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Panasonic Lumix DMC-LS85 review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £94
inc VAT

The LS85 is just what we look for in a low-cost camera, cutting back on frivolous extras but delivering on design, performance and image quality.


1/2.5in 8.0-megapixel sensor, 4.0x zoom (33-132mm equivalent), 128g

Panasonic’s camera division is on a roll, picking up two awards in last month’s Labs test and two more this month. The LS85 couldn’t be more different to the GH1 but it’s just as impressive.

It’s the cheapest camera in Panasonic’s range, although there’s no sign of scrimping in the lens. The 4x optical zoom is a pleasant surprise, but the optical image stabilisation is really impressive at this price. The f/2.8 maximum aperture is also welcome, too. There’s a trend towards using f/3.5 lenses in compact cameras, so this one captures a little more light. This and the optical stabilisation are good news for low-light photography.

The 2?in screen’s 230,000-dot resolution is more detailed than we expected, but colours looked washed out when viewed from above. Otherwise, the LS85 is simple and functional. A Quick Menu button provides access to key settings such as ISO speed, white balance and face detection. There are no metering options, but we can’t imagine anyone missing them at this price. The camera was a tad slow to switch on and shoot, at just under four seconds, and focus could be lethargic at telephoto settings. Otherwise, performance was good and the 1.8fps continuous mode was excellent. Use of AA batteries isn’t as convenient as a Li-ion battery but 550 shots from two NiMH batteries is admirable.

The lens lived up to expectations and the sensor and image processing didn’t let it down. The fully automatic mode delivered well-judged exposures. Details were sharp, colours natural and the modest resolution kept noise levels down. Outdoor shots were very smooth, and while indoor shots without the flash exhibited fuzzy halos around sharp lines, the noise reduction handled this without sacrificing too much detail. Its image quality is the best we have seen for under £100.

Basic Specifications

Rating *****
CCD effective megapixels 8.0 megapixels
CCD size 1/2.5in
Viewfinder none
LCD screen size 2.5in
LCD screen resolution 230,000 pixels
Optical zoom 4.0x
Zoom 35mm equivalent 33-132mm
Image stabilisation optical, lens based
Maximum image resolution 3,264×2,448
Maximum movie resolution 848×480
Movie frame rate at max quality 30fps
File formats JPEG; QuickTime (M-JPEG)


Memory slot SDHC
Mermory supplied 50MB internal
Battery type 2x AA
Battery Life (tested) 550 shots
Connectivity USB, AV
Body material plastic
Accessories USB and AV cables
Weight 128g
Size 62x97x30mm

Buying Information

Price £94

Camera Controls

Exposure modes auto
Shutter speed auto
Aperture range auto
ISO range (at full resolution) 80 to 1600
Exposure compensation +/-2 EV
White balance auto, 4 presets, manual
Additional image controls none
Manual focus No
Closest macro focus 5cm
Auto-focus modes multi, centre, face detect
Metering modes multi, face detect
Flash auto, forced, suppressed, red-eye reduction
Drive modes single, continuous, self-timer