Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ7 Review
In addition to the auto white balance mode the FZ7 offers four presets (daylight, cloudy, halogen and flash). There is no preset for fluorescent lights, but there is a manual white balance mode that allows you to point the camera at a white or gray card and create up to two custom settings.
In use - especially outdoors - the FZ7 delivers consistently accurate color. Under artificial lighting the results are more patchy. You'll need to use manual (custom) white balance under incandescent lighting, though the results from auto white balance under fluorescent lighting are good. When light levels drop (indoors at night) you'll get very orange results under tungsten lights unless you switch to manual WB.
Outdoor - Auto WB
|Incandescent - Auto WB
Red 3.0%, Blue -1.4%
|Incandescent - Halogen preset WB
Red 6.4%, Blue -10.3%
No real complaints here. The range is good (around 1 to 20 feet with auto ISO), and color and exposure very reliable. It's worth noting that the FZ7 will go all the way to ISO 400 in auto ISO mode when using flash, so noise can be an issue if the subject is more than about 10 feet away.
Good color, very slight under exposure
Good color, good exposure
Like the FZ5, the FZ7 has a dedicated macro mode (essentially a scene mode) with its own position on the mode dial. In macro mode you can't control apertures or shutter speeds (though AE compensation, white balance and ISO are still available). Fortunately you don't usually need to switch to macro mode - the closest focusing distance in all modes (except the fully automatic Program mode) is the same as in macro mode at most focal lengths, allowing you to get as close as 5cm at the wide end of the zoom, capturing an area around 4 x 3cm. To get really close with the long end of the zoom, however, you do need to switch to macro mode, which allows you to focus down to 1m (3.3 feet) at the full 12x (432mm equiv.) using a special 'Tele Macro' feature. It's an impressive macro performance that's let down slightly by the less than intuitive implementation. There is a little corner softness - and some fairly strong chromatic aberration when shooting macro at the wide end of the zoom.
Barrel and Pincushion Distortion
Given the huge (36-432mm equiv.) range, 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 1.1% barrel distortion is just enough to be visible in wideangle shots, but not enough to be a problem, whilst there is virtually no measurable distortion once you start to move into the middle and long end of the zoom. If you open the full size images you'll see that there is a little corner softness at the wide end of the zoom, but this doesn't really effect 'real world' shot (unless you photograph a lot of flat things).
|Barrel distortion - 1.1% at Wide angle
Equiv. focal length: 36 mm
|Pincushion distortion - 0.2% at Telephoto
Equiv. focal length: 432 mm
Specific Image Quality Issues
Like the FZ5 before it, on the 'camera' side the FZ7 is a remarkably reliable picture-taking tool. In our tests fewer than 1 in 100 shots could be classed as 'failures', with focus, exposure and white balance spot on in virtually every shot, in a wide range of shooting situations. The Venus engine does a superb job of removing purple fringes 99% of the time, and the image stabilization system (see below) means camera shake is a very rare occurrence. We were pleased to see that highlight clipping - one of the problems common to all 5MP cameras (including the FZ5) is less of an issue with the FZ7.
Of course there are some minor problems (or 'serious issues' if you're a real nit-picker), though nothing that will seriously mar real-world shots or standard sized prints. Shots at the wide end of the zoom show some corner softness at F2.8, and some show very mild vignetting. As noted above, macro mode (at the wide end of the zoom) can produce some chromatic aberration.
But the main problem is noise - and noise reduction, which at ISO 100 and above can smear low contrast detail (such as foliage or hair) - though this is hardly a problem unique to the FZ7, and there are many much worse offenders. High ISO shots are simply noisy (see elsewhere in the review).
The MEGA O.I.S image Stabilization system used on the FZ7 (and most 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. Mode 2, which minimizes the amount of movement needed by waiting until the actual moment you press the shutter, is claimed to be more effective, but to be honest after using several FZ models over the last couple of years I don't think it's as simple as that. Certainly mode 2 seems to be more effective in 'normal' situations (where the shutter speed is around 3 stops too slow for the focal length), but there are occasions when mode 1 works better - perhaps because it seems easier to hold the camera steady when the display isn't jiggering around. That all said, there doesn't seem to be a hard-and-fast rule; sometimes both modes are equally effective, sometimes one works better than the other (though overall mode 2 is the best). In all cases I'd recommend shooting several frames if your shutter speed is really low - that way you've got a much better chance of success.
But one thing is for certain; image stabilization works when it comes to avoiding camera shake; I certainly found the 3 or 4 shutter speed steps gain claimed by Panasonic to be justified - and was able to shoot at 432mm equiv. at speeds as low as 1/30th second successfully. Impressive stuff. The 100% crops below show the effectiveness of the IS system - especially in Mode 2 - when shooting at 420mm equiv. at speeds as low as 1/10th second.
Nikon turns 100 years old today, and the company is celebrating with a wacky music video, some tributes to its history, and a new vision presented by president Kazuo Ushida.
Phottix just released the Premio Parabolic Umbrellas series, replacing their Para-Pro line with a stronger, deeper and better made set of parabolic umbrellas.
The Moto Z2 is Motorola's first dual-camera smartphone and, compared to its predecessor, comes with a number of improvements and new camera features.
Researchers at Stanford have revealed a new '4D camera system' built for robots. The system is based on the same light field tech that allowed Lytro cameras to refocus images after they were taken.
If you want 'beautiful rendition' from your lenses, follow this simple rule: only buy classic low-element prime lenses with lead glass elements—everything else is junk.
In an interview with CNBC, Leica Chairman Andreas Kaufmann said he dreams of a 'true Leica phone,' and hinted at what's next for the Leica and Huawei partnership.
Wildlife and nature photographer Peter Mather tells the story behind this exceptional shot of a mama grizzly and her cub searching for salmon in Yukon, Canada.
Popular YouTube channel TastyTuts has put together this 33-video Beginner's Guide to Adobe Photoshop—a godsend for anybody who wants to learn Photoshop from scratch.
The long anticipated replacement for the popular Rode VideoMic Pro is almost ready for shipping. The price of the upgraded VideoMic Pro+ will be £290/$300 when it goes on sale in mid-August.
A new iOS app called Explorest wants to help you find new locations to shoot. It's limited to Singapore for now, but the app is packed full of useful location scouting features.
Nikon's D850 development announcement is extremely light on details, so we assembled a wish list of upgrades and features we'd love to see.
Nikon has announced the development of the long-awaited replacement to its full-frame D810: the D850. Nikon says that the D850 will build on the strengths of its predecessor and offer 'new technologies, features and performance enhancements.'
Lens manufacturer Voigtlander has introduced a 65mm F2 macro lens for Sony E-mount that it says "rates as one of the finest in the history of Voigtländer."
The UK released a preview of their upcoming drone safety regulations, and it looks like drone pilots will have to both register their device and pass safety awareness tests.
National Geographic photographer Bob Holmes talks about light, and why you need to learn how to 'see' and not just 'look' at your subject.
Photographer Alessandro Barteletti shares the story behind his National Geographic Italia cover, shot with a 10-year-old DSLR and an iPhone flashlight.
Fashion catalog photographers in China have some next-level models to work with. In this video, you see one model hitting 30 poses in 15 seconds as the photographer snaps away.
Photographer Paul Adshead breaks down 11 photography-related smartphone apps he couldn't live without—from a pocket light meter to a lighting diagram app.
Fast-growing Chinese flash brand Godox is teasing a brand new flash trigger... for smartphones. The Godox A1 is a 'phone flash system' that can act as both flash and 2.4GHz trigger.
On July 12, Canon opened its newest Technology and Support Center, designed to serve the motion picture industry, in Burbank, CA. DPReview got a sneak peak and takes you behind the scenes.
The Sigma 14mm F1.8 Art is truly one-of-a-kind. It offers the fastest aperture of any lens that shares its focal length, produces beautiful sunstars and is incredibly sharp to boot. If you're in the market for a fast ultrawide prime, this looks to be the one to get.
In this article, expert macro photographer Thomas Shahan shares advice for successful closeup photography of bugs, insects and small animals.
DJI's new firmware makes it difficult to fly in restricted airspace, even when you have proper clearance. Is DJI placing themselves between professionals and the FAA?
Go behind the scenes with National Geographic photographer Renan Ozturk and see what it takes to capture a dangerous, harrowing, stunning Nat Geo photo essay.
Erez Marom tells the story behind this ominous photo of the sand 'reaching up' towards the mountains at Skagsanden beach in Norway. He calls this photo 'Torment.'
DPReview staffer Carey Rose has taken the Panasonic Leica DG 15mm F1.7 along for everything from a city-side boat ride to a bachelor party across the mountains. Find out how the little Leica fared.
Canon just unveiled the largest 12-ink printer on the market. The new imagePROGRAF PRO-6000 printer can make prints from 17 all the way up to 60 inches wide.
"Standing in one of the holiest places on earth, I felt uneasy," writes Wired's Jason Parham. "Most of my fellow visitors, I realized with a brief bloom of nausea, were taking selfies."
Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk has been receiving great reviews, but it's a challenge to see it in its full glory. This handy infographic reveals the aspect ratio chaos that is wrought as the industry retreats from film.
Anti-bullying organization Ditch the Label's Annual Bullying Survey 2017 reveals yet again that Instagram, more so than any other social network, has the worst effect on youth mental health.