Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ50 Review
Announced bang on schedule exactly a year after the camera it replaces, the FZ50 is the new flagship in Panasonic's big-zoom Lumix range, upping the image size to a class-leading 10.2 megapixels and adding a couple of welcome new features. Unlike the FZ30, which represented a leap forward in design and features over the FZ20 (and closed the gap between fixed lens and SLR cameras further than ever before), the new camera is a fairly minor upgrade. Then again, the FZ30 was hardly crying out for a massive overhaul; despite a wealth of 'super zoom' competitors it really does sit in a class of its own, offering true SLR-like handling and operation and an amazingly versatile 35-420mm equivalent 12x optical zoom (with fluid-damped mechanical zoom mechanism). So let's find out if the FZ50 is a worthy successor, and if it can overcome the few complaints we had, starting as usual with the headline features:
- 10.1-megapixel high resolution CCD
- LEICA DC VARIO-ELMARIT 12x optical zoom (35-420mm equiv.)
- MEGA O.I.S.(Optical Image Stabilizer) system
- Venus Engine III processor
- Full photographic control
- 2.0-inch flip-out 207k high resolution LCD
- High resolution electronic viewfinder
- Fast startup and operation
- TTL Flash hot-shoe
FZ50 vs FZ30: Main differences
Where the FZ30 was a major upgrade of the FZ20 both internally and externally, the FZ50 is more evolutionary than revolutionary, and aside from the new sensor the changes are - for the most part - minor.
- Higher pixel count sensor (10.1 vs 8.3 MP)
- TIFF file format dropped (RAW remains)
- Venus Engine III (vs Venus Engine II)
- Full resolution ISO settings up to 1600 (vs 400)
- TTL Flash hot-shoe
- Lower resolution (207,000 pixel) screen
- Screen now flips down to 180°
- SDHC support (for capacities over 2.0GB)
- New 16:9 (848 x 480 pixel) movie mode
- New 16:9 and 3:2 aspect ratio options for stills
- Slower continuous shooting (from 3 to 2 fps, max images from 7 to 5 in standard)
- 'SilkyPix Developer Studio' for RAW conversion included
- Intelligent ISO feature
|Street price|| US: $580
|Body Material||Metal and plastic|
• 1/1.8" Type CCD
• 4:3 (default, CCD native)
Image sizes *
• 3648 x 2736
|Image sizes *
• 3600 x 2400
|Image sizes *
• 3584 x 2016
• 848 x 480 (16:9), 30 / 10 fps *
|File formats *||• RAW
• JPEG (EXIF 2.2): Fine / Standard
• MOV (Movies, Motion JPEG codec)
|Image processor||Venus Engine III|
• 35 - 420 mm equiv. (12x zoom)
|Image stabilization||• Optical, "MEGA OIS"
• Modes: 1 (all the time), 2 (at shutter release only)
|Conversion lenses||Yes (screw on front of lens; 55 mm thread)|
|Digital zoom||• 2x or 4x
• "Extra optical zoom" for smaller sizes (13.4x 8m, 17.1x 5m, 21.4x 3m) *
|Focus||• AF / AF Macro / Manual (switch on dial)
• Continuous AF On/Off
• Manual Focus (Ring)
• One-shot AF
|AF area modes||• 1 point
• 1 point high-speed
• 3 point
• 3 point high-speed
• 9 point
|AF assist lamp||Yes|
|Focus distance||• Normal: 30 / 200 cm - Infinity
• Macro: 5 / 200 cm - Infinity
|Metering||• Intelligent Multiple
• Center weighted
|ISO sensitivity||• Auto
• Intelligent Auto
• ISO 80
• ISO 100
• ISO 200
• ISO 400
• ISO 800 *
• ISO 1600 *
• ISO 3200 (High sensitivity mode) *
|Exposure compensation||• +/- 2.0 EV
• 1/3 EV steps
|Exposure bracketing|| • 3 frames
• 0.3 to 1 EV steps
|Shutter speed||• Auto: 1/4 - 1/2000 sec *
• Program AE: 1 - 1/2000 sec *
• Aperture/Shutter priority: 8 - 1/2000 sec
• Manual mode: 60 - 1/2000 sec *
• Shutter speeds over 1/1000 sec not available with all apertures.
|Aperture|| • Wide: F2.8 - F11
• Tele: F3.7 - F11
• Program (with shift)
• Aperture Priority
• Shutter Priority
• Moving Image
|Scene modes *||• Portrait
• Soft Skin
• Night Portrait
• Night Scenery
• Starry Sky
• Baby 1
• Baby 2
• High sensitivity
|White balance fine tune||Yes (except Auto)|
|Self timer||2 or 10 sec|
|Continuous shooting||• Full resolution: 2 or 1 fps *
• Full resolution: max 5 images (standard mode), 3 images (fine mode) *
• Infinite consecutive (unlimited but slower shooting rate)
|Image parameters||• Contrast (Low, Standard, High)
• Sharpness (Low, Standard, High)
• Saturation (Low, Standard, High)
• Noise reduction (Low, Standard, High)
|Color Effect||• Cool
• Black & White
|Flash||• Built-in (manual pop-up)
• Modes: Auto, Auto red-eye reduction, Slow sync, On/Off
• Range: 0.3 - 7.0 m (W), 0.3 - 5.3 m (T)
• External flash via hot-shoe
• Flash exposure compensation (+/-2 EV in 0.3 EV steps)
|Flash hot-shoe *||• New TTL hot-shoe
• Compatible with: DMW-FL500 (GN50), DMW-FL360 (GN36) external flash
|Viewfinder||• 0.44" EVF (electronic viewfinder)
• 230,000 pixels
|LCD monitor||• 2.0" TFT LCD
• 207,000 pixels *
• Flip down and twist
|Record review||1 sec / 3 sec / Zoom|
|Playback|| • 2x / 4x / 8x / 16x magnification
• 9 / 16 / 25 thumbnail index
• Image rotation
• DPOF setting
|Connectivity||• USB 1.1
• A/V out
|Storage||• Secure Digital card, SDHC card *, MMC card
• 32 MB SD card supplied
|Power||• 710 mAh, 7.2V Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery
• Charger included
|Weight (No batt)||668 g (1.5 lb) *|
|Weight (with batt)||734 g (1.6 lb) *|
|Dimensions||141 x 86 x 142 mm (5.5 x 3.4 x 5.6 in)|
|Supplied software *||LUMIX Simple Viewer, PhotofunStudio -viewer-, SILKPIX DEVELOPER STUDIO, ArcSoft Camera Suite (ArcSoft PhotoImpression, ArcSoft PanoramaMaker), Adobe Reader, Quick Time, USB Driver|
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