Customer Review

250 of 259 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great features, great lens, less than stellar engineering, January 19, 2012
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This review is from: Panasonic DMC-FZ150K 12.1 MP Digital Camera with CMOS Sensor and 24x Optical Zoom (Black) (Camera)
I researched this purchase for several months, watching videos made by others using the camera, and pictures taken. I was very impressed with the video quality and picture quality from my research. It also had all the features I wanted (RAW shooting, flip-out LCD screen, a relatively decent "superzoom" lens and small size). I was aware of complaints of build quality, and the user interface, but I wasn't as concerned about that as with the features for the price.

After using the camera for a few months, I have several things to mention.

1.) The HD video quality is top-notch. Very impressive. I love the camera's ability to zoom and refocus while capturing movies. It makes my shots seem more "cinematic".

2.) The photo quality is also excellent, pleasantly saturated colors (adjustable), although a bit grainy at the higher ISOs (not surprising given the camera's sensor size)

3.) The build quality is indeed less than stellar. It seems a little more "plasticky" than it's competitors. This probably adds to the camera's light weight (which I do like), but when I use it, I feel like I have to be more careful than with other simlar camera's I've handled. Consequently, I carry it in a well-padded bag.

4.) The interface is a bit confusing and overly complicated. Panasonic should take a lesson from Canon on interface design.

5.) The buttons are a little small and tightly arranged. Although I've gotten used to it, it does make using the camera feel a little cramped - not a huge issue.

6.) In at least one instance, the EXIF data indicated the flash did not fire, when in fact it did.

7.) This is perhaps the most troubling issue (a glaring design flaw, in my opinion), and the main reason for not giving this product a full five star rating - In some pictures using the flash, white disks or "soap bubbles" (as the camera's manual calls them) appear superimposed over the subject. This phenomenon is mentioned in the PDF manual on page 197 (you can download a PDF of this Manual from Panasonic's website and read it yourself). I did read the PDF manual all the way through before buying the camera but I did not expect those artifacts to be so common (the shot in the manual showing the artifacts is not a picture style I typically shoot). The manual says they "may appear as a result of the flash reflecting off of dust particles in the air". To me, this is a major design flaw and has already ruined a number of my shots. I have never seen such artifacts from any cameras with on-board flash. At times the artifacts are subtle enough to where you don't see them until you download the pictures from the memory card to your computer and examine them - too late to re-shoot the photo without the flash. Of course, I have never seen the problem in video clips, but I have never used a video light source with the camera so I can't say if they wouldn't appear in that case.

I am hopeful a firmware update will fix the EXIF and "soap bubbles" problems. If so, this would be a five-star product, in my opinion. In the mean time, I have created my own "DIY" flash diffuser for the pop-up flash that will hopefully eliminate or lessen the problem. If I can post a follow-up review, I will report the results of the change.
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Tracked by 11 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 24 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 20, 2012 6:54:17 PM PST
Sirius says:
let me qualify by saying that I am no expert but with regards to the 'soap bubble' problem - I have had a similar issue with an older 'high end' point and shoot that manifested itself when taking flash photos into a darkened enclosed area and night time outdoors in the winter where the snowflakes really made this phenomenon apparent with the flash bouncing off them so I don't think this issue is unique to this camera but rather a limitation on the technology... there is a hotshoe for a mounted flash - perhaps that will also help?

Posted on Jan 22, 2012 5:08:45 AM PST
CeeZee says:
I have this problem too with my Lumix ZS7. Am considering the FZ150 for optical viewfinder, more control and longer zoom. Nice review. What kind of DIY diffuser did you make since I don't like using full flash anyway?

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 22, 2012 12:05:40 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 22, 2012 12:26:01 PM PST
rjw says:
For the flash diffuser, I cut out a small piece of translucent plastic from a fruit juice container and scotch-taped it over the flash tube window. It's small enough to not interfere with the closing and latching of the pop-up flash. It's not much, but I hope it will help. I also just started using my "Puffer Flash Diffuser" (from Gary Fong) with this camera. I have not been able to verify either of these solutions work to improve the 'soap bubbles' problem as of yet because I haven't taken enough photos outside. I plan to contact Panasonic about this and am hoping for a firmware update. Also, it would be nice if more people contacted them - perhaps via Twitter. Using Twitter seems to make manufactures take notice. Love the camera, hate the bubbles!

Posted on Jan 23, 2012 6:27:36 AM PST
The soap bubble effect is good to know about. I returned the Nikon 8200 for this exact reason. My Christmas family photos looked horrible because of this.

Posted on Jan 27, 2012 11:09:57 AM PST
GET REAL says:
" "soap bubbles" (as the camera's manual calls them) appear superimposed over the subject."---ALL digital cameras may experience this effect, although I have four Panasonic's and NEVER experienced this (FZ150, FZ100, FZ18 ZS7).

Posted on Mar 14, 2012 9:19:34 AM PDT
Skip Thomsen says:
I know what you mean about the "plasticky" feel. What came to my mind when I first fondled the camera right out of the box was the word, "cheap." I'm used to the sold, chunky feel of my (also plastic body) Konica-Minolta A200 and other cameras, as well. But the FZ150 is so superior in every functional aspect to any other cameras I've tried (including Canon's newer competition to this one), that I just made up my mind to ignore it. You probably did the same and are now more comfortable with the feel. The only thing left that my KM had that I wish was on the FZ150 is the fully mechanical zoom. As good as it is, I still don't like to have to hunt for an accurate zoom while composing a photo, and a mechanical zoom is quick and accurate. Motor driven zooms, no matter how good, are not.

Posted on Mar 24, 2012 3:16:09 PM PDT
Ralphem says:
Good grief -- ANY camera, film or digital, will show "soap bubbles" if there are dust specs on or near the lens; a dark background; using the camera's flash! Do a little investigation and you'll find that this is an optical problem which has nothing to do with a camera's design. In the olden days (film cameras) wackos used to claim these "bubbles" were actually "orbs" which were intelligent, ghostly forms of life only visible on film! I think you should eliminate this as a drawback for the camera in your review and give it the full rating it deserves. The "bubbles" are out-of-focus reflections of the flash, overexposed because of the closeness to the lens. Even a Leica will show "bubbles" given the right conditions. What it is.

Posted on Apr 24, 2012 1:13:52 AM PDT
Victoria says:
You can buy the white orbs for a bit more money ($599 on the Fuji X10 --- Fuji is offering to change the sensor in May to one without orbs --- for those patient high spending hobbyists.

Posted on May 20, 2012 8:47:43 AM PDT
[Deleted by the author on May 20, 2012 8:49:20 AM PDT]

Posted on May 31, 2012 11:00:57 AM PDT
"Soap bubbles" occur in many places in even slightly dusty or vapor filled scenes. As Physicist, I believe that this is a problem that would be very difficult to engineer around but you may be able to do a simple touch up with iPhoto or Picassa or a more elaborate software. I'm thinking of buying on an FZ150 but want to look at the build quality and buttons or controls issues that you mention. Now that you have some comments on the "soap bubbles" would you still raise the rating to 5 stars?? Thanks for the review.
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