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Panasonic Lumix FZ150 review - Design and Performance

Audley Jarvis

By Audley Jarvis



Our Score:


With its deep finger grip, accentuated zoom profile and wide 52mm lens diameter, the FZ150 follows the same DSLR-like design cues of the FZ range (and indeed other superzooms) in general, but is slightly larger than the FZ48 and with more rounded edges. Overall, it’s not a particularly small camera and will require a dedicated carry case as it isn't going to fit in any pockets. Indeed, placed next to Panasonic’s recently launched Lumix G3 interchangeable lens compact system camera with a 14-42mm kit lens attached, the FZ150 actually looks quite chunky. At 540g with a battery and card, it’s not overly light either.

Panasonic Lumix FZ150 5

Outer construction is almost entirely of a smooth matt plastic that reminds us of the finish Canon uses on its entry-level DSLR range. The moulded finger grip is deep enough to accommodate two fingers comfortably or three at a push, and is treated to a rubberised finish for extra grip – as is the thumb-rest on the back of the camera.

Unlike FZ models further down the range, the FZ150 also gains some ridges on the metallic lens-barrel guard, which gives the left hand a little something extra to grip onto. It might sound like a small detail, but it’s indicative of the kind of refinements the FZ150, as the flagship FZ model, enjoys over its lesser siblings.

Likewise, the FZ150 also gets a hotshoe mount that can be used to equip the FZ150 with a dedicated flash, should you need a bit more power than the pop-up flash housed just in front of it offers.

Regardless of whether you’re using the lens-mounted zoom control or the spring-loaded rocker that wraps around the shutter button, control remains very precise; feathering the zoom controls we were able to find approximately 65 individual spots between the FZ150’s 25mm and 600mm extremes. Despite the zoom’s large focal range, this allows you to be fairly precise while framing a subject from a stationary position. Ultimately we'd prefer to see a fully manual zoom control, as used on the Fujifilm HS20. Perhaps that's something we can look forward to from a future update.

Using the mechanical zoom to go from one extreme straight to the other proves to be pretty smooth and quick, with the camera taking just under three seconds in either direction. Should you wish to, you can also use the lens-mounted switch to manually control focus with.

Autofocus performance has seen a boost, with Panasonic claiming the FZ150’s AF system is based on the same super-fast technology used by the G3. Certainly in good light focus is near instantaneous, with performance in reduced light far from sluggish too. When light levels drop beyond this performance does take a knock, as might be expected, with an AF Assist helping out when things become too dark for the AF module to function on its own accord.

Panasonic Lumix FZ150 6

Start-up speed is around the three second mark; hardly instantaneous, but comparable to other cameras in this class. There’s a dedicated Drive Mode button on top of the camera, from where it’s possible to select a range of options: single-shot, 2fps and 5.5fps. You can record all of these as either JPEGs or Raw, although there’s no provision to record both simultaneously. These are supplemented by a JPEG-only 12fps continuous setting, and a couple of hi-speed options: 40fps at 5MP, and 60fps at 2.5MP, both of which are, again, JPEG only.

Turning to buffer performance, at 2fps we were able to record over a 100 full-res JPEGs at full resolution without any slowdown. At 5.5fps we were able to record approximately 20 full-res JPEGs at full resolution before the camera slowed to around the 2fps mark. At 12fps the camera can only record a maximum 12 full-res JPEGs before coming to a halt while the buffer clears. Switching over to Raw recording, we were able to record 15 images at 2fps before the camera slowed. This fells to 12 images at 5.5fps.

On the back of the FZ150 sits a vari-angle TFT screen that swings out 180-degrees before rotating through 27-degrees. This enables it to be used for self-portraits as well as extreme high- and low-angled photography. At 3-inches and 460k-dots the 3:2 aspect screen is plenty sharp enough and allows for some generous viewing angles too. While it remains useable in bright outdoors light, it does struggle somewhat in direct sunlight.

Thankfully, this is where you can call upon the built-in Electronic Viewfinder. At 201k-dots (equivalent) it’s a bit pokey though, at least in comparison to the 1.4million-dot (equivalent) electronic viewfinder fitted to the Lumix G3.

Terry 10

September 12, 2011, 6:17 pm

Good review. However...

Please change that idiotic and really annoying "Continue Reading" back to "Next Page" so that it matches "Previous Page".

Why change something that is pretty much standard everywhere just for the sake of being different. I suppose next you will change "Previous Page" to "Discontinue Reading"!

Elie Boujaoude

September 12, 2011, 7:29 pm

The camera design of my choice should have a sensor size of 1" (12.8mm X 9.6mm). This means a crop factor of 2.7

The required travel zoom would be 9mm – 225mm f: 2.8 – 5.6, equivalent to: 24.3mm – 607.5mm in 35mm format.

This combination requires a pupil diameter of 40mm to achieve f: 5.6 @ 225mm.

This combination will certainly cost more but the picture quality will be rewarding.


October 4, 2011, 4:26 am

I have not used the FZ1500, nor I suspect has M A K. It appears that whatever the FZ150's performance that he would always buy a Nikon. That sounds like prejudice to me. I have read OBJECTIVE reviews of the FZ150 with actual photographic data to support them e.g. dpreview and there data certainly does not support his assertion that the FZ35 is superior.


October 21, 2011, 8:53 pm

Seems to me the fool that wrote the user review has no idea. This camera will definately product better performance that the FZ35. The issue with the FZ100 and image quality is fixed with this model. You just have to look at the studio comparison tool on dpreview. This MAK user is just talking rubbish.


November 3, 2011, 8:31 am

The fz150 takes FANTASTIC pictures! The guy who gave it a 1 seems to not have taken the time to play with the fz150 or probably does not even own one! I own a nikon d5100 and in many instances the fz150 outperforms it with better image quality!! Keep your d5100 and before posting a review try shooting with the fz150!


November 3, 2011, 12:59 pm

I'm with you on this one. I'll keep pestering our developers to change it.


November 3, 2011, 1:01 pm

I'd pay good money for that combination if it were possible.


November 3, 2011, 1:05 pm

I agree it's not helpful for 'reviews' to be written when someone has had no experience of a product but equally I think it's rather unlikely the fz150 could ever outperform a d5100 (zoom notwithstanding). Having used countless types of both camera, super zooms have consistently shown themselves to have inferior picture quality. Not to say they aren't useful though.


November 7, 2011, 4:09 am

Any possibility of an update please to your review but with the retail model (rather than pre-production one)? Especially regarding image quality.


March 6, 2012, 9:40 pm

I've got this model camera and it's brilliant. Picture quality is outstanding and comparable with my Canon 600D DSLR IQ. It's a 9/10 camera and given it's very low noise ratio at high ISO's then it merits a 10/10. The clown who rated it a 1/10 is an expert, not!


April 9, 2012, 8:44 am

I owned the FZ35, FZ40, FZ100, and FZ150. With the exception of the FZ100, all of these cams offer good quality images when compared to other cameras of this type, but the FZ150 outperforms them all. While the IQ is only marginally better than the FZ35, it *is* better and in terms of speed, it is obviously on an entirely different level.

Mike B

April 13, 2012, 11:01 pm

I think this camera is ideal for the right sort of user. Those who want a one box solution with easy operation but the possibility of some creative options to learn mo about photography. It would be an addition to a 'handbag' point and shoot camera and be used for those 'special' occasions, when carrying something a bit bigger is worth the effort.

To overcome the small sensor spoiling your images for those inside occasions in poor light, make use of the hot-shoe and add a external flash so you can bounce it off ceilings to get nice even indoor illuminations.

Ideally the a Panasonic G3 would be a good option with a X Vario PZ 14-42mm for day to day use and a 42-200mm zoom for those long shots. This is the best of all worlds as there is little compromise and still a small package. Keep your handbag point and shoot for those spur of the moment images and your all set!

Alan S

November 6, 2012, 10:58 pm

I have owned the FZ 150 for 6 months and use it as lighter alternative to my Nikon D80 ( with 4 lenses) I am impressed with the results thus far, enlargements up to A3 are good enough for framing and display. Very little fall off at the edges and landscapes are quite crisp in detail. Overall an excellent camera at the price. Would recommend.

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