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I remember some years ago lusting after a (then) new Kodak (remember them?) digicam that had a 10x zoom. Wow! I thought what photographic horizons it would conquer.
Now, you can put your mitts on a 50x zoom digicam (thanks to Canon) but, as you will quickly find out, it’s not a dream holiday with such a powerful lens, with handholding at extreme tele settings a no-no.
IMHO the 24x zoom on the FZ60 is arguably a better length for average shooting in the hands of the average and lesser-skilled photographer.
Panasonic quaintly describes the camera as one that ‘caters to the camera buyer who wants that zoom reach, but doesn’t need the bright constant aperture, and the drawbacks it brings. If you’re willing to forgo the extra light capture, it could provide a compelling option.’
It seems the company is comparing the FZ60 with another model which had an aperture of f4.5 as opposed to the FZ60’s smaller f5.2 at the tele end. For me, there’s little sense in the comparison.
The big plus is that the 24x zoom ranges from a 35 SLR wide equivalent of 25mm to a tele equivalent of 600mm. As I’ve mentioned many times before, try and get, use and lug a 35 DSLR lens of that focal length!
And it’s a Leica-designed optic.
The camera is set in the by now established bridge camera format: looks like an interchangeable DSLR, works like one but doesn’t allow lens switching and cannot take pictures equal in quality to a DSLR. So there!
But for many people, especially those on a foreign (or even domestic!) holiday this is the ideal single camera for the purpose: it’s relatively compact, won’t stow in your pocket but will hang quite happily on from your neck regions on a shoulder strap and few subjects, however distant, will be beyond your reach.
The mode dial carries well-identified settings for intelligent Auto, PASM, creative movie, two custom settings, scene modes (soft focus, dynamic monochrome, cross processing etc) and creative control setting.
Creative movie allows you use Program AE, aperture and shutter priority settings plus manual when shooting video.
Creative control lets you select a variety of image effects in stills shooting, along with examples of how they look.
Topside carries a selection of buttons to shoot a burst of shots, a Function button, movie record and the zoom lever.
Move to the rear side and we see the four way jog dial, with the menu button set into its centre, along with another Function button, trash plus AF options.
The 16.1 million pixel CMOS captures a relatively largish maximum image size of 4608×2592 pixels or, in print terms, an output of 39x22cm output.
Movies in Full HD 1920×1080 can be recorded to a Class 4 SD card in the AVCHD format or MPEG4 at a lower resolution. This clip was shot with a stills pan head, which accounts for the jerky panning!
Overall, the camera offers a surprising level of manual and over-riding control as well as the useful ability to capture on RAW and JPEG.
A special note: I had a great time shooting some beach action in movie mode. The zoom’s full tele setting is perfect for such a subject.
I could shoot the first shots about two seconds after powering up, while follow on shots came in at about a second apart, until the buffer memory filled.
No sign of any distortion at the wide or tele ends of the zoom.
At ISO 1600 some artefacts were beginning to appear and by ISO 3200 these made picture taking a tricky chore.
(insert Full wide 2 and Full tele 2
Why you’d buy the Panasonic Lumix FZ60: above average as a stills camera; perfect for video.
Why you wouldn’t: a vari-angle screen could have made a difference.
Great camera, excellent zoom reach.
Image Sensor: 16.1 million effective pixels.
Sensor: 11mm CMOS.
Metering: Multi, centre-weighted, spot.
Lens: Leica DC Vario-Elmarit f2.8-5.2/4.5-108mm (25-600mm as 35 SLR equivalent)
Exposure Modes: Auto, Program AE, shutter and aperture priority, manual.
Shutter Speed: 4-1/2000 second.
Memory: SD/SDHC/SDXC plus 70 MB internal.
Image Sizes (pixels): Stills: 4608×2592 to 480×480.
Movies: 1920×1080, 1280×720, 640×480.
Viewfinder: Turret (202,000) and 7.6cm LCD screen (460,000).
File Formats: JPEG, MPO 3D, MPEG4, AVCHD.
Colour Space: sRGB.
ISO Sensitivity: Auto, 100 to 6400.
Interface: USB 2.0, HDMI mini, remote control, DC input.
Power: Rechargeable lithium ion battery.
Dimensions: 120.3×80.8×91.9 WHDmm.
Weight: 493 g (with battery and card).
Price: Get a price on the Panasonic Lumix FZ60 at Amazon.