Skip to main content

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FP8 Review

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FP8
MSRP $300.00
“Speedy startups, focusing and shooting make the FP8 always at the ready.”
Pros
  • Quick start-up, autofocus and low shutter lag, Excellent image quality in proper lighting, attractive design
Cons
  • No lens cover, Initially unintuitive rear controls, Noise at high ISOs hampers indoor shooting

Panasonic-Lumix-DMC-FP8

Introduction

If Panasonic’s Lumix DMC-FP8 looks a lot like the rugged TS1 the company launched earlier this year, it’s because the two cameras have a lot in common. Although the FP8 won’t survive a dip in the drink or a drop to the floor like its brawnier brother, both use a unique folding-optic design that eliminates moving parts outside the camera. And priced at $300, this stripped-down, classed-up model is $80 cheaper. Does the basic camera design hold up when deprived of its tank-like cladding? We found out.

Features and Design

Panasonic’s FP8 offers a 12.1-megapixel sensor, 4.6x zoom, a 2.7-inch LCD screen rated 230K pixels, Mega O.I.S. optical image stabilization, and a 28mm wide-angle lens.

Folding Optics

Unlike the bulk of pocket shooters you see today, Panasonic’s FP8 lacks the gigantic center lens that pops out of the front like a cannon barrel when you turn it on. Instead, it captures through a squared-off-looking Leica 28mm wide-angle lens in the upper right of the camera, where you might ordinarily find an optical viewfinder. Internal folding optics allow the FP8 to zoom all the way to 4.6x without anything extruding from the camera. However, unlike similar cameras like Sony’s TX1, the FP8 has no sliding lens cover to protect the lens when not in use.

Start-Up Time

In the TS1, that design gave the camera extreme durability. In the FP8, it’s all about speed. Panasonic claims the cameras goes from off to ready-to-shoot in 0.95 seconds, since nothing has to mechanically shoot out of the body.

Dimensions, Weight and Size

The rest of the body adopts the same deck-of-cards dimensions as most other point-and-shoots: 2.35 inches tall, 3.77 wide and 0.80 deep, with a reasonable weight of 0.29 pounds. It feels quite at home in a pocket, although the lack of lens cover will definitely make you wish for a carrying pouch. Not surprisingly, the lack of armor makes the FP8 slimmer, smaller and lighter than the bulked-up TS1.

Panasonic-Lumix-DMC-FP8-Compact-Stylish-Camera-back
Image used with permission by copyright holder

LED-Backlit Buttons

The FP8 controls closely resemble what you might find in any product of this class, but a few things stood out. Panasonic opted for LED-lit rear controls, which look quite sharp and make the camera easier to operate in the dark. However, only the tiny linear buttons get illuminated – the icons for what they do have been printed on the body itself and remain hard to see in dim conditions. Until you’ve memorized the controls, the illumination contributes more to style than ease of use.

Unintuitive Directional Controls

Since the four-way directional controls resemble crosshairs, rather than a donut, Panasonic has gouged out the center select button and relocated it above the pad. This can initially be quite disorienting and unintuitive, compared to the near-universal donut design, but we eventually adjusted.

Always at the Ready

Although Panasonic advertises the 0.95-second startup times quite flagrantly, it can be somewhat misleading: The screen will fire up in about a second, but it won’t actually snap a shot until about 1.6 seconds from off to image captured. But we’ll forgive the technicalities. It’s quick. In practical terms, if you flick the FP8 on as you pick it up, it’s ready to frame the shot by the time you can point it in the right direction, and ready to shoot a split second after it’s framed. Snappy autofocus times and extremely low shutter lag (the time between shutter press and image capture) further this camera’s aptitude for spur-of-the-moment shots.

Image Quality

Image quality is about on par from what you might expect from a camera in this price range. Outside with good lighting, the FP8 captured crisp detail and accurate color, both in normal mode and with Panasonic’s Intelligent Auto calling the shots. Panasonic’s Mega Optical Image Stabilization system also seemed to do its job – far-away street signs and license plates always seemed legible, even in shots we barely composed or shot on the move.

Inside, Panasonic’s age-old problem with noise became more pronounced. In contrast to the recently reviewed Panasonic ZS3, which shirked Panasonic’s somewhat noisy reputation with clean photos up to ISO 800, the FP8 exhibits noticeable noise at ISO 400, which becomes downright egregious at ISO 800. Although Intelligent Auto did an excellent job managing white balance and other settings, its propensity to shoot at ISO 400 and higher indoors caused visible noise in many shots.

sample1
Image used with permission by copyright holder
sample2
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Video Quality

Noise was also quite pronounced in indoor videos, where we actually preferred the output from cheaper dedicated cameras like Kodak’s Zi8. The FP8 did have some positives, though. Unlike many point-and-shoot cameras that capture video but only allow digital zooming after the camera starts rolling, the FP8 allows full use of optical zoom and autofocuses on the fly, making it feel like a real camcorder.

Conclusion

As a still camera, the FP8 delivers respectable, if not exactly best-in-class, image quality. But perhaps that’s missing the point. Photographers will value the FP8 for the same reason western gunslingers used to value the Colt Peacemaker: It’s quick on the draw. With the FP8 at our side, we felt ready to capture anything in an instant. Think: The difference between a picture of milk shooting out your friend’s nose, or your friend hovering over a pool of milk. And the slim body and LEDs don’t hurt its image, either.

Pros:

• Quick start-up, autofocus and low shutter lag

• Attractive design

• Unique LED-backlit keys

• Excellent image quality in proper lighting

Cons:

• No lens cover

• Initially unintuitive rear controls

• Noise at high ISOs hampers indoor shooting

Nick Mokey
As Digital Trends’ Managing Editor, Nick Mokey oversees an editorial team delivering definitive reviews, enlightening…
New Leica Lux app turns your iPhone into a Leica (sort of)
The Leica LUX app for the iPhone.

If you’ve always coveted a Leica camera, but don’t have the absurd amount of money required to buy one, then perhaps you can make do with camera maker’s new Leica Lux app instead.

Currently only available for the iPhone, the Leica Lux app promises an experience about as close to a Leica as you can get without actually owning one.

Read more
Best GoPro deals: Save on action cameras and accessories
Prime Day 2022 GoPro deals graphic.

Action cameras are great for recording your active lifestyle; whether it's tracking through a mountain range or skiing down a slope, they can keep up with even the most strenuous activity. Of course, one of the best action camera brands is GoPro, and there are a lot of options you can pick from within its lineup, with a lot of great deals on the base camera and other accessories, of which we've collected our favorites below. You could also check out these drone deals to give you another cool perspective, or if you don't want to grab a GoPro, these camera deals might be good for you instead.
Best GoPro camera deals
GoPro HERO9 Black (open box) -- As low as $156

The GoPro HERO9 Black is a bit of an older GoPro at this point, but that certainly doesn't mean that it's geriatric, and the older age means you can get it for a lot cheaper. It has a large front screen for you to work with, and it can take 27MP stills, although the 5k video recording is a little bit pointless on a model like this. It has a larger battery, which is nice, and if you're okay with going for a refurbished or open-box version, then you can save a little cash.

Read more
Hurry! The GoPro Hero12 has a $100 price cut at beat buy
GoPro HERO12 offers waterproof use.

There are a lot of action cameras on the market, but one of the best and most well-known is the GoPro, so if you want something that can handle your active lifestyle, a GoPro is a great option. That said, GoPro cameras can be quite expensive, which is why you'll likely want to grab a deal on one to save you a little bit extra. Luckily, this GoPro Hero12 has a great deal on it from Best Buy that discounts it down to $300 from $400, saving you a solid $100, which is a nice discount.

Why you should buy the GoPro Hero12
One of the most important parts of any action camera is its video quality, and you'll be happy to know that the Hero12 can manage a whopping 5k at 60fps, which is pretty impressive for something so small. If you need more frames, you could go for the equally impressive 4K at 120fps, which is still quite impressive, and you could even go as fast as 240fps at 2.7K, so you have a lot of options when it comes to resolutions and framerates that work best for you. Another big positive is that the Hero12 has a pretty large field of view and can capture an aspect ratio of 8:7, which is pretty massive, all things considered.

Read more