Ten megapixel cameras are the rage these days and Panasonic's DMC-FX36, the successor to its FX33 model, is no different and comes fully loaded with 10 million photosites. Besides the upgrade to ten megapixels from the previous eight, let's take a look and see what other improvements Panasonic have made to the FX series, shall we?
Like last year's FX33, the FX36 looks almost the same except for some few added curves on the trim. It's also sporting a new switch at the rear that toggles between shooting and playback, which is a nice addition. All in all, the FX36 has an unassuming style that should appeal to all but the most flamboyant of camera geeks.
Like the FX33, the FX36 retains the Intelligent Auto function of its predecessor, but with a few added tweaks. Besides the Shake Detection, Motion Detection, Face Detection and Scene Detection functions of the previous iA version, the FX36 has added a Light Detection feature which adjusts images that may turn out either over or under exposed. Lastly, you have Red Eye Correction, which is pretty much self explanatory.
Unlike other digital compacts that blended cutting edge design with lackluster image performance, the FX36 performed almost exactly as we expected it to. The colors were suitably saturated, which is something that Panasonic is well known for. This of course, is due mainly to the newly upgraded Venus Engine IV image processing system. The direct comparison of our color chart showed that the FX36 not only produced more color saturation, it also had a good amount of camera sharpening compared to the FX33.
The only odd thing that stood out in our minds when we did our review was the negligible amount of extra detail that the higher resolution sensor provides. On a positive note, while a higher megapixel count often means smaller sensors and increased image noise, we found that there was actually a good deal less noise at ISO 1600. Sadly, at ISO 100, resolution maxed out to only around 15, which by our books, is decent enough but no way spectacular.
All in all, we found the newly added features and functions of Panasonic's DMC-FX36 to be a welcome upgrade to the previous design, especially when we needed to keep images more consistently exposed while reducing the red-eye effect. There was however, one tiny side effect that we spotted at longer distances: the function instead turned red-eyes to gold, which while jarring, can be easily remedied by getting closer to your subjects.
A digital compact is only as good as the sum of its parts and this is where the FX36 gets the job done. At S$599, it's a snappy, well built compact that the guys in lab coats over at Panasonic have managed to nail it down right.