The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ62 (also marketed as the FZ60 in some territories) joins the FZ100 and LZ20 as the newest additions to Panasonic’s superzoom range, slotting in between the two other models within the Lumix superzoom hierarchy. The new model brings a 24x optical zoom to the table along with several new hardware components but lacks the constant f/2.8 aperture and high-resolution EVF of the more expensive FZ200. For the time being the older FZ45, FZ48, FZ100 and FZ150 superzoom models are all retained within the Lumix line-up, although the arrival of the three new models is likely to see their prices drop.
This being a superzoom the thing that will be of most interest to potential buyers is the optical zoom, and in this respect the FZ62 delivers the goods with a 24x Leica-made fixed zoom that offers the 35mm equivalent of 25-600mm. The lens is a LEICA DC VARIO-ELMARIT optic that further benefits from Nano Surface Coating to reduce the effects of glare, and Panasonic’s own Power O.I.S. image stabilisation technology to minimise the effects of camera shake and help keep images (and movies) sharp. Maximum aperture is f/2.8 at 26mm, rising incrementally to f/5.2 at 600mm.
Internally, the new model employs a 1/2.33in High Sensitivity MOS sensor with an effective resolution of 16.1MP. This represents a fairly sizeable increase over the 12.1MP sensors found in the previous generation of Lumix superzooms, although this does in turn raise some questions over pixel density and the effects this might have on low-light performance. To this end Panasonic claims that the FZ62’s Venus Engine image processor improves image quality at high ISO settings through ‘Image Noise Reduction’ and ‘Multi-process Noise Reduction’ to help image quality at high ISO settings. Speaking of sensitivity, the FZ62 offers a standard ISO range of 100-3200, which is expandable to ISO 6400 in High Sensitivity Mode albeit at the expense of overall resolution.
Panasonic also claims that the Venus Engine improves general performance, providing fast start-up times while enabling the camera to shoot at up to 10fps – albeit for a maximum of three consecutive shot. Just as importantly, the FZ62 also benefits from the same Light Speed AF system found in the company’s compact system cameras.
On the back of the camera sits a fixed 3in, 460k-dot LCD screen that provides a 100% field of view. Should you prefer to hold the camera at eye-level then the FZ62 also offers a 0.2in electronic viewfinder (EVF) with a resolution of 202k-pixels which, again, offers 100% field of view. There’s no eye sensor built in though, so you’ll need to use the LCD/EVF button next to the eyepiece in order to toggle between the two options.
The FZ62 is JPEG only, with no provision for the capture of lossless Raw image files, however it does offers manual control in the form of Program, Aperture-priority, Shutter-priority and full Manual control exposure modes. Should you prefer to let the camera do all the work then the FZ62 offers Panasonic’s tried and tested intelligent Auto (iA) point-and-shoot mode alongside 18 Scene modes. The FZ62 also gets 14 ‘Creative Control’ digital filter effects that can be applied to your images at the point of capture, allowing you to add fun effects to your images without the need for any time-consuming post-processing software. Within the Creative Control sub-menu you’ll find all the usual favourites including ‘Miniature Effect’, ‘Toy Effect’, ‘Cross Process’ and ‘Selective colour’.
Movie enthusiasts are well catered for with the FZ62 offering 1080p Full HD video capture at 25fps in both the HDTV-friendly AVCHD format and the more computer friendly MP4 format. There’s no external microphone input but videos are recorded in stereo via twin microphones positioned on top of the camera. There’s also a noise reduction system and an Auto Wind Cut function available, should you need them. The zoom remains active during movie recording and it’s also possible to add Creative Control effects to movies should you want to.
In terms of design the FZ62 doesn’t break with superzoom conventions and, as such, follows the established template of looking not dissimilar to a miniaturised DSLR – albeit one with a fixed zoom lens rather than one that’s interchangeable. The handgrip is fairly pronounced and also rubberised, which allows you to wrap your fingers around it for a secure and comfortable grip on the camera. In keeping with other Panasonic Lumix cameras, overall build quality is quite good with the camera feeling solid enough to stand up to plenty of use. The exposure mode dial and main on/off switch are also firm enough to withstand being accidentally nudged during regular use.
The FX62 offers a generous range of physical buttons, evenly distributed on the top and back of the camera, enabling you to quickly access and a range of shooting settings. On the back, the four-way directional pad grants direct access to ISO, White Balance and Self-timer settings, with the final button acting as a Function (Fn) button that you can assign as you see fit. In addition, the AF/AE-lock button to the right of the EVF also doubles up as a second Fn button should you need it.
On the top of the camera you’ll find a large mode dial, and a dedicated video record button along with buttons providing one-touch access to Focus and Drive mode settings. The only minor gripe we have is that there aren’t any controls on the zoom barrel itself; it’s not unusual to find a zoom control placed here, something that Panasonic itself implements on its CSC power zoom. This is only a minor criticism though, as in all other aspects the FZ62 is a very comfortable and well laid-out camera to hold and use.