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Having extensively used 10x and 35x compact digizoom cameras over the last year or so, I would say the former is a little short … and the latter a little too long for comfortable and successful leisure shooting.
So this model – the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ150 – with a 24x zoom comes in, as with Goldilock and her three bears’ beds, to be just right! Added to this is the factor of the wide end equating to 25mm in SDLR-speak. Usefully wide!
The FZ150 also wins due to its use of a Leica Vario Elmarit lens which, even at full zoom, does not extend from the body by an uncomfortable length.
The 12.1 million pixel MOS has a maximum image size of 4000×3000 pixels: from this expect to make a 34x25cm print.
Movies? Well taken care of, with AVHCD format at 1920x1080p and MPEG4 at 1280x720p. For the record the auto focus, exposure and stabiliser work well when shooting videos; unfortunately, you cannot shoot full size stills while the camera is recording video …. only 2048×1536 pixel pics. The FZ150 also has a stereo zoom microphone, with a wind cut function, set into the top of the body; like most of these setups it will pick up camera and lens handling noises.
One niggle: for a company which has long installed an excellent multi mode stabiliser into its still cameras this model has only two settings: on and off!
The mode dial has the usual options: iAuto, Program AE, shutter and aperture priority plus manual as well some presets to handle portraits, sport, landscapes, macro etc. Here also you can select an array of 17 scene modes (including 3D), preset custom options, movie shooting with manual settings as well as ‘Creative Control Mode’ … giving the ability to alter contrast, saturation, exposure and other parameters. Have to admit I haven’t seen this before … maybe useful for the creative video fan.
The hot shoe on the FZ150 allows attachment of an outboard stereo mic, external flash or even an optional remote shutter release.
Missing, I am sad to report, is a sensor to auto switch between the top viewfinder and rear LCD screen. You may think this is a negligible absence but I find cameras with it very easy to use.
All clean until ISO 1600, with a small amount of noise appearing.
ISO 3200 noisy but useable in some situations.
From power on to first shot capture the camera took about 2.5 seconds; then each shot came in at a bit less than a second a shot.
A good performer, the Leica lens shows no signs of any aberrations at the wide nor tele zoom ends.
Quality: an average snapshot camera. No more. No less.
Why you would buy it: useful zoom range; pocketable.
Why you wouldn’t: you want more control, as found in DSLRs.
In overall terms this is a useful entry into maxi zoom territory and a delightfully easy camera to use. I found the camera easy to get around and handle its controls.
Image Sensor: 12.1 million effective pixels.
Metering: Intelligent multi, centre-weighted, spot.
Sensor Size: 11mm MOS.
Lens: Leica DC Vario-Elmarit f2.8-5.2/4.5-108mm (25-600mm as 35 SLR equivalent).
Shutter Speed: 30 to 1/2000 second.
Continuous Shooting: 11, 40, 60 images/second.
Memory: SD, SDHC, SDXC cards plus 70MB internal memory.
Image Sizes (pixels): 4000×3000 to 640×480. Movies: 1920×1080 to 1280×720 60p (AVCHD and MPEG4) at 30 fps.
Turret LCD finder: 5mm (201,600 pixels).
LCD Screen: 7.6cm LCD (460,000 pixels).
File Formats: RAW, JPEG, RAW+JPEG, AVCHD, MPEG4, 3D MPO.
ISO Sensitivity: Auto, 100 to 6400.
Interface: USB 2.0, HDMI mini, AV.
Power: Rechargeable lithium ion battery, DC input.
Dimensions: 124x82x95 WHDmm.
Weight: Approx. 528 g (inc battery).
Price: Get a price on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ150 at Amazon.