Expert Review of Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200 Point & Shoot
Panasonic Lumix FZ200 is the frontrunner in Panasonic’s array of superzoom cameras. Upon the time of its release, Panasonic Lumix FZ200 also fancies with it, pretty much the same 24x optical zoom range of Panasonic Lumix which is equivalent to 25-600mm. But then, as the precursor of this device has a variable aperture measuring f2.8 to 5.2, this new device boasts of a constant aperture throughout the entire focal range of the device. This makes sense; Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200 Point & Shoot gives a f2.8 all the way to reach the equivalent focal length measuring 600mm. Another welcome change in Panasonic FZ200 is the upgradation of the resolution of the electronic viewfinder of the device which has been increased from 201k pixels to 1312k dots; this means that this viewfinder works with a highly efficient accuracy, much like the products on the high end Panasonic Lumix G series, the only difference is that Panasonic Lumix has a smaller image size. Panasonic has also made claims that the sensor is now more improved and advanced, although the resistance to the opportunity to increase the resolution may work in their benefit and it is a delight that video recording can be done in RAW format too.
When it comes to the headline specifications, Panasonic Lumix FZ200 is now the third FZ device which shoots in the 25-600mm lens range, also it is now the proud owner of 12 frames per second continuous shooting rate and 1080/50p/60p video modes of its predecessor alongside the external microphone input. In a market where every manufacturer is only interested in increasing the number of pixels that its product sports, Panasonic certainly deserves high credit for taking a step back and concentrating on the performance, handling and other features for a change. Canon on the other hand, drops a bombshell with the production of Canon PowerShot SX50 HS, this device has a monstrous 50x zoom that can extend to 1200mm, this is twice the telephotographic range of Panasonic Lumix FZ200.
Design and Build Quality
The body styling of Panasonic Lumix FZ200 is also very similar to its precursor, Panasonic Lumix FZ150, just that the camera has buffed up a little in terms of weight and dimensions. Measuring the exact dimensions of 125mm x 87mm x 110mm and weighing 588 grams, with battery and card being almost the same size and weight as Canon PowerShot SX50 HS. The slightly larger body of Panasonic LUMIX FZ200 accounts for better hand grip and a thumb rest, a feature that was absent in the precursor. At the front of the camera on the left side of the lens barrel the additional power zoom controls are maintained on the device as is the focus selector switch. On the top panel the previously vacant space on the left side of the viewfinder head is now home to a sliding catch that pops up the flash.
Focus and Face Detection
Panasonic Lumix FZ200 has four focus modes, 1-Area, 23-Area, AF Tracking and Face Detection. Face detection can detect up to 15 faces and lock focus on one of them. Multiple AF uses 23 areas to determine the best focus regions and there's a single area AF option with a resizeable AF area that can be moved around the screen.
Lens and Image Stabilization
One of the most important and impressive features of Panasonic Lumix FZ200 is the zoom lens mounted on it, although not for the same reason as Canon SX50 HS. Where Canon has aimed very high, featuring a 50x zoom range, Panasonic has proven to be the wiser of the two. Yes, the zoom range is 24x 25-600 range for the third successive FZ generation, but FZ200 maintains a constant f2.8 aperture throughout the focal range. This new change, although may not because an instant hit in the camera world but still will manage to get some enthusiastic eyes turn, with its stand out low light performance and shallow depth of field are more worthwhile goals.
Screen and Menus
Panasonic Lumix FZ200 retains the 460k pixel LCD panel which is 3 inch big and features as many as 460,000 dot pixels. Almost all the features of the screen are unaltered and are the same as before, maintaining a 3 inch diagonal and a 3:2 aspect ratio and hence there are many thin black bars to the sides of 4:3 shaped photos or the thicker ones which are above and below 16:9 video. Menu gives the user the option of brightness control as well as the options of contrast/ saturation and at times even for color balance. As mentioned before, the screen from Panasonic Lumix FZ200, is articulated and hence can be turned inside when not in use, reversed for normal use and folded out to the side and rotated through 270 degrees to face up, down, forwards or any intermediate position.
On the base of the camera, the door to the combined battery and card compartment is located on the right under the grip. Panasonic Lumix FZ200 uses a BLC12E Lithium Ion battery with a power rating of 1200mAh. This replaces the smaller 895mAh BMB9E battery in the FZ150 and provides sufficient power on a full charge for a very impressive 540 shots. Remaining battery life is indicated on screen by a three-segment graphic. The Lumix FZ200 takes SD (HC and XC) cards and also has 40MB of built in memory - enough for a handful of shots or a few minutes of VGA video.
There have been no significant changes in Panasonic Lumix FZ200, because frankly there is no scope of improvement, it is simply the best 1080 mode at 50p or 60p depending on your region. There is something new for videographers, though, a new High Speed Motion Video move which slows down action by recording at fast frame rates. There are two options, a 100fps mode that records at 720p HD resolution and plays back at one quarter real time speed and a 200fps VGA mode that plays back at one eighth real time speed.
Panasonic Lumix FZ200 has a 12.1 Megapixel CMOS sensor which according to Panasonic is an updated version of the one found in the earlier model. This provides it with 1080p video and the ability to shoot slow motion HD footage in addition to fast continuous shooting (albeit for short bursts) and low light and HDR composite modes.
1. Constant f/2.8 maximum aperture
2. Excellent build quality and good handling
3. Impressive image quality
1. Lack of eye sensor can be a pain
2. EVF could have been a bit larger