Operation and controls

Although ostensibly a point and shoot camera, the FX7 is more than just a pretty face - there are a surprising number of features on offer, though if you like control over shutter speeds and apertures you will be disappointed. In everyday use the majority of controls you're likely to need (flash, AE compensation, flash, self-timer and drive mode) get their own external control buttons, meaning you only need venture into the excellent menu system to change white balance, ISO and picture size/quality. The menu system has been enlarged to make the most of the huge screen, and is very easy to use.

Rear of camera

As mentioned earlier, the rear of the camera is dominated by the large 2.5-inch monitor, which is so large that there simply isn't any room for an optical viewfinder. The controls are grouped in a cluster to the right of the screen and are perfectly usable (if a little easy to accidentally press if you have adult-sized thumbs).

Top of camera

The exemplary styling is continued on the top of the slim FX7. From above you can see that the large LCD does protrude sliightly from the body.

The top plate is home to the chrome shutter release and zoom lever, on/off switch, speaker and microphone and the image stabilizer mode button. You can also see the recessed mode dial.

Display and menus

The FX7's menus are clean, bright, easy to read and fast. Apologies for the slightly lower quality than usual screenshots - the FX7 doesn't support video output in record mode.

The most basic preview screen in record mode is completely free of any overlays or icons. You can also, by pressing the Display button, get a simple grid to aid framing (as shown here) Of course you can turn on the information if you want by pressing the DISPLAY button.
Half-press the shutter release and the camera will calculate exposure (AE) and focus (AF) indicating the AF area used and the aperture/shutter speed chosen. You'll also get a warning if camera shake is a danger. Switching to the 'Simple' mode (indicated by a heart symbol on the mode dial) gives you a friendlier, simpler on-screen display (OSD) with larger icons, fewer controls and less information.
Another press of the display button gives you a live histogram - something unusual on a camera of this type. When you press and hold the DISPLAY button for one second the 'power
LCD function' is activated - the already bright LCD becomes even brighter (and eats even more batteries).
The three-page record menu covers options such as white balance, sensitivity, picture size/quality, focus modes and image adjustments. Here is also where you'll find the unique 'flip animation' function. This allows a series of shots to be turned into a QuickTime movie - make your very own 'Chicken Run'. Turn the main mode dial to SCN (scene) and press the menu button to choose a subject mode (from the 9 available). Press the menu button again and you get most of the options in the normal record menu.
The two-page playback menu offers the usual array of printing, erasing, protecting and slideshow options. There's also the option to add sound to saved files, as well as crop (trim) and resize them. In playback mode again you can increase LCD brightness by pressing and holding down the DISPLAY button.
As when in record mode you can choose the amount of information displayed in playback mode - from nothing at all to full data and histogram (as shown here). Moving the zoom to the right enlarges the playback image. There are only four steps (2x, 4x, 8x and 16x), but it's very quick. The four arrow keys are used to scroll around enlarged images.
The setup menu - accessible from either playback or record mode - has three pages of basic camera-related settings, from monitor brightness and auto review settings to power management, sounds and date and time settings. Finally a quick mention for the movie mode. The 320x240 pixel (30fps) is nothing special, but there are more than the usual array of options, many of which are the same as when shooting stills. You cannot zoom during movie recording.