Image quality from the Panasonic FZ200 is, on the whole, very impressive for a camera of this type. Images offer a pleasing, even tone with a good amount of detail maintained in both shadow and highlight areas. The metering system also impresses, with the FZ200 offering accurate exposures in a variety of conditions and throughout the full focal range.
Automatic white balance performance also proves generally reliable, although the FZ200 is prone to displaying a slight yellow or magenta tinge around neutral areas. When used in low light there is also a slight tendency for images to appear cooler than is actually the case, although this doesn't really present any major issues.
Given the extended focal range and constant f/2.8 maximum aperture of the 24x optical zoom, the lens performs very well with very few issues. At 25mm, barrel distortion is much lower than expected, while coloured fringing on high contrast edges is kept to a minimum and mostly restricted to the tele end of the zoom.
The FZ200 is solid at lower ISO settings as might be expected, but also performs well at higher ISO settings. Noise is well controlled throughout the ISO range, with quality only really falling off at ISO 6400. At ISO 3200, the FZ200 is able to produce images that remain eminently usable.
One further string to the FZ200's bow is its ability to shoot lossless Raw files. At higher ISO settings shooting in Raw helps to avoid the smudging effect that is produced by the in-camera noise reduction when JPEGs are processed, and while Raw files do appear noisier they are also sharper.
The headline feature of the Lumix FZ200 is undoubtedly its 'world's first' constant f/2.8 aperture that runs throughout the entire focal range from 25mm to 600mm, allowing you to use faster shutter speeds and lower ISO settings even when shooting at the furthest reaches of the 24x zoom. Indeed, the overall optical capabilities of the FZ200 left us impressed, with the camera able to produce some excellent images with very few flaws. Performance is also pretty solid across the board, with quick start-up and shot-to-shot processing times. The vari-angle LCD screen is another welcome feature that greatly helps with tight angles and self-portraits as well as shooting video, although it’s a shame that Panasonic couldn’t spec a screen with a slightly higher resolution. All told, you'll struggle to find a better camera in its class than the Panasonic FZ200.
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