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Performance and Image Quality

Overall, the FZ150's performance is quite good, with little shutter lag, relatively fast shot-to-shot times and very responsive autofocus. Continuous shooting speeds abound, so you're more likely to catch action shots with the FZ150 than with many other cameras. Full JPEG resolution is available at 2, 5.5, and 12 fps, although at 12fps autofocus and exposure are set at the first frame. The camera can also speed along at 40fps and 60fps if you can live with the lower resolution (5 megapixels and 2.5 megapixels, respectively).

The FZ150 can speed along at 60fps at a reduced output resolution of 2.5MP but as you can see, critical image quality isn't fantastic. This file is taken from a 60fps burst and the softness and color fringing make it risky for anything other than sharing on a website or a small print.

Default JPEG image quality at full resolution is very good and, if you don't like what you see, there's plenty of scope for adjustment with color, contrast, saturation, sharpness and noise-reduction sliders all available. By default, colors are pretty accurate and nicely saturated (especially if you prefer slightly vivid images). Exposures can be a bit tricky, though - the FZ150 has a tendency to blow out highlights but exposure compensation is on hand if you want to dial things back a little (you can also get better highlight dynamic range in raw mode).

Compared to the FZ100, image noise is well-controlled, and not too obtrusive even up to ISO 800. You can go a little higher if you need to but be prepared to keep your prints relatively small (or shoot raw and commit to spending a little time adjusting the images on a computer). With such a massive zoom, camera shake is always a risk towards the long end, but thanks to the FZ150's effective image stabilization system this isn't much of an issue in normal lighting conditions.

This shot was taken at the long end of the FZ150's zoom, at 600mm (equivalent). As you can see, sharpness towards the edges of the frame isn't stunning at 100%, but it's impressively good given the complexity of the optic (and you can get a little bit more detail out of a carefully processed raw file).
The Same applies at the FZ150's wideangle setting. Sharpness isn't outstanding, partly thanks to the slightly mushy JPEG rendering but it's perfectly useable, and fringing is all but absent (thanks in part to effective in-camera reduction).
The FZ150's AF system is reasonably fast and generally very accurate. Even minor focussing errors are visible towards the long end of its zoom though, as you can see in this shot where the camera locked on to our subject's hair, just missing her eyes. Naturally this is unnoticeable in a small print or in a web gallery.

Raw Mode

Although we suspect most FZ150 buyers will probably plump for JPEG capture most of the time, experienced or adventurous photographers will appreciate the option to shoot in raw mode, too. As always, the benefits of shooting in raw mode compared to JPEG are that you can take much more control over the appearance of your images after they are captured, without running the risk of degrading image quality. As well as tweaking the white balance and exposure you can also adjust sharpening and noise reduction.

Default JPEG (ISO 100) 100% Crop
Converted Raw 100% Crop
Default JPEG (ISO 3200) 100% Crop
Converted Raw 100% Crop

The FZ150's default JPEG image quality is perfectly good, but, you can draw a lot more detail out of its raw files if you're prepared to put a little time into post-capture adjustment. This applies expecially to high ISO images, which in JPEG mode can look rather blotchy at 100% thanks to the effects of the camera's noise reduction setting.

Here, we processed two files - an ISO daylight shot and a low-light ISO 3200 example, and applied sharpening and noise reduction 'to taste' in Adobe Camera Raw 6.7. You can see the difference.

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