The FZ72’s huge optical zoom translates in to quite a substantial physical optic, and as a result turns the Panasonic Lumix FZ72 in to a rather bulky camera. It measures in considerably larger than its predecessor – the FZ62 – as well as being larger than Panasonic’s flagship CSC – the Panasonic GH3.
Not only is it physically larger than these cameras, but it’s also heavier. It weighs in at over 600g including battery and card, and as a result is not far off the weight of a reasonable DSLR with kit lens.
The similarities to a DSLR don’t end with the physical dimensions of the FZ72, as it also takes several of its design hallmarks from this camera type as well. It has a large handgrip and a textured grip at the rear, too. The combination well-spaced buttons, rear adjustment wheel and top panel mode dial also add to this effect, and on the whole it’s a good-looking camera.
While the large size does aid the camera’s handling in terms of comfort, there’s not a great deal which can be done to aid handling at the tele end of the large zoom. Despite the effective image stabilisation system, at the maximum focal length of 1200mm it’s very difficult to keep the camera still enough to capture a sharp shot.
The only metal element of the camera’s body is the surrounding ring of the lens barrel, with the rest of the camera’s body constructed from plastic. That’s not to say that the camera is poorly put together, however, as the overall build quality is up to Panasonic’s high standard.
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While there are issues with the Panasonic FZ72’s performance, including the camera’s write speed, it’s not all bad news.
Despite the camera featuring a relatively small 895mAh li-ion battery, and considering the amount of power needed to operate the substantial lens, it still manages a respectable shot count. During testing, the FZ72 managed several long movie clips, lots of mode adjustment and over 200 test shots and it still displayed a full battery, thus rendering the stated 400 test shot claim entirely feasible.
The Panasonic Lumix FZ72 also impresses in terms of both start-up speed and shot-to-shot time. The camera goes from dormant to ready to capture a picture in just less than two seconds – while powering off in the same time – making it about average in this area.
Shot-to-shot speed in JPEG only mode is also impressive, coming in at under a second. This is thanks to the excellent AF system, a feature which has become synonymous with Panasonic cameras. The AF system does begin to slow towards the tele end of the focal range, although that’s no real surprise and not unique to the FZ72.
The major issue with the FZ72’s performance is with its Raw JPEG write speed. After the first few shots the camera’s buffer fills, and the result is a wait of around five seconds for the file to write, even with a fast SD card.
Slow write speeds are also noted when shooting at higher ISO settings even in JPEG only mode, and these two issues hint at the FZ72 being somewhat underequipped in the processing department.