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Features

I want to talk about features now, beginning with those controlled by the various buttons and dials on the FZ200. Let's begin with the mode dial, which has these options:

Exposure mode dial options

Option Function
Intelligent Auto mode Point-and-shoot, with automatic scene selection, face detection, subject tracking, intelligent sharpening, dynamic range improvement, and more. Many menu items are locked up.
Program mode Automatic, with full menu access; a Program Shift option lets you use the rear dial to move through sets of aperture/shutter speed values.
Aperture Priority mode You set the aperture, and the camera picks the appropriate shutter speed. The aperture range on the DMC-FZ200 is F2.8 - F8.0.
Shutter Priority mode You pick the shutter speed, and the camera selects the matching aperture. The shutter speed range is 8 - 1/4000 sec.
Full manual (M) mode You select both the aperture and the shutter speed. The aperture choices remain the same, while the shutter speed range opens up to 60 - 1/4000 sec.
Creative Motion Picture mode While you can take a movie in any shooting mode by using the dedicated button, in this mode you can adjust the aperture and/or shutter speed.
Custom mode 1/2 You can store up to four sets of your favorite camera settings to these two spots on the mode dial.
Scene mode You pick the scene and the camera uses the appropriate settings. Choose from portrait, soft skin, scenery, panorama shot, sports, panning, night portrait, night scenery, handheld nite shot, HDR, food, baby, pet, sunset, high sensitivity, glass through, and 3D photo.
Creative Control mode Choose from various special effects, each of which can be adjusted to your liking. Effects include Expressive (pop color), Retro, High key, Low key, Sepia, Dynamic Monochrome, Impressive Irt, High Dynamic, Cross Process, Toy Camera, Miniature, Soft Focus, Star Filter, and One Point (selective) Color. You can also adjust the background blur and brightness for each of these.

If you want a point-and-shoot experience, look no further than Panasonic's Intelligent Auto mode, which is the best Auto mode out there, in my opinion. It literally takes care of everything for you. You can also turn on Handheld Nite Shot and HDR (described shortly), both of which combine multiple exposures into a single image. If you want even more control, there's iA+ mode, which gives you sliders that adjust brightness (exposure compensation), background blur (aperture), and color balance (white balance).

Panorama Shot

Panorama shot works just like the "sweep panorama" feature that Sony pioneered a couple of years ago. You choose the direct in which you wish to "pan", hit the shutter release, and then "sweep" the camera from one side to the other. The panorama is created on-the-fly, so there's no need to stitch it together on the PC. The FZ200 does a decent job of stitching together the image, though you may see vertical stripes in certain situations (they're barely noticeable here). The image size isn't terribly large, so they're best suited for web viewing and small prints, and you're limited to shooting at the FZ200's widest-angle lens setting.

Handheld Nite Shot

Handheld Nite Shot takes a series of exposures and combines them into a single image that should be relatively sharp, and less noisy than if you just cranked the ISO up all the way. The example above is indeed fairly sharp and low in noise (considering the circumstances), though it's really only suited for small prints or web viewing.

HDR

The HDR (high dynamic range) feature also combines several exposures into one image, but instead of reducing noise and blur, its aim is to boost contrast. Three photos are taken: one at the selected exposure, another underexposed, and a third overexposed (you cannot set the interval, though). The three exposures are combined into one, with the resulting photo having better shadow and highlight detail. Here's an example:

HDR off HDR on

This photo, taken at the site of my weekend volunteer job, has a very strong backlight. Thus, everything else is super dark. Turning on HDR mode really balances things out. The highlights are still pretty blown out, but the foreground is much brighter. My only wish is that the HDR feature wasn't a scene mode, so you could control things like the ISO sensitivity.

Intelligent Resolution

This feature selectively sharpens an image, applying it to things that need it (like edges) and leaving alone things that don't (like the sky). The feature is off by default, except in Intelligent Auto mode. In the manual modes, you can choose from on or off, unlike on other models that let you choose low, medium, or high. Here's a crop of a larger photo that shows Intelligent Resolution in action:

Intelligent Resolution off Intelligent Resolution on

You'll find the most obvious improvements in sharpness on the various edges in the crop. The sign, the window frames, and the hours on the window are all noticeably sharper with Intelligent Resolution turned on. If you back out and view the full size images, you'll also see improved sharpness on the various trees and plants that surround the building. Sharpness is obviously a subjective matter, but if I was an FZ200 owner, I'd have the Intelligent Resolution feature turned on.

Intelligent Zoom

The other part of the Intelligent Resolution system is Intelligent Zoom. This gives you a 2X boost in zoom power with less of a drop in image quality than traditional digital zoom. That means that you now have the reach of a 1200 mm lens. Let's see how it looks:

Full telephoto (600 mm) Full telephoto + Intelligent Zoom (1200 mm)

When you view the downsized images, the Intelligent Zoom feature looks like a winner. However, view the full size images, and you'll see that photo quality goes downhill quite a bit when using this feature. Thus, I only recommend using Intelligent Zoom if you'll be making small prints, or downsizing your photos for web viewing.

Raw Mode

The FZ200 is relatively unusual for its class, in offering a Raw capture mode as well as JPEG. Although JPEG definitely scores when it comes to convenience, for more critical work, shooting Raw can make all the difference. If you're prepared to do a little post-processing, you'll be able to get better resolution, better highlight recovery, and more sophisticated noise reduction by shooting Raw. You'll also be able to make white balance adjustments 'after the fact' and take much more control over tonal adjustments as well.

The FZ200 comes bundled with SilkyPix Developer Studio 3.1 SE, a capable but not all that user-friendly Raw converter. If you're serious about shooting Raw with the FZ200 we'd recommend investing in something like Adobe Photoshop Elements or even Lightroom. We're using Adobe Photoshop CS6 for these examples, running Adobe Camera Raw7.3 (release candidate). In both ISO 100 and 3200 examples, the Raw files are processed 'to taste', using ACR's white balance, tonal, sharpening and noise reduction sliders to get the best results.

ISO 100 - JPEG versus Raw

JPEG (default settings) 100% Crop (shadow)
Processed Raw (ACR 7.3) 100% Crop (shadow)

ISO 3200 - JPEG versus Raw

JPEG (default settings) 100% Crop (shadow)
Processed Raw (ACR 7.3) 100% Crop (shadow)

As you can see, at both the low and high ends of the FZ200's ISO sensitivity span, JPEG output is pretty good, but the benefits of carefully processing a Raw file should be obvious. More detail, and more natural reproduction of that detail. If you can live with the larger files, and the extra time post-capture, you'll get the best out of the FZ200 by shooting Raw.

Manual control / customization

Naturally, the FZ200 has a full set of manual exposure controls, too. In addition to aperture and shutter speed, you can also manually focus, customize and fine-tune white balance, and record images using the RAW image format. Bracketing is available for both exposure and white balance. As we've seen previously in this review, the FZ200 has three customizable buttons, as well as two spots on the mode dial that can store a total of four sets of camera settings.

The FZ200 lest you fine-tune and bracket for white balance at the same time
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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