Home / Cameras / Camera / Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38 review




  • Editors choice

1 of 25

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38 front
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38 front
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38 back
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38 flash
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38 side
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38 top
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38 battery
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38 specs
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38 test photo
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38 test photo
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38 test photo
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38 test photo
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38 test photo
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38 test photo
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38 test photo
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38 test photo
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38 test photo
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38 test photo
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38 test photo
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38 test photo
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38 test photo
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38 test photo
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38 test photo
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38 test photo
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38 test photo
  • Lumix DMC-FZ38 High-end Digital Camera - 12.1 Megapixel - 6.9 cm 2.70" Active Matrix TFT Colour LCD - Black (18x Optical Zoom - 4xSpeaker, Microphone)


Our Score:



  • Superb image quality
  • 28x zoom (27-486mm) lens
  • Manual controls
  • Electronic viewfinder
  • HD video with stereo sound


  • Still not close to SLR quality
  • Slightly slow operation
  • Not enough of an improvement

Key Features

  • 28x zoom (27-486mm) lens
  • 12.1 megapixels
  • Electronic viewfinder
  • Optical image stabilisation
  • Manual controls
  • Manufacturer: Panasonic
  • Review Price: £239.00

Last August I reviewed the Lumix DMC-FZ28, Panasonic's entry in the competitive super-zoom bridge camera market. As its many satisfied buyers will attest, the FZ28 is a superb camera, earning our highest accolade the Editor's Choice award. For the past year it has become the yardstick against which all other super-zooms have been measured, and it remains the best in its class. No other super-zoom camera has been able to match its combination of handling, performance and image quality, until now.

Or rather until September, because that's when the FZ28's replacement, the unsurprisingly-named Lumix DMC-FZ38, goes on sale. Although it was only officially announced today, I've had a full production sample of the new FZ38 for the past week, and I've had a chance to put it through its paces. I'm happy to report that it's every bit as good as its illustrious predecessor, and offers quite a few significant improvements, which it's going to need if it is to maintain its lead over some very competent rivals, such as the Nikon P90, Canon SX1 and Casio EX-FH20.

UPDATE 03/08: The FZ38 is now available for pre-order from a number of online retailers, and is being priced at around £300, which is unsurprisingly about the same as the launch price of the FZ28.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38 front

At first glance it doesn't look like much has been changed apart from the rather obvious addition of a pair of stereo microphones mounted on top of the flash housing. The body is identical to the FZ28, a design that has remained unchanged since the 2007 FZ18. It's a nice compact body, and the build quality is as good as ever. It is light but strong, with a decent-sized rubber handgrip and a textured thumb rest, and the numerous buttons and controls are clearly labelled and sensibly positioned. It handles well and looks suitably businesslike, but I can't help thinking that the overall design is starting to look a little dated. I'm not looking for chrome fins and flashing lights, but a little remodelling wouldn't have hurt, if only to integrate the microphones into the design. As it is they look like what they are; an afterthought retrofitted on to an existing design.


July 28, 2009, 6:00 am

Man Alive. I want this Camera even if my bank balance wont. Its pretty much a do it all device. Are we talking over 300 notes or what?

Cliff Smith

July 28, 2009, 8:22 am

There's no news on pricing for this or Panasonic's three other new cameras yet, and there probably won't be for several weeks, but I'd guess it'll launch at about the same price that the FZ28 did, around £290.


July 28, 2009, 10:07 am

Wow, I'm impressed, that's the quickest I think I've ever seen a review of a just announced product appear on TR :D


July 28, 2009, 11:27 am

With CCD sensor size 2.33 it is hard to believe that it is getting 10/10 for image quality. Wait one month for Fuji's S200EXR with Super CCD sensor size 1.6 and EXR technology.

Geoff Richards

July 28, 2009, 12:28 pm

Lars, you cynic - there's even a video review! ;)


July 28, 2009, 1:24 pm

Even my five year old compact had a larger sensor size than this...


July 28, 2009, 5:44 pm

It always amuses me to see how often Exeter cathedral has scaffolding around it.

Harry Fowler

July 28, 2009, 11:43 pm

What about the Fujifilm Finepix S9600 for best review. That's an absolutely awesome camera. I've owned one for a year now and haven't even considered upgrading to an SLR. I know they're generally better and more flexible, but I'm living off a student budget :)

Paul 15

July 29, 2009, 2:17 am

As an owner of an FZ18, I'm rather dissapointed they kept to a small sensor. I would like to have seen a reduction of noise at the higher iso settings. Is there a reason manufactures don't produce a compact with a larger sensor even if it means a larger body size? On a simialr theme isn't it possible to produce a dslr but with a macro and large zoom lens that is found on compacts.


July 29, 2009, 2:21 am


It amuses me more that I have never ever seen anyone working on said scaffolding in any review!

Geoff Richards

July 29, 2009, 4:08 am

Cliff rubs them out in Photoshop for consistent test shots (I'm joking of course!)

Ron 1

July 29, 2009, 12:34 pm

Being a relative newbie and a 'point and shoot' person with a Sony DSC-P120, would I be better to go for this or the TZ7?

Any advice appreciated.

James Morris

July 29, 2009, 3:51 pm

@Geoff He always manages to catch these English workmen on a tea break somehow. No idea how he manages that!

Barry Ward

July 29, 2009, 7:35 pm

I have the fz28 and am VERY happy with it. I am most impressed with it's macro capability, matching that of my old SLR which I no longer use. The only thing I wish was better was noise on higher ISO levels. There's little to seperate that and the new model- I wonder if some would just be happier paying less for the earlier model.

Cliff Smith

July 29, 2009, 9:14 pm

Now that you mention it, I don't think I've ever actually seen anyone working on that scaffolding. A friend of mine is a stonemason working on the restoration project, but I only ever see him in the pub across the green. No wonder the job's been going on for so long; it probably also explains why the cathedral took 300 years to build in the first place.

They should have got Polish builders in, it would have been finished in a couple of weeks.


July 29, 2009, 10:33 pm

I noticed in the local Gazette the Council has put out tenders for scaffolding restoration.

Tony Walker

July 30, 2009, 8:39 am


TZ7 is a truly wonderful camera - I own one. You can't go wrong with it.

Tony Walker

July 30, 2009, 8:41 am

@ all the naysayers

If they've done as good a job with the sensor and optics on this as they have on the TZ7 then it will be one fine camera indeed, regardless of sensor size.


July 30, 2009, 1:01 pm

@Pihrana: Park Cameras has it on pre-order for £320, putting it in the entry-level DSLR price range where most other bridge cameras also seem to be ending up nowadays.

Tom Barry

July 30, 2009, 7:24 pm

How can this be the best of breed if it doesn't have a hot shoe?


August 2, 2009, 9:21 pm

@Cliff - advice please... this review is tempting me to upgrade from Lumix DMC-FZ30 (which serves me v. well), mainly due to the video features which I use occassionally but not enough to want/afford a separate camcorder. Thoughts?


August 4, 2009, 6:16 pm

Im hoping that maybe I can grab a clearance bargain on the FZ28 when this starts hitting stores.

John Shewsbury

August 5, 2009, 3:03 pm

I owned FZ28, bought it in February 2009 after reading Cliff Smith's review and another review in www.steves-digicams.com

FZ28 is indeed a powerful super zoom bridge camera, maybe just loss a little bit on points to that Canon SX10 but FZ28 still win on price.

I rather buy an extra additional add-on lens for my current FZ28 rather than upgrading to FZ38 (at least not for this year)

However, if I suddenly hit a lottery, I don't mind upgrading to Panasonic G1 - the red color...


August 6, 2009, 3:00 am


I currently have a Panasonic DMC-TZ1 which I love. I have taken fantastic photo's with this, however I am thinking about upgrading and saw the FZ28 today.

If I was to upgrade should I go for the FZ28 or the FZ38? I have also seen second hand FZ28's on ebay and was considering buying from there as I don't have a lot of cash to throw around at the moment.

What would you suggest? The full whack of cash or the second hand?

Thanks for your help in advance.


August 6, 2009, 7:56 pm

I own the FZ28 and I like it very much. But I'd rather have the new camera. While I'm not all that interested in the new video capability, it's nice to have if you need it. But what really attracts me are its improved optical image stabilization ability, faster auto focusing and improved low light picture quality.

comments powered by Disqus