One small evolutionary step
THE LOW-DOWN: This latest version of Panasonic’s all-in-one superzoom pseudo SLR is a small development from the FZ100. It has the same 25–600mm equivalent lens and articulated LCD. The electronic viewfinder appears to be unchanged, but there is one difference – the megapixel count has been reduced from 14 to 12. This is an aspect of camera design where Panasonic has gone boldly and led the way, reducing pixel count to improve image quality and reduce image noise. This is a bridge camera, between compacts and DSLRs, in that it is smaller and lighter than an SLR but retains the versatility of the bigger camera, including RAW capture and a full set of external buttons and knobs for function control. Movie mode is full 1080p HD. There is a suite of optional accessories including microphone, flash and lens extenders.
LIKE: The Leica-branded stabilised lens is impressive in all respects. Even at the 600mm extension sharpness and contrast are good. And at the widest 25mm end distortion is negligible. Images are consistently well exposed and auto focus is fast and accurate. On the test shoot we found the articulated LCD a boon, particularly for low level shooting.
DISLIKE: We have the same reservation we always have about the electronic viewfinder.
VERDICT: It is just one year since we tested the FZ100, the predecessor to this camera. Panasonic’s product development seems to go in small, evolutionary steps with one or two improvements here and there. This is an admirably conservative approach and shows the company has faith in its fundamentals. It means that the owner of an FZ100 has little incentive to trade up, but a new customer is getting a highly refined product. Superzoom is not our preferred camera form, but this is a good one.