Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200

Score

Sections

View All

Pros

  • Constant f/2.8 maximum aperture
  • Excellent build quality and good handling
  • Impressive image quality

Cons

  • Lack of eye sensor can be a pain
  • EVF could be larger

Key Features

  • Review Price: £440.00
  • 1/2.3inch 12.1MP High-sensitivity MOS sensor
  • 24x optical zoom (25-600mm) with constant f/2.8 max aperture
  • JPEG and Raw still image capture
  • ISO 100 - 6400
  • 1080p Full HD video capture
  • 3in, 460k-dot vari-angle LCD
View All

Introduction

While compact system cameras represent the fastest

growing segment of the digital camera market, superzoom sales are also

especially healthy – and extremely competitive too. This, in turn, has

increased the pressure on manufacturers to deliver ever more

feature-packed and highly specified models. As a result of this

increased competition maximum focal lengths have shot up in recent

years. At present the Canon SX50 HS leads the way with its ultra-powerful 50x optical zoom, with the 42x Nikon P510

following close behind. Behind these two frontrunners sit a large

number of competing models that generally hover around the 30x range,

with the Sony HX200V (30x) and the Fujifilm HS30EXR (also 30x) being the pick of the bunch.
Lumix FZ200 9
The

Lumix FZ200 takes a slightly different path, however, and rather than

simply extending the focal range into super telephoto territory it

settles for the same (but still relatively powerful) 24x optical zoom

found on the majority of existing Lumix superzooms, but keeps maximum

aperture at a constant f/2.8 throughout the entire focal range. It’s the

first time this has been managed on such a powerful lens – or indeed

any superzoom – which makes the FZ200 something of a unique proposition

that’s especially likely to appeal to sports and wildlife shooters. When

you consider that an equivalent 600mm f/2.8 DSLR lens (or more

precisely, a 300mm f/2.8 lens and a 2x teleconverter) would set you back

around £2000, you begin to get an idea of what an achievement this is.

And

of course there’s much more to the FZ200 than its advanced optic alone:

add Raw shooting, Full HD and high-speed movie recording, a vari-angle

LCD display and a high-resolution EVF into the mix and it’s hard not to

be impressed. But while the FZ200 certainly looks good on paper, how

does it perform in the real world? Let’s take a closer look and find

out.

Lumix FZ200 – Features

Even without the constant f/2.8

aperture the FZ200’s 24x optical zoom is still pretty impressive,

offering the 35mm focal range equivalent of 25-600mm. At the wideangle

end 25mm is plenty wide enough to capture buildings, landscapes and

group shots, while at the telephoto end 600mm enables you to fill the

entire frame with faraway objects. Stir in the f/2.8 aperture though and

the FZ200 becomes eminently more flexible – especially if you plan to

regularly shoot moving subjects at a distance.
Lumix FZ200 13
In

addition to the constant f/2.8 maximum aperture the FZ200’s Leica lens

also benefits from Nano Surface coating to minimise the effects of

ghosting and flare, and Panasonic’s proprietary, class-leading optical

image stabilisation system (Power O.I.S.) is also built in, which will

allow you to shoot at slower shutter speeds and longer focal lengths

without suffering from image blur caused by camera shake.

Behind

the 25-600mm lens the FZ200 employs a 1/2.3in High Sensitivity MOS

sensor that offers an effective resolution of 12.1MP, and which is

capable of capturing both JPEG and Raw still image files, as well as

1080p Full HD videos at 50fps. The sensor is paired with Panasonic’s

Venus Engine technology, which features ‘Intelligent Noise Reduction’

and a ‘Multi-process Noise Reduction’ system for enhanced performance in

low light. The Venus Engine also allows for a maximum continuous

shooting speed of 12fps, albeit for a maximum of 12 consecutive frames.

Last but not least the FZ200 also benefits from Panasonic’s proprietary

Light Speed AF technology, which is one of the fastest contrast-detect

autofocus systems going.

Exposure modes extend to the full

quartet of Program, Aperture-priority, Shutter-priority and Manual

(PASM) modes for semi- of full-manual control over the camera. These are

backed up by Panasonic’s iAuto (iA) fully automatic point-and-shoot

mode, and a variety of Scene modes. Those wanting to add effects to

their images in-camera can also choose from a selection of ‘Creative

Control’ digital filter effects.
Lumix FZ200 11

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200 – Screen and EVF

A

vari-angle 3in, 460k-dot LCD screen dominates the back of the FZ200.

The screen uses a side-hinge that enables the screen to be pulled away

from the body and rotated through 270 degrees on a horizontal pivot –

this means you can use the screen to frame self-portraits as well as

making light work of shooting from high- or low-angles.

The

screen itself has a resolution 460k-dots, which while sufficient is a

step behind the 920k-dot displays offered by some competitors. Also, it

has a 16:9 aspect and while this is great for HD video capture, the 4:3

aspect of the sensor means you’ll have to put up with black tramlines

running down the sides of the screen when shooting full resolution still

images.

While the rear display is great for composing and

reviewing images with, the Panasonic FZ200 also offers an electronic

viewfinder (EVF) for those that would rather hold the camera to their

eye when shooting. This measures in at approximately 0.21in, offers a

100% field of view and has a resolution of 1.3m-dots for a sharp, clear

image. However it’s set quite far down the viewfinder, which in turn

makes it appear smaller, so it’s not quite as easy to use as its

high-resolution would suggest. Otherwise, though, it’s very good for an

EVF, with a fast refresh rate that ensures it keeps up with your

movements, however speedy.


One further issue we have with the viewfinder is the lack of an eye

sensor. This means that whenever you want to switch between the LCD and

the viewfinder you have to press the button located to the left of the

EVF – hopefully, Panasonic will see fit to attach an automatic eye

sensor on any subsequent models.

Latest from Trusted Reviews