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Panasonic FX01

The FX01 from Panasonic continues the simultaneous thinning and widening of convenience-type digital cameras. With a 28mm wide angle/zoom lens and a wonderfully pocketable size, the camera's 6.0 megapixel capacity delivers great pictures wherever you happen to be.

The FX01 is slim enough to carry unnoticed in a pocket or purse. Its pop-out 3.6x optical zoom lens is protected behind sliding covers until you turn the camera on. And you can leave it turned off until just before you need to take a picture because of its impressive 2-second start-up time. Better still is the absence of noticeable shutter lag. In my tests, I was able to go from the camera in "off" mode to having already taken the picture in just three seconds.

There is unfortunately no optical viewfinder on the FX01. But the 2.5" TFT display makes up for that because it delivers a fast refresh and is visible even in bright lighting, thanks to its "Power LCD" function that adds backlighting to the LCD.

You'll find all the normal digital camera features on the FX01, including scene modes, auto focus, 4x digital zoom, red-eye reduction, and a movie mode. In addition, you'll find an image stabilization function that smoothes out shots when shooting on the run (literally) and in low light situations. The movie mode can capture 30 frames per second, giving you VGA (640x480) movie clips.

I didn't take the camera under water, but when combined with the optional case, the FX01's underwater mode compensates for the strong blue normally associated with underwater photography. Another scene mode that may find an audience is the Baby mode. Actually there are two baby mode settings. If you set the birthday for your baby, the age will be shown with each picture taken in that mode.

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