Review Date: September 24, 2012
Category: Beginner to Serious Amateur
Photoxels Gold Award – Superzoom
The Panasonic FZ200 targets beginner and serious amateur photographers and features 12.1MP resolution (on a 1/2.3-inch High Sensitivity MOS sensor), a 24x ultra wide-angle optical zoom (25-600mm Equiv.135) lens with a maximum aperture of F2.8 throughout the whole zoom range.
We find the overall image quality of the Panasonic FZ200 to be very good at ISO 100 with low noise and detail preserved. Image quality is also good up to ISO 400 with ISO 800 and 1600 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.
|24x Optical Zoom|
(25mm, 35mm equivalent)
(600mm, 35mm equivalent)
The Panasonic FZ200 has a 24x ultra wide-angle optical zoom lens. In the above pictures, we show the coverage for 25mm and 600mm. We love the 25mm 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.
Macro can be as close as 1 cm (0.4 in.) at wide-angle, 100 cm (39.4 in.) at tele. AF is fast, works very well in good light and in low-light, with the help of the AF-assist illuminator.
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, though not at the very edges. You can vary the size of the AF frame and metering is also taken at the AF frame.
|Auto White Balance Indoors|
As the above two pictures show, the Auto White Balance (AWB) is quite good indoors under artificial lighting [I have two energy-saving fluorescent light bulbs on the ceiling]. The Panasonic FZ200 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|
|ISO 3200||ISO 6400|
The Panasonic FZ200 has 6 ISO settings going from ISO 100 to ISO 6400. 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 800 but is still acceptable. 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 corner delimited by the red square at top middle, and reproduced at 100% crop at bottom right, shows some 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 FZ200 passes this test well: it focuses fast and precisely, though we do have to experiment quite a bit to get a correct exposure in Manual mode.
The Panasonic FZ200 allows the use of a long shutter speed of up to 60 sec. in Manual mode which makes possible some nice night photography. Generally, with image sensors, noise becomes more prominent at long shutter speeds.
To test this noise reduction algorithm, we take an extreme low-light shot. I experiment a bit to obtain the optimum exposure, eventually settling on 60 sec. at F2.8. Even at this long shutter, the noise reduction works well.
We find the overall image quality of the Panasonic FZ200 at ISO 100 to be very good and very usable up to ISO 1600. I would recommend the Panasonic FZ200 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 FZ200 Photo Gallery [In the Photo Gallery, click on the picture of the camera to return here.]