Jan 24, 2007

Panasonic Lumix FZ50

The LUMIX DMC-FZ50 with MEGA O.I.S. (Optical Image Stabilizer) features a powerful 12x optical zoom (equivalent to 35 mm to 420 mm on a 35 mm film camera) f/2.8 LEICA DC lens. It also boasts a 10.1-megapixel high resolution CCD for its image sensor and Venus Engine III for the image processing LSI, making it possible to record an image at a maximum ISO 1600 high sensitivity setting at full resolution. Furthermore, by dramatically reducing noise levels, the DMC-FZ50 is able to capture 10.1-megapixel full resolution images even in high sensitivity recordings.

TheImagingResource have reviewed the FZ50 and gave it a Dave’s pick rating. That’s good enough for me. But wait...It does almost everything right, but not quite-

"Despite some nagging issues, it’s hard not to like the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ50. Any camera that pairs a high quality Leica-branded 12x optical zoom lens with Panasonic’s excellent MEGA O.I.S. is a great value and offers a myriad of uses. But with digital SLRs sinking so dramatically in price, is there still a viable argument for buying an all-in-one ultrazoom camera? With the Lumix FZ50, I would argue "yes." In addition to its great lens and optical image stabilizer, the camera offers an impressive 10 megapixels, solid sharpness, bright, punchy, colorful images, and a range of helpful top-flight features. Best of all, this camera is fun to use and makes taking sharp, zoomed-in images a snap for photographers of most skill levels. While some previous Panasonic models suffered from excessive luminance noise even at low ISOs, the Lumix FZ50 with its Venus Engine III LSI image processor seems to have solved those problems.

On the downside, the Panasonic FZ50 really struggles when shooting at higher ISO levels, producing images that are marred by excessive chroma noise. While this would seem to be a serious problem for people who like to shoot in low light without a flash, the Lumix FZ50 offsets these issues with its MEGA O.I.S. and the camera’s very fast (f/2.8- f/3.7) lens. Also a tradeoff is the camera’s design. While its bulky, tough-looking exterior will appeal to macho shooters, others might just find the camera imposing and be turned off by the fact that it’s bigger and heavier than most entry-level digital SLRs. Other issues are less forgivable including the early shutter penalty problem that jams up the camera if you press the shutter button too quickly after taking a picture. Very annoying."

10.1-megapixel CCD captures enough detail for photo-quality 18 x 24-inch prints
12x image-stabilized optical zoom; 2.0-inch free-angle LCD display
Intelligent ISO Control (I.I.C.) reduces image blur from subject movement and low light
Records full-size movies in wide-aspect VGA (848 x 480) at 30 frames per second
Stores images on SD memory cards (32MB card included); powered by li-ion battery pack (battery and charger included)