The last Bali Creative Festival (BCF) did not only inspire my creative senses, but also granted me another gift in the form of a cool gadget to support my hobby: a compact digital camera from Panasonic. It was during Jerry Aurum talkshow’s question session that Mr. Dharma, the Network Product Manager of Panasonic Indonesia reveals that Panasonic as the sponsor of the Creativest would grant one of their digicam to the best question.

Having mine chosen as the most related to the theme of the event, and so I became the happy new owner of Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH7; a 16.1 Mega pixels compact digicam with 28-112 mm lens, 4x optical zoom, Mega OIS (Optical Image Stabilization), up to ISO 1600, Sonic speed AF, a whole 3.0 inch touch screen back panel, and a lot of good things (see this link for details) — the perfect replacement for my old digicam.

One thing that’s also amazing beside of its features, is the size that’s very small, and lightweight; which makes it a good daily & backup cameras.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH7 User Experience (UX) Quick Look

Camera operations seldom a subject of UX review, for the lack of crucial GUI operations, a rather small diversity options available between models and brands, and a more ergonomic-related issues. However with this series, there’s also one fascinating feature that comes with Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH7: a big 3.0 touch screen that occupies all of the real estate of the rear panel, which removes all the physical button usually used for advanced setting, and relies completely on its GUI for operations usually carried out by physical buttons.

Touch-Shot

One of the most interesting feature found on Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH7 UX that comes with the big touch screen, is the enabling of a “touch-shot” operation which initiates focusing and shooting by tapping on its touch screen, just like my HTC Salsa does. With it, you can pick an area on the screen to focus your lens into, which is really useful during macro shots or composing a picture with tight DOF (Depth of Field); enables you to have extra controls on which area should be focused, and which should be blurred.

GUI + Shortcut

A little downside to the pros with going all-touch-screen operation on the rear panel anyway; with the removal of all physical buttons, advanced operations and settings now relies completely on its GUI — which left some common functions now buried deep within. The accompanying Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH7 user manual has neither provided a thorough information on the GUI as well, though users can find more elaborate explanation on Panasonic Website here.

Panasonic devise a good workaround though, by providing a “desktop” shortcut to the user-preferred functions, i.e.: flash setting, and autofocus setting. However it has only two slots, thus hasn’t been able to truly replace the convenience of physical buttons. It does enable a much wider (and better) area for picture viewing though, and it doesn’t hurt its day to day operation, just that for a more advanced users it requires a bit of learning and familiarization.

Resistive Touch Screen + Stylus

Another issue comes with its all touch screen operation, lies on the use of resistive instead of capacitive touch screen, making selecting a bit tricky; presses it too soft and your command will be ignored; presses it too hard and you risk of damaging your screen. Resistive touch screen has its advantages though, which lies in the high precision level it provides, hence making on-camera picture editing and touching ups possible. Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH7 further support this precision editing with providing a nice-to-grip small stylus. Up to this point however, I haven’t find the secure way to store the stylus which makes it prone to lost; as it’s not a slot-in kind, nor having a clear indication on how it should be attached to the camera — Or it wasn’t designed to be attached at all?

Conclusion

Seeing all the pros and cons, on overall Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH7 took a courageous leap, into the forward direction. It does requires some learning and familiarization with the all-touch-screen operation, before users can comfortably taking advantage of its fascinating extra features; however for the casual usage/users, it’s a compactness meets beauty and good functionalities; a point and shoot camera well done.

My shortcut preference for Food Photography

As for myself, since Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH7 already sports a high ISO rating, good image stabilizer function, combined with a high resolution sensor and good photo results, I found myself on most of the time only needs to alter the mood and impression of my shots, hence comfortably assigning my screen shortcuts to controls the Macro mode, and Flash mode; two functions which plays a big role in setting the mood and impression on my food photography and blogging activity. (byms)

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