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Body and Design

The Lumix DMC-FZ200 in the hand

The Lumix DMC-FZ200 is a fairly chunky super zoom camera. The body is made of a mixture of metal and plastic, with the latter making the FZ200 feel a bit cheap for a $599 camera. The camera has a large right hand grip - and there's plenty of room under the lens for your left hand - making the FZ200 easy to hold. The FZ200 has a ton of buttons, dials, and levers, though they're well-placed, and typically serve just one function. One control that Panasonic can't seem to get right lately is the rear control dial - it doesn't always turn smoothly.

Without a doubt, the biggest feature on the FZ200 is its constant aperture F2.8, 25 - 600 mm lens. What this means is that, unlike the F2.8-5.2 lens on the FZ150 from last year, the FZ200's lens lets in just as much light at full telephoto as it does at full wide-angle. And that's big news for low light and action photographers. As with the FZ150, this lens features a nano surface coating to reduce flare and ghosting. The lens is threaded for 52 mm filters, and can use the two conversion lenses that I mentioned earlier (with the appropriate adapter).

On the left side of the camera there's a secondary zoom controller - a feature which separates the FZ200 from cheaper models like the FZ60. This extra controller comes in especially handy when recording movies, since using the conventional zoom control on the shutter button can pull the camera slightly left/right while shooting. You can also use this controller to handle manual focusing, if you'd like. Speaking of focusing, there's a focus mode selection switch right next to the zoom controller. The AF and AF macro modes are similar, with the latter focusing at shorter distances (note that this will reduce focus speeds). In manual focus mode you use the rear dial to set the focus distance. A portion of the frame is enlarged, and the camera displays a distance guide on the LCD/EVF.

In your hand

With its typical superzoom dimensions and weight (4.93 x 3.41 x 4.34 inches, 1.29 pounds fully loaded), the FZ200 won't fit into most pockets. However it's got a rubberized grip and thumb rest and is comfortable to hold and shoot with, even with the zoom lens fully extended.

With the camera held in your right hand, the key controls are within reach of your fingers. to locate. Only the flash and EVF/LCD buttons are located on the camera's left side. The lens is zoomed using a conventional rocker switch 'collar' around the shutter release but there is an alternative control on the left side of the lens barrel which can also be configured to operate manual focus. Both the exposure mode dial and rear four-way controller are within easy reach of the thumb. Essentially one-handed operation is possible with the FZ200 but, especially at longer focal lengths, the use of your left hand is recommended.

Directly above the FZ200's lens is the built-in flash, which is released manually. The working range of the flash is 0.3 - 13.5 m at wide-angle and 1.0 - 13.5 m at telephoto (at Auto ISO), which is considerably better than the one on its predecessor. If you want more flash power and a reduced likelihood of redeye, then you can attach an (optional) external flash.

As with its predecessor, the FZ200 features a flip-out, rotating 3-inch LCD display. Rotating LCDs are great for shooting over crowds, using a tripod (where the camera is below you), or taking self-portraits. The screen flips out 180 degrees to the side, and can then rotate a total of 270 degrees. It can also go in the traditional position with the display facing straight away from the rear of the camera, or be closed entirely.

To the right of the LCD you'll find a new Fn3 customizable button, with the Display button (used for toggling what's shown on the LCD/EVF) to its right. Under that is the four-way controller, used for menu navigation, adjusting exposure, and moving through photos in playback mode. There are also four direct buttons here, for ISO, self-timer, focus mode, and white balance.

Above the LCD is the FZ200's new and improved electronic viewfinder. This 0.21" EVF has an impressive 1.31 million dots, which is up big from the 201,600 dot EVF on the FZ150. As you'd expect from a viewfinder with these specs, everything's pretty sharp. It's not as good as Sony's XGA viewfinder, but it's still pretty darn good.

Something that's surprisingly missing here is an eye sensor, so you'll have to switch between the LCD and EVF manually, using the button just to left of the viewfinder. Speaking of things on the left side of the viewfinder, it's there that you'll find a diopter correction knob which will adjust the focus of the EVF. To the right of the EVF we find buttons for playback mode and AE/AF lock (or something else, if you'd like), as well as the mushy rear control dial(used for adjusting exposure and replaying photos).

Body Elements

Naturally, you'll need image stabilization on a big zoom camera like this, and Panasonic uses their Power OIS system on the FZ200. The IS system can be used to reduce the risk of blurry photos, and it can smooth out your videos, as well. An "active mode" helps reduce severe camera shake while recording movies.

Like on the FZ150 a zoom control and a triple focus switch (AF, AF macro, manual) are located on the lens barrel.

The focus button will let you select a focus point or a target for subject tracking. You can also press it when manually focusing to have the AF system give you a little help.

To the right of the mode dial you'll find the shutter/zoom lever, direct "red" movie button, burst shooting button (from 2-60fps), one of the three customizable Fn-buttons and the on/off switch.

The zoom controller is variable speed. At full speed, it travels from wide to telephoto in 3 seconds. With over 75 stops in its zoom range, you can set the focal length very precisely.

On the camera's back, to the right of the screen, you find the four-way controller gives you access to ISO, AF-mode, White Balance and the self-timer. It's also used for navigating the menus. Above is another Fn-button and the DISP button which controls the amount of information on the live-view or image review screens. The button the button gives you access to the Q-menu and doubles as a delete button in review mode.
The FZ200's flash pops up if you pull the lever on the camera's top left. The flash covers a subject distance of between 0.3 and 13.5m at wide-angle when shooting with Auto ISO.

The FZ200's display is unchanged from the one on the FZ150, which means that it's 3 inches in size and packs 460,000 pixels. I was a bit disappointed that Panasonic didn't put a higher resolution display (e.g. 921k pixel) on their flagship super zoom camera. Outdoor visibility was good, and in low light the image on the screen brightens automatically, so you can still see your subject.

The electronic viewfinder is a new 0.21" unit that boasts the very high resolution of 1,312K dots and a 100% coverage of the frame. Unfortunately there's no eye-sensor to automatically turn it on/off.

Above this you can see the hotshoe, onto which you can mount an optional external flash. You can use an external flash at any shutter speed - that means up to 1/4000 sec.

As usual with this type of camera the combined SD-card/battery compartment is located at the bottom of the handgrip. The FZ200's Li-ion Battery Pack has a capacity of 1,200mAh which should be good for around 540 shots (CIPA standard).

Let's take a look at how the DMC-FZ200 compares to its super zoom peers in terms of size and weight:

Camera Dimensions (W x H x D, excluding protrusions) Volume (bulk) Mass (empty)
Canon PowerShot SX50 HS 4.8 x 3.4 x 4.2 in. 68.5 cu in. 551 g
Fujifilm FinePix HS30EXR 5.1 x 3.8 x 4.9 in. 95 cu in. 637 g
Nikon Coolpix P510 4.8 x 4.1 x 3.3 in. 64.9 cu in. 555 g
Olympus SP-820UZ iHS 4.6 x 3.1 x 3.7 in. 52.8 cu in. 485 g
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200 4.9 x 3.4 x 4.3 in. 71.6 cu in. 537 g
Pentax X-5 4.7 x 3.4 x 4.2 in. 67.1 cu in. 507 g
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX200V 4.9 x 3.5 x 3.8 in. 65.2 cu in. 531 g

The DMC-FZ200 is the second largest camera in the group, with only the D-SLR-sized FinePix HS30EXR above it. It's not even close to being a pocket camera, so plan on carrying it over your shoulder or in a camera bag.

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Comments

Total comments: 28
Lost Aussie
By Lost Aussie (1 month ago)

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
By Frank17 (1 month ago)

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

0 upvotes
Evil Eye
By Evil Eye (1 month ago)

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
By franckberlin (2 months ago)

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
By OldSnapper2 (2 months ago)

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
By Lost Aussie (2 months ago)

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
By Dave Jaseck (2 months ago)

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
By lumixfz200pointshooter (2 months ago)

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

0 upvotes
Quixpeed
By Quixpeed (4 months ago)

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

1 upvote
phototransformations
By phototransformations (4 months 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 (5 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 (4 months ago)

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

0 upvotes
ashokvashisht
By ashokvashisht (6 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 (5 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.

7 upvotes
Quixpeed
By Quixpeed (4 months 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.

1 upvote
Lost Aussie
By Lost Aussie (6 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
balkam
By balkam (2 months ago)

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
By Lost Aussie (6 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 (7 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
balkam
By balkam (2 months ago)

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
By kyleraabit (7 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 (10 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 (10 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 (10 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 (9 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.

8 upvotes
Mr Haber
By Mr Haber (8 months ago)

Agree!

0 upvotes
lumixfz200pointshooter
By lumixfz200pointshooter (2 months ago)

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
By Lost Aussie (2 months ago)

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: 28