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

• 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
• 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
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

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.

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.

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