Reviewers agree that the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH5 (known as the FS18 outside of North America) is an excellent option for novice users seeking an affordable, yet simple point-and-shoot camera. Weighing less than 5 ounces and measuring 0.7 inches deep, the FH5 is "very small and slim, making it incredibly easy to carry," say editors at Steves-Digicams.com, who note that the camera's slight grip could be problematic for users with large hands. Yet, despite its diminutive size, the FH5 boasts several features, including a 16.1-megapixel high-resolution sensor, 2.7-inch LCD screen and a 28 mm wide-angle lens with 4x optical zoom, though the FH5's 112 mm telephoto reach falls short of its discontinued Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH3 predecessor (140 mm). The FH5 also comes with 720p HD video but, unlike the Canon PowerShot A3300 IS (Est. *$150), you can't zoom while filming movies and there's no HDMI jack to watch videos in HD.
However, experts find the FH5 simple to operate, thanks to a basic control layout and Intelligent Auto mode, which picks the best settings for each shot. There are also 28 different scene modes for beginners to choose from, including Baby, Starry Sky, Pet and Fireworks. But the FH5 lacks a viewfinder and manual controls, which may deter seasoned users. Critics also note that despite the FH5's high-resolution sensor, photo quality lags with noisy shots and blown highlights in some tests, though PhotographyBlog.com's Gavin Stoker says, "there's certainly sufficient detail to satisfy." Other reviewers note that while the 2.7-inch LCD panel suitably frames shots, it struggles in bright sunlight. If you want an affordable compact that has better photo quality and a sharper LCD screen, the Canon A3300 offers a 5x zoom lens, a 140 mm telephoto reach and a vivid 3-inch LCD screen.
Photography enthusiast sites such as PhotographyBlog.com, PC World Australia, CNET Australia and Steves-Digicams.com thoroughly evaluate the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH5. CameraLabs.com compares the FH5 against its Canon rival while users at Amazon.com weigh in with personal experience.
Editors call the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH5 an "excellent" ultra-compact for users on a budget. Affordability, ease of use and "sharp, well-exposed" images are among the camera's attributes. But it's "too small for a person with large hands" and the video microphone picks up external noise.
Review: Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH5 Review, Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH5 Review, March 21, 2011
2. PC World (Australia)
Despite blown highlights and an LCD that "struggles in bright conditions," the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH5 is simple to use as well as "convenient and fun" for concerts, travel photography or casual shooting, says Elias Plastiras. However, video images look "choppy" when the camera is in motion.
Review: Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH5 Camera, Elias Plastiras, May 18, 2011
3. Camera Labs.com
Ken McMahon compares the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH5 to its Canon PowerShot A3300 IS rival, detailing how each camera measures up in photo quality and features. He ultimately concludes that while the FH5 is "an excellent camera," the A3300 offers "crisper, punchier" images and more features. Nevertheless, he gives the FH5 a "recommended" rating.
Review: Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS18/FH5 Review, Ken McMahon, May 2011
4. CNET (Australia)
Alexandra Savvides is underwhelmed with the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH5, bluntly observing that "unless you need a slimline, bare-bones camera, steer clear of the FH5." The camera's small size, mediocre image quality and "blocky" 720p video images are among her chief complaints.
Review: Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH5, Alexandra Savvides, May 9, 2011
"Demanding photographers will inevitably want to look elsewhere," but the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH5 will appeal to point-and-shoot users who want to start snapping right away, says Gavin Stoker. Although there are blown highlights and image noise above ISO 400, Stoker gives the FH5 a Recommended designation for value and ease of use.
Review: Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS18 Review, Gavin Stoker, Sept. 26, 2011
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH5 receives 4.5 stars out of 5 from more than 30 users. Most are pleased with the FH5 and one user adds that for beginners, "the camera is easy to work with, taking excellent pictures that are easy to download to your laptop." Others are happy with the camera's small size, vibrant colors and budget price tag. However, a few complaints surface about grainy images.
Review: Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH5, Contributors to Amazon.com