The Bottom Line
Panasonic has touted the Lumix DMC-FH7 -- called the Lumix FS22 in some parts of the world -- as a great point and shoot camera for portrait photography and, thanks to this camera's "cosmetic" modes, it does work well for portraits of people.
In addition, you'll find a touch screen LCD with the FH7, which isn't common in the sub-$200 price range. These two features alone make the FH7 a pretty good camera.
I found in my FH7 review that this camera's image quality in indoor photos isn't as good as it could be, as images are a bit flat, but this thin camera works well versus others in this price point.
The FH7's image quality is above average versus cameras in its sub-$200 price range. This camera's focus is really sharp the majority of the time.
With outdoor photos, the Lumix FH7's image quality is really good, as is often the case with low-priced cameras. Colors are really bright and vibrant.
With indoor photos, though, the images seem a bit flat. The indoor photos will be sharp, but they don't have anywhere close to the vibrancy that you'll find with outdoor photos. Flash photos are about average, and you'll sometimes have a glare spot on the subject. You will have a blurry photo from time to time because of camera shake, when shooting indoors.
Panasonic included four different aspect ratios with the FH7 (4:3, 3:2, 16:9, and 1:1), but there's only one resolution setting available in three of the aspect ratios. At the 4:3 ratio, the Lumix FH7 has five resolution settings. I'd like to see a few more resolution setting options at the other aspect ratios.
One of the most interesting features included with the FH7 is the "cosmetic" mode, which allows you to adjust the look of skin in portrait photos. You'll find settings such as "summer look," "natural skin," and "soft skin" with this setting, which works pretty well.
The autofocus mechanism with the Lumix FH7 works pretty fast and is accurate, as long as you see a green bracket on the screen, which indicates the autofocus is sharp.
I would've liked to have seen the FH7 have a larger optical zoom lens than its 4X measurement. However, because the Lumix FH7 is designed as a camera that excels at portrait photography, a large zoom isn't as important.
You can either adjust the zoom through the touch screen LCD or through the control that rings the shutter button. The zoom lens seemed to move a little slow.
I thought the touch screen LCD on the Lumix FH7 was accurate and worked well, although it's much easier and faster to adjust the zoom using the ring switch than the LCD. However, if you're having problems with it, Panasonic included a calibration feature, which should make it easier for you to use the touch screen.
The FH7 can only shoot HD movies at 720p and 24 frames per second, which is about average. There is no dedicated movie button on this camera, meaning you must select movie mode through the on-screen menus and use the shutter button to start and stop movies. The zoom lens is not available when shooting movies, which is disappointing.
Unfortunately, the Lumix FH7 has no HDMI port for transferring movies. You'll have to use the USB port.
The FH7 is a good-looking camera, with silver trim around the colored camera body. You'll also find an extremely thin camera body with this model, measuring only 0.76 inches in thickness.
Even though this camera is really thin, I thought it was pretty comfortable to hold and use. However, some photographers will find this model a bit too small for their liking. You do have to be a little careful with the placement of your right index finger, because you can inadvertently block the built-in flash unit on occasion.
The only buttons on this camera are an on/off toggle switch and the shutter button. You must control all other camera settings through the touch screen LCD, using the on-screen menus, because there is no mode dial. Each setting is represented by an icon, which can be a little confusing until you learn what each icon means. On-screen explanations are available for some features, but this "help" function could be much better.
Panasonic has included an option that allows you to create "short-cut" buttons to functions you commonly use, which is a really nice feature.
Overall, the Lumix FH7 includes 23 scene modes, which should help you achieve good results. In addition, the FH7 has several special-effect options, including pin-hole, film grain, and high dynamic art. You can add art stamps to your photos or sepia effects, too. In addition, you can perform some basic photo editing functions, such as cropping, through the menus.