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 FZ7

Panasonic Digital Cameras


Panasonic FZ7 Review

Review Date: Apr 24, 2006

Category: Beginner to Serious Amateur

Panasonic FZ7 with flash up

Photoxels Editor's Choice 2006 Award Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ7 wins DIWA Gold Award Panasonic FZ7 wins DIWA Platinum Award


The Panasonic FZ7 is a digital camera targeted to beginner and serious amateur photographers. It has 6.0 megapixel resolution on a 1/2.5 in. CCD image sensor, and a 6-72mm (36-432mm, 35 mm equivalent) 12x optical zoom lens, with a maximum aperture of F2.8(W)-F3.3(T), and minimum aperture of F8.0.

We find the overall image quality of the Panasonic FZ7 to be very good to excellent with lots of detail. Noise is very low at ISO 80 though chrominance noise may be slightly visible in the shadows when viewing the images at full size on screen.

12x Optical Zoom
Wide-angle 36mm Telephoto 432mm
Wide-angle 6mm
(36mm, 35mm equivalent)
Telephoto 72mm
(432mm, 35mm equivalent)

The Panasonic FZ7 has a 12x optical zoom lens for very clear and detailed images. In the above pictures, we show the coverage for 36mm and 432mm. It's one of the longest reach in consumer digital cameras, plus it comes with a very effective image stabilization, which helps to reduce camera shake when hand holding at long focal lengths. We also like the relatively large F3.3 maximum aperture at the long end of the zoom.

6mm, Programmed Auto, Multi-Pattern, 1 sec., F2.8, ISO 80

Macro can be as close as 5 cm (2 in.) at wide-angle or 1 m (3.28 ft) at max telephoto ("Tele-macro"). Tele-macro is convenient when you cannot move close to your subject but still want to cover a small area. Interestingly, in A, S and M modes, you don't need to select macro mode on the Mode Dial to move in as close as 5 cm.

AF is fast (especially when using the 1-area High Speed AF) and works very well even in low-light. In extreme low-light, the AF Assist Lamp kicks in automatically (if you've set it ON in the menu) to help achieve focus. Auto focus is very accurate and locks without hunting even at the extreme long end of the zoom. Once focus locks, it stays locked at that distance even when you remove your finger from the shutter button and recompose; when you press the shutter button fully to take a picture, focus seems to still stay locked at that particular distance.

One feature I miss is an AF Area mode (where you can position the AF frame to any position on the screen). You also cannot lock focus and exposure independently of each other.

There are three metering modes: Multiple (Multi-Pattern), Center-weighted, and Spot.

White Balance Indoors
AWB Custom WB
AWB Custom WB

As the above two pictures show, the Auto White Balance (AWB) is not quite accurate indoors under artificial lighting [I have those special white light fluorescent bulbs]. The Panasonic FZ7 allows WB to also be set manually via the Menu. AWB works very well in natural light.

Besides Auto white balance, you can select Daylight, Cloudy, Halogen, Flash, White Set 1, White Set 2, Manual. You can save 2 custom WB settings (White Set 1, White Set 2).

ISO Comparisons
ISO 80
ISO 80
ISO 100 ISO 200
ISO 100 ISO 200
ISO 400  
ISO 400  

You can set the ISO on the Panasonic FZ7 from 80 to 400. The 100% crops above (area delimited by the white square) demonstrate that noise at ISO 80 is under control, though chromatic (coloured) noise is finely visible at full image size. Noise starts to be more visible at ISO 100 but is still usable. At ISO 200 and 400, the presence of chrominance noise in the form of coloured splotches is clearly visible at full image size.

High Sensitivity
ISO 800 ISO 1600
ISO 800 ISO 1600

New is a High Sensitivity scene mode that allows you to select ISO 800 or 1600 (or a range between ISO 800 and 1600, if set to Auto).

Looks kind of blurry? In fact, the user manual states the following: "A slight blurring of the subject is created when taking pictures indoors etc." I've taken a number of shots and the ISO 800 appears to be more blurry than the one taken at ISO 1600 on my review camera.

The fact that it is a scene mode tells me that it is some kind of in-camera digital processing of the captured image. In that scene mode, you also cannot specify WB. So, it's not quite like the FZ7 has true ISO 800 and 1600 low-light capability. Use with discretion.

Chromatic Aberrations

CA is not really a problem in everyday shots, though apparent in some very high contrast shots. In the above photo, the corner delimited by the red square, and reproduced at 100% crop at bottom right, shows about the most purple fringing we've encountered in our image samples.

Long Shutter Speed
Long Exposure
6mm, Shutter-Priority, Multi-Pattern, 5 sec., F2.8, ISO 80
Manual WB, Macro, Self-timer 10 sec., Tripod Used

The Panasonic FZ7 allows the use of a long shutter speed of up to 60 sec. in Manual Mode (1 sec. in P, 8 sec. in A and S). This allows you to take some very nice Night Shots. Generally, with CCD image sensors, noise usually becomes more prominent at slow shutter speeds. The Panasonic FZ7 has special noise reduction (NR) algorithms that automatically kicks in at shutter speeds of 1 sec. and slower and you'll notice aprox. twice the processing time before the next picture can be taken. I like that there is a countdown of the long shutter speed as well as of the "signal processing" (noise reduction) time displayed on screen.

To test this noise reduction algorithm, we take a low-light indoors shot using a long shutter speed of 5 sec. The NR works quite well. The AF worked very well in low-light, and the AF-assist Lamp made for precise and fast focus lock [again, depends on how contrasty your subject is].

The Panasonic FZ7 has a flash that is effective up to 6m (19.7 ft.) at max. wide-angle when sensitivity is set to AUTO. Movie is now 640 x 480 pixels [4:3] or 848 x 480 [16:9], both at 30fps.

The last feature we will mention is the histogram. A histogram can be displayed during Shooting Mode and Playback mode. Also, if you set Highlight Display to ON [MENU - SETUP - HIGHLIGHT = ON], any white saturated area will blink in B&W in Review (but not Payback) mode. The histogram and Highlight display are invaluable to give an indication of under- and over-exposure (don't rely on the LCD/EVF since the brightness is adjustable, auto brightens, and thus will be misleading).

Overall, very good to excellent image quality for a 6.0MP digital camera: sharp pictures, very good image detail, beautiful colours, well-exposed.

The pictures in the Panasonic FZ7 Photo Gallery page provide a good sample of what the camera is capable of. I have provided samples at 800x600 pixels (compressed to Quality 60/100 in Photoshop Elements) as well as the 2816 x 2112 pixels original size (click on the image for the original version).

You can safely assume that most macro shots and slow shutter speed shots required the use of a tripod (due to the effective image stabilization, the use of a tripod was restricted to the long shutter speeds). Any image that is adjusted for levels in Photoshop has "_adjusted" appended to the file name (though the original sized image is, of course, not adjusted).

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.