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Conclusion - Pros

  • Very good photo quality
  • 24X Leica lens maintains F2.8 maximum aperture from 25 - 600 mm
  • Power OIS image stabilization, with "active" mode for movies
  • 3-inch rotating LCD with 460,000 pixels, good outdoor/low light visibility
  • Super-sharp electronic viewfinder
  • Full manual controls with RAW support, numerous ways to adjust white balance, two types of bracketing, and three customizable buttons
  • Intelligent Auto mode does it all for you, including scene selection, face detection, blur reduction, shadow brightening, and smart sharpening
  • Snappy performance, especially startup, focusing, and shot-to-shot speeds
  • Loads of special effects and scene modes, including HDR and in-camera panorama stitching
  • Intelligent Resolution feature nicely sharpens your photos
  • Super fast burst mode, with ability to shoot at 5.5 fps with continuous AF and 12 fps with single AF
  • Records movies at 1080/60p with stereo sound, use of optical zoom, and continuous autofocus; manual exposure controls available
  • Support for external flash, external microphone, conversion lenses and filters, and a remote shutter release cable
  • Above average battery life

Conclusion - Cons

  • Tends to clip highlights; photos slightly noisy
  • Redeye a problem; no removal tool in playback mode
  • No eye sensor for electronic viewfinder; rainbow effect on EVF can be distracting
  • More expensive than other super zooms (though none have comparable lenses)
  • Rear control dial a bit "sticky"
  • Can't access memory card while camera is on a tripod
  • Full manual on CD-ROM (it's not very user-friendly, either)

Overall Conclusion

Panasonic has returned to their roots with their Lumix DMC-FX200 super zoom camera. Gone are the days of lenses that get slower as you use more zoom power - the FZ200 can stay at F2.8 from 25 to 600 mm. You'll pay a premium for that, but low light and action photographers may find the FZ200 to be worth the price.

From a design standpoint, the FZ200 doesn't look a whole lot different from the DMC-FZ150 that came before it. Its made of a mixture of plastic and metal, and in some places, doesn't feel as solid as one would expect on a $600 camera. There are plenty of buttons, dials, and switches on the camera, and most of them are well-placed. The camera has dual zoom controllers, with the one on the left side coming in handy for recording movies. The one control I don't like is the rear control dial which, like on the DMC-LX7, doesn't turn smoothly. I don't need to say any more about the FZ200's lens, but I will add that it's assisted by Panasonic's Power OIS image stabilization system, which also features an "active" mode for reducing severe shake in movie mode.

On the back of the camera you'll find the same flip-out, rotating 3-inch LCD display (with 460,000 pixels) that was on the FZ150. The electronic viewfinder, on the other hand, has been greatly improved, with over 1.3 million dots at its disposal. Panasonic left out an eye sensor on the camera (a big omission in my opinion) and some folks may notice a "rainbow effect" on the EVF, due to the technology it uses. The FZ200 is a highly expandable camera, with support for conversion lenses and filters, an external flash, wired remote, and external stereo microphone.

Being Panasonic's flagship super zoom camera, it should come as no surprise that the FZ200 is loaded with features. Beginners can feel quite comfortable uses Panasonic's Intelligent Auto mode, which remains the best point-and-shoot mode on the market. If they want a little more control, there's an iA+ mode, which lets users adjust brightness, background blur, and color balance using "sliders" on the LCD. As with most cameras in 2012, the FZ200 is loaded with special effects, which can be found in the Creative Control mode. The camera has a number of scene modes, which include "sweep panorama", HDR, and handheld nite scene features. Another handy feature is Intelligent Resolution, which does a nice job of sharpening up your photos.

There are plenty of manual controls to be found, as well. You'll get the usual control over the aperture and shutter speed, custom white balance and fine-tuning, two types of bracketing, and support for the RAW image format. The FZ200 has three customizable buttons as well as two spots on the mode dial on which you can store a total of four sets of camera settings. The DMC-FZ200 is also a capable movie recording device, with the ability to record up video at 1080/60p with stereo sound (for up to 30 minutes). You can use the optical zoom while recording a movie, and the camera will focus continuously to keep everyone sharp. Manual exposure controls and a wind filter are available for movie enthusiasts.

Like most of the Panasonic cameras that I've reviewed over the years, the DMC-FZ200 is a very capable performer. It's ready to take pictures one second after you flip the power switch. Focusing speeds are quite good for a super zoom, only exceeding a second in low light. I didn't notice any major shutter lag, and shot-to-shot delays were minimal, even with the flash. The FZ200 has a ton of burst modes, though only three are full resolution. You can shoot at up to 6 frames/second with continuous autofocus, or at over 12 frames/second with the focus locked on the first shot. You can take a decent amount of photos (10-16) before the buffer fills up, and it takes between 8-10 seconds for the memory to be flushed. The FZ200's battery life is above average compared to other super zoom cameras.

While not perfect by any means, the FZ200's photo quality is still very good when compared to its peers. Photos are well-exposed, so you won't need to bracket every shot, as on some cameras. One issue that will arise fairly often is highlight clipping, so you may want to shoot RAW or perhaps use the HDR feature when your subject is heavily backlit. Colors were vibrant, and sharpness was pleasing most of the time (though some many want to turn Intelligent Resolution on). The FZ200's photos are slightly noisy, even at ISO 100, though that's better than previous models which smudged away fine detail. Things don't get really noisy until ISO 800 in low light and ISO 3200 in good light. You should be able to extract additional detail (and reduce some of that highlight clipping) at high sensitivities by shooting RAW, as well. Both purple fringing and barrel distortion should not be issues on the DMC-FZ200. Something that probably will get you at some point is redeye, which was apparent in my flash test photos.

It's pretty hard not to like the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200. It has all the bells and whistles that you'd expect on a high-end super zoom, plus an F2.8, 25 - 600 mm lens that no other camera can match. That nice lens does command a bit of a premium, but I figure that low light and action photographers won't mind dropping another $100 for it. Despite some issues with highlight clipping and redeye, the lack of an eye sensor for the EVF, and the fact that the full manual is in PDF format, the FZ200 has more than enough going for it to earn my recommendation.

Some other super zoom cameras to consider include the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS, Fuji FinePix HS30EXR, Nikon Coolpix P510, Olympus SP-820UZ iHS, Pentax X-5, and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX200V.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200
Category: Super-zoom Compact Camera
Build quality
Ergonomics & handling
Features
Exposure and focus accuracy
Image quality (raw)
Image quality (jpeg)
Flash performance
Low light / high ISO performance
Optics
Performance (speed)
Movie / video mode
Value
PoorExcellent
Good for
Sports and nature photographers who need big zoom power and don't want to settle the slow lenses found on typical super zooms.
Not so good for
Those taking a lot of flash people pictures, or who switch between the LCD and EVF frequently.
Overall score
80%
Panasonic has done almost everything right with the FZ200, producing a super zoom with a no-compromises lens. It performs very well, takes photos that are comparable (or better) than other super zooms, and has a top-notch movie mode. With a few refinements in the design and image quality department, it would be darn close to perfect.

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About Jeff Keller

Jeff Keller is the Founder and Publisher of the Digital Camera Resource Page. When it was created in 1997, DCResource was the first digital camera news and review site on the Internet. Jeff's love of gadgetry introduced him to digital cameras in the mid-90's, from which his passion for photography developed. Jeff runs DCResource from his home in Oakland, CA, and is often found wandering the streets of San Francisco with a bag full of cameras.

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Comments

Total comments: 29
Lost Aussie

My final word on this camera... I've persisted with it for almost six months and the only reason I'm still using it is because my Nikon has broken down, new D7100 body coming up! Meantime, the Lumix is a great paperweight

0 upvotes
Frank17

Can i see a live view on a monitor or tv (using the HDMI cable) when i'm using the camera.

0 upvotes
YashG

You can but not with the HDMI cable. You need the AV out cable and connect it to the Reg, White, Yellow ports at the back of the TV. Then Press the Trash can button for a few seconds and you will see live view on your TV. I have the cable and I have used it. Works fine.

0 upvotes
Evil Eye

I've had this camera 1 year 6 months and suddenly the Record button when pushed the Burst menu comes up. This happened a few times a month ago, but then Record worked. Now it won't record at all. Every time I push the Record button the Burst menu comes up.

I do shoot a lot of soccer video with this camera and loved it till now. So I press the Record button probably 100 times per 1 hour game. And I shoot a lot of games.

Other than that I've been pleased with the camera.

1 upvote
franckberlin

It is surprising how the reviews from actual users differ from the review published by DPreview for this camera. It seems that the more this camera is used, the more disappointing it is. I have bought this camera after having read this DPreview and took it back within 2 weeks of purchase.

0 upvotes
OldSnapper2

As feature-filled as this camera is, I have been having a terrible time with it. I have found it's ISO settings changed to 3200 without my knowledge on a number of occasions resulting in terrible results. It seems that, because of the way the controls are located on the back of the camera, when I grip the camera with my right hand I mash the ISO and white balance settings resulting in disastrous results. Is there a way to lock those controls? I have returned to shooting with my ancient 14mp Kodak/Nikon which has never failed me but weighs a ton and is getting difficult for me to carry around as I age. I have made my living doing photography for many decades and I have never had such embarrassing results with any of the closet full of cameras I have previously used.

1 upvote
Lost Aussie

I agree, am having exactly the same problem with my FZ200..... I have just ordered a "C" bracket on eBay so I can handle the camera without having to touch the right hand side. I too am a retired news photog and agree about the image quality, I have to Photoshop every image I want to print. The old film days were cumbersome and time wasting, but at least we knew we'd get consistent quality!

0 upvotes
Dave Jaseck

Same thing happened to me. Simple fix, buy this ring, fits perfect around the control button.
http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/53390946

0 upvotes
lumixfz200pointshooter

The best Point and Shoot ever. I would prefer this than a bulky DSLR.

0 upvotes
Quixpeed

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

1 upvote
phototransformations

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

0 upvotes
Quixpeed

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

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

1 upvote
ashokvashisht

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

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.

7 upvotes
Quixpeed

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.

2 upvotes
Lost Aussie

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
balkam

I totally agree with You, after shooting more than 2000 photos with these B...SH...camera, lot of the raws or jpegs are fuzzy, with chromatic aberrations....not at the level of a FZ35/38 or an LX3 4 exemple. it's not gold award is "led award" , its heavy, and the results in raw or jpeg are not that good, my smartphone does better photos ! so wher's the trick ?

1 upvote
Lost Aussie

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

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
balkam

avoid it on seashore, I'e faced some problems with it...failures etc,
try a dlsr with waterproof functions, like pentax K30....

0 upvotes
kyleraabit

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

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

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

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

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.

8 upvotes
Mr Haber
0 upvotes
lumixfz200pointshooter

I agree with the positive comments here. Graham Houghton is an excellent reviewer and web-teacher on how to use the camera. I have taken really good pictures out of my FZ200. It may not be a DSLR, but its potential is just amazing. I would prefer to use this in my everyday shooting than a heavy DSLR.

0 upvotes
Lost Aussie

Well, as good as this guy may be, I don't think anyone with any digital photography experience should need to take an on-line course on how to use this camera. If I buy a new state of the art motor car, do I have to take an on-line course on how to drive it? Another retired news photog friend of mine recently purchased a similarly priced and optioned Sony Cybershot (24 meg & 350 dpi) and its results make the Lumix look like a toy. My FZ200 has been ok for landscapes etc but the results are repeatedly poor when it comes to photographing people, kids etc. With stills and video alike, the colour saturation and skin tones are pathetic, redardless of lighting conditions. Some of the flat, lifeless images I have taken could not even be improved in Photoshop! You can talk all day about the bells and whistles, but the bottom line is a nice clean, balanced image and I'm not getting that. I think that Pansonic have exploited the Leica name by putting a good 2.8 lens on a lousy micro-processor.

0 upvotes
Total comments: 29