The top of the Lumix, shown in Figure 3, sports the power on/off control, the shutter release and the zoom ring. You will immediately notice that the power control is a switch rather than a button, making it easier to control and eliminating inadvertent powering up of the camera.
Below the Display button is a joystick type of dial, which is really the main control of the camera. The joystick responds to upward, downward, left and right movements as well as a center press. Although this dial is quite small, it is quite responsive. Yet larger hands may have some difficulty using it. After using this dial for awhile, we found that we could control it fairly well, but we wished that it were a bit larger.
The last control is a small button marked “Q Menu,” which give you menu choices appropriate for the Record mode that you are shooting in. The Q Menu is used to turn on and off options like the Image Stabilization, Burst Shooting, Autofocus Mode, White Balance, Intelligent ISO, Intelligent Exposure, Picture Size, and LCD Mode. Since the Q Menu brings up the most often used functionality while shooting, it is nicely placed at the bottom where you can access it without looking.
As shown in Figure 5, the side of the camera has a small door that opens to reveal (from left to right), the DC input, a combined USB and TV output, and a port for the component HD output. The DC input and HD output cables must be purchased separately. The sturdiness of the door speaks to the quality of the whole camera build. Instead of the flimsy rubber port coverings used in some cameras, this Lumix has a fully constructed metal-clad door with a plastic insert for the port labels. The door is securely hinged to the case.
The bottom of the camera sports the tripod mount and one compartment that holds both the battery and the SD memory card. The tripod mount placement allow you to change the battery and/or memory card without disconnecting the tripod.