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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

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

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

This Panasonic FZ7 Review is based on a production model. All sample images are unretouched, except where specified.

This review has been submitted to DIWA Awards [Total: 78%].

Moon: 1/100 sec., F5.0 and ISO 80
Moon
72mm, Programmed Auto, Multi-Pattern, 1/100 sec., F5 and ISO 80, Cropped

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ7 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 to excellent image quality, superb 12x optical zoom with an effective optical image stabilization, flexible exposure control, and very fast operations.

The Panasonic FZ7 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 effective optical image stabilization, camera shake is reduced when 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.

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 FZ7 is fast, with no practical shutter 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.

An extra large 2.5 in. LCD monitor makes focusing and composing easy. An AF-assist Lamp helps achieve focus in low-light. The on-board flash is quite good with a 6 m 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:

  • At ISO 80, noise is well under control and you won't notice it much, but slightly visible in the shadows.
  • 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.
  • New is manual focus, with an also new Joystick to focus speedily.
  • 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 sec.; A and S modes can access up to 8 sec.; M mode can take full advantage of the full 60 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 gains up slightly in low-light. The AF works very well even in low-light situations.

Overall, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ7 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 compact body. The Panasonic FZ7 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 FZ7, available in silver or all black body.

See if you fit the Panasonic FZ7 User Profile below:

Panasonic FZ7
User Profile
Desire a quality 6+ MP resolution digital camera.
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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