**FZ330 REVIEW Part 2 by Stevie Boy Blue**

Started 5 months ago | User reviews thread
OP Stevie Boy Blue Senior Member • Posts: 1,519
Re: I have to ask a couple stupid questions about the FZ300/330

mount evans wrote:

My last FZ camera was an FZ35. The sensor dimensions and resolution were the same; has there been any improvement in the sensor (for example, noise reduction) since then?

While the 24-600mm f/2.8 zoom lens certainly sounds like an improvement, has anyone ever compared the image quality to the older zoom lens?

I owned an FZ38 (35) and generally loved its Jpeg output. I used the camera for around 14-months before upgrading to the FZ150.

Although I haven’t compared the 38 with the even newer FZ330 in a shoot-off from a side by side perspective, I do have many similar images taken with both cameras in conditions appropriate to conclude that overall, the FZ330 is an improvement over the older model, most noticeably when ISO is raised above 200 where the newer camera is less affected by noise. Much depends on how you prefer to set up the camera to begin with, all of which is covered in both parts of my review, including all of the replies below should you care to read them.

You might wish to consider that the FZ38 donned one of the last 12mp CCD sensors before Panasonic shifted to the MOS (CMOS) versions that arrived with the superb FZ150. Many folks actually prefer the colour rendering afforded by CCD compared to (C) MOS. But with appropriate tweaks made in-camera, including to AWB settings, I’ve never felt that the FZ330’s output is any less pleasing to my eye. On the contrary, once tweaked to my own taste, I soon began to fully appreciate the changeover in technology brought about by newer MOS chips.

To me, there’s no doubt that although up to ISO 200 you may be hard-pressed to distinguish any image taken with an FZ38 from an FZ330 used in identical conditions and under good light, improvements can be seen in FZ330 shots once ISO approaches 250 and especially at or above 400. In my experience, there’s as much fine detail reproduced in FZ330 images taken at ISO 800 as there is in those shot with the FZ38 set to ISO 400. Plus, FZ330 users have the option to open apertures wider than they can with the FZ38 when using zoom, affording the means of keeping ISO lower than is possible with the older camera, and with slightly more focal length at their disposal to boot.

FYI. Of all the FZs I’ve ever used with a 1/2.3 sensor, this is the order in which I rate them purely from the perspective of out of camera Jpeg image quality:

1: FZ330 (12mp)

2: FZ150 (12mp. Excellent IQ, so close to that seen from the FZ330 in all ISO settings. The main notable difference to me is that the 330’s slightly less inclined to blow highlights and therefore is less needy of exposure compensation than the 150 when shooting, say, white feathers under strong daylight.)

3: FZ38 (12mp)

4: FZ28 (10mp)

5 FZ200 (12mp. Some claim it’s the same sensor as that found in the FZ330, although I have my doubts because Panasonic has, as far as I know, never confirmed the rumour. Either way, the F330’s Jpeg output is far less noisy in like for-like ISO settings, possibly due to an improved processor and a better noise reduction algorithm in the newer camera. The FZ200 replaced the FZ150 but to me image quality-wise it was a letdown in comparison, despite the 200’s F2.8 aperture supposedly being more advantageous than the FZ150’s F5.2 at 600mm. Interestingly, although the newer FZ330 and FZ200 undoubtedly share the same F2.8 lens assembly, the 330 seems able to utilise it more effectively to render more pleasing image output overall – at least the way I see it. And as long as I’m happy with the output of any camera I use, that is all the matters to me.)

6: FZ50 (10mp. Slightly larger sensor was arguably no advantage above ISO 100 compared to FZ28)

7: FZ20 (5mp. Great lens. Old processing tech. Not enough pixels to allow for good quality crops. Poor above ISO 200 but seemed good in its time. My very first FZ bought back in 2004)

8: The awful FZ80. 18mp. The newest pinhead sensor FZ in town. But it easily renders the worst OOC Jpeg images I’ve ever seen from any camera in its class/range, especially at maximum 1200mm focal length, where so many subjects appear softly in focus or way out under anything but exceptionally well lit conditions. On a slightly more positive note, it appears RAW shooters post process more pleasing results than can be seen from OOC camera Jpegs, but not by enough to warrant any notable recommendation from me. At 1200mm, more often than not, the FZ80 renders horrible looking photos rammed with noise and fine detail smearing, the likes of and degrees to which I’ve never seen from any other FZ. Sad but true – at least in my experience. )

All things considered, I’d have to say that to me the FZ330 represents the ultimate package in FZ tech. Although its base ISO results remain virtually indistinguishable from the likes of the FZ38, mainly because the FZ38 is/was equally excellent for its time, the 330’s a much more complete, rounded and useful camera than anything in this pinhead sensor range, past or present.

Truth is, I find it hard to believe how this superb machine could possibly be improved upon for the money we pay. That, I believe, is why the FZ330 remains in production (albeit in short supply) six-years after its release. For the original RRP of £499, the FZ330 was head and shoulders above any of its competition way back in 2015. Amazingly, in 2021, nothing whatsoever has changed except for varying discounts. Currently for around £400, we still get the best pinhead sensor bridge camera available for the price we pay – it’s just that bit cheaper.

That is just one reason that I recently purchased my third FZ330 in six years. I know exactly how good this model is and my guess is that Panasonic knows it, too.

Bottom line, you pays your money, you takes your choice with any purchase. Go ahead, by all means look around. See for yourself exactly what other bridge cameras are out there for, or even near, the same price. Then simply weight up all your options against the full and rather impressive specifications of the FZ330 before considering that a great many more owners of this camera can attest to the fact that those specifications actually translate to real-world use.

To end with a cliché, the FZ330 does pretty much everything that is says on the tin and it does it all very well indeed for a bridge camera with a tiny sensor. Yes, there are odd folks who will complain about any product that they perhaps don’t really know how to use. A minority appear to struggle with this camera as they probably do with any other of a similar ilk. But by and large – like the very best products out there – the FZ330 appears to have an ever-growing legion of owners/fans who share at least some of my own enthusiasm for it.

Chances are that if you own and like an FZ38 and are looking to upgrade, then you’ll absolutely love an FZ330 and come to appreciate just how far advanced a camera it is in comparison. The choice, of course, is and always should be yours.

Overall, combined in both parts of this review plus all of my subsequent responses here and there, I’ve said just about as much as I can in terms of FZs and the range’s evolution from one model to another, save to wish you happy shooting with whatever camera you choose to use or the genres in which you dabble most.

Hope you find this useful and thanks for posting your questions.

Cheers and all the best to ya...

PS: Note that I judge IQ based generally on any camera’s ability to render fine hair/fur and feather detail of the wildlife subjects I photograph the most. To me, if any specific model does this well and relatively noise-free, and especially relating to smaller birds and animals, then the camera should be capable of producing good quality across the board in most genres and where light levels are sufficient for such a small sensor to perform within its limitations. As I find that the FZ330 renders fine detail well for a bridge camera, I do also occasionally use it to more than satisfactory effect for the likes of landscapes, portraits, street photography and holiday shots with no hesitation at all. If we have the light, the FZ330 will record the detail pretty much regardless of what we shoot, and in many cases to degrees that may well pleasantly surprise us.

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