One of the many point and shoot cameras announced at CES 2010 was the Panasonic FH20. I spent a little while at CES checking out the new camera and its siblings.
The FH20 is at the top end of the new cameras in the FH lineup. The other new cameras, the FH3 and FH1, are essentially just lower-spec versions of the FH20. Since all the models were preproduction and I couldn’t evaluate image quality at CES, the handling and performance comments on the FH20 pretty much match up with my impressions of the FH3 and FH1 as well.
FH20 Key Features
- 8x Optical Zoom
- Optical Image Stabilization
- 720p Video Recording
- 2.7-inch LCD
- SDXC Compatible
FH20 Handling and Performance
The FH20 is obviously point and shoot camera. While it’s not the smallest of point and shoots, it is definitely compact and pocketable. The 8x zoom lens retracts into the body when the camera is powered off.
All of Panasonic’s new FH cameras have a brushed aluminum finish on the body. They look great and feel solid in the hand.
As noted above, the FH20 accepts the new SDXC card format (along with existing SD and SDHC cards). The new SDXC format boasts speed and capacity advantages over SD and SDHC cards; however, I don’t see any reason that you’ll need the new cards in this camera. SDHC cards should be plenty fast and big enough to handle still images and videos from the FH20. (Learn more about SDXC cards.)
All the controls are well laid out atop and on the back of the FH20. The zoom switch wraps around a responsive shutter button. The mode button on the back helps you get to your settings for switching up to video mode or other settings.
The menu system is intuitive enough in that you can find your way around it without the aid of a manual. The zoom on the FH20 is satisfactorily quick – much quicker than the sluggish FP3 and FP1. It’s also nice to have that great zoom range in such a compact camera.
While 14.1-megapixels may be a little much for a point and shoot camera, the FH20 appears to be a decent little camera in terms of feel and function. I’ll reserve final judgment on the camera until I see what images from that pixel-packed sensor look like. Check it out at B&H Photo.