In terms of features too the changes are only small, but there are a lot of them and the overall effect is a significant improvement on what was already an outstanding camera. Most of the changes are to the camera’s automatic systems, with improved Face Detection now capable of tracking 15 faces at once; Intelligent Exposure, which helps to reduce the occurrence of black shadows and burned-out highlights; Intelligent Scene Selector, which automatically selects the correct scene mode, and Intelligent ISO Control, which as the name suggests selects the best ISO setting for the situation.
As anyone who reads a lot of camera reviews will have spotted, none of those features are unique, and similar features exist (albeit with different names) in many other cameras, however Panasonic have combined them all into one Intelligent Auto setting that supposedly makes it much easier to take good shots quickly. It does work, and you can rely on it to cope with even quite unusual lighting situations, but I can’t honestly say it works any better than the automatic settings on any other high-spec cameras. It’s still sometimes fooled by high contrast scenes or bright backlighting, and needs to be over-ridden.
Like the FZ18 the FZ28 has a good range of manual controls, with shutter and aperture priority and full manual exposure, and these too have seen some improvement. Aperture settings from f/2.8 to f/8 and shutter speeds of 60 seconds to 1/2000th of a second, in increments of 1/3EV are available, as well as spot metering and a selectable focus point, which offers a lot of creative potential. The metering spot can be moved to match the AF point too, which is even better.
The white-balance options have also been improved, with dial-in colour temperature, two measured white balance settings and an option to manually adjust the colour balance within quite wide parameters. This means that the camera can be set up to cope with almost any lighting conditions. It’s an impressive system, and you’d have to buy a DSLR to find more adaptability.
Other improvements include the pop-up flash, which is significantly more powerful with an impressive 8.5m maximum range, and the video mode, which can now shoot in 1280x720p at 30fps, although the component video output is only in 1080i.