Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ150 Review
Performance and Image Quality
Overall, the FZ150's performance is quite good, with little shutter lag, relatively fast shot-to-shot times and very responsive autofocus. Continuous shooting speeds abound, so you're more likely to catch action shots with the FZ150 than with many other cameras. Full JPEG resolution is available at 2, 5.5, and 12 fps, although at 12fps autofocus and exposure are set at the first frame. The camera can also speed along at 40fps and 60fps if you can live with the lower resolution (5 megapixels and 2.5 megapixels, respectively).
Default JPEG image quality at full resolution is very good and, if you don't like what you see, there's plenty of scope for adjustment with color, contrast, saturation, sharpness and noise-reduction sliders all available. By default, colors are pretty accurate and nicely saturated (especially if you prefer slightly vivid images). Exposures can be a bit tricky, though - the FZ150 has a tendency to blow out highlights but exposure compensation is on hand if you want to dial things back a little (you can also get better highlight dynamic range in raw mode).
Compared to the FZ100, image noise is well-controlled, and not too obtrusive even up to ISO 800. You can go a little higher if you need to but be prepared to keep your prints relatively small (or shoot raw and commit to spending a little time adjusting the images on a computer). With such a massive zoom, camera shake is always a risk towards the long end, but thanks to the FZ150's effective image stabilization system this isn't much of an issue in normal lighting conditions.
Although we suspect most FZ150 buyers will probably plump for JPEG capture most of the time, experienced or adventurous photographers will appreciate the option to shoot in raw mode, too. As always, the benefits of shooting in raw mode compared to JPEG are that you can take much more control over the appearance of your images after they are captured, without running the risk of degrading image quality. As well as tweaking the white balance and exposure you can also adjust sharpening and noise reduction.
|Default JPEG (ISO 100)||100% Crop|
|Converted Raw||100% Crop|
|Default JPEG (ISO 3200)||100% Crop|
|Converted Raw||100% Crop|
The FZ150's default JPEG image quality is perfectly good, but, you can draw a lot more detail out of its raw files if you're prepared to put a little time into post-capture adjustment. This applies expecially to high ISO images, which in JPEG mode can look rather blotchy at 100% thanks to the effects of the camera's noise reduction setting.
Here, we processed two files - an ISO daylight shot and a low-light ISO 3200 example, and applied sharpening and noise reduction 'to taste' in Adobe Camera Raw 6.7. You can see the difference.