Review Date: September 30, 2013
Category: Beginner to Serious Amateur
Photoxels Silver Award – Superzoom
The Panasonic FZ70 targets beginner and serious amateur photographers and features 16.1MP resolution (on a 1/2.3-inch High Sensitivity MOS sensor), a 60x ultra wide-angle optical zoom (20-1200mm Equiv.135) lens with a maximum aperture of F2.8(W)-F5.9(T).
We find the overall image quality of the Panasonic FZ70 to be very good at ISO 100 with low noise and detail preserved. Image quality is also good at ISO 200 with ISO 400 very usable; at higher ISOs, images suffer from noise and loss of detail but you may be able to use them at small print sizes and for Web display.
|60x Optical Zoom|
(20mm, 35mm equivalent)
(1200mm, 35mm equivalent)
The Panasonic FZ70 has a 60x ultra wide-angle optical zoom lens. In the above pictures, we show the coverage for 20mm and 1200mm. We love the 20mm ultra wide-angle coverage that allows us to capture wide landscapes. A very effective optical image stabilization helps reduce camera shake at the long focal lengths.
Since most people considering the FZ70 would be doing so for its 60x zoom, it is worth mentioning that as the focal length increases, the maximum aperture gets smaller (as opposed to the fixed F2.8 across the zoom range for the FZ200). If you are shooting at lowest ISO 100 and the scene is brightly lit, image quality will be quite good. However, if you need to bump up the ISO, image quality will suffer and there will be considerable loss of image detail. These images might be fine for Web publishing (as the image of the egret above shows) but not if you intend to print them enlarged.
Macro can be as close as 1 cm (0.4 in.) at wide-angle, 150 cm (5 ft.) at tele. Note that at the 1 cm mark, you’d be so close to the subject, there won’t be too much light reaching it, and hence our macro shot above of the lighted cellphone screen. There is also Macro Zoom which restricts you to a 3x tele zoom. At the low end of the focal lengths, AF is fast, works very well in good light and in low-light, with the help of the AF-assist illuminator. At the long end of the focal lengths, AF takes a bit longer to lock and will hunt, though it does so quite silently.
There are three metering modes: Intelligent Multiple (Multi-Pattern), Center-weighted and Spot. AF Area allows you to position the AF frame almost anywhere on screen on a 31 x 23 grid (at its smallest size), though not at the very edges. You can vary the size of the AF frame and metering is also taken at the AF frame.
Press DISP to reset the AF frame at the center position (though the size is also reset).
|Auto White Balance Indoors|
As the above two pictures show, the Auto White Balance (AWB) is not quite accurate indoors under artificial lighting [I have two energy-saving fluorescent light bulbs on the ceiling]. The Panasonic FZ70 allows WB to be easily set manually and this brings out the real colors. AWB works very well in natural light.
|ISO 200||ISO 400|
|ISO 800||ISO 1600|
The Panasonic FZ70 has 6 ISO settings going from ISO 100 to ISO 3200. 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 with detail preserved. Noise starts to be visible at ISO 400 but is still acceptable up to ISO 800. Images at higher ISOs are noisy with appreciable detail loss but may still be usable in small prints and for Web display.
CA is present in very high contrast shots. The area delimited by the red square at center middle, and reproduced at 100% crop at bottom right, shows purple fringing.
Our Long Shutter Speed test is a torture test for digital cameras. Here we test whether (and how well) a camera can lock focus, provide accurate WB and obtain a correct exposure in extreme low light situations. The FZ70 passes this test well.
The Panasonic FZ70 allows the use of a long shutter speed of up to 8 sec. in PASM modes which makes possible some limited night photography. (In Starry Sky scene mode, you can select 15, 30, or 60 sec.) Generally, with image sensors, noise becomes more prominent at long shutter speeds.
To test this noise reduction algorithm, we take a low-light shot. I simply set the camera to Shutter-Priority mode, dial in 8 sec. and let the camera choose an approproate aperture to obtain the optimum exposure, which was F5.5. Noise reduction seems to be working quite well.
We find the overall image quality of the Panasonic FZ70 at ISO 100 to be very good and very usable up to ISO 400. Though most people considering this camera would be attracted by its 60x zoom, do remember the caveat we mentioned above as the focal lengths increases. I would heartily recommend the Panasonic FZ70 for travel snapshots and for beginners who want a compact camera with an incredible lens reach and enough manual functions to allow them to learn and grow in photography.
View the Panasonic FZ70 Photo Gallery [In the Photo Gallery, click on the picture of the camera to return here.]