Menus and Playback

Panasonic's menus are long, but attractive and easy-to-navigate, though there are no help screens to be found. The menu is divided into three tabs, covering still shooting, movie recording, and general setup, each of which are themselves split into multiple pages of options.

Quick Menu

By pressing the Q.Menu button on the back of the camera, you'll open up - get ready - the Quick Menu! This shortcut menu lets you quickly adjust the Photo Style, flash setting, movie and image quality, focus/metering mode, and the exposure compensation (-3EV to +3EV).

Main Menu

This is the multipage Rec (record) menu. You can adjust the amount of noise reduction applied to JPEGs using the parameters found in the Photo Style dialog.

Here are the most interesting options from the record and setup tabs:

  • Photo Style: a style contains parameters related to contrast, sharpness, saturation, and noise reduction; there are several presets to choose from (standard, vivid, natural, monochrome, scenery, portrait) as well as a custom slot; each of these can be tweaked to your heart's content
  • Quality: choose from normal or fine quality JPEGs, plus RAW or RAW+JPEG; a RAW file weighs in at approximately 15.2 MB, while a fine quality JPEG is roughly 5.4 MB
  • ISO options: choose the top limit for Auto ISO, the increment between each sensitivity, and whether ISO 6400 is available
  • AF mode: choose from face detection, subject tracking, 23-area auto, and 1-area modes; for the last item, you can select both the position and size of the focus point; if you're using face detection, then you can also take advantage of a face recognition feature, which learns who people are, and gives them priority in the scene
  • AF style: select from single or continuous AF, or a new "flexible" mode which switches between the two depending on subject motion
  • Quick AF: starts focusing when camera shake is reduced (which is supposed to be when you're about to compose a photo), which reduces focus times
  • Intelligent Dynamic: attempts to improve overall image contrast by reducing highlight clipping and brightening shadows; from my own tests I've found that it does nothing for highlights and only brightens shadows in certain situations; off by default, except in iA mode
  • Multiple exposure: combines up to three exposures into a single photo; auto gain adjustment is available
  • Intelligent Resolution: "intelligently" sharpens photos by outlining edges, improving texture detail, and leaving things like the sky alone; off by default, except in iA mode; also includes Intelligent Zoom, which boosts the focal range by 2X with a "minimal deterioration of image quality"; see examples on the Features page of this review.
  • Extended optical zoom: while not actually a menu option, you can get additional zoom power by lowering the resolution; for example, dropping down to 5 Megapixel gives you 37.5X of total zoom power; this can also be combined with Intelligent Zoom, so you'd top out at a whopping 75X if you used both
  • Redeye removal: in addition to using pre-flashes to shrink your subject's pupils, the FZ200 can digitally remove redeye after a photo is taken; we'll see if it works later in the review
  • Auto Bracket: the camera takes three shots in a row, each with a different exposure; the interval can range from ±1/3 to ±3 EV; there's also a white balance bracketing feature, which is accessible from the fine-tuning screen
  • Fn button set: assign functions to the three customizable Fn buttons on the FZ200; there are three pages of available settings to choose from
  • Side lever: choose from zoom (the default) or focus (only when MF is active)
  • LCD mode: using Auto Power LCD is recommended for best outdoor visibility
  • Lens Resume: if you enter playback mode the camera will retract the lens after around 30 seconds; when you return to shooting, the lens position and focus distance have been lost; thus, turning on Zoom Resume and/or Manual Focus Resume is a smart idea if you want to keep those things from changing.

Playback Mode

The DMC-FZ200 has a pretty good playback that should look familiar to anyone who has used a Panasonic cameras in recent years. The notable features here include:

  • Filtering play: view only stills, videos, 3D images, favorites, and photos taken with a specific scene mode
  • Calendar view: quickly jump to photos taken on a certain date
  • Title edit / text stamp: print the date and time, location, names of recognized subjects, and more on your photos
  • Resize/cropping: always handy
  • Leveling: for people like me who can't get their horizons level
  • Auto retouch: a "quick fix" for your photos, though it often cranks things up a little too high for my taste
  • Creative retouch: apply many of the camera's Creative Filters to photos that you've taken
  • Video divide: pick a spot in your video and split it two

Two things that you won't find in playback mode include redeye removal or RAW editing functions.

The FZ200 doesn't tell you much about your photos by default. However, if you press the Display button, you'll get a bit more including a histogram. The camera moves between photos without delay.