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Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ30 Review

September 2005 | By Simon Joinson


Review based on a production Panasonic DMC-FZ30

Announced almost exactly a year after the launch of the FZ20 (the model it replaces), the DMC-FZ30 (launched in July 2005) is the latest flagship model in an ever-growing range of 'super zoom' cameras from electronics giant Panasonic. Like its predecessors the FZ20 sports a Leica-branded DC Vario-Elmarit zoom with a whopping 12x optical range (35-420mm equiv), though this time without the constant F2.8 aperture. It also boasts Panasonic's tried and tested Mega Optical Image Stabilization system and the Venus II engine.

Much of what made the FZ20 such a popular camera remains, however, there are some significant changes, many of which address concerns voiced by users and reviewers of the FZ20. The FZ30 has a new 12x optical zoom lens which features a mechanically-linked zoom ring, manual focus ring (electronic), full internal zoom and focus (non-extending) and several improvements to the control layout. The FZ30's 8 million pixel CCD is also very slightly larger than that of the FZ20, (approximately 1.75 mm larger diagonally), and the FZ30 also now provides a RAW capture option, which promises more flexibility in image processing for the more advanced photographer.

Similar in design to the FZ20 the FZ30's lens barrel is shifted over slightly and the hand grip has been made larger, there are also more controls available on the camera body. Other changes include a higher resolution flip-down LCD monitor and control dials front and rear. Full details of changes are shown below.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ30 vs DMC-FZ20 (feature & specification differences)

 

Panasonic DMC-FZ30

Panasonic DMC-FZ20
Sensor • 1/1.8" Type CCD
• 7.18 x 5.32 mm (info)
• 8.0 million effective pixels
• 9-pixel readout for video
• 1/2.5" Type CCD
• 5.76 x 4.29 mm (info)
• 5.0 million effective pixels
• 2-pixel readout for video
Image sizes
(max)
• 3264 x 2448 (4:3)
• 3248 x 2160 (3:2)
• 3072 x 1728 (16:9)
• 2560 x 1920 (4:3)
• 1920 x 1080 (16:9)
Image formats

• RAW
• TIFF
• JPEG

• TIFF
• JPEG
Lens

• 35 - 420 mm equiv.
• 12x optical zoom
• F2.8 - F3.7
• 14 elements in 10 groups
• MEGA OIS Image Stabilization
• Non-extending
• Internal zoom & focus
• 55 mm lens thread

• 36 - 432 mm equiv.
• 12x optical zoom
• F2.8 (throughout range)
• 13 elements in 8 groups
• MEGA OIS Image Stabilization
• Extending type
Zoom Mechanically linked zoom ring Lever zoom (electronic)
Digital zoom • 2x or 4x
• "Extra optical zoom" for smaller sizes
• 2x or 4x
AE Lock • Half-press shutter release
• AE-Lock button
Half-press shutter release
Control dials Front and Rear None
Macro mode On focus mode switch (lens barrel) On mode dial
Manual focus • On focus mode switch
• Has one-shot AF button
On focus mode switch
Shutter speed 60 - 1/2000 sec 8 - 1/2000 sec
Aperture • Wide: F2.8 - F11
• Tele: F3.7 - F11
F2.8 - F8
Scene modes 14 modes 9 modes
Viewfinder • 0.44" EVF
• 235,000 pixels
• In-line with center of lens
• 0.33" EVF
• 114,000 pixels
• Offset to left of LCD
LCD monitor • 2.0" TFT LCD
• 235,000 pixels
• Flip-down and twist
• 2.0" TFT LCD
• 130,000 pixels
• Fixed
Thumbnail index • 9 images
• 16 images
• 25 images
• 9 images
Orientation sensor Yes No
Battery • Lithium-Ion rechargeable
• 730 mAh, 7.2V
• Lithium-Ion rechargeable
• 680 mAh, 7.2V
Weight (inc batt) 740 g (1.6 lb) 556 g (1.2 lb)
Dimensions 141 x 86 x 138 mm (5.5 x 3.4 x 5.4 in) 128 x 87 x 106 mm (5.0 x 3.4 x 4.2 in)

Other changes / improvements

  • Wider, deeper hand grip
  • Faster startup time (thanks to non-extending lens); 1 vs. 5 seconds (FZ20)
  • New smaller add-on ND filter, telephoto and wide-angle lenses screw onto front of lens
  • Tripod mount now in line with lens
  • SD card door moved to side of camera rather than with battery
  • Brighter LCD and EVF performance in low light because of 9-pixel CCD readout (binning)
  • Video capture now uses 9-pixel CCD readout for better low light performance

Panasonic DMC-FZ30 Key specifications

Street price • US: $590
• UK: £480
Body Material Metal and Plastic
Sensor • 1/1.8" Type CCD
• 8.3 million pixels total
• 8.0 million effective pixels
Image sizes

• 3264 x 2448
• 3248 x 2160
• 2560 x 1920
• 2048 x 1536
• 1600 x 1200
• 1280 x 960

Movie clips • 640 x 480 / 320 x 240
• 30 / 10 fps
• With audio
• Limited only by storage
• QuickTime M-JEPG (.mov) format
Lens

• 35 - 420 mm equiv. (12x zoom)
• F2.8 - F3.7
• 14 elements in 10 groups (3 aspherical, 1 ED lens)
• Labeled as "LEICA DC VARIO-ELMARIT"
• Non-extending / internal zoom
• Mechanical linked zoom ring
• Focus-by-wire focus ring
• 55 mm lens thread

Focus

• 1 point
• 1 point high-speed
• 3 point high-speed
• 9 point
• Spot
• 5cm macro mode (Wide), 200cm (Tele)
• AF assist lamp

Shooting mode

• Program (with shift)
• Aperture Priority
• Shutter Priority
• Manual
• Macro
• Moving Image
• Portrait
• Sports
• Scenery
• Night Scenery
• Night Portrait
• Fireworks
• Party
• Snow
• Self-Portrait
• Food
• Baby
• Soft Skin
• Candle
• Starry Sky
• AE compensation -2.0EV to +2.0 EV in 1/3EV steps
• Auto bracketing

Sensitivity • Auto
• ISO 80, 100, 200, 400
Shutter speed • All modes except Manual: 8 - 1/2000 sec
• Manual mode: 60 - 1/2000 sec
Aperture • Wide: F2.8 - F11
• Tele: F3.7 - F11
Metering • Intelligent Multiple
• Center weighted
• Spot
White Balance

• Auto
• Daylight, cloudy, halogen, flash, white set
2x 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 9 images (standard mode), 5 images (fine mode)
• Infinite consecutive 2 fps
Flash • Built-in pop-up flash
• Modes: Auto, Auto with red-eye reduction, Slow sync, , Slow sync with red-eye reduction, On/Off
• Range: 0.3 to 7.0 m (wide)
• External flash via hot-shoe
• Flash exposure compensation (+/-2 EV in 0.3 EV steps)
Storage

• SD/MMC
• 32 MB SD supplied*

Viewfinder • EVF (230,000 pixels), 0.44-inch
• Field of view approx 100%
• -4 to +4 dioptre adjustment
LCD monitor • 2.0 " TFT LCD
• 230,000 pixels
• Flip down and twist
Connectivity

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

Power

• Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery
• Charger included

In the box*

• Battery Charger
• Battery Pack
• 32MB SD Memory Card
• Lens Cap
• Lens Hood
• A/V & USB Cable
• Strap
• CD-ROM inc ArcSoft software bundle

Other features

PictBridge and DPOF compatible
Mega Optical Image Stabilization
Live Histogram
Built-in speaker and microphone
• In-camera picture resizing and cropping
• Voice annotation
• 2/10 second self-timer
• Venus Engine II™ LSI Image Processor
• TIFF and RAW modes

Weight 740 g (inc batt)
674 g (10.4 oz) (no bat)
Dimensions 141 x 86 x 138 mm (5.5 x 3.4 x 5.4 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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This article is Copyright 2005 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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