The Panasonic Lumix DMC FX40 is up against some pretty stiff competition when it comes to pocket sized digital cameras. To try and make the Lumix DMC FX40 stand out from the crowd Panasonic has included an ultra wide angle lens. A wide angle lens helps you squeeze more of a wide scene into a photo. So this could be a big attraction to you if you like to take a lot of sweeping landscape shots or groups of people.
As with other cameras in this series you can increase the amount of zoom available if you are prepared to shoot at lower resolutions. Doing this will save space on the memory card and can also increase the quality of the pictures you take.
Another big attraction aside from the ultra wide zoom lens could be the High Definition movie mode. Although I would not claim that this can fully replace a camcorder, you cannot zoom in and out while recording for a start, this can come in handy if you want to fire off the occasional movie clip without carrying your camcorder around with you.
With dimensions of 95.3 x 52.9 x 21.5mm the Lumix DMC FX40 will fit into most pockets without much of a problem. Panasonic has created black, silver and red versions. In terms of design I would describe it as a simple, unfussy camera. It has a smooth, matt finish. This helps to give the camera a feeling of quality. It weighs 128g without a battery or memory card. This makes it one of the more lightweight digital cameras.
I found this camera easy to use. Just how complicated you find it depends to a large degree on how many of the features you plan to take advantage of. The menu runs to three and a half pages, with an additional set up menu. Items such as the resolution, focusing mode and white balance are changed through the menu system. So it is possible you will not feel the need to delve into the menu too often. When you do you should find it a simple task to find the setting you wish to change, even if you need to scroll through a few screens first.
On the back of the Lumix DMC FX40 in the top right hand corner is a control dial. You use this to change the shooting mode. For example you use the dial to place the camera in macro mode. The camera also has an iA mode. This stands for intelligent auto. In this mode the camera will check for common types of photograph such as a landscape scene and set the controls accordingly to take the best possible picture. This mode is worth testing out, but it most situations I have not noticed any significant difference in picture quality between this mode and the general automatic mode.
The Lumix DMC FX40 certainly takes bright, colourful photos, but I must admit to being a little disappointed with the sharpness of the more distant shots I took. This softness becomes increasingly noticeable as you move away from the centre of the shot. I have noticed this with the previous model in this series as well. This is not up to the usual high standard set by Panasonic. It may not be a problem with snapshot sized prints, but it will become noticeable with larger print sizes.
There are 40 megabytes of storage space built into the Panasonic Lumix DMC FX40. This sounds a reasonable amount, but if you are shooting at the full 12 megapixel resolution this only provides enough space for around 8 photos.