Retro Review: Panasonic DMC-FH25/DMC-FS35

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH25 is an old camera, released in 2011. Before I was serious about photography, I got one not really knowing much about cameras. As I still have it, I thought I’d post a fun retro review of this camera.

Handling and Functionality

This camera is small and is easy to fit in your pocket. It is flat and has no viewfinder, so you have to compose with the rear screen. Its focus modes are limited and not easy to control either. Moreover, the only manual control it has is using automatic or manual ISO. That means you can influence the shutter speed by fixing the ISO anywhere from ISO 100 to ISO 1600. I read there is an extended ISO mode that goes higher but I would not even bother using this camera if the lighting is that bad.

This camera has a very old 4/3 ratio 6.08×4.56 mm CCD sensor, just 3.2% of a full-frame sensor. Here is a visual representation showing this sensor relative to the micro four thirds sensor:

This diagram shows how small this sensor is, and it being an old CCD sensor, you’d be right if you guessed this camera does not handle low light very well. But I’ll talk more about it in the image quality section.

This camera can also shoot 1280×720 video. The quality is not terribly good and the resolution is quite low for today’s standards. I would not even use it as a backup camera in good light.

Image Quality

The image quality from this camera is average. Unfortunately, it only shoots JPEG images and thus you are at the mercy of its JPEG processing engine, which applies aggressive overprocessing to every shot. Let us take a look at this image:

Now, right away even on a low-resolution screen, we can see there are some serious problems with this image. To make matters more clear, here is a set of 100% crops from the center and from the edge:

There are two problems that are evident, which absolutely affect the whole picture even without pixel-peeping. The first problem can be see from the center crop. Even though this is where the camera is at its sharpest, it still shows sign of serious processing. It has an ugly, block texture that is a sign of indiscriminate and heavy noise processing.

This shot was also taken in fairly decent light, so unfortunately pretty much all images will have serious quality problems like this. The other problem is the edge. Especially at close focus, the images from this camera will have noticeably weak edges.

One neat feature of this camera is its macro mode. It is fairly close focusing, giving the characteristic wide angle macro look that can make for some very nice shots:

The camera’s lens is a zoom with a full-frame field of view equivalent to 28–224mm. However, on the longer end, the quality degrades rapidly. The first fourth of the range from 28mm onwards is not bad, but I hesitate to use anything greater than that. Suffice it to say, I would also only use the longer focal lengths for very still subjects and in good light.

The following image of a Black-capped Chickadee is the best I could get at the maximum focal length with a bit of cropping and postprocessing:

This camera does have some strengths. First, it functions a bit more decently in very strong light and at its widest focal length. Thus, if you simply accept these limitations you can create decent shots with it.

Most decent phones will outperform this camera, but certainly not all. Entry level android phones with very bad cameras will definitely still perform worse than this camera. Keeping in mind that this camera can be bought now for 1/5th the price of the cheapest phone, that isn’t that bad.

Conclusion

I may have been a bit harsh on this camera in my review, but I actually like it. If you mostly use it at its widest focal length and in good light, it can take decent shots.

Given that it is so cheap, it could be a nice camera if you happen to come across it in a drawer and you would rather leave your phone at home. On the other hand, if you are looking for a point and shoot, I believe there are much better models out there for not much more money.

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