Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ30 Review
Timing & Performance
The lack of an extending powered zoom means the FZ30 is considerably (three times) quicker to start up and power down than its predecessor, the FZ20. Otherwise performance is broadly similar, though the new high speed focus modes are a real improvement, especially at the long end of the zoom. The FZ30 feels fast and responsive in use, thanks to the Venus II engine, and even though the burst (continuous shooting) mode is not quite as impressive as the FZ20 (due no doubt to the larger file sizes), it's still good for this class of camera.
All times calculated as an average of three operations. Unless otherwise stated all timings were made on a 2560 x 1920 Fine JPEG image (approx. 3,150 KB per image). The media used for these tests was a 1.0 GB SanDisk Extreme III SD card.
|Power: Off to Record||1.1|
|Power: Off to Play||Image displayed||1.5|
|Power: Record to Off||All activity ceased||1.7|
|Power: Play to Off||When buffer is empty||1.8|
|Record Review||Image displayed||~0.7|
|Mode: Record to Play||1.1|
|Mode: Play to Record||~0.7|
|Play: Magnify||To full magnification (16x)||~1.5 *1|
|Play: Image to Image||Time to display each saved image||~0.8|
|Play: Thumbnail view||3 x 3 thumbnails||1.2|
|Play: Thumbnail view||4 x 4 thumbnails||2.4|
|Play: Thumbnail view||5 x 5 thumbnails||4.2|
|Half-press Lag (0->S1)||Wide angle, Hi speed AF||~0.2 - 0.3|
|Half-press Lag (0->S1)||Wide angle, Standard multi-area AF||~0.7|
|Half-press Lag (0->S1)||Telephoto, Hi speed AF||~0.3 - 0.5|
|Half-press Lag (0->S1)||Telephoto, Standard multi-area AF||~1.0|
|Half to Full-press Lag (S1->S2)||LCD live view or EVF , IS mode 1||~0.1 *2|
|Half to Full-press Lag (S1->S2)||LCD live view or EVF , IS mode 2||~0.2*2|
|Full-press Lag (0->S2)||LCD live view, wide angle||~1.0|
|Off to Shot Taken||LCD live view||~1.6|
|Shot to Shot||Flash off||1.35|
|Shot to Shot||Flash on||1.6|
|*1||Magnifying requires four turns of the front dial - this is about as fast as you can do it.|
|*2||Using OIS mode 2 roughly doubles the shutter lag compared to shooting with OIS off, or set to mode 1.|
Lag Timing Definitions
|Half-press Lag (0->S1)
Many digital camera users prime the AF and AE systems on their camera by half-pressing the shutter release. This is the amount of time between a half-press of the shutter release and the camera indicating an auto focus & auto exposure lock on the LCD monitor / viewfinder (ready to shoot).
|Half to Full-press Lag (S1->S2)
The amount of time it takes from a full depression of the shutter release button (assuming you have already primed the camera with a half-press) to the image being taken.
(Take shot, AF/AE primed)
|Full-press Lag (0->S2)
The amount of time it takes from a full depression of the shutter release button (without performing a half-press of the shutter release beforehand) to the image being taken. This is more representative of the use of the camera in a spur of the moment 'point and shoot' situation.
(Take shot, AF/AE not primed)
The tables below show the results of our continuous shooting test, indicating the actual frame rate along with maximum number of frames and how long you would have to wait after taking the maximum number of frames before you could take another shot. Media used for these tests was a 1.0 GB SanDisk Extreme III SD card. Shutter speed was kept above 1/200 sec during these tests.
Continuous drive mode
In burst mode the FZ30 shows a brief review image for each frame taken, but the live preview does not work between frames. There are three continuous drive modes; High (H), Low (L) and No Limit (∞). Burst mode cannot be used with TIFF or RAW images.
Frames in a burst *1
|3264 x 2448 JPEG Fine||Continuous H||2.6 fps||5||~2 sec pause*3|
|3264 x 2448 JPEG Fine||Continuous L||2.0 fps||5||~2 sec pause*3|
|3264 x 2448 JPEG Fine||Continuous ∞||2.0 fps||limited by card capacity||n/a|
|3264 x 2448 JPEG Standard||Continuous H||2.8 fps||9||~2 sec pause*3|
|3264 x 2448 JPEG Standard||Continuous L||2.14 fps||9||~2 sec pause*3|
|3264 x 2448 JPEG Standard||Continuous ∞||2.15 fps||limited by card capacity||n/a|
|5M / 3M JPEG Fine||Continuous H||2.7 fps||5||~2 sec pause*3|
|5M / 3M JPEG Fine||Continuous L||2.0 fps||5||~2 sec pause*3|
|5M / 3M JPEG Fine||Continuous ∞||2.0 fps||limited by card capacity||n/a|
|5M / 3M JPEG Standard||Continuous H||2.8 fps||9||~2 sec pause*3|
|5M / 3M JPEG Standard||Continuous L||2.0 fps||9||~2 sec pause*3|
|5M / 3M JPEG Standard||Continuous ∞||2.0 fps||limited by card capacity||n/a|
|*1||In a single "burst" (finger held down on shutter release). Average figure (the FZ30 speeds up slightly after the first shot in a burst).|
|*2||In H and L mode continuous shooting stops when the buffer is full (5 or 9 frames according to the file quality setting. This is the delay before the next burst|
|*3||The delay of around 1.5-2.3 seconds is mainly down to the need to refocus before the next burst. By switching to manual focus you can reduce this to ~1.0s.|
Not a bad performance at all, though we couldn't get the 3.0 frames per second quoted in Panasonic's literature. The buffer clears very quickly, and most of the delay between bursts is due to the fact that you cannot just hold down the shutter and wait - you have to take your finger off the shutter and press it again. This means waiting for the camera to refocus. By switching to manual focus you can reduce this to around a second. It's an annoying quirk shared with the FZ20; if the camera can clear the buffer so quickly why not let you continue shoot, albeit at slightly lower rate without having to take your finger off the trigger and start again? If you want to take a really long burst with no pauses you can always switch to the 'no limit' mode (which averages around 2.0 frames per second).
File Write / Display and Sizes
Timings shown below are the time taken for the camera to process and "flush" the image out to the storage card, the timer was started as soon as the shutter release was pressed and stopped when activity indicator went out. This means the timings also include the camera's processing time and as such are more representative of the actual time to "complete the task". The media used for these tests was a 512MB SanDisk Extreme (aka Ultra II) SD card. .
Time to store
File size *1
Images on a *2
1.0 GB Card
|3264 x 2448 RAW||~3.6||~0.6||14,864 KB *3||55|
|3264 x 2448 TIF||~3.6||~0.6||23,425 KB *4||38|
|3264 x 2448 JPEG Fine||~2.1||~0.7||3,150 KB||250|
|3264 x 2448 JPEG Standard||~1.6||~0.6||1,550 KB||495|
|2560 x 1920 JPEG Fine||~1.3||~0.45||1,900 KB||405|
|2560 x 1920 JPEG Standard||~1.2||~0.35||1,425 KB||626|
|*1||All file sizes are an average of three files. As is the case with JPEG it's difficult to predict the size of an image because it will vary a fair amount depending on the content of the image (detail and noise).|
|*3||All RAW files are 15,864 KB, and each is saved with a 1,470K (std quality) JPEG|
|*4||All TIFF files are 23,435 KB, and each is saved with a 1,470K (std quality) JPEG|
With write times averaging around 3.6 seconds for a 23.4MB TIFF the FZ30 is very fast indeed for a 'compact' digital camera - approximately 6500KB/s, and JPEGs - whatever the size or quality setting - are saved in a second or under (most of this time will be taken up by the processing). Very impressive stuff, and proof that the Venus II engine is more than mere hype. Note that longer exposures (0.5 seconds or longer) take longer to save due to noise reduction.