Panasonic Lumix FZ150 review - Features

Audley Jarvis

By Audley Jarvis

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

7

The FZ150 supersedes the FZ100 that was released about this time last year as the new flagship model in Panasonic’s superzoom line-up.

At its heart the FZ150 uses a newly developed 1/2.3in MOS sensor offering an effective resolution of 12.1-megapixels. This actually represents a slight reduction in overall resolution from the 14.1-megapixels of the FZ100. However, given that 1/2.3in is the same size found in the majority of compact cameras – from cheap and cheerful ultra-compacts to more advanced travel compacts – this could well be a good thing.

Panasonic Lumix FZ150 4

The reason for this is because, in theory at least, it enables the individual light-capturing photodiodes to be larger, which in turn means they are more sensitive to light and less sensitive to noise. At 12.1MP you’ll still be perfectly able to make large, poster-sized prints, yet images shot in low-light are less likely to come out as a grainy, speckled mush lacking any kind of detail.

Using Panasonic’s latest Venus Engine FHD II image processor, the FZ150 can shoot from ISO 100 to ISO 3200 at full resolution, with an expanded High Sensitivity setting of ISO 6400 also available, albeit at a reduced maximum resolution of 3MP.

The default aspect is 4:3, although 3:2, 16:9 and 1:1 are also offered. As all of the alternatives essentially crop from the sensor, overall resolution is reduced when using them. Maximum output at the full 12.1MP in 4:3 is 4320 x 3240 pixels, although resolution at the 4:3 setting can be lowered to 10MP, 7MP, 5MP or even 3MP, with similar reductions available for the alternative aspects. There are two JPEG quality settings: Fine and Standard. In addition to JPEGs the FZ150 is also able to record lossless Raw sensor data, which greatly improves the scope for post-processing.

The new sensor/processor combination is capable of delivering an impressive maximum continuous shooting speed of up to 12fps in full resolution, even though this is limited to a maximum 12 frames. This is a frame faster than the FZ100, although it’s worth bearing in mind that this is, at least partly, due to the smaller file sizes produced by the FZ150 thanks to the drop in resolution. There are also a couple of high-speed burst options, albeit at greatly reduced resolutions.

On the front, the FZ150 is fitted with a 24x, f/2.8-5.2 optical zoom from Leica that offers a focal range of between 25mm and 600mm in 35mm terms. While 24x might seem like a lot, it's far from being the most powerful superzoom on the market. Fujifilm's HS20 EXR, for example, offers 30x, while Canon's SX30IS offers 35x and Nikon's P500 tops the lot with its whopping 36x optical zoom. All of these models fall within the same kind of price bracket as the FZ150 too.

Beyond this it’s possible to extend the zoom’s reach to 32x using the Intelligent Zoom, with fairly acceptable results so long as you’re not pixel-peeping. The Digital Zoom function, meanwhile, offers a maximum 96x, although at this level of magnification overall image quality soon becomes fairly dreadful – very much for emergencies only.

Given the extended reach of the FZ150, it’s reassuring to know that the lens is fitted with Panasonic’s proprietary – and, we might add, highly effective – Power Optical Image Stabilisation (Power O.I.S) technology. This minimises the effects of camera shake not only at low shutter speeds but also extended focal lengths and works rather well, despite the shortcomings of the lens itself (more on that later).

Panasonic Lumix FZ150

As with the FZ100, the FZ150 offers a zoom control positioned on the lens barrel, which sits alongside an AF On/Off switch and a focus button. Unlike the FZ100 though, the FZ150 benefits from Nano Coating Surface technology to reduce the effects of ghosting and flare.

Befitting its advanced superzoom status, the FZ150 offers the regular quartet of manual and semi-manual shooting modes: Program, Aperture-priority, Shutter-priority and fully Manual. If you’d prefer to let the FZ150 do all the work, then Panasonic’s ever reliable iAuto mode can be called upon along with 18 individual Scene modes. There’s also a 3D option, though you’ll need a compatible monitor to view the results on.

In addition, the FX150 also benefits from a choice of eight Creative Control digital effects: Miniature, Expressive, Retro, High Key, Sepia, High Dynamic, Pin Hole and B&W Film Grain. These effects are easy to use and can also be applied to movies.

Speaking of movies, the FZ150 can record video at up to 1920 x 1080 (or Full HD) at 60 or 50p, with files stored in the space-efficient AVCHD format, though this may limit playback on some devices. Lower-quality movies can be recorded in the more common MP4 format. Sound, meanwhile, is recorded in stereo by default, and unlike the FZ48, the FZ150 also gets an external microphone input.

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.

Cardiff66

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.

msys123

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.

Ciapka

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!

Ed

November 3, 2011, 12:59 pm

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

Ed

November 3, 2011, 1:01 pm

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

Ed

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.

SG

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.
Thanks!

PeteOwen

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!

Ach3r0n

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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