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Showing 1-10 of 600 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 688 reviews
on October 9, 2012
Bottom line:
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.
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on August 28, 2012
I've only had it about 24 hours, but my first impressions are very favorable. I pre-ordered my Panasonic FZ200 from Amazon last week. Later I heard it was going to begin shipping on Monday, August 27th. To my pleasant surprise, the camera showed up yesterday, on Monday, August 27th. (Gotta love Amazon.) I played with the various controls and read the manual last night and spent a couple of hours shooting with it today.

Some background: Both my wife and I are long time Canon DSLR photographers. I am in the printing business and have been using Photoshop since version 2.5 almost 20 years ago. We are serious amateurs, not professional photographers, but we know our way around digital cameras and the digital darkroom. We compete in various photo competitions all over the world. Either with electronic images or prints. Our maximum print size is 12" x 18". Except for action shots, we shoot RAW exclusively.

We are both in our mid 70's and lugging around our Canon 40Ds with 28-300mm lens seem to get heavier every day. The specs on the FX200 are so spectacular that I wondered if it could be a replacement for our heavy, and somewhat obsolete, Canon gear. I frankly didn't expect the FZ200 to be as good as our Canon gear. Instead, my question was "is it good enough" for us to continue to be competitive in photo competitions. To my pleasant surprise, my initial reaction is yes.

We live in Florida a few miles from the Gulf of Mexico. We went to the beach today and took along one of our Canon 40Ds and the FZ200. We shot the same thing under similar conditions. The Canon shot only RAW and the FZ shot BOTH taw and jpeg. I haven't figured out how to use the Panasonic RAW software yet, so we ended up comparing Canon raw with FZ high quality jpegs.

When viewed "right out of the camera" on my 27" color calibrated iMac, the images look virtually identical. Needless to say, I am very impressed.

The FZ has a lot of special features and functions I haven't looked at yet, and maybe never will since I am so conversant in Photoshop I really don't need the camera to add saturation, convert to B&W, etc. I am totally unfamiliar with digital video, so it will be a while (if ever), before I get around to checking it out on the FZ.

The camera isn't perfect. Here are several things I'm not too fond of.

* The menu system is quite complex and various buttons and wheels access different parts of it. Tip: Put the camera in Manual (M) before going to the menu system. This is the only setting that shows ALL the possible menu settings according to Panasonic tech support.

* The user manual on the CD seems to be for a different camera than the FZ200. Either that or, the final version of the camera doesn't match an earlier version of the documentation.

* Worse of all, it takes 45 arrow and/or button clicks to perform the "Format card" function in the camera. (I counted them.) I talked to two different Panasonic tech support people to see if there was an easier way. They both confirmed that there wasn't. You won't find it in your user manual, so here is how to format your SD card.

* Set the mode to manual. Then click the "Menu/Set" button in the center of the arrow keys. Then hit the left arrow key to select the camera icon.

* The click the down arrow key two times to get the the settings (looks like a wrench.)

* Then click the right arrow key to go "Clock Set." Notice that the top right corner shows that you are on page one of 8 setting page. Format is on page 7. Unfortunately, you cannot access the page numbers and right click to advance to the next page.

Instead you have to click the down arrow and scroll, completely through each page to advance to the next page. It takes 43 down arrow clicks to get to format. (I counted them.) BE CAREFUL. Be sure to hit the right arrow key when you reach format. I hit the "menu/Set" button and had to start all over again.

Formatting an SD card is a real pain, but that is really the only fault I can find so far with this camera. Hopefully, Panasonic will fix this is an firmware upgrade-especially as they tell you in their manual not to format the card in your computer but instead do it in the camera. This is good advise, but a nuisance to do.

To end on a positive note, I'm going to continue to play around with this camera, but I feel I have already proven to myself that this camera is fully able to replace our Canon 40Ds for our intended use. Try it. I think you will like it too. (I don't work for Panasonic or Amazon.)
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on February 24, 2015
I bought this camera because I was traveling to Costa Rica and didn't want to bring my Canon 5D Mark II + heavy L lenses with me. I needed something that offers similar quality images that my 5D can produce with realistic expectations that it will never be as good or better than my 5D. I needed something with a good zoom for wildlife as well as a general walk around lens. I did some research decided on a gently used DMC-FZ200 from Amazon Market place. I just got back from Costa Rica and I am very happy that I pulled the tricker on this camera.

The camera is very light, easy to travel. I bought a hard case for it so I can throw it in my backpack when not using. I've been shooting for years so I somewhat know what I'm doing. I'm not saying that those people that returned the camera for any reasons didn't know how to use the camera, but I think that they may have given up too soon or they may have an unrealistic expectations of the camera in the same class.

I have fairly stead hands so I didn't have any issues with blurry pictures when shooting at 24x zoom. I didn't do too many portraits at night so I can't comment on how it performs in such condition but I got some amazing photos of the sunset, in my opinion.

I'm a Canon shooter and I love my 1D/5D and my L lenses but I highly recommend this camera if you're looking for something light for travel, good image quality, great zoom range, and did I mention light and small?
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on November 19, 2012
I just picked this camera up off amazon for around $460.
My first impression when I opened up the box and took out the camera was , wow this feels very cheap. The body on this is plastic and boy it feels cheap. I wish they would have put a little more quality in the body of it. With that said, this camera takes amazing pictures. I read a lot of reviews and comments on this camera about the smaller sensor having noise at low ISO levels. Well, it might but the pictures i took looked fantastic on my pc and even better when i viewed them on my TV. Good enough for me, that's all i need. I also have to say the controls are real easy to use and navigate through and there are a bunch of fun creative stuff you can do with the pictures such as monochrome, toy effect, high dynamic etc.. The viewfinder is digital so it is not smooth when you're panning with the camera, has a jittery effect to it. I changed the picture setting to 16:9 and it was a lot better to view through. If you can get past the cheap feeling body and the viewfinder you will find this camera excellent. I took some pictures outside and utilized the f2.8 aperture and noticed that the pictures were too bright. Lowered it to 5.6 and perfect! I never thought I'd have to worry about getting too much light for the picture. I also zoomed in fully on a bunch of road signs and viewed them on my TV and they were perfect. I'm not gonna sit in front of my laptop and zoom in 100% and complain about noise and purple fringing etc... It does have some when you really look at it up close zoomed in but i'm not gonna point it out to people i show pictures to.
I will be doing more testing with this camera but so far 5 stars for execution and quality of pictures. I just can't give this camera 5 stars because of the body feel and the viewfinder. if those two things were better then 5 stars for sure.

** Update 11/20/2012
Been doing a lot of picture taking the last couple days and keeping the tag on the camera in case i need to return it. No need for that because every picture i take has been excellent. It's amazing and such a pleasure to take a picture of something in the distance and get great clarity and color.
My advice to anyone reading other reviews and getting discouraged by the image noise at high ISO levels needs to take a deep breath have a beer and stop pixel peeping. I mean every camera will have it at some point. Does this camera have more image noise when magnified then others? sure it does but it's not a high end dslr and for it's class it is one of the best. Thing is you really don't need high ISO levels with this camera because of the f2.8 aperture being wide open at any zoom range.
Digital cameras will always have image noise at some point. They are not the quality of what cameras used to be in my opinion but they're flexibility to edit and retake a shot gives the user much more control. I looked at some of my older photos taken with a 35mm camera and they were so much better. Just the nature of digital photos that meakes them inferior.
My only gripe is the feel of the camera, it really feels more like a toy because of the plastic body but if it takes good pics then i can deal with it.
I think the menu system is easy to use and I am gettig quicker at setting what i want. It really takes some time to get to know the camera because it has so many customized settings. I am still not sure of a few of them but getting there. I think the camera is well worth the money and i'm going to be using it more and more as a go to camera.
the pictures that Graham Loughton (that his name?) posted on YouTube were stunning and people download and magnify and still complain. Geez, come on get a grip. Again i'll say if it looks good on my 52" TV at 16:9 crop and on my laptop i am good to go here. Don't over analyze things too much, this camera gets great profesional reviews everywhere i have looked.
With so many choices out there it is so confusing on what to buy but with this camera you get a very unique thing with the f2.8 at 600mm zoom which distinguishes it from any other camera.
If you have to shoot in a darker area use a flash, that's what they are for but in most cases with this camera you can maintain a low ISO and get a fast shutter with the aperture at 2.8. There is no need to shoot at high ISO level with this camera anyway.
Good luck everyone.

** Update 11/23

Ok I'm over the viewfinder and the cheap feel to it. I'm moving this to 5 stars. I took a boatload of pics today at the park because the weather was beautiful and had great results.
Camera setting were Aperture Mode 4.0 - 5.6 (bright day) I set the scence mode to Scenery and bumped the saturation up +1 and noise reduction +1. I set the WB to Outdoor and results were fantastic.
Only downside to all this was a fre pics taken anywhere from 500mm - 600mm were a bit noisy but otherwise no issues. Getting more comfortable with the camera as I go.

** Update 12/23
Just a quick update on this camera as i have been using it as my go to camera. I also use a Canon 60D and a Lumic G5. I have gotten very used to this camera and I have to say it is the best camera I have ever owned. The quality of the pictures this camera takes is incredible. I haven't been in SilkyPix at all to edit because there is no need to. There have been some negative feedback on the noise level with high ISO's and while they are mainly true that you don't want to go higher then ISO 800 (some say 400) you can limit this setting in the config menu. Now, the camera has some limitations under low lighting but for the majority of your pics you will be ok. It has it's limitation as most cameras in this grouping do. I will leave some links below to my shutterfly account to view pictures if you want. I have taken shots of the moon, sunsets and local parks here in North Carolina.
I also want to mention that you can go to YouTube and view many tutorial videos by Graham Houghton to get more details on the camera. they are great and he does a great job.
Shutterfly acct: [...]

I stronlgy recommend getting this camera on Amazon, buy it if your on the fence and if you don't like it make sure the seller has a return policy so if you don't like it you can return it. I doubt you will.
It is well worth the money.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon December 15, 2013
To say that I am an amateur photographer is an under statement. A point and shoot guy for over 40 years, half of which I never knew which side of the camera to look through.

As I am being dragged into the 21st century I decided it was time to invest in a decent camera. Plus I was at the point where if I researched one more camera my brains were going to pour out of my ears.

I've had my eye on the FZ200 since it's pre-release. Yet I kept putting the purchase off and instead bought the under-rated Fujifilm X-S1 which is an excellent camera however the feature set, Image Stabilization and dazzling low light performance of the FZ200 beats the Fuji hands down - as it does with any other Bridge camera in this price range.

I had also considered the following:

1) An entry level DSLR the Nikon D3100 or the Canon T3i 2

2) Out of the Bridge cameras I had narrowed it down to a few but the Panasonic FZ200 was always my first choice. Not only is it insanely popular it won Cnet's coveted Editors Choice award. The review by senior editor Josh Goldman is well worth watching if you're considering this camera or even if you already own it, the review has value.

I have great admiration for Panasonic products, aside from our televisions I have a Panny Professional AG - HMC40 Video camera. I mention this because the Tech support from Panasonic has been so stellar. For me, this is a key issue, if there's a problem these folks will take all the time needed to help you out - a rarity these days.

During a trouble shooting session with the video cam (which is a different department) I made it a point to talk with the Panny Tech about the FZ200 luck was in my favor as the Tech in the Pro department not only had a soft spot for the FZ200 he was happy to answer any questions I had. At one point during our conversation he told me - "Look, you won't learn this camera in a few days or even weeks - period. that's just not going to happen. Use the manual as a reference and most of all, start shooting in IA mode and see how you do"

It was great advice.

I have spent hours taking pictures of our Bulldogs romping outside- over 200 photographs. The photos with exception of a just a few are spectacular. Crystal clear, wonderfully rich and sparkling with vibrant true to life colors - I was dazzled.

Normally I would be in Corels Paintshop Pro or Adobe Lightroom for hours just trying to reduce the noise and blur but these images were pristine. Harley our oldest bulldog was born to play soccer. That said, because the recovery time between shots and focusing is so lightening fast the "action" shots of him playing, running, moving his gargantuan orange ball around were perfect, so perfect even caught in mid air. The images are blur free - it was hard to believe I had taken them.

This camera is blazing fast.

Low light conditions is where the FZ200 really shines. Pictures in dim lighting come out rich and clear. I've never had a camera perform so well in near dark conditions and that's without using the flash. The Feature set is sensational. The camera has so many intriguing built in filters and modes such as Miniaturize, old movie. Sepia and other creative modes it's a bit overwhelming. On most other cameras I tend to think most of these are gimmicky as there's nothing you can't do in Photoshop if you're so inclined. However, the feature set is so rich and really does provide options you'll want to actually use. The camera is free of what is the equivalent of novelty bloatware.

As I was really comfortabe with the Manual Zoom on my Fuji X-S1 I wasn't sure how I would like the auto Zoom but it's terrific. Smooth as silk, accurtae and completely silent. The view finder is excellent as well and surprisingly I found myself preferring this over the LCD screen. As for the LCD The articulation is great. Plus there's very little wash out in direct sunlight so it's always easy to read - it's nice and bright.

Some First Impressions:

* Built like a Tank. Although it's plastic whereas the before mentioned Fuji is an all metal body with a rubberized coating - it's still a solid machine. Nice weight and fits in the hand beautifully.

* The lens is one beautiful piece of glass. The auto zoom is surprisingly accurate.

* Lot's of ports. Including one for an external Mic, and an HDMI cable.

* Full HD video at 1080 dpi plus built in stereo mic/speakers.

* Intuitive menu for easy set up - but still LOT'S to learn, especially for a novice as myself.

* Pop up flash which according to Panasonic is more than adequate up to a range of 6-10 feet indoors and out. If you're further away say, sitting up in bleachers, you'll need an external flash.

* Speaking of external flashes the camera has a Hot Shoe

The entire package arrives beautifully presented. The glossy black box includes the camera of course, The battery (which takes a first 4 hour charge) a charger and power cord, a quality neck and shoulder strap, Spring loaded lens cap which fits good and tight, USB transfer cable, Manual which is surprisingly easy to understand and follow, a CD ROM with a PDF version of the both an extended manual and Silky-Pics editing software (my copy wouldn't install on any computer) registration card and some additional paper work mostly safety and care related.

As for the Image Stabilization it's nothing short of a technological marvel.

At the heart of Panny's patented system is a "floating" lens which responds immediately to any movement of the camera or hand shake. It's response time is lightening fast and does a flawless job eliminatating blur. Even at full zoom without a tripod the images are wonderful. The FZ200 is as impressive looking as the photo's it's taking are beautiful.

In hind sight a DSLR would have driven me crazy lugging around all those lenses that cost more than the camera itself the FZ200 is just a superb alternative.

** Back to low light performance for one moment.

A blinking message on the LCD will warn you if you need to use the flash. I was totally un-aware of this feature. We had some friends over the other evening and everyone was out in the sun room which was only lit by a cluster of candles.

I played around with the setting modes and while leaving the camera on IA I chose "steady hand held nigh shot" and used the flash with red eye reduction. The images knocked me out. I did brighten some a little in Paint Shop but this was a matter of personal taste. The flash provides superb fill light and you don't get that stark, harsh light I've experienced with other past and present cameras.

**** IMPORTANT TIP*******

If you're considering this camera or already own it. I urge you to log onto youtube and search out many of the excellent reviews and tutorials. I highly reccomend a gentleman out of the U.K named Graham Houghton. Graham has an entire series of videos dedicated to the FZ200. It's a superb soup nuts insight into each feature with lessons ranging from the basics to using and learning full manual settings.

He doesn't work for Panasonic - he just adores this camera! It's in every way a labor of love and a huge beneft for FZ200 owners. It's virtually a free in depth course in photography put in laymen's terms and frankly was yet one more compelling reason I purchased the camera. He has educational videos on virtually everything this camera can do and puts it in easy to understand steps.

This camera continues to blow me away, the build quality, the intuitive menus and most of all the incredibly vivid photographs. Folks far more advanced than I have written reviews that explain the aspects of both photography and the FZ200 far better than I am able to do. However I can offer this to you. The FZ200 is making me a better photographer and I've just begun to scratch the surface - if it can do this for me, without question it can do the same for you.

Highest Recommendation!
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on September 4, 2012
I bought this camera with a little hesitation and skepticism. Could it really take decent pictures with that kind of zoom range and f-stop? Admittedly, I am a tough sell since I usually shoot Canon DSLRs with their L-series lenses, and was looking for a light backpacking/walk around camera for times when I didn't want to carry so much bulk and weight.

This weekend I shot hundreds of pics indoors and out, from bright sun to no-flash museum settings. All images were shot in camera RAW and in Program mode, but I let the camera makes its own choices about shutter speed and limited the ISO to a max of 400 (the ability to set a max ISO is a nice feature). I processed all of the images with the "Silkypix" software that comes with the camera (which is a surprisingly capable program).

The images were, in short, far better than just good. Some were truly remarkable. In the museum where no flash was allowed, I was able to shoot great macros in low light, then a full-room shot at wide angle, then immediately zoom to 600 mm and grab a shot of something sitting on a desk across the room, all handheld. Outdoors, in bright sun, I was blown away by the crispness of the images at full zoom. And having such a wide range of focal lengths gave me the equivalent of carrying a whole bag of "big" gear.

One question that has come up on this board is the camera's low light capability. I would give it a plus/minus here. Once you get past about ISO 400, noise does start being noticeable in the RAW files. By comparison to a more expensive DSLR (e.g. a Canon 7D) the noise becomes quite noticeable at ISO 800, but it is very smooth and could be dealt with via software, I have no doubt. This is an area where someone will have to judge for themselves what amount of noise is "too much" at a given ISO. For me, if I knew I was going to do a lot of shooting of moving subjects in low light, this camera might not be the best choice. (Note that if the low-light shooting is of still scenes, the camera performs beautifully.) Given the camera's other remarkable capabilities, I don't think it is much of an issue generally.

I haven't played with the video at all yet.

Yes, I have a few minor gripes, but they are minor indeed. There is only a little "basic function" printed manual -- the full manual comes on a CD as a PDF file. Having the PDF is great if you need to quickly find a reference, but a printed manual should also come with the camera. For mine, the manual does match the camera, at least as far as I have found. I did not format the memory card, just threw one in from another Canon camera, and the Lumix was perfectly happy. It created its own directory and there have been no issues whatsoever doing it that way. You can quickly get to the format function if you cursor up to page 8 from page 1, rather than going through all the other pages. The menu system is a little complex in some areas and I sometimes find it hard to remember where different functions are buried, but most of those are things you set once and forget about, at least the way I shoot. Build quality is a little plasticky, something you notice if you have mostly owned metal-bodied cameras and lenses, but hopefully the camera will be tough enough to survive some backpacking and such. A nice lens hood is included with the camera, and it will accept 52mm filters.

All in all, I am really amazed at this little camera with the huge lens. For my shooting needs - an easy five stars!

FOLLOWUP: Just returned from a week-long hiking trip into southern Utah canyonlands and wanted to report that this camera performed exactly as I had hoped. It was very light and far easier to deal with than my Canon DSLR with a couple of L-series lenses. Although I usually shoot RAW, I even shot some straight JPGs and the results were quite good. Still a two-thumbs up choice, from my perspective.
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on September 1, 2013
I bought the FZ200 after reading lots of reviews. I have owned several Panasonic and other brand pocket size super-zoom cameras. I always liked the Panasonic user interface, but what sold me was the F2.8 aperture that works across the full zoom range. My pocket super-zoom let me get close, but the larger lens let me get shots that stood out with details that my own eyes couldn't see.

I bought the FZ200 just before a four thousand mile road trip from Texas to the Grand Canyon and back. I used a SLR years before and knew how much of a hassle they were, and I probably could have used my existing pocket super-zoom for the trip, but I wanted some pictures that would last a life time, not just good enough to post online. Lets just says that I didn't only get a few shots to last a life time, but nearly every shot was good enough to print. This camera does NOT disappoint when it comes to light sensitivity and lens speed.

The first test for the camera was a big one. High up in Cloudcroft, NM on a moonless night take photos of the stars. Much harder then you would expect. Over the course of a few hours I got some amazing night photos, and managed to get a photo of the Milky Way without needing a star tracker or editing software. The next test for the camera was less then a hundred miles away: Take photos of the blindingly bright White Sands, NM. The camera managed to catch details in the sand that my own eyes were too blind to see.

Over the course of the trip I learned how to use nearly every feature the camera offered. I used the F2.8 lens to capture low-light photos in Carlsbad caverns. The huge zoom to take photos of the moon, wild and zoo animals, and the wide angle portion of the lens to take epic panoramas of the Grand Canyon. The controls on this camera make changing to your favorite settings a breeze. One setting I would use for mixed shadow/light shots, another to focus-track fast moving animals, and then switch instantly to another to catch that high-zoom detail shot.

Enough about the experience that photography helps preserve, now onto the actual camera.
The camera is much lighter then I expected. In fact I ordered a SLR Gorilla-Pod, which I had to exchange for the Hybrid model as the camera is no where near as heavy as an SLR. Despite the light weight, it feels very solid. There is no creaking in the body (which is mostly metal). The controls are all tight and responsive. The lens itself moves very smoothly and quietly.

The battery life on the camera was amazing, I needed to change the battery only after taking hundreds of shots. I didn't feel the need to constantly turn the camera off the save power. I never needed more then two batteries for a whole day of shooting.

I found myself using the eye piece more then the LCD when outside. The LCD was visible even in bright light, but at full zoom it is very hard to aim and stabilize the camera using the LCD. The rotating LCD however is a back saver when working with a tripod, no need to crouch down to see the screen.

The FZ200 really helped me to enjoy the process of setting up a perfect shot, without taking so long to setup that you miss the magical moment.
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on February 11, 2015
UPDATE JULY 5 2015

The FZ200 is a great cam but after owning an FZ1000 for several months I must say the FZ1000 is better because of its large and bright viewfinder that makes it easier to see what you are taking and that makes it much much easier to take pictures outdoors. With your eye to the viewfinder and the other eye closed there are no distractions because nothing else is visible except the image and the indicators like F stop and shutter speed and ISO, which are all much clearer than on the flipout monitor. With my eye to the viewfinder I find I can manipulate the knobs much better and in my experience have better access to the menus because I can see them better. So... if you can afford to spend about $300 more, the FZ1000 would IMHO be a better choice, because of its superlative viewfinder.

EARLIER TEXT FEBRUARY 2015

[1] One of the things I like most about the FZ200 is its awesomely strong image stabilization, that allows me to take good hand held shots without a tripod under low light and at long telephoto ranges.

I have taken photos of Verrazano Bridge from 14 miles away, from Laurence Harbor Beach in New Jersey. Image 1 at the end of this review shows the bridge using a telephoto setting of 960mm and reveals remarkably little camera shake, though the photo is rather hazy because of humidity and shimmer. I have taken the same scene with a tripod ... and noticed very little reduction in blur.

Also I have taken indoor pictures at night-time of friends and family under normal living room and dining room artificial light, with no bright lights and no flash, and have gotten super images with good reproduction of colors, at incredibly low shutter speeds like one eighth of a second, because of the profoundly good image stabilization. A discovery that totally surprised me is that when people are seated in a social situation, they tend to remain still, except when speaking or eating, so that low shutter speeds very often give good photos.

Image 2 at the end of this review shows a map of South America. The pic was taken indoors at 600mm in fully automatic mode without a tripod. The camera selected an incredibly low shutter speed of 1/15 of a second, and an ISO value of 400. The picture was taken under artificial light provided by a shaded 23 watt CFL light bulb. This is given as another example of the FZ200's enormously powerful image stabilization. The pic also shows excellent color balance and comes very close to reproducing the true colors of the subject.

[2.1] A second thing I like about this cam is its performance in fully automatic mode. After taking many many images, I have concluded that 9 out of 10 times, fully automatic mode gives better settings than I can achieve under semi-automatic or manual.

It is crucial to realize that in fully automatic mode this is a WYSIWYG camera. What you see on the LCD is almost exactly what the image will look like if you take a picture. For someone who used a 35mm film camera, this is magical. In the old days you took pix at various settings and had to wait many hours or days before seeing the results. With this wee beastie, you actually get to preview the final picture, exactly the way it will look, before you take it. And this means you can keep fooling around and repositioning the camera until you get the best possible (or least bad) image.

A camera that takes great photographs in automatic mode is a great camera because it means you can concentrate on the substance of the picture, rather than being distracted by the need to set the camera controls to the right setting, which consumes time, and often means that you miss a lot of good shots, because one is too busy fiddling with the cam.

[2.2] I keep running across reviews by people living in the past with a 35mm mindset, like: "One needs a tripod"; "Automatic mode is strictly for amateurs who don't know better"; "One needs flash to fill in shadows."

I think this is totally nuts. This is a 21st century electronic camera that amplifies light so it sees better than the human eye, designed by a collaboration of engineers from Leica and Panasonic, and most of the time, when set in automatic mode, will take something very close to the best possible image, that seldom needs a tripod, that almost never benefits from using flash.

There are some important exceptions where semi-automatic is better than fully automatic, and it is useful to know the manual controls well enough to deal with such situations. When faced with rapidly moving subjects under low light, I find it necessary to use shutter priority mode in order to select higher shutter speed and higher ISO than the FZ200 will choose in full auto mode. But I am still letting the FZ automatically control the other settings.

But in general I get excellent pictures by starting out in automatic mode, and accepting it if the picture looks properly exposed, and only trying manual when I'm not happy with the automatic mode picture.

What this camera does - the beautiful thing it does - is let me grab a properly exposed shot of a far away object before it goes away. The bird is on a twig 50 feet away, with its head cocked at an appealing angle, and one wants to get the shot before it flies away, and one zooms in to frame the bird just right, and one clicks, all in a few seconds. And voila, a really good pic.

[3] As noted in other reviews, and super important to me, this camera calculates focus and exposure very very rapidly, so there is only a tiny time lag between pointing the camera and shooting the image, much much faster than my beloved Canon pocket camera. Also, it will very rapidly take multiple images.

[4] I have not used the competition to this camera, namely the similarly priced superzooms by Nikon and Canon and Sony and Fuji. So I cannot say this is superior to any of those. What I can say is that I find myself taking amazingly good pictures with this camera under low light conditions, and at very long range telephoto.

[5] If you buy this camera, I would strenuously recommend that you also buy Graham Houghton's "Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200 - User's Manual". I bought the hard copy for $35, but you can download a copy for free if your conscience will allow, or you can do the right thing and pay $5 for the download. Also check out Graham's stuff on U-Tube, and his website at www.grahamhoughton.com
(The user manual that comes with the camera contains useful information and is worth reading but is not very user friendly, and Graham's book explains things much better).

[6] Some reviewers put huge emphasis on very high resolution and very low "noise" in pictures, and quite rightly point out that the FZ-200 is not the best of the best in these regards. If high res and low noise is very important to you, you might think of looking at cams priced at $800 and higher, such as the Sony RX10 and the Lumix FZ1000. Personally, I find the FZ200's picture quality pretty damn flawless for 5x7 and 8x10 photos, though at higher sizes I would expect to see minor weaknesses.

/-----------

P.S. I do own a tripod, a great big Star made in Taiwan, that weighs nine pounds and whose maximum elevation is 78 inches. In the old days it was used for image stabilization with my 35mm film cameras. I occasionally find it very useful these days when I have a static object and am willing to spend serious amounts of time pondering the best angle and the best light and where the tripod is very useful in helping me to be more systematic and more thoughtful. But 99 per cent of the time with this camera I have no need for a tripod.
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on October 9, 2013
A couple of years ago, I purchased a Canon SX40 HS to film my kids at sporting events. I liked the camera a lot, and decided to kick up my camera game to the DSLR arena with a Canon T4i. I ended up having an 18-135mm, a 55-250mm, and a 50mm 1.8. They all fit nicely into this medium-sized backpack I purchased as part of the deal here on Amazon. It took great pictures. Well after a few months, I found myself grabbing my cheap point & shoot to use at all the games because, having to warm up the kids with pitching, catching, etc., I didn't want to babysit a $1200 backpack-o-gear. I also hated changing the lenses in a dusty environment. I decided to sell the whole setup and get another super zoom.

Having researched quite a bit, I vacillated between the SX50HS and this Lumix fz-200 for some time. The Canon was quite a bit cheaper, but the miracle that is the Leica 2.8 lens won out for my purposes (mainly baseball/softball and outdoor sports). Its been a month, and I am very pleased with the performance at this price point. A 2.8 600mm lens will run well over $10K for the T4i (plus it weighs a ton), yet here is one on a bridge camera. I have been able to get some really nice shots of action in somewhat dwindling outdoor light, and my kids love doing super-slow motion videos (great for at bats). The video is superior to the T4i IMO, but only because I had a non STM lens, and the autofocus noise drove me crazy (videos were unwatchable); make sure you get STM with a T4i or higher. The 120 fps video is very clear @ 720p, while the 240fps is still MiniDV quality and good enough to show an umpire his mistakes ;). Indoor video of family has been decent at regular speed - although slo mo will have to be outdoors. I also will say the you tube series from Graham H. is a must see for all owners - just set it like he does and you will be fine. I use shutter priority and high speed video the most.

Please note, however, that the body is not as nice as the T4i body - and this can be understood with the cost of the Leica lens. I like the grippy rubber of the T4i over the slick smooth gray plastic with somewhat chintzy bright work of the FZ. I also find the lens cap and strap inferior to the Canon DSLR, but I have a 52mm HOYA filter to protect the lens (plus it screws right on without an adapter). I picked up the metalgear leather everready case for it, and now I grab a much smaller accoutrement for my photog adventures. I know the sensor is much smaller (which does result in more image noise for sure), and a Panny is probably looked down on by photo snobs (though Leica isn't). I just want a bunch of shots of my kids in various situations, and this camera makes that a very easy task to achieve.
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on December 20, 2013
Confused About Bridge Cameras? You Should Be!

Much of the entire camera review area is horribly redundant. By that, I mean you often have 1) a cut and paste of a Press Release followed by a "new article" 2) a "Hands on Preview" which once again regurgitates the press release, perhaps some add copy, and is a meaningless non-review. Finally, maybe, 6 - 8 months later you might have 3) a review, or not. Many cameras never make it to 3), for they are already discontinued and new models are announced, as in the case right now in several areas.

The bridge camera is supposed to bridge the divide between pocket cameras and system cameras, more or less. Yet, there is no consensus as to what that specifically means.

Right now, PC Magazine has the new $699 Olympus Stylus 1 camera as its Editor's Choice SuperZoom. It is called a SuperZoom, although it is only a 10.7x optical zoom camera. It replaced the Panasonic FZ-200 24x unit, that can now be had for $410 or even less. The Fujifilm X-S1 26x camera was beat out by the Panasonic. In October, 2012 (yes, way back then) the comment was "At close to $800 the X-S1 is prohibitively priced for many buyers, which prevents it from ousting the Nikon Coolpix P510 as our Editors' Choice superzoom camera." By the way, you can now pick up the Fujifilm XS-1 for $350 delivered, if not less.

This is one example of many sure to either bewilder people, or convince people that PC Magazine (and other sources) are completely bewildered. How can a 10.7x camera, in 2013, be a "SuperZoom" compared to a 24x, 26x, or 50x unit? How can a camera like the Fujifilm that retailed at $799 for a short while be overpriced, yet now the short-range Olympus is the best SuperZoom you can buy? As fast as you can change your socks, the best SuperZoom went from a 42x Nikon P510 to a 24x Panasonic FZ-200 to a 10.7x Olympus. A 10x zoom range camera is no super zoom: that range of non-versatility is handily exceeded by dozens of 20 - 24 x eight ounce pocket cameras.

WHAT IS A BRIDGE CAMERA?

The idea of a bridge camera is to give you more versatility, features, and flexibility than available in a shirt-pocket camera with one lens array: with less bulk, weight, and cost than going the D-SLR or other system camera route. One lens array means the sensor and processor can be optimized for that one lens. One lens means the unit is sealed to a certain extent, so no dirt will cover your sensor when changing lenses for example. A bridge camera should also net you an electronic viewfinder, better battery life than a point and shoot, and should be a lot more fun to carry than a system camera.

THE BETTER BRIDGE CAMERAS, AND WHY

Fujifilm X-S1

The Fujifilm X-S1 is better built than most all of them, with a larger sensor than the common 1/2.33 arena sensors, and better image quality, in general, than small-sensor cameras. Currently, it is a screaming deal at $350 street. You might wonder why I don't use one, currently? Its images can be quite excellent:[...] . The barrier, for me, is its 2.1 lb. or so weight, just more than I want to carry all day. But, that's what you get if you want a larger sensor, lens, and metal dials and a tougher build. If the weight is not an issue, and a manual zoom appeals: it may well be your camera. The EVF of the XS-1 is comparatively huge at 0.47-inch, approx. 1440,000 dots. Many other popular cameras have dinky .21 inch EVF's . . . and that includes the Canon SX-50 and Panasonic FZ-200. The X-S1 is a case of "be careful what you ask for, you just might get it." We say we want better build quality (more metal, less plastic) and we say we want larger sensors. The X-S1 provides both. The catch is, larger sensors require larger, heavier lens arrays, and better build quality means more weight as well. The XS-1 gives a lot of folks want they said they wanted, but it weighs about 75% more than some other bridge-class cameras . . . the additional weight and bulk being the main detriment, at least for my uses.

Canon SX-50

The Canon fills the frame when other cameras struggle. While the impressive 50x lens isn't the brightest, its sensor is spectacularly good for a small sensor: or at least the sensor / processor combination. Competitively priced currently at $329, its somewhat plasticy (also noisy and slippery) build makes the camera more fun to carry at about 1.3 pounds. The weight difference between this unit and the X-S1 is substantial, for the Fujifilm unit weighs over 60% more.

Panasonic FZ-200

A great, bright, constant 2.8 lens and blazing fast shooting performance is why you'd want this camera (now down to $409 as of this writing). Its 24x zoom range (600mm max focal length in 35mm equivalent) is less than half of the Canon SX-50 and the bargain-priced Fujifilm SL1000 50x camera ($250 or so), but 24x handles a lot of shooting opportunities and the digital "Intelligent Zoom" gets you to 48x if needed while still capturing quite enjoyable images. It is one of those rare cameras that is very good for both still images and video. I'm asked if the FZ-200 is "okay for birding" and wildlife. Vickie has answered that for us on Flickr. The LCD has a 3:2 aspect ratio. If you shoot in the "7M EZ" mode you have an image size good up to an 11 x 14 or larger, but now you can enjoy about a 30x optical zoom (actually, 29.4x) or a whopping 58.8x "intelligent zoom." That's a 735mm (35mm eq.) focal length that covers a huge range of shooting scenarios, without resorting to the smart zoom / pure view / intelligent zoom versions of interpolation. For an SLR, a 600mm lens Nikon 600mm f/4.0G ED VR II AF-S SWM Super Telephoto Lens for Nikon FX and DX Format Digital SLR could set you back $9K or more. Not exactly an easy to carry, affordable option.

CONCLUSION

All three of these cameras (X-S1, SX-50, FZ-200) can be considered excellent. It isn't that one camera could be rationally picked as an easy winner, for all of them have the ability to do a fine job under many conditions. Price is invariably a factor, for you can always squander the extra cash on food, clothing, and shelter.

If value is your primary concern, presently the $250 or so street price Fujifilm SL1000 is hard to beat. Its huge zoom range is the same as the bit more expensive SX-50, although the Canon is a slightly better unit for still images) if you need to fill the frame with a 1200mm 35mm equivalent focal length. The Fujifilm FinePix SL1000 16.2MP Digital Camera with 3-Inch LCD (Black) offers the most for the least dollars. In bright sun, there is no such thing as a truly great LCD. They all wash out to a certain extent, and an electronic viewfinder can save the day in those conditions. Surprisingly, the most inexpensive camera in this field, the Fujifilm SL1000, offers a 920K dot EVF and a 920K dot hinged LCD.

The Fujifilm XS-1 has the best image quality in the field, and the best build quality as well. Now available at $350, it would be called a "no-brainer" by some. While I understand that, its roughly 2.2 pound weight is more than I want to carry all day and as I do take a lot of video, the manual zoom of the XS-1 is a negative for my purposes. It is the closest thing to a system camera replacement, unfortunately including weight and bulk.

There is no right or wrong or "correct" answer for everyone, for you can have a lot of fun with all of these cameras. Although I still use a Canon SX-50 for stationary stills, the camera that does the most for me most of the time is the FZ-200. Here's why I prefer it.

The FZ-200 is substantially lighter than the X-S1, it locks autofocus in extreme low-light situations (deer after sunset feeding in a field) where the SX-50 struggles. While its EVF is not as good as the X-S1, though small (.21 in.) it is far sharper than the SX-50 with 1.31 million pixels.

The Panasonic FZ-200 spanks the SX-50 in video performance, focus speed, overall shooting speed and boot-up time, and has a panorama mode that the SX-50 (and Canon in general) refuses to implement. Its excellent video performance is complimented by excellent battery life (540 still shots). Video is invariably a big drain on batteries, as is cold weather, and both video and cold weather are common situations for me. The 120 fps 720p (lower HD) high speed video mode is superb. It is a 1/4 speed, smooth as glass, high-resolution playback. The same goes for the VGA (640 x 480) HS mode that is 240 fps: more than sufficient quality to analyze a golf swing with no post-processing.

The constant F2.8 lens of the FZ-200 is no joke and it gives this camera the ability to function where other super-zooms cannot. Under well-lit conditions, there isn't much difference in image quality. Under ridiculously poor light, there is a huge difference.

To compare, I took several pictures of an igloo-shaped doghouse in the snow after midnight using three representative cameras, all hand-held. A Panasonic FZ-60 lost its mind, and could not begin to focus. The Canon SX-50 whirred, clicked, struggled and told me to "raise flash." It took an unrecognizable, muddy black image of nothing discernible. The FZ-200, however, locked focus instantly and grabbed an ISO 1600 image of the doghouse, zoomed in to fill the frame, with no issues. In this somewhat contrived example, it was the difference between an instant, usable image and no image at all.

Not surprisingly, the demise of the digital camera market has been under-reported by most review sites, if it has been reported at all. Reuters summed things up on December 30, 2013, noting that Panasonic's camera sales have plummeted 40 percent from April to September. IDC expects a further drop in the market for compact cameras in 2014 of 40 percent. Whether you are selling hot dogs or hockey pucks, drops of 40 percent are not sustainable. Industry analyst Yu Yoshida mentioned, ""Only those who have a strong brand and are competitive on price will last -- and only Canon, Nikon and Sony fulfill that criteria." Panasonic with its tiny three percent and change of the market, along with Olympus and Fujifilm, are all considered vulnerable.

While smartphone sales have sizzled, camera sales have fizzled. Unfortunately, the Micro 4/3 system cameras have not gained much traction, another ominous situation for Panasonic and Olympus. Canon and Nikon own the SLR market, and powerful brand names (rightly or wrongly, perhaps sadly) is why many people buy what they do.
The FZ-200, introduced over a year ago, is one of those rare cameras that won't go out of style anytime soon. The constant F/2.8 25mm-600mm lens is ground-breaking in a camera of this type, and remains so. Its 1,312,000 dot EVF is best of breed for a camera of this type and its video performance remains class-leading as well. Its 540 shot CIPA battery life is far best than most in this class, more than double of some. It is fast enough in focusing, fast enough in boot-up and shot-to-shot speed, with a fast enough lens to be able to capture images where most all bridge-type cameras cannot.

It is the only camera that satisfactorily bridges three types of imaging devices: the simpler point and shoot, the system camera with multiple lenses, and the camcorder. Given unlimited funds, size, and weight you can of course find technically better imaging. Not so most could notice on a web page or an 8 x 10, though, and certainly not on shareable video files, either. It makes the FZ-200 its own class of camera: a very good class, to say the least. Though under many conditions, you can get quite pleasing images with several cameras, for a 1-1/4 lb. audiovisual standalone media powerhouse unit, the FZ-200 is the one to beat.

Copyright 2013 by Randy Wakeman and Randy Wakeman Outdoors.

For sake of completeness: I've always found Panasonic-labeled Chinese batteries to be a spectacular rip-off. I've been using Halcyon 1600 mAH Lithium Ion Replacement Battery for Panasonic Lumix FZ200 Digital Camera and Panasonic DMW-BLC12 and they are better than OEM. I also added the Panasonic DMW-LMC52 52mm Protection Filter for Panasonic Digital Camera multicoated protective lens.
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