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Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ50
We've been talking about this one for a while now. Rated as Tech 2's best superzoom of 2006, the FZ50 makes it to our labs for review purposes. It may be close to a year old, but it's still a strong contender in the superzoom category, and now at a whole new discounted price it makes a very attractive package. So here it is, by high user demand, our complete review of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ50.
Tight would be a great one word description for how the camera feels. You pick it up and you know how well wound together it is. For what it can do, the FZ50 has a relatively small body at 141x86x142 mm. Of course with that great big zoom lens, this baby's a bit on the heavier side, like 734 grams.
What I like about the colossal zoom lens is that it doesn't pop out any further than what you get out of the box. All the optical zooming happens inside the lens itself keeping it from looking obscenely huge.
The 2 inch display pops out to tilt and swivel for your convenience. 2 inches may be a bit too small, considering 2.5 inches is the standard going for most consumer cameras these days, but in actual usability, the screen does deliver the needful. Still, a bigger screen would have been better during manual focus.
The camera's controls are divided between the top and the back of the camera. Unique to the FZ50 are the two SLR-like jog dials to adjust the shutter speed and aperture size, just the way I like it.
In fact the FZ50 has so many similarities to an SLR camera that its easy to mistake it for one.
A camera resolution of 10 megapixel is great, but definitely not the highlight of this camera. The FZ50 allows near complete manual control over all its features.
The ring-based zoom and manual focus gives you a lot more accuracy than any toggle out there. When in manual focus, the camera display digitally enlarges the center part of the frame to give you a better accuracy in your focus. Though the accuracy is nowhere close to the kind you get in an SLR, it's still the best in its category.
There are quite a few upgrades in this one as compared to the earlier model, the FZ30. Besides the obvious upgrade in the camera resolution, the Venus II processing engine has also been upgraded to Venus III. The TIFF image format is no longer here, but you still have RAW.
The FZ50 now supports SDHC cards for higher capacity storage, which does come in very handy considering that 10 megapixel RAW files do take up quite a bit of space.
Panasonic superzooms have always had really good optical image stabilization systems, and this one’s no different. Though nothing can really save you from hand jitters at full 12x zoom, the OIS does come in handy during the less-than-perfect lighting conditions.
The thing about the FZ50 is that even though it has all these great manual features, it’s still very accessible to a casual user. There’s an auto mode that handles just about everything for you and there are also a whole bunch of scene modes to help you take the right shot. This is what makes the FZ50 an excellent bridge camera.
When you look at a camera like the FZ50, you know it was built for performance! Thankfully, it lives up to that perception.
To begin with, the camera is highly responsive. It takes under a second to start off and close to one and a half seconds between two consecutive shots without flash. With flash on, the shot to shot times are well under two seconds. In other words, you're not going to miss an important shot just because your camera is busy readying itself.
The sharpness levels of the camera were outstanding under bright lighting conditions, with zero noticeable blurring around the edges. Even the minutest frail details are easily visible thanks to the camera's naturally high contrast levels. However, when I shot in higher ISO settings, I did notice a certain level or patchy details, which were probably caused by the noise reduction engine. But this was only noticeable when seeing the image at full size.
All colors appeared bright and saturated to the right extent. The reds, and greens showed absolutely no signs of deterioration or over saturation under sharp lighting, which speaks a lot about the camera's color processing capabilities.
As I mentioned before, manual focus works like a charm, and more often than not, you will get the right focus using this feature. The only limitation I felt was because of the 2 inch screen. A bigger screen would have made this feature a lot more comfortable.
The Lithium-Ion battery provided with the camera easily gave us around 75 shots per charge. Though most shots were taken without flash.
Since the camera is not exactly new in the market, its street price has dropped down close to Rs. 20,000, which is an absolutely brilliant deal. With the amount of features and options, the FZ50 is an excellent enthusiast-level camera — perfect for someone who wants to improve his knowledge of photography, without getting into the high costs and maintenance that SLR cameras demand. Highly recommended to anyone who fits that category.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ50
|Weight||734g with Battery and SD Memory Card|
|LCD Type||2.0", Vari-angle, 207,000 pixels|
|View Finder||Electronic Viewfinder|
|Effective Pixels||10.0 Megapixels|
|Resolutions Supported||3648 x 2736, 3264 x 2448, 2560 x 1920, 2048 x 1536, 1600 x1200|
|ISO Sensitivity||Auto, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, (3200 boost)|
|Shutter Speed||60-1/2000 sec|
|Aperture||F2.8 - F3.7 / F11|
|Scene Modes||Auto, Portrait, Soft Skin, Scenery, Sports, Night Portrait, Night Scenery, Panning, Food, Party, Candle, Fireworks, Snow, Starry Sky, Baby1, Baby2, Snow, High sensitivity|
|White Balance||Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Shade, Halogen, Flash, White Set1/2, Manual|
|Flash||Auto, Red-Eye Auto, On, Red-Eye On, Red-Eye Slow Sync, Off, Slow Sync (1&2)|
|Self Timer||2-10 secs|
|Video Resolution||848x480 @ 30FPS (16:9) 640x480 @ 30FPS (4:3)|
|Street Price||Rs. 20,000/-|