Panasonic’s new premium bridge camera is designed to appeal to photographers and videographers alike.
The FZ2000 specification list includes a 20x optical zoom lens offering f/2.8-f/4.5, 4K video and photo, a one-inch 20-megapixel sensor, a high-resolution electronic viewfinder, and a fully articulating LCD screen.
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The FZ2000 is by no means a small camera. At first glance you could easily be forgiven for thinking it’s a DSLR, thanks to a chunky grip and its overall shape.
However, to get the equivalent focal length for a DSLR you’d need something far bigger, which would definitely weigh you down on your travels.
As such, the FZ2000 is designed for people who want a more manageable size of camera, without having to compromise on image quality. It feels well built and sturdy in the hand, with the textured coating on the grip adding to that feel of high quality.
The viewfinder, which is essentially the same finder in the newly announced G80 compact system camera, is bright and clear, and offers a great view of the scene. There seemed to be no noticeable lag in the pre-production model we were looking at, and the eye-sensor that turns it on (and the screen off) offers a familiar, DSLR-like feel to using this camera.
Around the camera you’ll find an array of customisable buttons that allow you to setup the camera to exactly how you want it. There are three function buttons on the lens barrel alone, with more dotted around the body of the camera. On the side of the lens you’ll also find a variable ND filter switch, which offers quick adjustment at the touch of a button.
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On the top of the camera is a scrolling dial, with another positioned handily for your thumb. These dials enable you to change certain settings, depending on the shooting mode in which you’re working.
As is usual for Lumix cameras, a large dial on the top of the camera allows you to switch between the various shooting modes on offer, and there’s also a second dial for changing the drive mode. Handily, on this dial you’ll find a 4K option. By using the 4K photo mode, you can easily extract stills from 4K video footage and output them as 8 million pixel JPEG files - ideal for capturing sports and other action.
The lens offers 20x optical zoom – that’s 24-480mm in 35mm terms. Switch the camera on and the lens will extend to its shooting position – and there it will stay. The zooming mechanism is internal, which means that even if you move it to its full 20x telephoto length, the lens will never grow in size. This is particularly useful for videographers.
Around the lens barrel itself are two rings. One is for adjusting the focus when shooting in manual mode, and the other can be used to extend the zoom. Both feel very fluid and easy to move, and the fact that they’re silent in operation, will again appeal to videographers.
At the back of the camera you’ll discover a fully articulating, touch-sensitive LCD screen; it includes the ability to completely fold back on itself when not in use. You can use the touchscreen to set autofocus point, fire off the shutter, and navigate through various menus and so on.
The quick menu is accessed by default by pressing the Fn5 button. Here you’ll find a collection of useful settings that can be changed simply by navigating through by touch, or by using the navigational physical keys. This saves you delving deep into the main menu, offering a real time-saver.
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I’ve not been able to test a full production sample of the FZ2000, but we have high hopes that the next generation of the camera will build on the original’s success.
I’ll also be keen to test the new Focus Stacking mode, which takes advantage of the Post Focus mode to create an image that has a very high depth of field throughout the frame.
Bridge cameras have always felt a little second-rate – that is, until premium bridge models started to appear and made me re-evaluate the proposition. Panasonic, and likewise Sony, has done plenty of work to convince me that a single camera with a fixed lens can do the work of an interchangeable-lens camera and a bag full of optics.
When it hits the shelves at the end of the year, the FZ2000 won’t be cheap – making it quite the investment. But for the money you’ll be getting a camera that would cost many times more if you wanted the equivalent focal length and flexibility.
With a focus on superb image quality, the FZ2000 is likely to be at the top of the list of any photographer who wants a camera that can do a bit of everything.