The Bottom Line
With a touch screen LCD and outstanding image quality, the Panasonic Lumix FX90 is a really nice camera for beginners. The FX90's autofocus and response times both work very well. The 3.0-inch LCD on the FX90 is a high-quality screen, and the option of having a touch screen with this camera makes it extremely easy to use.
The FX90 has a lot of features that beginning photographers will like. There aren't a lot of manual setting options with this camera, but its image quality is strong enough that even intermediate-level photographers looking for a really thin model will want to test the FX90.
This camera has a few drawbacks, however. Its price of around $300 seems a little high to me, and if you're looking for a camera with a fancy design, the FX90 won't meet your needs. It's really thin, but its look is very plain. Still, any camera with the image quality of the FX90 deserves strong consideration, especially for anyone who wants a touch screen LCD in their beginner-level camera.
The overall image quality with the Lumix FX90 is perhaps its best feature. Photos are well exposed in all types of light, including with flash photos. Moving subjects don't cause many problems in outdoor photos, as shutter lag is minimal. Colors are bright and accurate in all types of photos.
When shooting extreme close-up photos, the FX90's autofocus can struggle a little bit to capture a sharp focus, so you'll want to be sure to shoot in macro mode. With other types of photos, the FX90's autofocus is extremely sharp, and it results in great photos.
I thought the flash unit on this camera tended to fire more a bit more often than it should, creating some glare spots and slightly overexposed photos. If you're in a situation where the flash isn't needed, you may have to manually turn it off to keep it from firing.
If you'd like to try some of the FX90's special effects, Panasonic included quite a few options for slightly adjusting the look of your images. The FX90 offers a cosmetic mode -- which is great for shooting well exposed portraits -- as well as several color modes, including natural, vivid, cool, warm, sepia, and black and white.
Panasonic included plenty of resolutions and aspect ratios with this camera, allowing you to shoot with 21 different combinations. The top resolution is 12MP at a 4:3 aspect ratio.
Shooting movies is as easy as pressing the movie button to start and stop the recording. A limited zoom is available during the video function. Three different movie resolutions are available, including 1080p HD video. Image quality is pretty good with videos, although the autofocus can be a little slow to adjust to subjects at varying distances.
It's easiest to use automatic mode with the FX90, but you also have access to 28 different scene modes. Panasonic included a 3D mode with this camera, where you shoot two images at slightly different angles, and the FX90 will create the 3D effect.
If you want more manual control over the images, you can set the white balance, ISO, exposure, and the minimum shutter speed.
The FX90 has pretty good response times, as startup is fast, and the shutter lag is minimal, unless you're shooting in low light. You may experience some delays between shots, especially when using the flash. You can turn off the image review function after each shot, which can help minimize shot-to-shot delays.
The LCD is a nice quality screen, but you may need to increase the brightness outdoors to help you with using the camera and avoiding screen glare. You also can adjust the LCD's tint and contrast, which is a nice feature.
You can control the 5X optical zoom through the touch screen or using the zoom ring on the top panel. It's nice to have two options for using the zoom. You also can shoot photos by touching the subject on the screen, but you must activate this feature.
The FX90 is a very thin camera, and the touch screen LCD contributes to the thin look and feel of this model. It looks a lot like most of the Lumix cameras, as it's all black with a little silver trim. The FX90 doesn't have a design that will grab your attention, as it's a basic-looking camera.
The power button is a toggle switch, which means you don't have to worry about accidentally turning off the camera. Along with the power switch, the top panel of the camera also has the zoom switch and the shutter button. Thanks to the touch screen, the back panel has only one button, through which you can activate the WiFi connectivity, which can be handy for transferring photos quickly.
The area with the memory card and the battery is enclosed with a panel that's latched and sturdy. Panasonic included both a USB and an HDMI slot with the FX90, as well as a separate battery charger.
With the touch screen, you obviously won't need a mode dial. All of the menu options are represented by an icon, but brief explanations on the screen can help you understand each option. You also can create up to two shortcuts for menu options, and the shortcuts will appear on the main shooting screen. This is a great customization feature, and it will save you a lot of time versus having to search through the menus for your favorite features.