Fact Sheets on the Best Digital Cameras
    Bookmark and Share  
Articles (RSS Feed)
Press Releases
Site Map
Best Digital Cameras
Buyer's Guide
Ultra Compact
Ultra Zoom
User Manuals
Digital Camera Reviews
Reviews Matrix
Photoxels Awards
History of Cameras
Featured Sites
About Us
Privacy Statement
Photo Store
Digital Cameras

You are hereHome > Digital Camera Reviews > Panasonic FZ50

Panasonic Digital Cameras


Panasonic FZ50 Review

Review Date: Oct 30, 2006

Category: Prosumer - Advanced Amateur

Panasonic FZ50
Photoxels Editor's Choice 2006  


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.

12x Optical Zoom
Wide-angle 28mm Tele 420mm
Wide-angle 7.4mm
(28mm, 35mm equivalent)
Telephoto 88.8mm
(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 Manual Mode.

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.

White Balance Indoors
AWB Manual WB

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.

ISO Comparisons
ISO 100
ISO 100
ISO 200 ISO 400
ISO 200 ISO 400
ISO 800 ISO 1600
ISO 800 ISO 1600

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. The 100% 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.

Chromatic Aberrations

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.

Long Shutter Speed
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 ISOs.

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 tripod.

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 bandwidth. Thanks!


<< Executive Summary

Handling & Feel >>







  Home | Best Digital Cameras | Digital Camera Reviews | Tutorials | Special | About | Shop  

Product technical specifications are as represented by the manufacturer
and subject to manufacturer's change, so please do not rely on them without verification.
All trademarks, service marks, and Copyrights are the property of their respective owners.
Privacy Notice. Copyright © 2002-2015 Photoxels. All rights reserved.