12.1MP | 25-600mm (24X) Zoom | $499 £475

The Panasonic DMC-FZ150 CMOS-powered 24X superzoom is a replacement for the slightly unloved FZ100 and incorporates a lower-resolution 12MP sensor that the company says will outperform its predecessor's 14MP chip. The camera retains a 25-600mm equivalent lens but now incorporating 'Nano Surface Coating' to mitigate the effects of internal reflections. And, just like its predecessor, the FZ150 retains the ability to record Raw images. The FZ150 also shoots 1080p60 HD movies in the recently-created AVCHD Progressive standard.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ150 key specifications:

  • 12.1MP CMOS sensor
  • 25-600mm (equivalent) zoom
  • Articulated, 3in LCD screen with 460,000 dots
  • Built-in EVF
  • 1080p60 movies in AVCHD format
  • Raw mode
  • Weight (with battery): 528 g (1.16 lb / 18.62 oz)
  • Dimensions: 124 x 82 x 92 mm (4.88 x 3.23 x 3.62 in)

Click here for full specifications, user reviews, sample images and more...

The FZ150 comes with a rechargeable battery and charger (with a solid rating of about 400 shots per charge), USB cable, shoulder strap, lens cap with attachment string, lens hood and a small printed basic manual. On the CD you'll find a full manual, SILKYPIX Developer Studio 3.1 SE, PHOTOfunSTUDIO 6.5 BD edition (both for Windows) and a link to a trial version of video editor Super LoiLoScope. You'll need a mini-HDMI cable for connecting the camera to an HDTV and an SD/SDHC/SDXC card to supplement the camera's 70MB internal memory. Oddly enough, one of several accessories is a 1.7x telephoto lens for the FZ150 (you'll need an adapter as well), if the camera's maximum 600mm focal range doesn't get you close enough to your subject.

These two images, taken from a fixed camera position at the wide and long end of the FZ150's lens, should give you an idea of what a 25-600mm effective zoom looks like.

Like all superzooms, the FZ150 is equipped with an LCD and EVF (electronic viewfinder). The 3-inch, 460,000 dot LCD is articulated and useful for shooting overhead or from low angles. Better yet, the monitor folds into the camera to protect its surface from scratches. The EVF is really small but generally bright and can be used when sunlight makes the LCD difficult to use. Even though the camera's image stabilization works quite well, bringing the viewfinder to your eye when shooting at telephoto also provides additional stabilization.

A zoom control and a triple focus switch (AF, AF macro, manual) are located on the lens barrel. Since you'll be (or should be) supporting the lens barrel with your left hand, using this zoom control may be a more natural fit than the topside lever. Measuring 4.89 x 3.2 x 3.74 inches and weighing 1.13 pounds fully loaded, the FZ150 won't fit into most pockets, of course. But it's well built and comfortable to shoot with thanks to its contoured and rubberized grip and convenient control layout.
A large mode dial is packed with options including manual, semimanual and automatic exposure modes along with 3 custom settings, creative options, scene modes, and movie mode. To the right of the mode dial you'll find the shutter/zoom lever, direct "red" movie button, burst shooting button (from 2-60fps) and the on/off switch.

The camera features plenty of functionality and customization options but once you get into the finer details, be prepared to be slowed down by scrolling through Panasonic's typically dense menus. The good news though is that there's a Quick Menu, which brings up the most often changed settings helps speed things along. A few of the camera's notable features include advanced scene modes, which allow you to fine-tune the selected mode. For example, under Portrait, you can choose a Soft Skin option (one of four), that will smooth and hide your subject's skin imperfections.

The new 3D mode captures a series of images and selects two, which are combined (left and right) to form an MPO image that can be viewed on any MPO compatible device. Contrast, sharpness, saturation and noise reduction adjustments, raw, face recognition, and the ability to tag and upload images to Facebook and YouTube by simply connecting the camera to the computer are only a few other FZ150 highlights. While the external controls are pretty straightforward and easy to access, even experienced shutterbugs should check out the FZ150's manual to delve below the surface of this feature-packed camera. Go to the internal main menu and you'll find no fewer than 5 'pages' of options in the Record section alone.

The back panel is home to the pop-up button for the built-in flash, EVF/LCD switch, AF/AE lock, command dial, 4-way controller, display and playback, menu and quick menu buttons. Options on the 4-way controller include exposure compensation, self-timer, ISO and a programmable Fn key

But Panasonic didn't stop with still image options. The FZ150 has a myriad of video features that make this camera equally adept at capturing movies, too. For more detail on the video features of the camera - and samples - turn to the performance and image quality page of this review.