Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ5 Review
Externally the FZ5 is almost identical to its predecessor, the FZ3. The only changes are a slightly redesigned grip with a larger area of textured covering, which improves handling. More important is the relocation of the shutter release at the front of the grip, which is where it should have been in the first place. The only other change of note is the addition of a new dedicated image stabilizer button (why? to make the system easier to demonstrate in the shop I suspect). The camera is available in silver (as tested) or black (which in my opinion is much nicer).
As with the FZ3, the first thing you notice is how small it is - especially compared to big brother the FZ20. The design is simple, boxy even, and is dominated by the huge (for a compact camera) 12x F2.8 zoom. It may look like it should squirt water when you press the shutter, but the basic, 'mini SLR' design is functional rather than decorative - which shows Panasonic has got its priorities right.
Side by side
To give an idea of just how small the DMC-FZ5 is, here's a shot of it with the Panasonic FZ20 (right) and the new Konica Minolta DiMAGE Z5 - itself a pretty diminutive camera, but one that looks positively bulky next to the DMC-FZ5.
In your hand
The smaller size doesn't harm the FZ5's handling one bit. Quite the opposite in fact; the camera feels stable, safe and solid, and operation of the main controls (zoom and shutter release is very easy. The excellent handling - along with the image stabilization - means the FZ5 (along with identical twin the FZ4) is probably the only 'super zoom' camera I have ever felt really safe using with one hand. It is very well balanced and not too heavy (though inevitably you'll get less camera shake if you support the right side of the camera with your 'spare' hand). The new grip and repositioned shutter release are the icing on the cake. Excellent.
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