~1.7||~0.8||607 KB||507|
|1600 x 1200 JPEG Standard||~1.7||~0.8||424 KB||967|
|*1||All file sizes are an average of three files. As is the case with JPEG it's difficult to predict the size of an image because it will vary a fair amount depending on the content of the image (detail and noise).|
With write times averaging just under two seconds for a 3MP Fine JPEG the FX7 is no slouch - approximately 1050KB/s, though the fact that the times don't reduce significantly as you reduce file size would indicate that the majority of that time is spent in processing, not writing to the card. Write times were much longer when using a slower card, so again, buy a fast one if you don't like to be kept waiting.