With compact cameras often too big to be pocketable, and smartphone sensor and lens technology still limited, Callum McInerney-Riley asks whether the Panasonic Lumix DMC-XS1 strikes a happy medium. Read the Panasonic Lumix DMC-XS1 review...
At 14mm deep, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-XS1 has the thinnest body profile of any camera of its type. Incredibly, given its size, it features a 5x optical zoom lens, which is impressive as it is not much thicker than a mobile phone.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-XS1 review – Features
Inside its ultra-compact body the Panasonic Lumix DMC-XS1 carries a 16.1-million-pixel CCD sensor. This is a 1/2.33in-type (7.66×6.17mm), which is a fraction smaller than the sensors found in most other consumer-level compacts, but bigger than the average smartphone sensor.
As a consequence of its small size, the sensor’s sensitivity range is limited to ISO 100-1600, although a High-Sensitivity mode is selectable from the scene modes. In High Sensitivity (ISO 1600-6400), the resolution is scaled down to 3 million pixels or lower to aid noise reduction.
To allow the body to be so compact, Panasonic has opted to use Micro SD removable memory, yet despite all the space-saving the XS1 still sports a large 2.7in, 230,000-dot LCD screen.
The XS1 also features a 24-120mm (equivalent) f/2.8-6.9 wideangle lens with 5x optical zoom. This is stabilised using Panasonic’s Mega OIS image stabilisation system, and has an additional 8x digital Intelligent Zoom.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-XS1 review – Build and handling
The XS1’s standout feature is its incredibly compact size, and at just 14mm (or 17.6mm with lens housing) – it is ultra slimline.
The exact dimensions are 93.8×53.5×17.6mm, making it one of the smallest and thinnest compact cameras on the market.
The styling of the camera is exceptional. The model we reviewed has a two-colour finish, with the body primarily a very sleek-looking high-gloss white. Black, red and violet finishes are also available, as well as patterned versions, such as leopard print.
The camera has a simple, standard control layout with raised buttons that are easy to find when looking at the rear LCD. The menus are limited and basic, although this does make them very easy to use.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-XS1 review – Performance
The XS1 does not have Wi-Fi connectivity, but that is to be expected for a camera that can be bought for a street price of under £100.
A big advantage with using Micro SD memory cards is that they are compatible with many smartphones. Simply removing the card from the camera and inserting it into a smartphone means the emailing and sharing of photos online is easy.
The battery drained quicker than expected and, despite Panasonic’s claim that the XS1 can take 260 pictures before needing a recharge, it wasn’t too long before a low-battery warning appeared. Thankfully, though, the XS1 is charged via USB, so it can be powered-up via a laptop or an external power pack.
The LCD is responsive and only becomes difficult to see at sharp angles or in very bright places. The resolution at 230,000 dots is very low in comparison to a smartphone, but fairly standard for most compact cameras around the same price.
There is a high level of noise in images at ISO 400 and above. In-camera noise reduction is applied, but this causes a slight loss of detail.
White balance and colour are as consistent as can be expected. Similarly, the AF is reasonably fast and accurate.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-XS1 review- Our verdict
Overall, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-XS1 is very stylish, small and light. This makes it an ideal ‘carry-anywhere’ camera, and one gifted with a performance on a par with or better than similarly priced compacts and top-end smartphones. On top of that, it has the added advantage of its zoom lens.