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Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ20 Review

November 2004 | By Simon Joinson
Buy on From $399.99

Review based on a production Panasonic DMC-FZ20

Updated 9th Nov: High ISO samples added to gallery

Announced at the end of July 2004, the DMC-FZ20 is the flagship model of the third generation of 'super zoom' cameras from electronics giant Panasonic, and is a direct replacement for the FZ10. Like its predecessors (and the simultaneously announced DMC-FZ3) the FZ20 sports a Leica-branded DC Vario-Elmarit zoom with a whopping 12x optical range (36-432mm equiv) and a constant F2.8 aperture. It also boasts a newly-improved optical image stabilisation system and the Venus II engine, which, according to Panasonic's documentation, is now equivalent to shooting at 3 or 4 shutter speed steps faster.

The FZ20 offers several enhancements over the FZ10 it replaces, including a higher resolution sensor (5MP as opposed to 4MP), improved hand grip and - thanks to the Venus II image processing engine - it's faster, offers better resolution and lower noise. And that's not all; it is packed with new technologies and upgrades; enhanced metering and focus systems, new shooting modes and a new mode dial, TIFF mode, a better electronic viewfinder, a new menu system and a new two mode image stabiliser.

  • 36 - 432mm (equiv.) F2.8, 12x Leica Zoom Lens with one ED lens
  • Mega O.I.S (optical image stabilisation)
  • Venus II image processing engine
  • 9 scene modes and full photographic control
  • New mode dial for easy access to exposure modes
  • TIFF mode
  • New on-screen display
  • Ultra fast startup, focus, shutter lag and shot-to-shot time
  • Available in Black (FZ20K) and Silver (FZ20S)

Panasonic DMC-FZ20 Key specifications

Street price • US: $500
• UK: £370
Body Material Metal and Plastic
Sensor • 1/2.5" Type CCD
• 5.3 million pixels total
• 5.0 million effective pixels
Image sizes

• 2560 x 1920
• 2048 x 1536
• 1600 x 1200
• 1280 x 960
• 640 x 480
• 1920 x 1080 (16:9 HDTV)

Movie clips • 320 x 240 (10 / 30 fps)
• With audio
• Limited only by storage
• MOV (Motion JPEG)

• 36 - 432 mm equiv. (12x zoom)
• F2.8 (throughout zoom range)
• MEGA OIS (Mode 1 / Mode 2)
• 13 Elements in 8 Groups
• 3 Aspherical Lenses/3 Aspherical Surfaces, 1 ED Lens

Focus • 1 point, 3 point, 9 point Autofocus
• Spot-focusing
• Single shot or Continuous AF
• Switcheable focus trigger
• Manual Focus(Ring)
• 5cm macro mode (Wide), 200cm (Tele)
Shooting mode

• Program (with shift)
• Aperture Priority
• Shutter Priority
• Manual
• Macro
• Moving Image
• Portrait
• Sports
• Landscape
• Night Landscape
• Panning
• Night Portrait
• Fireworks
• Party
• Snow
• AE compensation -2.0EV to +2.0 EV in 1/3EV steps
• Auto bracketing

Sensitivity • Auto
• ISO 80, 100, 200, 400
White Balance • Auto
• 4 presets
Custom WB (manual)
White Balance fine tune (R-B)
Image parameters • Contrast (Low, Standard, High)
• Sharpness (Low, Standard, High)
• Saturation (Low, Standard, High)
• Noise reduction (Low, Standard, High)
• Color effects (Cool, Warm, Black & White, Sepia)
Continuous • Full resolution: 3 or 2 fps
• Full resolution: max 7 images (standard mode), 4 images (fine mode)
• Infinite consecutive (unlimited but slower shooting rate)
Flash • Built-in pop-up flash
• Modes: Auto, Auto with red-eye reduction, Slow sync, On/Off
• Range: 0.3 to 7.0 m (0.98 feet - 23.0 feet)
• External flash via hot-shoe
Storage • SD/MMC
• 16 MB SD supplied*
Viewfinder • EVF (114,000 pixels)
• Field of view approx 100%
• -4 to +4 dioptre adjustment
LCD monitor • 2.0" TFT LCD
• 130,000 pixels

• USB 2.0 Full Speed (12 Mbits/s)
• A/V out
• Remote socket

Power • Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery
• Charger included
In the box*

• Battery Charger
• Battery Pack
• 16MB 6 SD Memory Card
• Lens Cap
• Lens Hood & Adaptor
• A/V & USB Cable
• Strap
• CD-ROM inc ArcSoft software bundle
• TIFF mode

Other features

Spot, Center-weighted & Multi-pattern metering
PictBridge and DPOF compatible
Mega Optical Image Stabilisation
Live Histogram
• AF assist lamp
Built-in speaker and microphone
• Flip Animation function
• In-camera picture resizing and cropping
• Voice annotation
• 2/10 second self-timer
• Venus Engine II™ LSI Image Processor

Weight (inc batt) 556 g (1.2 lb)
Dimensions 128 x 87 x 106 mm (5.0 x 3.4 x 4.2 in)

* Supplied accessories may differ in each country or area

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.

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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 2004 and may NOT in part or in whole be reproduced in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from the author.

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