Previous page Next page

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200 Review

November 2012 | By Jeff Keller
Buy on GearShop$598.00

The Lumix DMC-FZ200 ($599) is Panasonic's flagship super-zoom digital camera. While recent models have been relatively minor upgrades, the FZ200 returns to its roots by featuring a lens with an F2.8 maximum aperture across its entire zoom range. The early models in the FZ series (FZ1 - FZ20) had lenses with constant maximum apertures, but that stopped with the FZ30, launched back in 2005. Last year's DMC-FZ150 had an F2.8 - F5.2 lens, so the lens on the FZ200 is a huge improvement, and the extra brightness should make a real difference at long focal lengths and/or in poor light, allowing you to shoot at lower, less noisy ISO settings.

In combination with the newly-developed 12MP MOS sensor, this makes the FZ200, at least on paper, by far the best choice in the superzoom segment for low light shooting. That large aperture allows it to offer faster shutter speeds at the same ISO settings as its peers, or use lower sensitivities at the same shutter speeds as the competition.

While the Leica-badged lens is definitely the number one head-turner on the FZ200's spec-sheet, the remainder reads very well too. As usual you can frame and review your images on either on the rear LCD or the electronic viewfinder. The latter is a new 0.2-inch variant with 1,312,000-dot equivalent resolution. The 'equivalent' part of this statement stems from its 'field-sequential' design - instead of having triplets of dots showing red, green and blue at all positions, it displays one color, then the next, at each position. The downside of this approach can be that if you move your eye quickly, or blink, you become aware of delays between the three colors being drawn - with colorful, rainbow-like edges appearing. Thankfully this display runs at 60hz, so this effect isn't too noticeable.

Panasonic Lumix FZ200 key specifications

  • 24x 25-600mm equivalent lens with F2.8 across the zoom range
  • 12.1-megapixel High Sensitivity MOS sensor
  • 12 fps continuous shooting
  • High Speed Video at 120 fps (HD) or 240 fps (VGA)
  • 1080 60p video recording in AVCHD or MP4 formats
  • 0.2-inch EVF (Electronic View Finder) with 1,312,000 dot equivalent resolution
  • 3.0-inch, free-angle 460,000-dot LCD screen
  • Panorama Shot mode
  • RAW and RAW+JPEG data recording option

Compared to the Lumix FZ150:

The differences between the last-generation FZ150 and FZ200 are mostly cosmetic. The grips are slightly different, and the flash doesn't pop-up as far on the FZ200 (hello, redeye). The microphone has been moved closer to the hot shoe on the FZ200, and the power switch as been integrated with the mode dial. This allowed Panasonic to add a new customizable Fn3 button next to the burst mode button. Other improvements compared to the FZ150 include an HDR feature (plus more special effects), in-camera panorama stitching, and high speed movie recording.

From this front view the FZ200 is almost indistinguishable from its predecessor FZ150. The shape of the grip has slightly changed and the rubberized material covers more of the body 'area' and the barrel of the new lens has a marginally larger diameter but you have to look closely to spot the differences.
The same is true is for the camera back. The cameras are very similar in terms of both body shape and button layout. The FZ200's specification highlights such as the 25-600mm F2.8 lens and the high-resolution EVF are hidden under the hood and only become obvious once you turn on the camera and start shooting.
In this view you can see, that the new model is slightly deeper than the FZ150, which is mainly caused by a slightly larger lens barrel. The controls on the top plate gain a customizable Fn-button and the on/off switch has now been intergrated into the mode dial.

The chart below summarizes the differences between the FZ150 and FZ200:

Lumix DMC-FZ150 Lumix DMC-FZ200
Sensor resolution / type 12.1 Megapixel MOS*
Lens focal range (zoom power) 25 - 600 mm (24X)
Lens max aperture range F2.8 - F5.2 F2.8
LCD size/resolution 3.0" / 460,000 pixel
LCD position Articulated
EVF size/resolution 0.20" / 201k dots 0.21" / 1.3M dots
ISO range (full res) 100 - 3200 100 - 6400
Shutter speed range 15 - 1/2000 sec 60 - 1/4000 sec
Flash working range (Auto ISO) 0.3 - 9.5 m (W)
1.0 - 5.1 m (T)
0.3 - 13.5 m (W)
1.0 - 13.5 m (T)
HDR mode No Yes
"Sweep" panorama No Yes
Creative Controls 8 14
Movie resolution 1920 x 1080 @ 60p
High speed movies No Yes
Battery used DMW-BMB9 DMW-BLC12
Battery life (CIPA) 410 shots 540 shots
Dimensions 4.9 x 3.2 x 3.7 in. 4.9 x 3.4 x 4.3 in.
Weight (body only, empty) 484 g 537 g

As you can see, the DMC-FZ200 has some nice improvements over its predecessor, with the new lens and improved battery life being the biggest differences.

What's in the Box?

Despite being one of the most expensive super zooms on the market, the FZ200's bundle is rather pedestrian. Here's what you'll find when you open the box:

  • The 12.1 effective Megapixel Lumix DMC-FZ200 digital camera
  • DMW-BLC12 lithium-ion battery
  • Battery charger
  • Lens cap w/retaining strap
  • Lens hood
  • Shoulder strap
  • USB cable
  • CD-ROM featuring PhotoFunStudio 8.3 PE and SilkyPix Developer Studio 3.1 SE
  • 39 page basic manual (printed) + full manual (on CD-ROM)

Panasonic has built 70MB of memory into the DMC-FZ200. That'll hold four RAW or thirteen JPEGs at the highest quality setting - enough for emergencies, but not daily use. Therefore, you'll want to buy a memory card right away. The FZ200, like all Panasonic cameras, supports SD, SDHC, and SDXC cards, and I'd recommend at least a 4GB card if you're mostly taking stills, and a 16GB card if you'll be taking a lot of Full HD movies. A high speed (Class 6 or faster) card is highly recommended for best camera performance.

Optional accessories

As with the FZ150 that came before it, the DMC-FZ200 has a large selection of accessories available. They include:

Accessory Model # Price Description
Telephoto conversion lens DMW-LT55 From $174 Boosts the focal range by 1.7x, bringing the telephoto end of the lens to an amazing 1020 mm; requires conversion lens adapter.
Close-up lens DMW-LC55 From $65 Gives you three times the magnification while in macro mode; usable from 4X to 24X; requires conversion lens adapter.
Conversion lens adapter DMW-LA7 From $40 Threaded for 55mm filters - required for the two conversion lenses above.
Polarizing filter DMW-LPL52 From $60 Reduces glare and gives the sky a more vivid appearance. Also helps reduce vignetting.
Neutral density filter DMW-LND52 From $24 Reduces the amount of light coming through the lens by three stops. This allows you to use wider apertures or slower shutter speeds than normal.
MC protector DMW-LMC52 From $26 Keeps your fancy F2.8 lens from getting scratched.
External flash DMW-FL220
DMW-FL360
DMW-FL500
From $143
From $236
From $439
The first flash (GN 22) is pretty basic. The next two (GN 36 and 50) have high speed x-sync, bounce functionality, and a wider angle-of-view.
Remote shutter release cable DMW-RSL1 From $53 A shutter release button on a 1.5 meter cable. Handy for tripod shooting.
Stereo microphone DMW-MS1 $107 An external stereo microphone that attaches via the hot shoe and plugs into the mic input.
AC adapter DMW-AC8
DMW-DCC8
From $44
From $15
You need both of these accessories to power the FZ200 without draining its battery.
A/V cable DMW-AVC1 From $14 Lets you connect the camera to an older television.
Soft case DMW-CZS100 From $40 Holds the camera (without the hood) and a few memory cards.
Camera bag DMW-CZ18 From $54 A more generic case that holds the camera (with hood) and a few accessories.
Prices were accurate at time of publication

That's an enormous list for a fixed lens camera! One thing's for sure: Panasonic definitely has all its bases covered.

Panasonic includes PhotoFunStudio 8.3 PE software with the Lumix FZ200. This Windows-only software handles basic tasks fairly well, though the whole "wizard" system gets tiring quickly. On the main screen you'll see the usual thumbnail view, and you can view photos by folders, date, or by things as specific as scene mode. The software can learn to recognize faces (much like the camera itself), which offers you another way to browse through your pictures. Available editing features give you the ability to crop, rotate, or change the aspect ratio of your photos, as well as adjusting color, brightness, saturation, and more. You can apply special effects to photos, overlay text, or remove redeye. PhotoFunStudio can also be used to create panoramic images that you've taken on the camera.

Something PhotoFunStudio cannot do is edit RAW images. For that, Panasonic provides SilkyPix Developer Studio 3.1 SE, for both Mac and Windows. SilkyPix isn't going to win any awards for its user interface or poorly translated menus, but it's still a very capable editing tool. If you'd like to use Photoshop instead, just make sure that you're using the latest version of the Camera Raw plug-in.

PhotoFunStudio allows you to work with the movies produced by the FZ200. You can edit your video and then burn the results to a Blu-ray (or DVD) disc. You can also save the edited movie in MPEG-2 format. If you want to use something else to edit your videos, most modern Windows video editing suites can work with the AVCHD files produced by the FZ200. However, some of them may not support the AVCHD Progressive format, so check with your software manufacturer first. Mac users can edit 1080/60p videos without issue using the latest versions of Final Cut Pro X or iMovie '11.

The FZ200's documentation is split up into two parts, which I'm never a fan of. Inside the box is a thin "basic manual" to get you up and running. If you want more details, you'll need to load up the full manual, which is PDF format on an included CD-ROM. The manuals aren't exactly user-friendly, either, though they should answer any question you'll have about the camera. Instructions for using the bundled software is installed onto your Mac or PC.

A version of this review was first published at www.dcresource.com, but is presented here with many changes, notably revised body/handling commentary, the inclusion of a full set of product images, our usual studio comparisons and an expanded samples gallery, plus the addition of a standard dpreview score.


If you're new to digital photography you may wish to read the Digital Photography Glossary before diving into this article (it may help you understand some of the terms used).

Conclusion / Recommendation / Ratings are based on the opinion of the reviewer, you should read the ENTIRE review before coming to your own conclusions.

Images which can be viewed at a larger size have a small magnifying glass icon in the bottom right corner of the image, clicking on the image will display a larger (typically VGA) image in a new window.

To navigate the review simply use the next / previous page buttons, to jump to a particular section either pick the section from the drop down or select it from the navigation bar at the top.

DPReview calibrate their monitors using Color Vision OptiCal at the (fairly well accepted) PC normal gamma 2.2, this means that on our monitors we can make out the difference between all of the (computer generated) grayscale blocks below. We recommend to make the most of this review you should be able to see the difference (at least) between X,Y and Z and ideally A,B and C.

This article is Copyright 2012 and may NOT in part or in whole be reproduced in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from the author.

Previous page Next page
Our favorite products. Free 2 day shipping.
Support this site, buy from dpreview GearShop.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200

Comments

Total comments: 16
Quixpeed
By Quixpeed (1 month ago)

one Note, this camera has time lapse feature, embedded in the Creative Control mode.

0 upvotes
phototransformations
By phototransformations (1 month ago)

Not seeing this. It has the opposite - slow motion - under creative video, but where are you seeing an intervalometer or equivalent?

0 upvotes
Quixpeed
By Quixpeed (2 months ago)

a question, isn't there any mod and dongle that can be fitted on this cam so that we can make a wifi connection or any method of wireless connectivity possible for the Lumix-FZ200?

0 upvotes
phototransformations
By phototransformations (1 month ago)

Wouldn't a WiFi-enabled SD card do that?

0 upvotes
ashokvashisht
By ashokvashisht (3 months ago)

I had decided to purchase this camera (I live in India) till I was educated on the importance of the sensor size. The sensor this camera has is much smaller than a APS-C. I loose on quality of image. I really hope the next model has a bigger sensor so I needn't invest in an DSLR & two lenses. My interest is wildlife & landscapes & a little of bird photography.

1 upvote
minimole
By minimole (2 months ago)

Bridge cameras offer a compromise to larger SLR cameras. The smaller sensor lacks the low light/ISO performance of the larger SLR but enables a much smaller lens of equivalent focal length to be used. There is a direct mathematical relationship between the format/sensor size and the actual focal length of the lens. There is a similar relationship between the focal length and the maximum aperture. Therefore if you fit a bigger sensor you will need a correspondingly larger camera and lens to support it. Sports and wildlife photographers don,t carry those heavy pieces of kit around to impress, they have to be that size to go with the larger sensor.

6 upvotes
Quixpeed
By Quixpeed (1 month ago)

i have it, and believe me you don't need to carry any additional gear with you, the 2.1 F gives great details even in the distant objects. shutter speed is great too, i attended this Abu Dhabi F1 GP 2012, and took excellent snaps during the cars top speeds. it is just a fine camera and good enough for people who work and have little spare time to practice their hobbies.

0 upvotes
Lost Aussie
By Lost Aussie (3 months ago)

Further to my recent post, I have to say that the more I use this camera, the less I like it. Having taken some stills and video over the weekend, I find that the autofocus is pathetic, especially when you start to zoom out, even at 3x it starts to hunt all over the place for a focal point. This camera is so bad that I am beginning to think I have bought a faulty model. I just photoshopped some of my grand-daughter's images from her $100 Nikon Coolpix and the resolution is far better that this Panasonic thing i.e. the Coolpix images come up at 300 DPI while the Lumix images are only 180 DPI and I find this sub-standard. I am using a Sandisk SDHC class 10 card, so it is nothing to do with card quality. Any other digital camera can be taken from the box and immediately start producing beautiful images, not so with this one as I have yet to make an image or video that I call sharp ...... NOT HAPPY

2 upvotes
Lost Aussie
By Lost Aussie (3 months ago)

I bought this model camera recently on the strength of the rave reviews I have read on this and other sites & the f2.8 lens, but I am not impressed with it. I bought it as a replacement for my old worn out Canon Powershot S51S, but the Lumix does not come close to the image quality of the Canon. I find the Lumix has much less colour depth and much less highlight detail. Further, the video function shows no recording time on the display like the Canon does, and also I find the controls cumbersome and fiddly to handle, AND it is not good on battery life as the reviews suggest.I do know a bit about cameras as I am a retired press photographer, not a megapixel and zoom spruiker as most self appointed specialists emphasise. I will use this camera mainly for video, but for serious stills I'll stick to my old Nikon D80 thanks !

0 upvotes
Spookpadda
By Spookpadda (4 months ago)

Looks like a beautiful camera - how robust is it (mist or rain) - would you take it on a boat? Pity it doesn't have built-in GPS - it is such a pleasure to have photos automatically geolocated…but it already has loads of features. I'm sold.

Comment edited 25 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
kyleraabit
By kyleraabit (4 months ago)

is this camera good for taking quick pictures one after another?
i just got mine at http://www.ritzcamera.com/product/PNDMCFZ200K.htm, cause they had a special sale price in cart for $449.

0 upvotes
carterh2425
By carterh2425 (7 months ago)

I have had my camera for 6 months and have mixed feelings, mostly good. I have probaby taken over 5,000 shots.
The design and workmanship are excellent. On occasions I have accidently hit a button I did not want to hit. In my opinion the camera has too many features.

My biggest complaints are the owners manual and the software. The manual and software are on an enclosed CD disk. The manual is poorly done with some features missing entirely or so vague as to be useless. Hard copies are available for as little as $10 on the internet.

The software is SilkyPix. If you plan on shooting RAW, you should give this program a trial run first. Some may like it, I can't stand it. My solution is a program called Helicon Filter. While the current version will convert RAW for this camera, an older version, Helicon Filter 4.93 is much faster and much easier to use. To get this older version you will need to make a special request
for an unlisted download.

3 upvotes
ArJunaBug
By ArJunaBug (7 months ago)

How do I make this special request for Helicon Filter 4.93? I have been looking for this and cannot find it. I would love to download it. Thanks.

0 upvotes
Obadiah Stone
By Obadiah Stone (7 months ago)

I have this camera as well, and while it certainly is a phenomenal point-and-shoot and very high quality, I tend to agree with you that it probably has too many features in a point-and-shoot. Is that possible? Well, kinda, yes. The camera is so sophisticated that it almost becomes tricky to use real well. I suppose any complex thing is like this, and I am definitely not a super-expert when it comes to photography. I have had a couple of other digital cameras over the years, and this one is by FAR the best, but I'm not sure if I will ever be perfectly comfortable with all of its features and intricacies.

I also agree that the manual can be quite a puzzle to figure out. It isn't the best on documentation, unfortunately.

Is this an awesome camera? Absolutely! The power zoom is incredible, the optics are super quality, the articulated LCD is SO nice to have, and the price is quite reasonable too. Do be prepared for a cornucopia of features!

2 upvotes
Aberaeron
By Aberaeron (6 months ago)

Do a search in Youtube for Graham Houghton. He has a superb series of videos explaining how to get the best out of this camera. Just what you need by the sound of it. This is a real enthusiast's bridge camera and many owners, through no fault of their own and despite some effort on their part, are overwhelmed by its potential.

6 upvotes
Mr Haber
By Mr Haber (5 months ago)

Agree!

0 upvotes
Total comments: 16