Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ20 Review
In addition to the auto white balance mode the FZ20 offers four presets (daylight, cloudy, incandescent and flash). There is no preset for fluorescent lights (unfortunate given the rather mediocre performance of the AWB in such situations), but there is a manual white balance mode that allows you to point the camera at a white or gray card and create a custom setting.
In use - especially outdoors - the FZ20 delivers consistently accurate color. Under artificial lighting the results are more patchy. You'll need to use manual white balance under mixed lighting (especially fluorescents), though the results from auto white balance under incandescent (tungsten) lighting are good - as long as it's bright enough. When light levels drop (indoors at night) you'll get very orange results unless you switch to manual WB.
Outdoor - Auto WB
|Fluorescent - Auto WB
Red -0.7%, Blue -5.2%
|Incandescent - Auto WB
Red 0.0%, Blue -0.9%,
The FZ20's powerful built-in flash, along with the bright F2.8 lens, gets a lot further than most - it's good for at least 7.0m (23 feet), and it works very well at close distances too, throttling down well until you get to about 25cm (2 feet) or so. Exposures are generally excellent, as is white balance, and of course you can add an external flash or use studio lighting easily thanks to the hot shoe.
Very slight blue cast, slight underexposure
Very slight blue cast, slight underexposure
The FZ20 has a rather unusual approach to macro focusing. There is no macro button, and in A, S and M modes the full focus range (from 5cm to infinity at the wide end of the zoom) is available all the time, whereas in P (fully automatic) mode you can only focus down to 30cm; presumably to speed up focusing in everyday snap shooting situations. Then there is a separate macro mode (on the main mode dial) that offers fully automatic exposure - just like the P mode - but focuses down to 5cm (again at the wide end of the zoom). As is common in zoom cameras the FZ20's macro capabilities are much better at the wide end of the zoom (5cm subject distance capturing an area around 43mm across), and there is inevitably some barrel distortion (and some color fringing). At the full 12x zoom position the close focus ability is less impressive - a subject distance of 200cm capturing an area around 12cm across, but there is no distortion at all.
Barrel and Pincushion Distortion
The wide end of the FZ20's zoom is marginally wider (36mm equiv.) than most of its competitors (though not quite as wide as the FZ3's 35mm), and the range - 12x - is greater. So it is a tribute to the designers at Leica (who presumably had some say in the design of the lens) that distortion is kept fairly low. The 1.35% barrel distortion is only just enough to be visible in wideangle shots, but not enough to be a problem, whilst there is no measurable distortion once you start to move into the middle and long end of the zoom.
|Barrel distortion - 1.35% at Wide angle
Equiv. focal length: 35 mm
|Pincushion distortion - 0.0% at Telephoto
Equiv. focal length: 420 mm
Specific image quality issues
It is hard not to be impressed with the images produced by the FZ20 - sharp, full of detail and with admirably natural (i.e. not over-saturated) colors. In our extensive real-world testing we only found a few minor problems - the occasional focus error when shooting quickly at full zoom, some mild exposure problems, and some flare in very bright light (mostly solved by the use of the supplied hood). It should be noted, however, that the 'hit rate' is very high; I would guess only 1 in 100 shots had a problem serious enough to ruin the shot. The images have more detail than the 3MP FZ3, and we saw far fewer blown highlights. Noise is an ever-present problem at higher ISOs (a 'feature' of this sensor), but is perfectly acceptable at ISO 80 and 100 - the F2.8 lens and effective image stabilization also mean you don't need to go to ISO 200 or 400 as often as you might normally. The images also need only the tiniest amount of unsharp masking, meaning noise is not exacerbated. It is also worth noting that we found none of the vignetting seen on the FZ3.
We found virtually none of the purple fringing we've come to expect from long zooms and small sensors - perhaps because one of the functions of the new Venus II engine is the removal of 'purple fringing'. Even in areas of extreme overexposure the only problem was a little blooming - no fringing at all. Excellent.
What we did find on rare occasions was what appears to be a little lens-produced CA (chromatic aberration) at the extreme telephoto end of the zoom when shooting at wider apertures. This takes the form of a slight red fringe around areas of very high contrast. It's only visible in a few shots and is best illustrated by this hand-held shot of the moon. I suspect also that the fringing may be something to do with the moving elements used in the image stabilization system (see the soccer shot below for an example where the IS has been pushed to the limit).
|100% crop||432 mm equiv., F3.3, 1/500th sec|
|100% crop||432 mm equiv., F2.8, 1/100th sec|
The MEGA O.I.S image Stabilization system used on the FZ20 (and many other recent Panasonic models) works, and it works well. There are two modes: Mode 1 (IS on all the time) and Mode 2 (IS is activated at the moment the exposure is made). Mode 1 makes framing easier - the IS system steadies the preview image (in the same way as, for example, the Canon S1 IS), but is less than 100% effective when it comes to actually taking the pictures. Mode 2, which minimizes the amount of movement needed by waiting until the actual moment you press the shutter, is considerably more effective. I certainly found the 3 or 4 shutter speed steps gain claimed by Panasonic to be justified - and was able to shoot at 420mm equiv. at speeds as low as 1/60th second successfully. Impressive stuff. The 100% crops below show the effectiveness of the IS system - especially in Mode 2 - when shooting at 420mm equiv. handheld at fairly low shutter speeds. It's by no means foolproof (and sometimes Mode 1 works better than Mode 2), but it's the best optical system we've seen yet. If anything the effectiveness is slightly less than the FZ3, though this is undoubtedly due to the higher pixel count, which means any blur in the scene is more visible when viewed on-screen at 100%.
|IS off||IS mode 1||IS mode 2|
|1/50 sec, 432mm equiv.|
|IS off||IS mode 1||IS mode 2|
|1/15 sec, 432mm equiv.|
|Al Fateh Grand Mosque by mallen1976|
from Your City - B&W Night Picture
|Fascia walkie talkie building London by ian herridge|
from Abstract Architecture
|Beakable by Hobbyfotograaf|
|St Paul's - DT NYC by mollymcd|
from Modern - Old-Fashioned
The company behind retail giant B&H Photo has agreed to pay out $3.2 million in monetary relief and back wages to settle a discrimination and harassment case from 2016.
After a popular Facebook teaser and some studio portrait samples, Godox has finally officially released the Godox A1 smartphone flash and flash trigger. Cheap, versatile and innovative, color us intrigued.
Canon’s EOS 5D Mk IV has won the European Imaging and Sound Association’s Professional DSLR of the Year award, making this the third year in a row that the brand has beaten Nikon to the top spot in the professional camera category.
A photograph and quote tweeted out by former president Barack Obama has officially become the most popular tweet of all time, receiving over 1.3 million retweets and 3.4 million likes.
Edward Weston was one of the most influential photographers of the 20th century, and in this episode of Advancing Your Photography we learn the extreme technique he used to capture one of his most famous still life photos.
Instagram just released a small update that will make a huge difference if you're active on the photo sharing app: threaded comment replies.
Venus Optics has announced the price and delivery date of the second lens to join its Zero-D line up: the 15mm F2 for Sony’s E mount. A lens they've dubbed, "the world's fastest 15mm rectilinear lens for full-frame."
Cinnac is a new social network for photographers that will help you separate your good photos from your great ones through a Tinder-like community-based rating system.
The Canon EF 35mm F2 IS USM is an understated jewel of a lens, and one that we've enjoyed on a variety of cameras since its release almost five years ago. Its relatively small size and image stabilization make it a versatile tool for a variety of photography - check out our sample gallery.
You don't need a fancy studio or tons of gear to capture the kind of classic product photography you see in magazines. In this video, Dustin Dolby shows you how to do it with just a couple of speedlights and some know-how.
The life-logging camera is trying to make a comeback. Say hello to FrontRow, a live-streaming enabled life-logging camera from Ubiquiti that hangs on a necklace like a pendant.
When a prospective client approaches you, don't just say "yes" right away. Here's a useful list of questions you should be asking before you decide to take the job and name your price.
Samsung just revealed a blazing-fast new Solid State Drive capable of data transfer speeds of up to 540MB/s.
DJI has developed a 'Local Data Mode' that lets pilots fly without being connected to the Internet. The mode should calm recent fears over data privacy and security when flying DJI drones.
After 1.7 million downloads on Apple computers since the launch in November 2015, Aurora HDR will be available for Windows PCs for the first time with the 2018 release.
The company behind the new Meyer Optik Goerlitz lens manufacturing business has formed a new brand to bring back the Biotar 75mm F1.5 that was made by Carl Zeiss Jena in the 1940s and 50s.
The updated Qualcomm Spectra system is a dual-camera setup that is capable of sensing depth and motion in real time.
A sizable swath of the United States will be treated to a total eclipse of the heart – er, sun – in just under a week. Here are a few excellent guides to help you photograph this rare occasion.
f11 Magazine—an ad-supported, free magazine for 'photographers and aficionados' that focused on photos rather than gear—is suspending publication due to financial troubles.
The Minolta MC Rokkor-X 40-80mm F2.8 is unlike any zoom lens you've probably ever seen. Instead of a helicoid, it uses a gearbox, and because of this it's still one of the sharpest zoom lenses out there.
If you're looking to switch to Sony, the company's new limited-time "α trade up" promotion can snag you up to $500 + trade-in value towards a brand new a9, a7 II, a7R II, or a7S II when you hand over your DSLR or mirrorless camera.
The Google Camera app exclusive to the company's own Pixel phone has been unofficially ported to other Android devices. If you're willing to take the risk of installing, you can now use features like HDR+ on the Galaxy S8, LG G6, OnePlus 5, and more.
49-year-old David Hilos is known by the Singapore photography community as the 'camera whisperer.' When a service center says a camera is beyond repair, Hilos can usually coax it back to life.
Photographer Ryan Kelly captured one of the most viral and graphic images of the horrifying events in Charlottesville, VA this weekend. This is the harrowing story behind that photograph.
Data storage manufacturer Synology has added a new, lower-cost NAS to its DiskStation j line that has a maximum capacity of 40TB, and which is aimed at home users and photography enthusiasts.
We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but here it is: the $500 interchangeable lens camera is about to go the way of the $200 compact.
On April 16, 2016 disaster struck in Kumamoto in the form of an unprecedented 7.0 magnitude earthquake. Here is the public's first look at Sony's sensor factory during the quake, the resulting damage and the efforts to restore operations.
Last August, travel photographer and Resource Travel editor Michael Bonocore escaped to the island of Tahiti for a month of cool adventures and amazing photography.
Curious just how tough Nikon's KeyMission 360 action camera really is? This one got chewed on by a tiger for several minutes and recorded the whole thing.
The EOS 6D Mark II is essentially a full frame version of the EOS 80D. However, we weren't exactly bowled-over by it, when we reviewed it. Does that mean it's not worth the cost of upgrading? Let us walk you through the differences.