Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX580 Review
Originally Posted: September 5, 2009
Last Updated: September 14, 2009
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX580 ($399) may look like Just Another Ultra-Compact Camera, but it has two features that most cameras in its class do not. The first is a 3-inch touchscreen LCD display. While many camera manufacturers have touchscreen cameras, the FX580 is somewhat unique in that it doesn't force you to use the touchscreen for everything -- there are "regular" controls too. This, in my opinion, is a big plus. Naturally, you can do the usual touchscreen things too, such as Touch AE/AF and photo browsing with your finger.
But the touchscreen isn't the main reason why I chose to review the DMC-FX580. What really makes this camera stand out from the ultra-compact crowd is that it has full manual controls. I don't know who decided that ultra-compacts can't have manual controls, but kudos to Panasonic for finally breaking the mold.
Other features on the Lumix FX580 include a 5X, 25 - 125 mm zoom lens, optical image stabilization, an Intelligent Auto mode that does just about everything for you, and an HD Movie mode.
Sound appealing? Keep on reading -- our review starts right now!
The Lumix DMC-FX580 is known as the DMC-FX550 in some countries.
What's in the Box?
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX580 has an average bundle. Inside the box, you'll find:
- The 12.1 effective Megapixel Lumix DMC-FX580 camera
- DMW-BCF10 lithium-ion rechargeable battery
- Battery charger
- Wrist strap
- Stylus pen
- USB cable
- A/V cable
- CD-ROM featuring PhotoFunStudio 3.0, ArcSoft Media Impression and Panorama Maker
- 143 page camera manual (printed)
Like most manufacturers, Panasonic has built memory right into the DMC-FX580. It has 40MB of built in memory, which holds just 6 photos at the highest quality setting. That means that you'll want to buy a decent-sized memory card right away. The FX580 supports SD, SDHC, and MMC cards, though I'd recommend sticking with the first two. I would suggest picking up a 2GB or 4GB card for use with the camera, and it's worth spending a little extra for a high speed model, though there's no need to go overboard.
The FX580 uses the DMW-BCF10 lithium-ion battery for power. This compact battery packs 3.4 Wh into its plastic shell, which is typical for a camera in this class. Let's see how that translates into battery life:
The DMC-FX580 comes in second place here, no thanks to the impressive numbers put up by the Casio Exilim EX-Z450. In the group as a whole, the FX580's numbers are well above average.
There are a couple of issues to mention about the proprietary batteries used by the FX580, and all the cameras on the above list. First, they're pricey, with a spare FX580 setting you back at least $38. Also, you cannot use an off-the-shelf battery in emergencies, as you could with an AA-based camera. One issue specific to the FX580 is that it requires the use of Panasonic batteries -- third party models will not work!
When it's time to charge the battery, just pop it into the included charger. It takes about 130 minutes to fully charge the battery. This is my favorite type of charger, too -- it plugs directly into the power outlet.
As with all ultra-compact cameras, the FX580 has a built-in lens cover, so there's no lens cap to deal with.
There are just a couple of accessories available for the Lumix DMC-FX580. They include:
And that's about it! Let's talk about the FX580's software bundle now.
PhotoFunStudio 3.0 in Windows
Panasonic includes a couple of software products with the Lumix DMC-FX580. First up is PhotoFunStudio 3.0, which is for Windows only. After you've imported photos from the camera or a memory card, you'll end up with the standard thumbnail view you can see above. From here you can view a slideshow, e-mail or print a photo, and upload videos to YouTube. You can also use a new "face recognition" feature that lets you identify people in your photos, which allows for easy searches later on. Speaking of searches, PhotoFunStudio lets you search through photos by all kinds of things, whether it's by camera model, scene mode, baby name, date, and more.
Editing photos in PhotoFunStudio
Choose the "retouch" option from the toolbar and you'll get the editing window you see above. Here you can adjust things like brightness, contrast, color, and sharpness. Images can be changed to sepia, black and white, or "negative color", and redeye can be removed with the click of your mouse. There's also an auto enhancement feature, for those who want to keep things simple.
ArcSoft MediaImpression in Mac OS X
Another option for basic image editing is ArcSoft MediaImpression software, which is for both Mac and Windows. MediaImpression can be used to import photos from the camera, with the unique option of removing redeye during import. The main screen looks just like every other image browser, though you'll get to the fun stuff when you go to the edit screen.
Editing photos in MediaImpression
Here you can see the edit screen in MediaImpression, where you can adjust brightness, contrast, saturation, hue, sharpness, and color balance. You can also remove redeye, straighten photos, blur backgrounds, and touch up blemishes.
ArcSoft Panorama Maker in Mac OS X
Another piece of the ArcSoft suite is Panorama Maker, which helps you combine photos that you've taken side-by-side into a single panorama. It's easy to use, and the results can be really impressive.
The manual that comes with the DMC-FX580 is very much average. It's like a manual from any big consumer electronics company: confusing and cluttered, with lots of fine print. You'll find the answer you're looking for -- you'll just have to work harder than you should. Documentation for the included software is installed onto your computer.