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You are hereHome > Digital Camera Reviews > Panasonic FZ5

Panasonic Digital Cameras

   


Panasonic FZ5 Review

Review Date: Sep 27, 2005

Category: Beginner to Serious Amateur

Panasonic FZ5

Photoxels Editor's Choice 2005 Award

Executive Summary

This Panasonic FZ5 Review is based on a production model. All sample images are unretouched, except where specified.

Drop Zone: 1/200 sec., F4.0 and ISO 80
Drop 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 speeds.

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 focal length.

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 flash unit.
  • 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 FZ30.

See if you fit the Panasonic FZ5 User Profile below:

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 camera.
Want one of the best value for money in the Beginner to Serious Amateur category.

 

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