Out of all of the thousands of reviews posted on TrustedReviews over the years, the one that has been viewed the most times, and by a surprisingly large margin, is the review of the Panasonic FZ38 super-zoom which I wrote last July. Bearing that in mind I'm fairly sure there'll be quite a few people who will be interested in today's review, because I'm taking a look at the FZ38's successor, the new Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ45, which was launched this July.
Just as the FZ38 was an incremental upgrade from the previous year's FZ28, the FZ45 has many similarities to the previous model, but also a number of significant improvements. The two most obvious changes are the lens, which is increased from an 18x zoom to a larger f/2.8–5.2 24x zoom equivalent to 25 – 600mm, and the sensor, which is still a small 1 /2.33-inch chip but has had a resolution increase from 12.1 to 14.1 megapixels. The SLR-like body design hasn't changed much since the FZ7 launched in 2006, although the new camera is slightly larger and somewhat heavier than the FZ38, and has seen a major revision to the control layout. The fixed wide-view LCD monitor is also slightly larger, expanding from 2.7 inches to 3.0 inches, but retaining the same 230k resolution. Most of the FZ38's main features have been retained, particularly its 1280 x 720 HD video mode with stereo audio and AVCHD Lite recording format.
In fact the FZ45 is one of two successors to the FZ38. Launched at the same time was the FZ100, which has the same 24x zoom lens and 14.1-megapixel resolution, but has a higher performance MOS sensor, a fully articulated 3.0-inch 460k monitor and 1920 x 1080 full HD (1080i) video recording in AVCHD format. The FZ100 is very much the premium model of the two, with a price tag of £479 compared to the FZ45's £359.
Although super-zooms have seen their traditional role as “bridge cameras”, standing between compacts and DSLRs, usurped by the latest compact system cameras, there are still quite a few of them around and the FZ45 faces some formidable competition. Notable examples include the excellent value Pentax X90 (£230), the Nikon P100 (£280), the Samsung WB5000 (£280) and the immensely impressive Fujifilm S200EXR (£315). Against these market rivals the FZ45 looks pretty expensive, and the FZ100 even more so.