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Panasonic FZ5 Review
Date: Sep 27, 2005
to Serious Amateur
Panasonic FZ5 Review is based on a production
model. All sample images are unretouched, except
Zone at Paramount Canada's Wonderland
230 feet in the air, up at 16 feet per second,
down at 100km/h
72mm, Programmed Auto, Multi-Pattern, 1/200 sec.,
F4 and ISO 80, Cropped
While the new Panasonic FZ30 is currently generating
the most excitement among enthusiasts, the Panasonic
Lumix DMC-FZ5 remains the ultra zoom digital
camera with the best bang for the money. It has
pretty much everything a beginner to serious amateur
photographer could wish for: very good image quality,
superb 12x optical zoom with an effective optical
image stabilization, flexible exposure control,
and very fast operations.
The Panasonic FZ5 has a quality Leica DC Vario-Elmarit
12x optical zoom lens with a maximum aperture
of F2.8 at wide-angle and F3.3 at telephoto. Usually
you need to use a tripod with such a long telephoto,
but thanks to the optical image stabilization,
camera shake is reduced enough for hand holding
shots at the long focal lengths and slower shutter
Image quality is very good for its category,
nicely sharpened right out of the camera so no
post processing is required. Noise is pretty low
in well-exposed images, but present in shadows
and especially at the extreme range of the long
There is full exposure flexibility, so if you
are a beginner, you can start with Auto, Scene
and Program AE exposure modes, then move on to
Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority, and full
Manual modes when you are ready to learn and explore.
Switching from mode to mode, and using the different
options available is intuitive.
The Panasonic FZ5 is fast, with no practical
shutter/AF lag. In fact, auto focus is incredibly
fast, approaching dSLR speed. The camera is very
responsive and this responsiveness makes it a
pleasure to use.
A large 1.8 in. LCD monitor makes focusing and
composing easy. An AF-assist light helps achieve
focus in low-light. The onboard flash is quite
good with a 15 feet reach.
No camera is perfect, so here is a summary of
the positive and negative points, which may or
may not be important to you, depending on how
you intend to use the camera:
- Images are beautifully sharpened right out
of the camera, and most beginners prefer it
that way. More advanced photographers will find
the images a tad oversharpened.
- At ISO 80, noise is well under control, but
slightly visible in the shadows and when using
the extreme range of the long focal length.
You won't notice it in 4x6 in. prints.
- The autofocus is one of the speediest and
best we've experienced so far in consumer level
digital cameras. It literally snaps into focus,
especially when using the 1-area High speed
AF mode. At max. telephoto, AF can hunt and
miss at times, depending on how contrasty the
scene you are trying to capture is.
- There is no manual focus, though most of us
won't miss it with the excellent and fast AF.
- Most controls are intuitive to use, even Manual
mode which provides a Manual Exposure Assistance
to make using Manual mode easy.
- Advanced photographers won't necessarily rank
this as a problem, but it sure would be nice
to have the full shutter speed range available
in P mode. Currently, the slowest shutter speed
available in P mode is 1/4 sec. A, S and M modes
can access up to 8 sec.
- The onboard flash is quite strong though advanced
photographers would have liked the availability
of a hot shoe to add in a more powerful external
- The LCD monitor and EVF does not gain up in
low-light and you will find it challenging to
focus and compose in those situations. The AF,
however, works very well even in low-light situations.
Overall, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ5 makes
a great all-round family digital camera. Beginner
amateur photographers (and the proverbial "soccer
moms") will find it easy-to-use, and more
serious amateur photographers will appreciate
all the useful and immensely practical features
-- all in a well-designed and very compact
body. The Panasonic FZ5 produces great images,
is fast and a pleasure to use -- and is simply
incredible value for money. If you are looking
for a long zoom digital camera, don't miss checking
out the Panasonic FZ5, available in silver or
all black body.
For the more advanced photographers, check out
the FZ5's big brother, the Panasonic
See if you fit the Panasonic FZ5 User Profile
||Desire a quality 5+ MP resolution
digital camera capable of producing prints
of up to 8x10 in.
||Want a long zoom. Want a long
zoom. Want a long zoom. -- With Image Stabilization.
||Want a well-rounded digital
camera for general family use.
||Want eveything a beginner or
serious amateur photographer needs to learn,
experiment and grow in digital photography.
||Want more exposure flexibility
than provided by a point-and-shoot digital
||Want one of the best value for
money in the Beginner to Serious Amateur category.