Summary

Our Score

10/10

User Score

Pros

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

Cons

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

Review Price £239.00

Key Features: 28x zoom (27-486mm) lens; 12.1 megapixels; Electronic viewfinder; Optical image stabilisation; Manual controls

Manufacturer: Panasonic

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.

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