The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX33 is low and compact, so it's a pleasant surprise to find they've packed in so many features. Still, for £200, we expect plenty from a compact, especially when there are so many cheaper 8-megapixel cameras with 64mm (2.5-inch) screens and 3x zooms.
There's not an ounce of fat on the FX33. The LCD display is the usual 64mm (2.5-inch), although Panasonic compensates for not giving us a bigger screen by making the camera frame little bigger than the screen. Apart from the small area to the right of the display where the controls sit, the rear of the FX33 is all screen, with no wasted real estate.
The impressive 22mm depth, flush-folding lens and long, low profile make the FX33 seem more like a mobile phone in size and shape. The weighty all-metal body feels extremely sturdy, with a snappy little metal door covering the USB slot. Colours available are classy black or silver.
The FX33 tops the usual 3x zoom with a Leica 3.6x lens, with a pleasingly wide 28mm equivalent, as opposed to the typical 35mm or disappointing 38mm on some compacts. However, the 8.1-megapixel sensor is the usual small 25mm.
Panasonic's excellent MegaOIS optical image stabilisation system is present and correct, which is truly impressive in such a small camera. In the OIS menu you can access an onscreen levels display that shows how much the camera is moving in real-time. It's fun, and educational, but unfortunately you can't see the indicator of how much your hands are shaking when you're actually in shooting mode.
Pointing and shooting is obviously the focus here, with lots of scene modes but a shortage of manual options. There isn't even shutter or aperture-priority mode. Instead, Panasonic have added a new 'intelligent auto' function, similar to Pentax's 'green mode', which does almost everything except press the shutter for you.
In this mode you are only able to adjust the more obvious features, like turning the flash on or off. This mode prioritises faces, using the face detection feature. It's clever enough to switch to macro mode if the autofocus decides your subject is close enough.