Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX9 Review
In addition to the auto white balance mode the FX9 offers only three presets (daylight, cloudy, and halogen). There is no preset for fluorescent lights, but there is a manual white balance mode that allows you to point the camera at a white or gray card and create a custom setting.
In use - especially when light levels are good - the FX9 delivers consistently accurate color. When light levels drop (indoors at night) you'll get very orange results under tungsten lighting unless you switch to manual WB. One nice touch (also seen on the FZ series) is a white balance 'fine tune' function (for the presets or manual WB mode), which allows you to dial in more red or blue using a sliding scale.
Outdoor - Auto WB
|Fluorescent - Auto WB
Red -0.2%, Blue 0.8%
|Incandescent - Auto WB
Red 9.3%, Blue -16.9%
No real complaints here. The range is acceptable (around 1 to 13 feet with auto ISO), and color and exposure very reliable. We did get some blown out results when shooting too close, though these were rare. The positioning of the flash so near to the lens means red-eye is fairly common unless you use the red-eye reduction system.
|Skin tone Excellent color,
very slight underexposure
|Color chart Excellent color,
The FX9 has a dedicated macro mode, accessed via the main mode dial. The macro mode works throughout the zoom range, but - as is usual on this type of camera - only gets really close when used at the widest setting. There is inevitably some distortion when you get really close, but it is nowhere near as bad as many similar models. In these test shots there is some evidence of corner softness and mild vingetting (especially at the wide end of the zoom), but this doesn't seem to have a significant effect on real-world shots.
Barrel and Pincushion Distortion
Nothing to complain about here - there is a small amount (0.7%) of measurable barrel distortion at the wide end of the zoom, though nothing you'd see in real-world pictures, and a lot better than many ultra-compacts. There is no measurable distortion at the telephoto end of the zoom. Again you can see the mild vignetting at the wide end of the zoom when shooting a white target.
|Barrel distortion - 0.7 % at Wide angle
Equiv. focal length: 35 mm
|Pincushion distortion - 0.0% at Telephoto
Equiv. focal length: 105 mm
Here for visual comparison are four identical shots taken at 80, 100, 200 and 400 ISO settings in our studio. The noise levels at ISO 80 and 100 are, inevitably, very similar (though the lower setting is very slightly cleaner). Once you get over about ISO 160 the effect of Panasonic's rather heavy-handed noise reduction start to show in images viewed at 100%, with a distinctive 'watercolor' look that gets gradually worse as ISO increases, or as light levels drop and exposure times extend.
At ISO 400 luminance noise is low - thanks to the heavy noise reduction - but there is visible chroma (color) noise in shadows - something that gets worse as light levels drop. Noise has been a problem for Panasonic for as long as I can remember, and - though this is better than the FX7/FX8, it's still obviously an issue, and isn't helped by the rather strong in-camera sharpening.
|ISO 80 100% crop||ISO 100 100% crop|
|ISO 200 100% crop||ISO 400 100% crop|
Specific image quality issues
Of course all ultra-compact cameras such as this are going to present some kind of compromise when it comes to image quality. The question is how much of a compromise are we prepared to accept in image quality terms to get a camera that is truly pocket-sized?
With the FX9 I'm happy to say the answer is not a lot; exposure, sharpness, color and focus are all excellent and are unlikely to disappoint the target audience. Color is particularly vibrant (without becoming unnatural) and overall detail very good. True, the images may seem a little over-sharpened and contrasty for purists, they make very nice prints with little work and are ideal for the target market.
We did notice a significant drop-off in sharpness at the smallest apertures (particularly F8 and over), which is unfortunate as the camera offers no manual aperture control. There is little - if any - color fringing though we did find some vignetting at the wide end of the zoom when shooting at F2.8. The only other problems we encountered were very occasional focus errors when shooting indoors and one or two bad exposures (only really occurs when there is a lot of sky in the frame, and rarely). There are occasional problems with dynamic range - and fairly high contrast - which can result in blown highlights, but this chip seems marginally better than its 5MP predecessor at dealing with very bright, contrasty scenes.
The FX9 uses the new Venus PLUS engine, which uses less power than the Venus II, but doesn't have the latter's built-in chromatic aberration (CA) removal. The FX9's images do exhibit slightly more fringing than the FX7, but it's still very minimal. There is some barely visible CA at the edges of very bright areas in one or two of the 500 gallery shots I took, but it doesn't appear in many shots and simply isn't visible in prints under 8x10 inches.
|100% crop||35 mm equiv., F5.6|
Shooting at the wide end of the zoom at F2.8 (and to a lesser extent at smaller apertures) causes some mild - but visible - vignetting (darkening of the corners of the frame) in scenes with large areas of flat tone (such as blue skies).
|35 mm equiv., F2.8||35 mm equiv., F2.8|
European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet spent 6 months on board the International Space Station where he worked with Google capturing spheric panorama images that are now available in Street View.
It's official. PDN has confirmed with parent company Aurelius that 94-year-old lighting company Bowens is indeed going out of business.
The newly launched firmware version 1.06 fixes AF-issues that can occur with some lenses that are not officially compatible with the MC-11 converter.
Voyager is a waterproof smart light stick you can control entirely from your phone. The light has already blown past its $300K funding goal on Indiegogo.
2018 is the last year Photokina will take place during the traditional end-of-September dates. In 2019, Photokina will take place from the 8th to the 11th of May.
The Canon IXUS 50 (known as the SD400 Digital ELPH in North America) was one of a string of high-performing, pocketable PowerShots of the mid-2000s. In this week's throwback Thursday, Barney casts his mind back to 2005.
A close look at the EOS 6D II's Raw files suggest its dynamic range has taken a significant step backwards compared with the company's recent DSLRs. We look at how much difference this might make for your photos.
With a full-production review unit in our hands, we've got over 100 production samples from the new Canon EOS 6D Mark II to share.
Need a break from your day? Kick back and watch the making of a somewhat unconventional mojito filmed on Canon's new EOS 6D Mark II.
The Bonfoton Camera Obscura Room Lens can turn any room into a camera obscura, projecting the view from your window onto the walls of your room.
Adobe just released version 2015.12 of Lightroom CC, adding support for several new cameras and lenses, and baking in several important bug fixes while they were at it.
In this interview, Chiara Marinai, photo editor for VanityFair.com, explains exactly what she looks for in new photographers and photo submissions. Take notes.
Massive corporation P&G is being sued by a Cincinnati photographer for serious copyright violations. If the courts rules against P&G, the company could pay as much as $75 million in damages.
Snapchat's camera-equipped 'Spectacles' aren't so difficult to get anymore. You can now pick up a pair through Amazon for $130.
A group of thieves has made away with tens of thousands in camera gear through a carefully orchestrated scam through Venmo and Facebook Marketplace.
A portrait lens from 1910 might be coming back to life if two photographers from Germany succeed in a new Kickstarter project—the latest development in the craze to remake vintage optics.
The updated version of Google Glass is called the Enterprise Edition and, as the name suggests, it's not meant for personal use.
Charles Ommanney was once a photographer for presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, now he's working for Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
Image compression software JPEGmini Pro was just updated to handle files up to 128MB. They're calling it "The 1 Feature Hasselblad Owners
Apple was just granted a patent for a camera system that prods, coaxes and manipulates users into taking better group and solo selfies.
The Canon EOS 6D Mark II is a better camera than its predecessor, but how much better? Should you buy one?
The winners of the 2017 Magnum and LensCulture Photography Awards have been announced. Here are the six photographers who took home the top prize in their respective categories.
A NASA study has confirmed what your ears have been telling you: people HATE drone noise. In fact, it was ranked more annoying than that of "any ground vehicle."
This floating bird video isn't edited in post-production. It's the result of the birds wing flap matching the camera's 20fps frame rate.
Adobe released a major update to Lightroom Mobile for both iOS and Android users today.
Could the future of photo and video storage be... alive? Scientists at Harvard have managed to encode a GIF of a galloping horse into a live sample of E. coli.
Recently appointed Photokina manager Christoph Menke has provided some background on the decision to try out an annual schedule and other changes in a Q&A session.
Japan's space agency has released an adorable floating drone ball on the International Space Station, and for the first time ever we get to see what's it's been recording.
Outraged about the latest photo theft scandal? Great. PhotoShelter founder Allen Murabayashi suggests you put that frustration to good use and register your damn copyright.
The Canon Selphy CP1300 is an update to the Selphy CP1200 and comes with a larger 3.2" tiltable LCD display, an improved user interface, and some neat new features.