Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200 Review
I want to talk about features now, beginning with those controlled by the various buttons and dials on the FZ200. Let's begin with the mode dial, which has these options:
Exposure mode dial options
|Intelligent Auto mode||Point-and-shoot, with automatic scene selection, face detection, subject tracking, intelligent sharpening, dynamic range improvement, and more. Many menu items are locked up.|
|Program mode||Automatic, with full menu access; a Program Shift option lets you use the rear dial to move through sets of aperture/shutter speed values.|
|Aperture Priority mode||You set the aperture, and the camera picks the appropriate shutter speed. The aperture range on the DMC-FZ200 is F2.8 - F8.0.|
|Shutter Priority mode||You pick the shutter speed, and the camera selects the matching aperture. The shutter speed range is 8 - 1/4000 sec.|
|Full manual (M) mode||You select both the aperture and the shutter speed. The aperture choices remain the same, while the shutter speed range opens up to 60 - 1/4000 sec.|
|Creative Motion Picture mode||While you can take a movie in any shooting mode by using the dedicated button, in this mode you can adjust the aperture and/or shutter speed.|
|Custom mode 1/2||You can store up to four sets of your favorite camera settings to these two spots on the mode dial.|
|Scene mode||You pick the scene and the camera uses the appropriate settings. Choose from portrait, soft skin, scenery, panorama shot, sports, panning, night portrait, night scenery, handheld nite shot, HDR, food, baby, pet, sunset, high sensitivity, glass through, and 3D photo.|
|Creative Control mode||Choose from various special effects, each of which can be adjusted to your liking. Effects include Expressive (pop color), Retro, High key, Low key, Sepia, Dynamic Monochrome, Impressive Irt, High Dynamic, Cross Process, Toy Camera, Miniature, Soft Focus, Star Filter, and One Point (selective) Color. You can also adjust the background blur and brightness for each of these.|
If you want a point-and-shoot experience, look no further than Panasonic's Intelligent Auto mode, which is the best Auto mode out there, in my opinion. It literally takes care of everything for you. You can also turn on Handheld Nite Shot and HDR (described shortly), both of which combine multiple exposures into a single image. If you want even more control, there's iA+ mode, which gives you sliders that adjust brightness (exposure compensation), background blur (aperture), and color balance (white balance).
Panorama shot works just like the "sweep panorama" feature that Sony pioneered a couple of years ago. You choose the direct in which you wish to "pan", hit the shutter release, and then "sweep" the camera from one side to the other. The panorama is created on-the-fly, so there's no need to stitch it together on the PC. The FZ200 does a decent job of stitching together the image, though you may see vertical stripes in certain situations (they're barely noticeable here). The image size isn't terribly large, so they're best suited for web viewing and small prints, and you're limited to shooting at the FZ200's widest-angle lens setting.
Handheld Nite Shot
Handheld Nite Shot takes a series of exposures and combines them into a single image that should be relatively sharp, and less noisy than if you just cranked the ISO up all the way. The example above is indeed fairly sharp and low in noise (considering the circumstances), though it's really only suited for small prints or web viewing.
The HDR (high dynamic range) feature also combines several exposures into one image, but instead of reducing noise and blur, its aim is to boost contrast. Three photos are taken: one at the selected exposure, another underexposed, and a third overexposed (you cannot set the interval, though). The three exposures are combined into one, with the resulting photo having better shadow and highlight detail. Here's an example:
|HDR off||HDR on|
This photo, taken at the site of my weekend volunteer job, has a very strong backlight. Thus, everything else is super dark. Turning on HDR mode really balances things out. The highlights are still pretty blown out, but the foreground is much brighter. My only wish is that the HDR feature wasn't a scene mode, so you could control things like the ISO sensitivity.
This feature selectively sharpens an image, applying it to things that need it (like edges) and leaving alone things that don't (like the sky). The feature is off by default, except in Intelligent Auto mode. In the manual modes, you can choose from on or off, unlike on other models that let you choose low, medium, or high. Here's a crop of a larger photo that shows Intelligent Resolution in action:
|Intelligent Resolution off||Intelligent Resolution on|
You'll find the most obvious improvements in sharpness on the various edges in the crop. The sign, the window frames, and the hours on the window are all noticeably sharper with Intelligent Resolution turned on. If you back out and view the full size images, you'll also see improved sharpness on the various trees and plants that surround the building. Sharpness is obviously a subjective matter, but if I was an FZ200 owner, I'd have the Intelligent Resolution feature turned on.
The other part of the Intelligent Resolution system is Intelligent Zoom. This gives you a 2X boost in zoom power with less of a drop in image quality than traditional digital zoom. That means that you now have the reach of a 1200 mm lens. Let's see how it looks:
|Full telephoto (600 mm)||Full telephoto + Intelligent Zoom (1200 mm)|
Raw ModeThe FZ200 is relatively unusual for its class, in offering a Raw capture mode as well as JPEG. Although JPEG definitely scores when it comes to convenience, for more critical work, shooting Raw can make all the difference. If you're prepared to do a little post-processing, you'll be able to get better resolution, better highlight recovery, and more sophisticated noise reduction by shooting Raw. You'll also be able to make white balance adjustments 'after the fact' and take much more control over tonal adjustments as well. The FZ200 comes bundled with SilkyPix Developer Studio 3.1 SE, a capable but not all that user-friendly Raw converter. If you're serious about shooting Raw with the FZ200 we'd recommend investing in something like Adobe Photoshop Elements or even Lightroom. We're using Adobe Photoshop CS6 for these examples, running Adobe Camera Raw7.3 (release candidate). In both ISO 100 and 3200 examples, the Raw files are processed 'to taste', using ACR's white balance, tonal, sharpening and noise reduction sliders to get the best results.
ISO 100 - JPEG versus Raw
|JPEG (default settings)||100% Crop (shadow)|
|Processed Raw (ACR 7.3)||100% Crop (shadow)|
ISO 3200 - JPEG versus Raw
|JPEG (default settings)||100% Crop (shadow)|
|Processed Raw (ACR 7.3)||100% Crop (shadow)|
Manual control / customization
Naturally, the FZ200 has a full set of manual exposure controls, too. In addition to aperture and shutter speed, you can also manually focus, customize and fine-tune white balance, and record images using the RAW image format. Bracketing is available for both exposure and white balance. As we've seen previously in this review, the FZ200 has three customizable buttons, as well as two spots on the mode dial that can store a total of four sets of camera settings.
|The FZ200 lest you fine-tune and bracket for white balance at the same time|
|Sophisticated construction by the nature by Orchideon|
|After the Rain by Flor Tempra|
from Macro - Something Pink
|Asilah by Limburg|
from Cozy Corners
Via its strategic partnership with Huawei Leica is already in the smartphone camera development game, but chairman Andreas Kaufmann can imagine the German manufacturer taking things one step further.
In a blog post the imaging engineers behind the dual-camera in Andy Rubin's Essential Phone explain how the imaging components were developed and calibrated for best performance.
Tamron calls it an 'ultra-telephoto,' and for good reason: this lens offers a massive 27-600mm equivalent zoom range. But is it sharp?
It started with a great idea and a slick promotional video, and ended with the company headquarters being raided by the San Francisco District Attorney’s office. Wired reports on Lily, the selfie-drone maker that never got off the ground.
With card readers disappearing from MacBooks, USB-C card readers are now a necessity. Macworld's helpful guide compares five models and decodes the current mess of card speeds and certifications.
A Sony a7S II mounted on the outside of the ISS' Japanese Experiment Module (KIBO) for the last seven months has sent back some impressive 4K video and stills.
A Federal judge has refused to throw out a copyright case against controversial artist Richard Prince, who used an image by photographer Donald Graham in an exhibition.
Sony has teased its customers with news of an upcoming announcement: it will soon take the wraps off a new CineAlta motion picture camera, one sporting a 36x24mm sensor.
QuikStories is integrated into the latest version of the GoPro app and automatically creates 'stories' using the video clips you've shot during a day.
Journalists photographing a protest in the US Capitol building claim they were told by Capitol Police to delete photos and videos of arrests.
The Meizu Pro 7 Plus secondary display can be used for music playback, date and weather-related information, or as viewfinder when taking selfies with the rear cameras.
Nikon is marking its 100th anniversary in many ways, including the creation of a new scholarship program for 'future visual creators' in the USA and Canada.
Take one Digital ELPH (or IXUS), rotate it vertically, add a fully articulating LCD and a lens with a camcorder-like focal length, and what do you get? Why, the Canon PowerShot TX1, of course. In this week's Throwback Thursday we revisit Canon's one-of-a-kind hybrid stills/video camera.
Just in case there was any doubt in your mind, here's the definitive video proof that yes, a $50,000 cinema camera beats the pants off a $50 camcorder in a side-by-side test.
Photographers who fly frequently in the US may want to finally invest in that TSA Pre-check status: in standard security lines, cameras and all other electronics larger than a smartphone will need to be placed in a separate bin for screening.
Images have appeared which claim to show Nikon's forthcoming D850 DSLR, the development of which was announced this week. If genuine, the pictures indicate that the D850 will offer illuminated controls and a tilting LCD screen, but no built-in flash.
To celebrate the Daguerreotype Achromat 2.9/64 lens' successful Kickstarter campaign, Lomography has announced a chrome-plated version of the lens in Nikon and Canon DSLR mounts.
Nikon just released four new firmware updates, adding features and fixing bugs in the D600, D610, D750 and the KeyMission 80.
It probably hasn't made your landscape photography bucket list just yet, but there's a good reason to visit Idaho. Here are 9 must-visit locations in this beautiful state.
Oops... Adobe accidentally leaked their unfinished Lightroom-powered cloud-based photo editor 'Project Nimbus' to some Creative Cloud users yesterday.
Storm chaser and award-winning photographer Mike Oblinski just released his latest time-lapse, and it is absolutely stunning.
Looking to level up your video capture capabilities without buying a whole new camera? Blackmagic's Video Assist 4K is well worth considering, despite a few flaws and its lack of 4K/60p support.
We're big fans of Fujifilm's fast-growing GFX system, and the GF 110mm F2 lens is no exception. Positioned as the system's classic portrait lens, its optics are just as impressive with non-human subjects as well.
Nikon turns 100 years old today, and the company is celebrating with a wacky music video, some tributes to its history, and a new vision presented by president Kazuo Ushida.
Phottix just released the Premio Parabolic Umbrellas series, replacing their Para-Pro line with a stronger, deeper and better made set of parabolic umbrellas.
The Moto Z2 is Motorola's first dual-camera smartphone and, compared to its predecessor, comes with a number of improvements and new camera features.
Researchers at Stanford have revealed a new '4D camera system' built for robots. The system is based on the same light field tech that allowed Lytro cameras to refocus images after they were taken.
If you want 'beautiful rendition' from your lenses, follow this simple rule: only buy classic low-element prime lenses with lead glass elements—everything else is junk.
In an interview with CNBC, Leica Chairman Andreas Kaufmann said he dreams of a 'true Leica phone,' and hinted at what's next for the Leica and Huawei partnership.
Wildlife and nature photographer Peter Mather tells the story behind this exceptional shot of a mama grizzly and her cub searching for salmon in Yukon, Canada.