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Panasonic FZ50 Review
Date: Oct 30, 2006
- Advanced Amateur
The Panasonic Lumix FZ50 is a digital
camera targeted to advanced amateur photographers.
It has 10.1 megapixel resolution on a 1/1.8 in.
CCD image sensor, and a 35-420mm (35 mm equivalent)
12x optical image stabilized zoom lens, with an
aperture range of F2.8(W)F3.7(T).
We find the overall image quality of the Panasonic
FZ50 to be very good to excellent at ISO 100,
with low noise and images retaining most of the
details. At higher ISOs, images suffer from noise.
(28mm, 35mm equivalent)
(420mm, 35mm equivalent)
In the above pictures, we show the coverage for
35mm and then 420mm (35mm equivalent).
The Panasonic FZ50 has full exposure flexibility
with PASM modes, and Program Shift.
The camera also provides exposure compensation
(with Auto Bracketing) and Custom (Manual) White
Balance. A Histogram can be displayed in both
Live and Playback modes.
Shutter speed ranges from 60-1/2,000 sec. in
|7.4mm, Program, Pattern,
3.2 sec., F5.6, ISO 100
Manual WB, Macro ON
The Panasonic FZ50 lens allows you to focus as
close as 5cm (2 in.) at wide-angle. AF locks precisely
and fast, even in low-light.
The AF Area can be manually moved to any of 9
areas [Press MF FOCUS button and use the CURSOR
buttons to select an AF area].
There are three metering modes: Multiple (Multi-Pattern),
Center Weighted and Spot.
As the above two pictures show, the auto white
balance (AWB) indoors under tungsten artificial
light tends toward the yellow.
Fortunately, there is Manual WB and WB ADJUST
that are easy to set and provide excellent results.
As expected, AWB works well in natural light.
The Panasonic FZ50 has 5 ISO settings going from
ISO 100 to ISO 1600. Intelligent ISO provides
a further ISO 3200 but at reduced MP resolution.
crops above (area delimited by the white square)
demonstrate the noise at the available ISO Speeds.
At ISO 100, noise is under control. Noise starts
to be slightly visible at ISO 200 and quickly
increases at higher ISOs.
CA is under control in everyday shots and is
not much of a problem even in high contrast shots.
The corner delimited by the red square at top
right, and reproduced at 100% crop at bottom right,
shows slight purple fringing.
|7.4m, Manual, Pattern, 60
sec., F8, ISO 100
Manual WB, Self-timer 10 sec., Tripod Used
Noise Reduction ON
The Panasonic FZ50 allows the use of a long shutter
speed of up to 60 sec. in Manual mode, therefore
allowing night photography. Generally, with CCD
image sensors, noise usually becomes more prominent
at slow shutter speeds. You can vary the amount
of Noise Reduction to apply [MENU - PICT.ADJ.
- NOISE REDUCTION - High | Std | Low]; you'll
notice a longer processing time (approx. twice
as long) before the next picture can be taken.
To test this noise reduction algorithm, we decided
to take a low-light indoors shot. To obtain a
long exposure, I place Bamm-Bamm under my desk
where it's dark.
I experiment a bit to obtain the optimum exposure,
eventually settling on 60 sec. at F8 [the Manual
Exposure Assistance grossly overexposes at such
low light, by up to 10 sec. overexposure]. Even
at this long shutter speed, the Panasonic FZ50's
noise reduction seems to be working great, producing
a nice smooth blurring effect of the background.
The Panasonic FZ50 allows you to save an image
in the RAW file format. It takes about 5 sec.
to write a RAW image to memory card (I used a
regular 2GB CF card). Note that these times do
not include the extra write times you'll experience
if Noise Reduction kicks in.
At Image Quality = Fine, a 10.1MP image is compressed
down to anywhere between 3MB and 4.5MB. A RAW
image occupies about 20MB.
The Panasonic FZ50 incorporates a live histogram.
We find the overall image quality of the Panasonic
Lumix DMC-FZ50 at ISO 100 to be excellent
with good details in the shadows and highlights.
ISO 200 is usable. Noise is objectionable at higher
The pictures in the Panasonic FZ50 Photo Gallery
page provide a good sample of what the camera
is capable of. I have provided unprocessed samples
at 800x600 pixels (compressed to Quality 60/100
in Photoshop Elements) as well as the 3648x2736
pixels original size (click on the image for the
original version). Any of the 800x600 image that
is adjusted for levels and/or sharpened in Photoshop
has "_adjusted" appended to the file
name. Original images are never adjusted.
You can safely assume that most macro shots and
slow shutter speed shots required the use of a
I have defaulted the image size to 800x600 pixels.
For those who have their monitor resolution set
to 1024x728 pixels, everything should snugly fit
and you should not have to scroll to see the whole
image. If your monitor is set to 800x600 pixels
resolution, start the slide show and then scroll
to the right to position the image within your
screen width. Then, press F11 (if you are using
Internet Explorer) to switch to full screen mode,
and the image should fill your screen nicely.
Press F11 again at any time to switch your monitor
display back to normal mode.
To return to this page from the Photo Gallery,
click on the animated graphics of the camera.
Please open and download the original size version
only if you need to and only once
to your hard drive -- and save me some precious