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The best Super Zoom I have found
on October 9, 2012
This is the best combination of features and image quality I have found. I gave the camera 5 stars because it is the best Super Zoom I have found so far and I don't mean to imply it is better than any other class of camera. It is not cheap but is well worth the $509 I paid for it. It is a real keeper. You can read a good professional review at [...][UPDATE 10/11/12 I guess they don't allow the link so simply Google ePhotoZine Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200 Digital Camera Review and you should get to it.]I have taken a couple hundred photos with the FZ 200 in the last couple of weeks and found this to be the camera I have been looking for. It will be more than a couple of years before I feel the need to upgrade again.
I compared the FZ200 with the following cameras I have used:
1) Panasonic Lumix DMC FZ28
2) Panasonic Lumix DMC FZ100
3) Canon SX40
4) Canon Rebel T3i Not really a fair comparison but used it as a high water mark for the FZ200 to aim for.
Now for what I like about the FZ 200:
1) The 25 to 600mm f2.8 Leica lens: I find that the 24x lens enough reach for my needs. I found no aberrations from the lens. Maybe you could find some with instruments but I couldn't find any. Just as important is the f2.8 across the entire focal length. It allows you to go out to 600mm and take sharp subject and blurred background. It also helps with low light shots and keeping the iso lower.
2) Photo quality: Color saturation was very good as was sharpness so photos seemed natural. It is as good or better than the other digital cameras I have used. One reviewer said he saw a blue tint on outdoor pictures and a red tint in flash pictures. I saw none of that but I did have my camera set to scenery when taking outdoor pictures so maybe there was a white balance shift with that function. You can see photo examples in the review mentioned above.
3) Burst Speed: It's 12 frames per second burst is very fast but I make more use of the 5.5 fps. At 5.5 fps the specs say it goes to 200 pictures at one time but I haven't gone that far yet.
4) Low light performance: It has really improved. The photos I took in a dimly lit room turned out surprisingly well. It seems like it sees about as well as I do in low light. Naturally, noise gets worse as the iso goes up but even at iso 1600 the pics are kind of OK if you don't view over 8 x 10. I now take indoor pictures without flash most of the time with very good results.
5) Design: It feels really good in my hands. It has room for all of my fingers and not at all unstable.
6) Video: If you like video you will love this camera. It is so much better than cameras like the Canon SX40. Lots of options up to full 1080P 60 fps. Focus is quick and accurate. Zoom is smooth, quiet and the stabilization makes hand held scenes very steady. Unless you are a serious cinematographer you will have no need for a dedicated video camera. In MP4 it is limited to 30 minute scenes but you can go to 4 hours AVCHD. It even has a 3D mode but I haven't used it.
7) Viewfinder: The viewfinder resolution is excellent giving a very clear view for composition. I wear reading glasses so a good viewfinder is important.
8) Tons of cool features I haven't had a chance to use yet.
What I don't like:
1) I wish it cost less.
If your interested in my camera experience:
I am an amateur but have been interested in photography for many years. I bought my first SLR in the 60's and my first digital camera (1MP) in 1997 and have been purchasing a new digital about every other year since then. My first Panasonic was the Lumix DMC FZ28 which I found to be the best for its time and still use it today. I then purchased the Pansonic Lumix DMC - FZ100 because of the great experience with the FZ28 but picture quality was a disappointment. I decided I needed to get a better camera so I purchased the 12MP Canon SX40HS because of the longer lens but ended up returning it. It wasn't a bad camera but I found that the image stabilization broke down at maximum focal length unless I could keep the shutter speed very fast. The pictures were sharp but colors a little less saturated than I like and the body construction feeling less sturdy than the Panasonic. I checked out the Panasonic FZ 150 because of all the great reviews and decided to buy it but held off when I heard about a new Panasonic coming out in August. The FZ 200 cost a little more than FZ 150 but I think it is well worth it. My wife has a DSLR 18MP Canon Rebel T3i and we have taken the same shot and compared the photos. They are very similar with the T3i better in resolution as expected due to the much large sensor which also makes it much better in low light.
Why a Super Zoom:
If this is the first time you are considering a super zoom it may be useful to know why I bought one when we have a perfectly good DSLR. For quick snaps we have a pretty pocket camera or we use the 8 MP phone camera. They are OK but lack flexibility. DSLRs are high quality but to travel with them, even on a day trip we need to carry a significant camera bag to carry the camera and a couple of lenses. Forget a long telephoto, they are too expensive (Canon 600mm cost about $13K) and too heavy (unless you are a pro and then I don't think you are reading my review). There is a group of moderate zoom cameras that are a little too big to slip in a pocket but smaller and less zoom than the super zoom. My thinking is that if it doesn't fit in my pocket I want all the zoom I need. A super zoom like the FZ200 gives you the flexibility to take pictures of people grinning on couches to birds in a tree across a field. For travel, the zoom and choice from point and shoot to full manual in a compact package makes it the best travel camera possible.
I hope this review proves useful. I always read reviews before I buy and I wanted to give back.
UPDATE: July 8, 2013 I have been using the camera since October and I am just as happy as I was when I purchased it. There are very many reviews on the camera now so there is plenty advice to get. For those who read mine, I just wanted to point something out that would have made my decision easier had it been available. If you look through my comments you will find one written by Antonio M. Magalhaes referring to a series of YouTube tutorials on the FZ200 By Graham Houghton. Besides explaining how to use the camera it also goes over most of the features. This series is a real gold mine and Panasonic should buy them and include with each camera sold.
UPDATE: June 12, 2014 Panasonic just announced the FZ1000. In most respects it is a serious upgrade to the FZ200. Since no reviews have been done it is only on faith that is superior but noting that it has a 1 inch sensor (more than 4 times the area of the FZ200)it is sure to be a winner. It is way more expensive especially now that FZ200 prices have come down so do your due diligence before making a decision.