We have reviewed a number of smartphones, tablets, music players and other gadgets at Techie Buzz. Now, for the first time, we are going to review a digital camera at your favorite blog. Panasonic recently sent us its flagship super-zoom digital camera, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200. After playing with the device for a couple of weeks, it completely changed my perception regarding bridge cameras. The Lumix FZ200 is the successor of the last year’s Lumix FZ150. The Lumix FZ200 is the first super-zoom camera which packs a 12.1 megapixel High Sensitivity MOS sensor with 24x zoom and maintains a fixed aperture f/2.8 lens starting from 25mm to 600mm.
Apart from that, the FZ200 comes with a 3 inch rotating LCD display, 0.2 inch electronic viewfinder (EVF) with 1.31 million dot equivalent resolution, full HD (1080p) video recording at 60fps, manaual shooting mode, Panorama shot mode, iA (Intelligent Auto) mode, Creative Control mode, 12fps continuous shooting without autofocus and 5.5fps with autofocus, 3D still images, RAW format support and much more. It captures the same amount of light throughout the zoom range and take amazing pictures even in low light and with higher ISO settings.
What’s In The Box?
- Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200 camera
- Battery Pack (DMW-BLC12)
- Battery Charger
- USB Cable
- Lens Hood
- Lens Cap
- Lens Cap String
- Shoulder strap
- Basic Manual
You might have seen a number of super zoom cameras currently available in the market. However, they does not offer a constant aperture throughout the focal length range. For example, the Nikon Coolpix P510 comes with 24-1000mm range, but the maximum aperture at 24mm is f/3.0, while the maximum aperture at 1000mm is just f/5.9.
Even the Lumix FZ200′s predecessor, the FZ150 had the same focal length, however the widest aperture f/2.8 was only available when the lens was at its widest position. At 600mm, the aperture was limited to just f/5.8. This is where the Panasonic Lumix FZ200 has taken a different approach. It might not offer 24-1000mm range, but the the aperture of f/2.8 remains constant from right from the beginning till the end.
The main advantage of constant aperture is that, the camera will allow four times more light to enter the lens, compared to a f/5.6 aperture. The large aperture offers faster shutter speeds without changing the ISO settings. It will not only help you to take less noisy shot in poor light, but also get sharper results without decreasing the ISO settings.
If you are taking pictures of an object from a great distance, then most of the times the result turns out to be a blurry image, thanks to your hand movement or camera vibration. To solve this problem, the Lumix FZ200 comes with Panasonic’s Power O.I.S (Optical Image Stabilization), which helps you to take sharper images at longer focal lengths by preventing any unwanted camera shake. The Power O.I.S. works even while shooting a video.
Panasonic has bundled a petal-shaped detachable lens hood in the box to avoid lens flare. The Leica lens comes with Panasonic’s Nano Surface Coating technology which minimizes light reflection at the entire zoom range to avoid any unwanted ghosting or flare effects resulting in super clear picture.
The Panasonic Lumix FZ200 looks similar to other super zoom cameras. Even the external design of this camera is strikingly similar to its predecessor. If you hide the name of FZ150 displayed on the front side, then it would be hard for anyone to guess which one is FZ200. The body of this camera is made of a mixture of metal, plastic and rubber. You can easily hold the camera, thanks to the large grip provided for the right hand. There is also adequate space to hold the camera from the left side, which makes it easy to click pictures.
The FZ200 is little bit bulky, compared to other super zoom cameras available in the market. It measures 87 x 123 x 117 mm and weighs 588 grams. Panasonic has provided a neck strap, which will help to to conveniently move and take pictures at multiple locations. If you are uncomfortable with the neck strap, then you can even use a wrist strap. You will find a number of buttons, lever and dial strategically placed around the camera.
On the right side of the lens, you will find a switch marked with AF, AF Macro and MF. A dedicated focus button is placed right below the switch. Panasonic has also provided a vertical zoom rocker next to the focus button, which offers an alternate way of zooming for those who does not want to use the zoom lever on the top of the camera. It proves to be extremely for zooming the image view from the left hand and simultaneously using the right hand to click the shutter button.
On the left side of the lens, you will find Auto-focus assist light/self timer. Panasonic has also provided a contoured rubber grip on the left to hold the camera firmly. A small rubber thumb rest is also placed on the back of the device. The flash is hidden right above the lens. You will need to slide the button to pop-up the hidden flash. The working range of the flash is 0.3 – 13.5 m at wide-angle and 1.0 – 13.5 m at Auto ISO. You can also attach an external flash, if you need more flash power. Apart from that, a twin built-in microphone is mounted above the flash.
On the top, you will find a on/off switch along with a shutter button/zoom lever, direct movie button, burst shooting button and a customizable Fn button. The on/off switch is integrated with the mode dial which includes two custom modes, scene mode, creative control, intelligent auto mode, shutter priority, manual exposure and a manual movie mode. On the back, LCD display is placed on the left, while a four-way controller, Q-menu/ delete button, Fn button and DISP button is placed on the right. Above the display, you will find the electronic view finder as well as EVF/LCD button, Play/Gallery button and AF/AE lock button.
The LCD screen rotates 180° to the side and tilts 270° up and down. It is extremely useful for those who wish to take self-shots. Panasonic has also upgraded the resolution of FZ200′s electronic view finder (EVF) from 201,600 dots to 1,312,000 dots. Sadly, there is no in-built proximity sensor. It means that, you will need to manually click the EVF/LCD button to switch between the two.
The Panasonic FZ200 managed to produce images of excellent quality. The macro performance is above average. The macro mode is useful for closer objects, but it slows down the focusing. The auto-focus mode has 4 categories – face detection, subject tracking, 23-area auto, and 1-area modes. The camera easily picks out faces and gives them priority in the Face Detection mode. On the other hand, you can select both the position and size of the focus point in the 1-area mode.
The pop-up flash completely surprised me. I tried to take a couple of pictures at night and the results were much better than expected. There is no noise at ISO 100. However, the noise gradually increases from ISO 200 to ISO 800. Noise is satisfactorily controlled until ISO 1600, however the noise increase tremendously when you go above ISO 1600. The Power O.I.S (Optical Image Stabilization) worked as advertised. I was able to get perfect pictures even when the object was at a great distance.
The Panasonic FZ200 packs 14 Creative Control modes – High Dynamic, Cross Process, Toy Effect, Miniature Effect, Soft Focus, Star Filter, One Point Color, Expressive, Retro, High Key, Low Key, Sepia, Dynamic Monochrome and Impressive Art. These creative control modes can be easily activated from the mode dial or from the menu button. Some of the filters are not much useful, however you can have some fun with the filters and add amazing effects on your images. You can also use the Intelligent Resolution feature to make your images look sharper.
You can save images in normal or fine quality JPEGs, plus RAW or RAW+JPEG. A fine quality JPEG takes about 5 MB, while a RAW file eats up nearly 15 MB. The Panasonic FZ200 can shoot Full HD (1080p) video at 50 frames per second, however the frame rate drops to 25 frames per second if you record the video in MP4 format. The burst modes records at 12 frames per second for up to 12 images. Sadly, continuous auto-focusing is not available at 12 frames per second. Burst shooting at faster rates of 40 and 60 fps reduces resolutions to 5 megapixels and 2.5 megapixels.
The Panasonic FZ200 comes with an impressive list of features. Similar to its predecessor, the Panasonic FZ200 is a solid performer. The highlight of this camera is 24x zoom and constant aperture of f/2.8. There are number of super zoom cameras available in the market. Some of them offers zoom up to 50x. However, Lumix FZ200 is the first super-zoom camera which packs a 12.1 megapixel sensor with 24x zoom and maintains a fixed aperture f/2.8 lens right from 25mm to 600mm.
The Panasonic Lumix FZ200 is one of the best bridge camera currently available the market. If you are planning to buy DSLR and don’t like idea of changing the lenses, then you should definitely have a look at this camera. The price of this camera is slightly higher than its competitors, however spending a few extra thousand rupees for amazing features and quality won’t hurt at all. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200 comes with a price-tag of Rs.34,990 in India.
Rating: 4/5 (Excellent)
Product Reviewed: Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200
The Panasonic Lumix FZ200 is one of the best bridge camera currently available the market. It is the first super-zoom camera which packs a 12.1 megapixel sensor with 24x zoom and maintains a fixed aperture f/2.8 lens right from 25mm to 600mm.