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Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ150 Digital Camera Review

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Digital Camera Review by: Michael Gazzola 

 

In late August 2011 Panasonic announced two super-zoom compact digital cameras as their top-end models for the LUMIX's FZ series. The DMC-FZ150 and DMC-FZ47 . In a digital camera segment loaded up with 9 of the biggest players offering varying qualities, features and lens optics, today we publish our review on the Panasonic DMC-FZ150 digital camera after poking, prodding and testing the unit for everyday use…

 

Appearance & Functionality


Like so many cameras in the super-zoom segment, they all have the unusual luxury of lending styling and functionality from models above and below, in compacts and DSLRs. It’s a unique market as it can be a step up for those looking to upgrade their compact camera without going all out and heading straight into the DSLR market, but by the same token it offers professionals and amateur DSLR users the option of an easy go anywhere camera with loads of functionality like their big brothers as a ‘weekender’.

The look and feel of the camera has, like the FZ100 before, the feel of a bigger DSLR camera. As expected though it’s not as bulky or heavy but does sit comfortably in the photographer’s hands. It handles well shooting in portrait or landscape modes and works well operated with just one hand, aided by the main functionality mostly available at the push of a single button, just at your finger tips.

 

panasonic20111205b.jpgImage Quality / Lens Quality


When a camera is put in front of you with a fixed lens, 24x magnification you’ve got to wonder how well the camera will perform at all focal lengths. But in the super-zoom segment where the competition is extremely tough and little separates the best and worst cameras, Panasonic were always going to have to bring their A-game to remain in the leading group. The lens is a powered DC Vario-Elmarit f2.8-5.2, 25mm - 600mm (35mm equivalent) with two zoom points, one in the traditional place next to the capture button and the second on the lens. There is also an option for ‘manual’ focus, but the term is very loosely used as it’s more semi-manual at best, where the photographer simply pushes a button to choose a focal point and instigates the time to focus… more gimmicky than anything else.

With the FZ100, there was a fair bit of discussion online regarding noise issues / grain with higher ISO levels restricting that model closer to the 400 ISO range for most of it’s shooting. However, this has no doubt been address as the new FZ150 comfortably shoots up 1600 ISO before grain becomes evident, then largely being pushed at 3200 ISO where image quality is compromised.  Whether this improvement has come from a reduced sensor capture from 14mp down to 12mp, or a newly developed multi-process Noise Reduction technology, Panasonic have obviously made it a priority to action – and addressed it well. However, if you’ve got extra $200 in your pocket when shopping and thinking of looking at something the next level up… take a look at the DMC-GF3 …you’ll be blown away!

As with any new generation camera released, Panasonic have also increased the auto-focus system’s speed and added to the burst shooting function hitting the 12fps (frames per second) mark at full resolution. So the next time you’re at a sporting event and close to the action you’ll see firsthand the result of what some tidy R&D work at Panasonic has achieved.

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The Auto white balancing returned some very good results in daylight and fluoro lit rooms and was a little warm in an ambient environment, but only when the flash was turned off. With the flash on the results were fantastic for ambient rooms – much better than expected.

In regard to lens sharpness which is one of the most important elements for any camera purchase, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ150 consistently produced sharp images over and over. With a nicely built up history between Panasonic and Leica in recent years, it’s likely the relationship will continue for many more years. As Panasonic are renowned for producing very high quality electronics and Leica known for extremely high quality optics, it would be in Panasonic’s best interests to maintain this relationship as the quality of images with these lenses just continue to produce.

A note worth mentioning is the ‘macro’ feature on the FZ150. At just 1cm from the lens, images taken are super sharp and offer the user every opportunity to explore their own creativity, or just to get close up on every day things and view life from a very different perspective.

When you stand back and look neutrally at what the FZ150 brings to the table Vs price, there is great deal on offer. Firstly, a great 25mm wide lens coupled with a ripper 24x zoom carrying you up to 600mm. Although there are longer lenses on competitors you simply cannot hold the 600mm+ zoom length freehand steadily, without a tripod so I think Panasonic have chosen the range well. Add the 3.0” Free-Angle TFT Screen LCD Display (460K dots) with AR Coating and a Field of View at 100% and a user-friendly menu with so many pages of functions it’s virtually a mini-novel, plus Deblur modes, Face Recognition, Face Detection, AF Tracking, Intelligent ISO Control, Intelligent Scene Selector and Intelligent D-range Control and you’ve got your hands full.

 

panasonic20111205d.jpgLCD / Viewfinder

 

The DC-FZ150 has both, a 3.0” free-angle flip out TFT screen LCD display (460K dots) and a colour EVF (201.6K pixel equivalent).  The 3-inch free-angle screen flips out 180 degrees horizontally and rotates another 180 degrees vertically to provide the user a multitude of shooting angles.

 

The screen is bright and punchy but very susceptible to finger prints. As mentioned in other reviews this LCD too struggles in very bright light, but is not alone as every single one of its competitors suffers from the same issue. The first camera company to address this issue will give themselves a huge advantage over the competition and at the same time likely acquire a patent on some technology that could for that company through licensing earn them yearly more than all their camera sales combined.

 

Video


Considering where this camera sits in the camera pyramid, the Full High Definition movie recording in AVCHD produced by the Panasonic DMC-FZ150 is nothing short of fantastic. Totally unexpected. As a standalone service, the video quality would give DSLR video a serious run for their money.  The video is smooth, clean and crisp and would in hindsight have to be one of Panasonic’s big ticket features with this model. It’s has quick start recording via a handy button located next to the stills capture button, although set into the camera presumably to avoid being knocked when in stills mode, but is a little too set into the body. My preference would have been to see it raised a touch, even just 2mm so that response times for pushing on and off would be quicker and reduce camera movement. It’s only a very minor gripe but a very easy one to address with then next model… possibly the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200 perhaps?






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View a set of test images on our Facebook page

 

Conclusion


The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ150 digital camera with a RRP of $799 is a worthwhile investment for those looking to upgrade their quality compact camera but are not quite ready for the jump to a full on DSLR camera. With virtually nothing to whinge about other than the video record button not sticking out enough, this camera comes loaded with features on both the physical and in-camera software side. The wide angle 25mm lens and long zoom range is definitely a selling point, along with beautiful Full HD video, a 3 inch LCD multi-angle screen and Panasonic’s Intelligent Auto function to just take pictures in ‘cruise’ mode. And considering the FZ150 is available between $50 and $150 less than RRP makes this camera an even more attractive choice.
 

This camera is highly recommended.

  

Appearance rating 4 stars
Functionality rating 4 stars
Image quality
4 stars
Video quality
4.5 stars
Lens quality
4 stars
View finder / LCD screen 4 stars
Value for money 4 star
RRP (AUD) $899
$799
SPACER.GIF  
Effective Pixels 12.1 Mega pixels
Sensor Type
1/2.3-inch High Sensitivity Mos Sensor / 12.8 Total Megapixels / Primary Color Filter
Image Sizes 5 Sizes / 4 Formats
Lens LEICA DC VARIO- ELMARIT, 14 elements in 10 groups (2 Aspherical Lenses / 3 Aspherical Surfaces / 3 ED Lenses / 1 Nano Surface Coating Lens)
Resolution Settings 4000 x 3000 pixels - 640 x 480 pixels
Shooting Modes 18
Face Detection Yes
Manual Focus Yes (assisted)
Auto Focus Yes
Aperture Priority Yes
Shutter Speeds Still: 15 - 1/2000 sec Video Mode : 1/30 - 1/20,000 sec (1/8 - 1/20,000 sec on MF Operation on Creative Video Mode) Starry Sky Mode : 15, 30sec
Shutter Priority Yes
ISO Auto / i.ISO / 100 / 200 / 400 / 800 / 1600 / 3200
High Sensitivity mode (ISO 1600-6400)
LCD Monitor 3.0"(7.5cm) Free-Angle TFT Screen LCD Display (460K dots), AR Coating Field of View : approx. 100% Wide Viewing Angle AUTO Power LCD mode, Power LCD mode
Viewfinder 0.20" Color EVF (201.6K Pixels equiv.), Field of View : approx. 100%, Lens 19.6x
Flash Built In. Auto, Auto/Red- eye Reduction, Forced On, Forced On/Red- eye Reduction, Slow Sync./Red- eye Reduction, Forced Off Flash Synchro; 1st / 2nd 0.3 - 9.5m (Wide/ISO Auto), 1.0 - 5.1m (Tele/ISO Auto)
Hot Shoe Yes
White Balance Auto / Daylight / Cloudy / Shade / Incandescent / Flash / White Set 1 / White Set 2 / Color Temperature
White Balance Adjustment (2-axis adjustable, ±9steps each, Blue/Amber and Magenta/Green bias)
Self Timer 2 sec / 10 sec / 10 sec [3 pictures]
Stills Format/s
RAW, JPEG (DCF / Exif2.3). 3D Image: MPO
Video Format/s AVCHD, MP4 , Quick Time Motion JPEG (on High Speed Video)
Video Recording Time/s AVCHD: Approx. 60 min (PSH), 70 min (SH), MP4: approx. 75 min (FHD) 
Storage Type - External SD memory card, SDHC memory card, SDXC memory card
Storage Type - Internal
Approx. 70MB
Image / Audio Formats Still Image: JPEG(DCF, Exif 2.3), RAW,
MPO (When attaching 3D lens in Micro Four Thirds standard)
Connectivity mini HDMI, AV Output, USB2.0 High speed
Power Source Charger included
Battery Options Li- ion Battery Pack (7.2V Minimum: 895mAh)
Battery Life 410 pictures (CIPA Standard)
Dimensions 124.3 mm (W) x 81.7mm (H) x 95.2mm (D)
Weight Approx. 484 g without Battery and SD Memory Card
Approx. 528 g with Battery and SD Memory Card
















 


 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Panasonic

 

Panasonic Australia is a proud member of the Australian corporate community. With long standing links to local manufacturing and with hundreds of employees, Panasonic Australia is committed to fostering good relationships with consumers, businesses and governments alike.

 

On both a Local and International basis Panasonic is deploying long term strategies related to stable economic growth, responsible use of resources and being friendly to the environment.

 

The pages contained within the 'About Us' area will give you an insight into how Panasonic Australia operates and an overview of our companies history.

 

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