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View Count: 119 |  Publish Date: April 03, 2014
Panasonic Lumix DMC-XS1
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-XS1 earns points for its amazingly slim design and low cost, but its not the best pocket camera out there. By Jim Fisher
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-XS1 ($129.99) is a shockingly slim pocket shooter with a 16-megapixel CCD image sensor and a 5x zoom lens. Its size alone will turn heads, and even though its image quality isnt at the same level as bulkier cameras, it does a fine job when in daylight. But it suffers when the light gets low, and theres no Wi-Fi, so sharing selfies captured with its wide-angle lens will have to wait until youve copied them over to your computer. We prefer another inexpensive compact, our Editors Choice Canon PowerShot Elph 330 HS, which has a CMOS image sensor that does better in low light and offers Wi-Fi functionality. But the XS1 sells for less than its asking price, and if youre looking for an inexpensive snapshot camera it is a viable option.Compare Similar ProductsPanasonic Lumix DMC-XS1%displayPrice%%seller% Canon PowerShot Elph 330 HS%displayPrice%%seller% Nikon Coolpix S01%displayPrice%%seller% Olympus VR-340%displayPrice%%seller%
Design and Features The XS1 isnt the smallest point-and-shoot Ive handled, but its not far off. It measures 2.1 by 3.7 by 0.7 inches (HWD) and weighs 3.1 ounces. The Nikon S01 is just 2.1 by 3.1 by 0.7 inches in size, but a little heavier at 3.4 ounces. The S01s 3x (29-87mm f/4.1-5.9) lens cant match the XS1 in terms of wide-angle coverage, zoom, or light gathering. The XS1 has a 5x zoom that starts at 24mm f/2.8 and extends to 120mm f/6.9; thats a smaller f-stop at the telephoto end, but it captures about the same amount of light at its 87mm equivalent position as the S01. The f/2.8 aperture at 24mm brings in twice the light as the S01 can at its widest angle.
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The top plate has just enough room for the power button and shutter release, so the zoom rocker is placed flat against the rear in the upper right-hand corner. There arent a ton of other controls on the camera; four buttons on the rear allow you to change the shooting mode, record movies, play, and delete images. Theres also a four-way rocker that adjusts the self-timer, dials in exposure compensation, controls the flash output, and toggles the amount of information shown on the rear display. At its center is the Menu/Set button, which launches the menu and doubles as the confirmation button for most functions.
Serious shooters looking for manual control should look elsewhere; the XS1 is designed with automatic operation in mind. The standard iAuto mode takes full control over the camera, allowing you to choose whether the flash will fire or not, but not much else. Theres a Normal Picture mode, which is essential program; it adds control over exposure compensation, ISO, and the focus area. But dont look for manual control over the aperture or shutter speed, as its just not here to be found. Panasonic includes a number of scene modes, including a Sports mode for a short shutter speed if you want to make sure the camera freezes action. Theres also a Creative Control mode that includes a number of artistic filters, and an in-camera panorama mode.
The rear display is 2.7 inches in size and sports a 230k-dot resolution. The resolution itself is low, but the real issue is the viewing angle; if youre trying to peek from the left or right side the screen is visible, but from above or below it is very difficult to see. You wont find a lot of low-cost compact cameras with sharper displays, but the Olympus VR-340 is one to consider if thats a priority—it features a 3-inch, 460k-dot screen.
Performance and Conclusions The XS1 lives its life in the slow lane. It requires about 3.3 seconds to start and shoot a photo and its limited to capturing full-resolution images at about 1 frame per second. But it does focus and fire in a decent 0.2-second span, and you can capture a 10-shot burst of 3-megapixel images in just one second, so its not useless for fast action shooting. The Canon Elph 330 HS bests the XS1 in speed; it starts and shoots in 1.8 seconds, has an ever-slightly shorter 0.15-second shutter lag, and can fire full-resolution photos at 2fps.
I used Imatest to check the sharpness of images captured by the XS1. We use a center-weighted average score of 1,800 lines per picture height to call a photo sharp, but the XS1 falls shy of that mark. It manages just 1,585 lines on the test; the central third of the frame does mange 1,900 lines, but sharpness drops off quickly as you move toward the edges, showing 1,500 lines through the middle third and just 600 lines across the outer third of the frame. Some drop-off at the edges is expected for a compact camera, but better lenses usually stay above 1,800 lines at all but the outer third. The compact lens design is likely to take some blame here; the slim Nikon S01 fared similarly, notching just 1,527 lines on the test, and also showed a very sharp center with details that became muddy as you approach the edges of an image.
Imatest also checks photos for noise, which can detract from image quality when shooting at the high ISO settings that are required for snapping images in low light. The camera uses a CCD image sensor, which doesnt perform as well in low light as more modern CMOS chips. Noise is kept under 1.5 percent through ISO 800, but there is some loss of image quality when the camera is pushed that far. I took a look at shots from our ISO test sequence on a calibrated NEC MultiSync PA271W display. At ISO 800 fine lines in a foreign banknote in our scene smudge together. Theres some smudging at ISO 400 as well, but its less apparent at ISO 200. If you can keep the camera set to ISO 400 or below (which wont be an issue in daylight), youll be able to share images on the Web without concern, but even at lower resolutions the loss of detail at ISO 800 and up will be noticeable. Serious photographers who want a compact from which they can make detailed prints, but dont want to spend too much, should look at the Elph 330 HS; its lens is sharper and it keeps noise under 1.5 percent through ISO 1600.
Video is recorded in QuickTime format at 720p30 quality. Its not the best quality; even under the bright lights of our studio scene the footage lacks definition and appears grainy. The lens cant zoom in or out when recording, but the XS1 does a decent job at keeping up with focus. The only external connector on the camera is a proprietary USB port, located on its base. This is how you charge the battery (theres no external charger included). The target user isnt likely to buy a second battery for this one, but it is unfortunate Panasonic didnt use a standard micro USB connector so that it would be easier to share charging cables with other devices. The slim design necessitates the use of microSD memory; its only labeled to support SD and SDHC cards, but a 64GB microSDXC card worked just fine for me. The major drawback to the tiny card slot is that you cant use an Eye-Fi Mobi Wi-Fi memory card to transfer images to your phone for quick online sharing. But if your phone has an easily accessible microSD slot, you can get images online that way.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-XS1 falls short on a lot of benchmarks, and on the surface you might expect it to get a slightly lower rating. But its slim form factor, bantamweight mass, and low asking price make it possible for us to recommend it—albeitwith reservations. Its lens isnt the sharpest in the world, and if youre using it for indoor photosyoull need to utilize the flash. But for daylight snaps that are destined for the Web, itll do an ample job. Our Editors Choice compact, the Canon Elph 330 HS, is a much better camera, and its got Wi-Fi built in. Its just not quite as inexpensive, or as amazingly slim.

Time: 14:46  |  News Code: 393196  |  Site: PCMagazine
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