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Panasonic Lumix FZ150 review - Image Quality and Verdict

Audley Jarvis

By Audley Jarvis

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

7

User Score:

Before we’re accused of being overly critical, it’s important that we point out that our review sample was a pre-production model, which means that firmware hasn’t yet been finalised and some of the issues we’ve identified below could well be ironed out before the camera ships in mid-October.

Panasonic Lumix FZ150 7

Equally, it’s also worth bearing in mind that, despite the FZ150’s DSLR-like styling and physical dimensions, it still employs a (1/2.3in) compact-sized sensor at its heart. In this respect it’s essentially just another compact, albeit one with a far-reaching lens on the front. Given this, and despite some niggly sharpness and colour issues – which we’ll detail shortly – the FZ150 delivers an overall level of image quality that we suspect the vast majority of owners will be more than happy with.

Indeed, compared to some other superzooms we’ve reviewed recently the FZ150 scores quite well in the image quality stakes. It’s not perfect by any means though and compared to cameras of a similar size that use larger sensors – Panasonic’s Lumix G3, for example – the FZ150 doesn’t even get close. Obviously it would be unfair to judge the FZ150 and the G3 side by side as they are different types of camera with their own individual strengths and weaknesses, but given that the price differential between the two isn’t all that great (less than £100), it’s certainly food for thought.

We don’t mind admitting that the first time we took the FZ150 for a walk we were actually left a little disappointed with the results, with a lack of sharpness and muted colour both figuring highly on our list of concerns. Perhaps we were just having an off day, because on subsequent outings we’ve been left much more impressed with what the camera can do.

Given the huge focal range, images aren’t always the sharpest, especially when the FZ150 is used at its wideangle extreme. At middling focal lengths though, the camera does deliver better results, especially when combined with an aperture ‘sweet spot’ of around f/5.6-f/8. Despite the overall drop in resolution the FZ150 resolves perfectly acceptable levels of detail, although this can suffer from heavy JPEG processing at higher sensitivities.

Panasonic claims to have improved the noise reduction process at both the sensor capture and image processing stages for better low-light performance. While we’re happy to confirm that the FZ150 does indeed compare favourably to other compacts at low to mid-range sensitivity settings of ISO 100-400, and easily outperforms its predecessor too. However, when pushed beyond ISO 800 performance can be seen to drop. Slightly better results can be achieved by recording in Raw and processing your own images of course, but this isn’t something that’s going to appeal to everyone.

Colour output when shooting JPEGs will differ quite dramatically depending on what Photo Style (colour profile) you opt for. Used on the Standard setting we found resultant images to be a little flat, especially in flat or dim light. The Vivid setting, in complete contrast, is often a bit too vivid and can make things look unnatural. Thankfully it’s possible to boost the former or tone the vibrancy down a notch or two on the latter via the custom settings. It’s certainly worth experimenting with.

Panasonic Lumix FZ150 3

Metering is generally pretty accurate when the camera’s used outdoors in cloudy or bright-but-even conditions. That said, we did notice a tendency for the FZ150 to occasionally overexpose when used in direct sunlight, which can result in blown highlights and skies that come out looking more turquoise than blue. Hopefully, this is something that will be tweaked before the camera is in the shops.

Used on the Auto White Balance setting the FZ100 is generally quite accurate, although there is a tendency for images to be a little on the cool side – something we’ve noticed with other Panasonic compact models.

Verdict

With its wide focal range and generous feature set, the FZ150 is primarily a camera of convenience. At 24x it doesn't quite match some other superzooms in terms of telephoto reach, however it does deliver good image quality and solid hi-def movie recording abilities. If convenience tops your list of priorities and a 24x optical zoom is sufficient for your needs then the FZ150 merits a closer look.

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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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