by Joseph LaQuiere

"Declaring the glory of God
through photography of His created world"
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  copyright 2007 by Joseph LaQuiere
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Panasonic DMC-FX01 -  Panasonic DMC-FX07
If you have read my review of the Panasonic FX01 you will know that I very much liked this shirt pocket camera and chose it as my best pick for a small pocketable camera.  About the time of the review Panasonic announced the FX07 the replacement for the FX01.  The new camera was to be virtually identical but of course they raised the megapixel bar to 7 and it would feature Panasonic's new Venus Engine III (electronic brain) which would facilitate the use of ISO's up to 1250 and a High Sensitivity mode at 3200 albeit with very strong use of noise suppression.  Noise suppression is a software routine that goes through the image and tries to blend out the noisy dots visible in the image.  This tends to soften detail and give the image a blurry appearance. The higher the noise in the image the more the loss of detail will be.  You can read more about ISO and noise here.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX01           Panasoinc Lumix DMC-FX07
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX01           Panasoinc Lumix DMC-FX07
My initial concern in hearing about the release of the FX07 is that Panasonic has not had a reputation for doing very well at controlling noise or handling it in the completed image.  With the inevitable push up in Megapixel to 7 I had concerns that the FX07 would actually produce worse picture quality than the original camera.

Well as you shall see when you look at the picture galleries my concerns seem to be unfounded. The FX07 delivers equal or better results then the FX01.  In fact in my copy of the FX01 I found it inferior to the FX07 in metering and lens sharpness/focus.  In regards to metering, the FX07 was more often more aggressive in setting exposure, sometimes loosing, highlights but for the most part I liked the results better. On either camera the exposure compensation can be set up or down.
Externally the FX07 is identical to the FX01.  On screen, the menus are shaded a little different and there is now a menu selection choice for the different flash modes instead of just changing the icon at the top of the screen.  The FX07 also has the additional ISO settings of 800 and 1250.  I found 800 to be very noisy and 1250 practically unusable.  The FX07 also features something new called "Intelligent ISO" What this is supposed to do is sense the motion near the center of the picture and decide on a shutter speed and ISO combination that will give the best results.  With this active the camera will set ISO up to a max of ISO 800 if it senses motion that needs a higher shutter speed.  I did not have any conclusion on how effective or helpful this feature is. In addition, from the scenes menu, there is the "High Sensitivity" mode @3200 ISO which uses extra internal processing for removing the noise actually yielding a more usable image than the 1250 ISO.  In fact I was quite impressed with this "High Sensitivity" mode. Both cameras featured this mode (on the FX01 this is ISO800) however the improved processing on the FX07 does much better then the 01 and at a higher ISO. In the ISO Comparison gallery you can see shots from each camera in High Sensitivity" mode .  This mode would only be good for special situations that require a photo to be taken in low light
Speaking of noise, both cameras appear to use some noise removal processing at all ISO settings but certainly at ISO200 and above.  I have included some 100% crops from both cameras at ISO 100 and 200.  At ISO 100 it could be debatable which camera produces a better picture however at 200 and above the noise processing is clearly better from the FX07 retaining much more detail.  Click the link below to load the page of crops.
100% Crops of FX01 and FX07 noise comparison
The only other significant difference I found between the two cameras is the FX07 is faster focusing than the older camera.  This is presumably due to the new Venus III brain in the camera.

While cosmetically and functionally the cameras are identical Panasonic seems to have been able to up the megapixel count and add a few enhancements.  The main addition seems to be in the software routines built into their new Venus III engine that do a better job at hiding noise and retaining detail.  The faster focusing is also a welcome improvement.  Overall the differences are minor but the FX07 does yield better pictures than the older FX01 and is an upgrade.

Below are links to the sample galleries.  These are all comparison shots with the FX01 image followed by the FX07.  The gallery that tells the story on these two cameras is the ISO Comparison gallery.

Sample Image Galleries
Sample Shots   |   ISO Comparison   |  100% crop ISO comparison


Please see my review of the Panasonic DMC-FX50

Click for larger image
Panasonic DMC-FX07
1/400, f/5.6, sec ISO:100
October, 2006