Like the FZ30 before it the FZ50 is designed to look - and operate as far as possible - like a traditional SLR (single lens reflex) camera, and it's not that much smaller either. Whereas the FZ30 was a whole scale redesign of the FZ20 (and represented a huge leap forward), the FZ50's changes are mainly on the inside. Very little has changed since the FZ30 (see below), but that's no bad thing; as long as you're not worried about the size you simply won't find another camera that comes even close to the FZ50 when it comes to true SLR-like handling. The fluid-damped mechanical zoom mechanism is faster and more accurate than using buttons and motors, and has a quality feel that puts most DLSR kit lenses to shame. A few small, but significant, changes to the control system (including a new FUNCTION button for quick access to things like ISO) are the icing on the cake.

Side by side

As the images below show, there is hardly any visible difference between the FZ50 and its predecessor (a couple of buttons are labeled differently, the eyepiece surround is a little larger and the screen hinge has changed). At first glance they are all but identical.

In your hand

The combination of the deep grip and molded rear thumb grip make the FZ50 a very comfortable camera to hold, and it feels very stable thanks to a well-balanced weight distribution. The large lens barrel automatically becomes the grip position for your left hand. You can shoot single-handedly - if you've got strong wrists and a steady hand - but the weight of the lens barrel makes it feel a little unbalanced, and you get much less camera shake when you support the camera with both hands.

Two body colors

Just like the FZ20 and FZ30, the new model is available in both black and silver.