The FX12's styling has a distinctly retro flavour. With its clean lines and simple layout it harks back to traditional film cameras of the past. But there's nothing old-fashioned about the Panasonic's specification. This includes a 7.2Mp sensor capable of still image captures just over 3,000 pixels across and video clips up to 848x480.

The FX12 features customary Leica glassware and a 3x optical zoom (35–105mm in 35mm terms). It's fitted with an f2.8-f5.0 aperture spread and an optical-stabilisation system that effectively smooths out small amounts of camera shake.

There's a respectable array of ISO settings on offer, maxing out at 1,250. You get a broad range of shutter speeds, too. These venture from 60 seconds to 1/2,000th of a second, although it's a shame there's no manual exposure control to capitalise on this. More usefully, the FX12 stocks a sizable assortment of automatic and manual scene modes. Build quality and comfort levels are extremely high. And if there are compromises, these would concern only the slightly ponderous startup and zoom times and a 2.5in screen with a lower resolution than the others. But while the LCD may lack a little detail, the photographs it produces certainly don't.

We were nothing but impressed with the FX12's performance. Fringing is only slight, white balance is highly adept and noise levels are well managed. Indeed, images remain surprisingly clean up to an ISO setting of 400. Venture beyond this, however, and the noise-reduction function starts to eat into detail. In short, the Panasonic FX12 is a gem of a camera. It has balanced specifications, impressive image quality and, at £170, is fantastic value for money.

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Panasonic DMC-FX12: Specs

  • 7.2Mp sensor
  • 1/2.5in CCD
  • 3,072x2,304 resolution
  • 848x480 movie resolution (30 frames per second)
  • 3x optical zoom
  • 35-105mm aperture
  • 2.5in, 115,000-pixel LCD
  • 50cm/5cm normal, macro focus distance
  • 60secs-1/2,000th shutter speeds
  • f2.8-f5.0 max aperture
  • 100-1,250 ISO range
  • 27MB internal storage (SD/SDHC/MMC)
  • lithium-ion rechargeable battery
  • 94x51x24mm, 155g
  • Lumix Simple Viewer, Photofun Studio
  • 7.2Mp sensor
  • 1/2.5in CCD
  • 3,072x2,304 resolution
  • 848x480 movie resolution (30 frames per second)
  • 3x optical zoom
  • 35-105mm aperture
  • 2.5in, 115,000-pixel LCD
  • 50cm/5cm normal, macro focus distance
  • 60secs-1/2,000th shutter speeds
  • f2.8-f5.0 max aperture
  • 100-1,250 ISO range
  • 27MB internal storage (SD/SDHC/MMC)
  • lithium-ion rechargeable battery
  • 94x51x24mm, 155g
  • Lumix Simple Viewer, Photofun Studio

OUR VERDICT

Cool looks, excellent features and brilliant image quality. Throw in fantastic value at a list price of £170 (you can get the Panasonic DMC-FX12 cheaper online), and you have a camera that is, quite simply, the best compact on the market today.

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