Announced just before PMA in February 2005, the DMC-FZ5 is one of two direct sucessors to the popular (and dpreview Highly Recommended) DMC-FZ3. Like its predecessor the FZ5 sports a Leica-branded DC Vario-Elmarit zoom with a whopping 12x optical range (35-420mm equiv), though the larger sensor has resulted in a slightly slower F2.8-F3.3 aperture range. It also boasts the same newly-improved optical image stabilization 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).

Aside from the boost from 3 to 5 million pixels (bringing it in line with the high-end DMC-FZ20), the FZ5 has a range of relatively minor changes over the FZ3, including longer battery life, a repositioned shutter release and improved grip design, larger LCD screen, orientation sensor and a new fast focus mode, which Panasonic claims gives a 30% improvement on the previous model.

  • 5.0 million effective pixels
  • 36 - 432mm (equiv.) F2.8-3.3, 12x Leica DC VARIO-ELMARIT Zoom Lens
  • Mega O.I.S (optical image stabilisation)
  • 1.8-inch colour screen
  • New fast focus mode
  • Improved battery life
  • New orientation sensor
  • Venus II image processing engine
  • 9 scene modes and full photographic control
  • TIFF mode
  • Ultra-fast startup, focus, shutter lag and shot-to-shot time
  • 'Simple' mode for novice photographers

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ5 vs FZ20 (differences)


Panasonic FZ20

Panasonic FZ5
Lens Max Aperture F2.8 F2.8-3.3
Flash hot shoe Yes No
Built-in flash range 7m (22.9 ft) 4.5m (14.7 ft)
Manual focus Yes No
Orientation sensor No Yes
Screen • 2.0-inch
• 130,000 pixels
• 1.8-inch
• 130,000 pixels
Weight 556 g (19.6 oz) 326 g (11.5 oz)
Size (HxWxD) 87 x 128 x 106 mm (3.4 x 5 x 4.2 in) 68 x 102 x 85 mm (2.7 x 4 x 3.3 in)
Battery life (CIPA) 240 300
Converter lenses Optional Not available

The FZ5 closes the gap between the high end and mid-range Panasonic 'super zoom' to such a degree that the arguments for the DMC-FZ20 come down to size (some people prefer the bigger camera), flash (the FZ20 has a hot-shoe for external units and a more powerful built-in flash) and manual focus. Although Panasonic doesn't sell add-on lenses for the FZ5, third-party solutions are available.

Color options

Like the FZ20, the FZ5 will be available in two colors; black and silver. The camera used for this review is a silver model, though we much prefer the 'mini FZ20' look of the black version.

Panasonic DMC-FZ5 Key specifications

Street price • US: $499 (tbc)
• UK: £360 (tbc)
Body Material Plastic
Sensor • 1/2.5" CCD, 5.36 million total pixels
• 4.9 million effective pixels
Image sizes

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

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

• 36 - 432mm equiv. (12x optical zoom)
• F2.8-3.3
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), 100cm (Tele)
Shooting mode

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

Shutter speeds 8-1/2000 sec
Shutter speeds of over 1/1300 sec only available at apertures over F4.0
Apertures Wide: F2.8 / F3.6 / F4.0 / F4.5 / F5.0 / F5.6 / F6.3 / F7.1 / F8.0
Tele: F3.2 / F3.6 / F4.0 / F4.5 / F5.0 / F5.6 / F6.3 / F7.1 / F8.0
Sensitivity • Auto
• ISO 80,100,200,400
White Balance • Auto
• 4 presets
Custom WB (manual)
Image parameters • Color Effect (Cool, Warm, B/W, Sepia)
• Picture Adjust (Natural, Standard, Vivid)
Continuous • 3 fps, up to 4 frames (fine), 7 frames (standard)
• 2 fps (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 - 4.5m (0.98 - 14.8 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 • 1.8" TFT, 130,000 pixels
Connectivity • USB 2.0 Full Speed
• AV out
• DC-in
Power • Panasonic CGA-S002A Lithium Ion pack
• 7.2V, 680 mAh
• (Optional AC adapter)
In the box*

Panasonic DMC-FZ5 camera
Lens Hood
Lens Cap
Lens Hood Adapter
Strap
16MB 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) inc memory card and battery
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