The Controls

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.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX500 Digital Camera Review

Figure 3: The top of the camera.
The main controls run along the left side of the LCD screen, as shown in Figure 4. At the top is the a switch which allows you to select either the Playback or the Record mode. Below that is the Mode button which brings up on-screen information. Under that is the Display button which cycles through the different display modes.

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.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX500 Digital Camera ReviewFigure 4: The controls on the back.

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.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX500 Digital Camera ReviewFigure 5: The side of the camera.

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.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX500 Digital Camera ReviewFigure 6 The bottom of the camera.

Sandy Berger, respected computer authority, journalist, media guest, speaker, and author, has more than three decades of experience as a computer and technology expert. Her eight books include: How to Have a Meaningful Relationship with Your Computer, Your Official Grown-up's Guide to AOL and the Internet, Cyber Savers –Tips & Tricks for Today’s Drowning Computer Users, Sandy Berger’s Great Age Guide to Better Living through Technology, Sandy Berger’s Great Age Guide to the Internet, Sandy Berger’s Great Age Guide to Gadgets & Gizmos, Sandy Berger’s Great Age Guide to Online Health & Wellness, and Sandy Berger’s Great Age Guide to Online Travel. Sandy’s newspaper column, magazine articles, feature stories, product reviews, and computer tips can be found at her website, Compu-KISS.