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Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ3 Review

September 2004 | By Simon Joinson

Review based on a production Panasonic DMC-FZ3

Announced at the end of July 2004, the DMC-FZ3 is part of the third generation of 'super zoom' cameras from electronics giant Panasonic. Like its predecessors (and the simultaneously announced DMC-FZ20) the FZ3 sports a Leica-branded DC Vario-Elmarit zoom with a whopping 12x optical range (35-420mm 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 figure for the FZ20 was quoted as 2 or 3 shutter speed steps).

The FZ3 is also significantly smaller than previous models, and - thanks to the Venus II image processing engine - is 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.

  • 35 - 420mm (equiv.) F2.8, 12x Leica Zoom Lens
  • Mega O.I.S (optical image stabilisation)
  • Venus II image processing engine
  • 9 scene modes and full photographic control
  • TIFF mode
  • New on-screen display
  • Ultra fast startup, focus, shutter lag and shot-to-shot time
  • 'Simple' mode for novice photographers

Panasonic DMC-FZ3 Key specifications

Street price • US: $399
• UK: £350
Body Material Plastic
Sensor • 1/3.2" CCD, 3.34 million total pixels
• 3.1 million effective pixels
Image sizes

• 2,016 x 1,512
• 1,920 x 1080 (16:9, HDTV)
• 1,600 x 1,200
• 1,280 x 960
• 640 x 480

Movie clips • 320 x 240 pixels @ 30fps
• 320 x 240 pixels @ 10fps
• Duration only limited by card capacity (streaming)
• Motion JPEG (.mov)
• With sound

• 35 - 420mm equiv. (12x optical zoom)
• F2.8
4x digital zoom

Focus • 1 point, 3 point, 9 point Autofocus
• Spot-focusing
• Single shot or Continuous AF
• Switcheable focus trigger
• 5cm macro mode (Wide), 120cm (Tele)
Shooting mode

• Auto
• Program
• Aperture Priority
• Shutter Priority
• Manual
• Macro
• Panning
• Fireworks
• Party
• Snow
Night Portrait
Night Scenery
• Simple Mode
• AE compensation -2.0EV to +2.0 EV in 1/3EV steps
• Auto bracketing

Sensitivity • Auto
• ISO80,100,200,400
White Balance • Auto
• 4 presets
Custom WB (manual)
Image parameters • Color Effect (Cool, Warm, B/W, Sepia)
• Picture Adjust (Normal, Standard, Vivid)
• Sharpness (3 levels)
Continuous • 4 fps, up to 7 frames (fine), 13 frames (standard)
• 2fps (limited only by capacity of card)
Flash • Built-in pop up flash
• Auto, Manual on/off, Red-eye reduction: on/off, Slow sync: on/off
• Range (ISO auto): W 0.3m - 4.6m (0.98 - 15.1 ft)
• Compensation (-2.0EV to +2.0 EV in 1/3EV steps)
Storage • SD/MMC
• 16 MB SD supplied*
Viewfinder • EVF (114,000 pixels)
• Field of view approx 100%
• -4 to +4 dioptre adjustment
LCD monitor • 1.5" TFT, 114,000 pixels
Connectivity • USB 2.0 Full Speed
• A/V out
Power • Panasonic CGA-S002A Lithium Ion pack
• 7.2V, 680 mAh
• (Optional AC adapter)
In the box*

Panasonic DMC-FZ3 camera
Lens Hood
Lens Cap
Lens Hood Adapter
8MB SD Memory Card
AV cable
USB cable
Battery pack and charger
Software CD-ROM (viewer and ArcSoft applications)

Other features

Spot, Center-weighted & Multi-pattern metering
PictBridge and DPOF compatible
Mega Optical Image Stabilisation
Live Histogram
Built-in speaker and microphone
• Flip Animation function
• In-camera picture resizing and cropping
• Voice annotation

Weight (inc batt) 326 g (11.5 oz)
Dimensions 108 x 68.4 x 84.8mm (4.25 x 2.7 x 3.3in)

* 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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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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