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Conclusion - Pros

  • Excellent resolution and detail capture - a real improvement on its predecessor
  • Very sharp results (though see below)
  • Good, natural color
  • Superb 12x optical zoom
  • Effective image stabilization
  • Small and light, but well built
  • Comprehensive range of controls
  • Very fast operation
  • New high speed focus mode feels almost instantaneous - best in class
  • Well designed menu system
  • Nice handling and control layout (and improved shutter release position)
  • Easy to use
  • Bright, clear LCD screen
  • Usable EVF
  • Decent burst mode
  • Autofocus illuminator
  • Powerful flash
  • Excellent battery life
  • Superb value for money
  • Effective noise reduction makes ISO 200 and 400 more usable than predecessor
  • TIFF mode

Conclusion - Cons

  • Some vignetting and corner softness in macro mode
  • Images slightly over-sharpened
  • Manual exposure setting still a bit awkward
  • No options for converter lenses
  • No manual focus
  • Focus at extreme telephoto sometimes hunts, sometimes misses
  • More noise at ISO 80 than we'd like to see - not a serious issue
  • Noise reduction at ISO 400 in low light obliterates too much fine detail ('watercolor' look)
  • Low resolution movie mode

Overall conclusion

The DMC-FZ5 solves the only two reservations most people had about its predecessor (the DMC-FZ3); fairly low pixel count and slightly sluggish focus (especially at the long end of the zoom). It also adds a bigger, better screen, slightly better ergonomics and seems to have almost entirely removed the vignetting problem that plagued FZ3 shots. Put all these improvements together and you've got an incredibly powerful, incredibly compact camera capable of punching well above its weight. In fact, unless you really want a big camera, or really need manual focus or external flash, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend the FZ5 over the hugely popular, but more expensive, FZ20 - such is the small difference in image quality and overall performance (and with near-SLR speed focus the cheaper camera is much better in one important respect).

There are some minor problems (the LCD and EVF get very murky in very low light, noise), but taking into account the excellent price and overall performance, the pros outweigh the cons by a wide margin.

There is so much to like here - and so little to complain about - that the DMC-FZ5 has to come highly recommended, and certainly has to make its way to near the top of the list for anyone looking for an affordable, compact super zoom camera.

Highly Recommended

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