Price: $600 The evolution continues
This 16-megapixel ”bridge” camera has a 25mm-600mm Leica-branded lens with f2.8-f5.2 aperture. It is fitted with an electronic viewfinder and a fixed-position LCD. The lens is image-stabilised because it needs to be with such extreme telephoto extension. All controls for serious photography are on the body and easily accessible. It has the usual one-button start for video, which can be recorded in AVCHD or MP4. AVCHD files play back directly through Panasonic players and TVs. Video mode has a range of manual controls. Construction feels plasticky, but rigid enough.
Picture quality is generally good, although resolution falls off slightly at extreme telephoto. Video quality is excellent, with the Active Mode stabilisation smoothing out walking-with-camera sequences. Playback from the SD card through a Panasonic Blu-ray player onto a HD TV is very good.
The electronic viewfinder is not up with the best of the breed in colour, contrast and resolution. It is handy for framing in bright light but does not give an accurate representation of the subject.
There was a time when we were scornful of these super-zoom pseudo SLRs. The viewfinders were woeful. The shutter lag was so extreme it was impossible to capture moving subjects. And on some models the EVF blacked out when the shutter button was pressed. Ten years of patient research and development have transformed bridge cameras into devices that are pleasant enough to use. We would not recommend one to a serious photographer, but for the point-and-shooter who wants more control over camera functions, they do a good job. The Panasonic siblings, the FZ200 ($800) and FZ60, are nicely evolved examples of the type.
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