We had the chance to briefly handle and try out the Panasonic FZ70, so these are early impressions only. It is slightly bigger than the FZ200 (and considerably bigger than the FZ60) but handles very well with a deep handgrip. Immediately, you notice the elevated Wind Shield [Stereo] Zoom Microphone which features side vents to help redirect wind away from the microphone and apparently the sealed microphone sits under a sponge that helps dampen wind noise.
The zooming action is smooth and we found we could surprisingly hand hold the camera even when zoomed out at the maximum 1200mm. The POWER O.I.S. must have been set to work at all times for we did not notice any jerking action of the image displayed on the LCD as we panned the camera.
We are a big fan of the titltable LCD and so were mildly disappointed that the FZ70 does not have one. What would be more natural than place this long zoom camera on a tripod, point it at a far away blue egret (that I’ve been wanting to capture since Summer began), and tilt the LCD slightly upward for a comfortable view? We were also surprised that the FZ70 did not improve on the resolution of the EVF (202K dots) and LCD (460K dots) of the FZ60 that it is replacing.
Interestingly, the lens is a LUMIX DC VARIO with max. aperture of F2.8(W) – 5.9(T). When asked how a LUMIX lens can sport a distintly LEICA brand (DC VARIO), the story here is that Panasonic was finally able to convince Leica that it could design/build DC VARIO lenses to Leica’s stringent specifications.
Panasonic intends to keep selling the FZ200 (25-600mm, 24x zoom, F2.8) alongside the FZ70 (20-1200mm, 60x zoom, F2.8-5.9) since some people does not need the 60x zoom power of the FZ70 and still prefers the bright F2.8 aperture that is constant across the full zoom range of the FZ200.
Now to see if the FZ70 can take pictures as good as those from the FZ200. I hope I can review the FZ70 before Summer is over — and before my egret friend flies away for a warmer climate [though it's been scorchingly hot in Toronto these past few days].
The Panasonic FZ70 is priced at US $400, with an expected shipping date of September 2013.