Panasonic Lumix FZ150 Review

Panasonic Lumix FZ150 Review

After the introduction of the Lumix DMC-FZ48 some time ago, Panasonic added the two technology leaders Panasonic Lumix FZ150 and FX90. The FZ150, the successor from Panasonic to the FZ100, offers a new high-speed MOS sensor with a slightly reduced resolution of 12 megapixels, the proven Leica 24x zoom from 25-600 millimeters (KB) and a tilting screen.

The FX90’s sleek exterior shouldn’t deceive you about its capabilities: a 12-megapixel resolution, FullHD video, touchscreen, five-fold zoom from 24 to 120 millimeters (KB) and a Wi-Fi module for wireless image transfer via PC or smartphone to the Internet.

Panasonic Lumix FZ150 Pros And Cons

Pros

  • Fast AF even when shooting movies
  • Lens with very wide zoom range and effective image stabilizer
  • Good handling, further improved by a second zoom lever
  • Ordinary dynamic range
  • Good noise suppression

Cons

  • Cheap plastic housing
  • Small, coarse-pixel video viewfinder
  • Images are poorly detailed

panasonic lumix fz150

With the Lumix FZ150, Panasonic is adding fresh momentum to its range of superzoom cameras.

This camera class is based on DSLRs in terms of body shape and operation but does not have an interchangeable lens connection.

Instead, it offers a fixed zoom lens that covers a gigantic focal length range – in the case of the FZ150, it ranges from 25 to 600 millimeters. Its 12-megapixel sensor is as small as a compact camera, but unlike its predecessor, it uses modern BSI technology.

The brand new Panasonic Lumix FZ150 had to prove with the test software and in everyday photography whether it can deliver better results than its predecessor.

 

panasonic lumix fz150

The Lumix Panasonic Lumix FZ150 represents the new top model of the FZ series. Panasonic has improved the successor model of the FZ100 in many points. The MOS image sensor is a new development, it has a resolution of 12.1 megapixels.

Compared to the FZ100, the signal-to-noise ratio is said to have improved significantly, by 3.9 dB at ISO 100 and even by 4.7 dB at ISO 1,600.

In addition, the high-speed sensor can be read out particularly quickly, which not only enables a high continuous shooting rate of twelve frames per second at full resolution but also particularly fast focusing.

Compared to the FZ100, the focusing time should thus be halved to 0.1 seconds. Video recordings also benefit from the fast sensor, which is supported by a powerful processor in the form of the Venus Engine FHD. 50 frames per second are possible in FullHD with 1,920 x 1,080 pixels.

Thanks to AVCHD 2.0, these images can also be captured as full frames (50p) on the memory card. During video recording with stereo sound, the optical zoom remains usable. An external microphone can also be connected. As an alternative to AVCHD, videos can also be stored in MP4 format.

 

panasonic lumix fz150

Panasonic has also improved the Leica lens of the Panasonic Lumix FZ150: The nano-coating of the optically flat lens elements ensures even lower reflections and thus higher image contrast, better sharpness and also fewer disturbing reflections or ghost images.

The lens consists of 14 elements in ten groups. Three elements are made of ED glass, two are spherically ground on a total of three surfaces. All this is to guarantee a good image quality with low color fringes and other optical errors.

With a 24x zoom range of 25 to 600 millimeters in 35 mm at the maximum speed of F2.8 to F5.2, the lens covers just about every everyday photo situation. The Power O.I.S. image stabilizer is also part of the equipment.

It effectively reduces camera shake and, in active mode, ensures a particularly smooth video image even when walking.

A new feature is a zoom lever on the left side of the lens that can be comfortably operated with the left hand, thus providing a more stable camera position, especially when shooting video. There is also a ring-shaped zoom lever that surrounds the shutter release button.

 

panasonic lumix fz150

The rear three-inch screen provides even more flexibility, as it can be folded and swiveled thanks to a two-way hinge. Its resolution is 460,000 pixels, and the monitor can also be folded towards the camera for protection.

An electronic viewfinder is also available but offers only 201,600 pixels of resolution. For comparison, the electronic OLED viewfinder recently introduced by Sony offers twelve times the resolution of 2.36 million pixels.

Pictures and videos can be taken with a variety of scene modes, and the Panasonic Lumix FZ150 also features the proven Intelligent Auto function that automatically detects subjects, faces, movements, backlight situations, etc., and adjusts the camera accordingly without the photographer having to have any knowledge of the subject.

There are also numerous image effects and a 3D-mode. But if you want, you can also set the time and/or aperture and many other parameters manually.

This also includes the possibility to save images in RAW format in order to be able to do the conversion on the PC later on. The Panasonic Lumix FZ150 is available since the end of 2011.

Ergonomics and Workmanship

At first glance, the Panasonic Lumix FZ150 looks like a DSLR from the toy store, but the powerful lens and the far superior grip further enhance this impression.

If you touch the camera, the feeling of holding a toy in your hand remains at first: The plastic housing does not inspire much confidence, it creaks audibly when gripping firmly. But the plastic feeling is quickly forgotten when it comes to the point.

The Panasonic Lumix FZ150 fits perfectly in the hand, all controls are logically arranged and easy to reach. This is also true of the generously dimensioned mode dial, on which Panasonic has accommodated no less than 14 setting positions.

 

panasonic lumix fz150

panasonic lumix fz150

In addition, there are another round dozen buttons and switches, so the Lumix FZ150 can be configured quite quickly without going into the menu.

It’s just a pity that Panasonic didn’t give the camera a front dial in addition to the somewhat smooth-running thumbwheel. After all, the thumbwheel changes its function when pressed and then, for example in mode A (aperture priority), no longer adjusts the aperture but serves as exposure compensation.

Clever too: Important settings, for which there was no room for dedicated buttons, can be accessed via a quick menu. Trips to the main menu are a little complicated if they are necessary.

Although the long lists are clearly arranged on several tabs, it is not possible to jump directly to a tab. The Panasonic Lumix FZ150 only remembers the last called menu item if it is explicitly activated in the settings menu under the menu item “Continue menu” – well hidden.

 

panasonic lumix fz150

Thanks to its low weight of about 530 grams, the camera is a constant companion. However, it requires a small photo bag, for the jacket pocket it is a little too voluminous. On the back there is a rather lavish 3 inch display, which Panasonic has hinged with a smart turn and fold hinge.

The monitor’s resolution is less lavish, however, it is just sufficient at 460,000 subpixels. As an alternative to image control via the display, the camera offers a video viewfinder (EVF), but its resolution of 200,000 pixels is outmoded.

In addition, the exit pupil is too close to the eye. Glasses wearers can therefore hardly capture the tiny viewfinder image completely, the view into the video viewfinder is rather like looking into a tube that is too narrow.

 

panasonic lumix fz150

In contrast, Panasonic has given the FZ150 a second zoom lever on the lens. Especially when shooting video, the focal length can be changed much more conveniently and without blurring than with the classic zoom ring around the shutter release button.

Panasonic has provided the FZ150 with a metal tripod thread, but it sits so close to the combined battery and memory card compartment, far away from the optical axis, that an attached tripod plate blocks it.

panasonic lumix fz150Equipment And Features

The Panasonic Lumix FZ150 not only looks like a small SLR camera, but its features are also on par with DSLRs. Both less experienced and comfortable photographers as well as demanding amateur photographers will find a range of functions tailored to their needs.

Well over 20 scene mode programs, for example, are designed to make it easy for beginners to quickly and safely adjust the camera to the current shooting situation – for example, for photos in the snow or pictures of babies.

There are also subprograms for certain subject programs. For example, the “Portrait” program allows you to distinguish between “Portrait inside” and “Portrait outside”. Choosing the right program quickly becomes a torture – but fortunately, there is still the iAuto program. It automatically selects the appropriate scene mode program, but the powerful onboard flash must always be unlocked manually.

At its release, more than ten years ago,  hardly any camera that was worth its weight in gold can do without so-called “creative” programs – and the Panasonic Lumix FZ150 is no exception: its “creative control mode allows you to choose between eight options, such as “retro look”, “sandblast” or “miniature effect”.

 

panasonic lumix fz150

Ambitious photographers can customize the Panasonic Lumix FZ150 to suit their taste and needs.

The camera can be operated as time, aperture and program automat or completely manually. This also applies to the autofocus, the distance can also be set manually. Unfortunately, a focus ring is missing on the lens, manually, one has to focus a little awkwardly with the thumbwheel.

A practical feature is that the camera automatically enlarges the viewfinder image, and the viewfinder image section can be moved as required. Discerning photographers will also be pleased to know that the Panasonic Lumix FZ150 can record in RAW format if desired.

When taking serial pictures, the camera is extremely fast: with up to 12 fps, it takes photo series in full resolution, but the focus and exposure remain fixed on the first picture of the series. If focus and exposure are to be adjusted, there are still about 5 fps possible.

If you are content with a five megapixel resolution, you can shoot at up to 40 fps in high- speed mode, with 2.5 megapixels the frame rate even increases to 60 fps.

As versatile as the Lumix Panasonic Lumix FZ150 is when it comes to recording, its editing options are equally rich in playback mode. Photos can be cropped or straightened directly in the camera, and output to a PictBridge-enabled printer is also possible. However, there is no function for developing RAW images in the camera.

The variety of functions for video recording is lavish. Aperture and shutter speed can be preset during video recording or set manually. The autofocus during video recording and the zoom also works.

Both zoom levers work very sensitively. If you only press gently, the zoom speed is pleasantly slow. To change the focal length range more quickly, simply press the zoom lever all the way down.

The Panasonic Lumix FZ150’s stereo microphone records zoom and autofocus noises only very discreetly, they hardly disturb even in quiet surroundings. The electronic image stabilizer also works very well during video shooting; even with a good telephoto focal length, it is still possible to shoot reasonably quiet film.

Panasonic uses an optical image stabilizer to compensate for camera shake caused by a sliding lens group in the lens. With a maximum focal length of 600 millimeters (in relation to 35 mm), it is already indispensable for viewfinder image control – and does a good job: the viewfinder image is as if nailed down even at the longest telephoto focal length, so the longest focal length can be used without a tripod.

The super zoom lens of the Panasonic Lumix FZ150 shines with a quite fast initial aperture F2.8 at the shortest focal length, in the long end the speed is still quite passable F5.2. Panasonic has significantly improved the autofocus speed compared to its predecessor, at least in the wide-angle range.

With a focal length of 25 millimeters, the Panasonic Lumix FZ150 focuses very quickly in just 0.2 seconds. However, it takes about three times longer to focus when zoomed in to the maximum.

The Panasonic Lumix FZ150 records movies in Full HD quality with 50 full frames (1,080p), and saves them in the space-saving AVCHD format or alternatively as MP4.

Image Quality Of The Panasonic Lumix FZ150

The equipment, handling, and range of functions of the Panasonic Lumix FZ150 leave hardly anything to be desired. But does this also apply to the image quality?

In this respect, the predecessor FZ100 was less convincing to me in the past.

First of all, it is only to be welcomed that Panasonic has implanted a new image sensor in the FZ150. It has a resolution of around 12 megapixels, slightly less than its predecessor’s 15-megapixel sensor.

More importantly, however, the Panasonic Lumix FZ150’s image converter is designed in new BSI technology. Here, the sensor cells are not wired via the front side facing the light, as is usually the case, but the cables are laid on the back.

The Panasonic Lumix FZ150 had to prove us with the software for camera testing and in practical use during two days, whether all these measures would result in a noticeable improvement in image quality.

In terms of the gigantic 24x zoom range, the lens of the FZ150 cuts an amazingly good figure. The sharpness drops only very slightly towards the edges of the image over the entire focal length range; the drop in sharpness is not noticeable.

The lens performs similarly well with edge dimming, vignetting is not an issue at any focal length. Even the distortion control is very well done by Panasonic, only in a wide-angle position the lens has a minimal barrel shape.

Things are not quite so good when it comes to chromatic aberration: Particularly from the medium telephoto focal length, the Panasonic Lumix FZ150 produces visible color fringes at hard contrast edges, which are still acceptable with a circumference of around one pixel.

It is obvious that the Panasonic Lumix FZ150 with its small sensor cannot perform miracles in terms of absolute resolution. In our test, it nevertheless produced a fairly decent image with an output resolution of 35 line pairs per millimeter on average.

However, the resolution already decreases beyond aperture F4, and the FZ150 shouldn’t be dimmed more than at F5.6. Additionally, the Panasonic Lumix FZ150 buys the quite acceptable output resolution by means of strong resharpening, which results in somewhat too pronounced sharpness artifacts.

In addition, the images appear quite soft and lacking in detail. The newly introduced measurement of texture sharpness shows why: The detail rendition already decreases continuously from ISO 100, already beyond ISO 400 the loss of detail is so high that the images look visibly blurred.

The very small 1/2.3 inch sensor apparently quickly reaches its limits despite BSI technology. Noise suppression has to intervene strongly already from ISO 200. In her honor, however, she does her job well on the whole.

The FZ150 has excellent control of the particularly annoying color noise over the entire sensitivity range, and the luminance noise remains acceptable up to ISO 1,600.

In this respect, the recordings from the practice confirm the laboratory measurements: If one accepts the weak detail drawing, the Panasonic Lumix FZ150 up to ISO 1.600 can be used almost without regret, but the highest ISO level 3.200 is then only a stopgap. A little more detail can be reconstructed from RAW shots with the FZ150, and the standard, somewhat strong noise reduction can be reduced by two levels or even increased.

The Panasonic Lumix FZ150 has few problems in processing high image contrasts, its input dynamic range up to ISO 1,600 is a decent 9.5 to 10 f-stops. The output tone curve is quite softly tuned for a superzoom camera, the FZ150 differentiates dark tones very well, but accepts a somewhat soft image impression.

However, the black value is clearly too high, which additionally strengthens the rather flat picture impression.

In addition, the output tonal value range gives away almost half of the theoretically possible 256 gradations and is too low with a differentiation of about seven bits. The FZ150 also doesn’t quite keep up with the color fidelity, but the deviations are still within acceptable limits.

The camera is able to differentiate individual color tones well, and the white balance also works very accurately. In practice, the Panasonic Lumix FZ150 pleases with a quite natural color reproduction, a visible progress compared to its predecessor.

 

panasonic lumix fz150

Conclusion: Is The Panasonic Lumix FZ150

Compared to its predecessor (the FZ100), Panasonic has significantly improved the FZ150. In particular, it provides better image quality, noise remains acceptable up to ISO 1,600, and the dynamic range is good.

However, the FZ150 cannot hide the fact that it only has a small 1/2.3-inch sensor at its disposal. Thus, despite the good super zoom lens, the pictures turn out to be shallower and less detailed than one would expect with a nominal twelve-megapixel resolution.

However, the equipment and handling leave hardly any wishes unfulfilled. Panasonic has given the FZ150 all the features that you would expect from a good mid-range DSLR. AF speed also moves at DSLR level, but only at shorter focal lengths.

Despite the extensive equipment, the FZ150 is easy to operate. There are dedicated buttons and switches for the important functions as well as a clearly arranged quick menu. Thanks to a highly effective image stabilizer and Full HD resolution, the camera is also recommended for videographers.

It’s just a pity that the plastic case doesn’t look very professional and both the display and EVF don’t have a very high resolution. The bottom line is that the Lumix Panasonic Lumix FZ150 is a somewhat bulky camera for all occasions that will satisfy even the most demanding photographers thanks to its many functions.

Profile

Profile
Manufacturer Panasonic
Model Lumix Panasonic Lumix FZ150
Price approx. 450 dollars at market launch. Now much cheaper
Sensor Resolution 12.1 megapixels
Max. Image resolution 4.000 x 3.000
(aspect ratio) (4:3)
Lens F2.8-5.2/25-600mm
Filter thread optional 52 mm
Viewfinder electronically
Dioptre compensation yes
Resolution 201.600
Enlargement
Image field coverage
LCD monitor 3″
Resolution 460.000
rotatable yes
swiveling yes
as Viewfinder yes
Video output AV and HDMI (each PAL/NTSC)
Automatic programming yes
Automatic aperture control yes
Automatic timer yes
manual exposure yes
BULB long time exposure
Scene mode programs
Portrait yes
Children/baby yes
Landscape yes
Macro yes
Sports/action yes
More 12 additional scene mode programs
Exposure metering Multi-field, centre-weighted Integral, Spot
Flash yes
Flash connection TTL system hot shoe
Remote release yes
Interval recording
Storage medium SD/SDHC/SDXC
Video mode
Format AVCHD or MP4
Codec H.264
Resolution (max.) 1.920 x 1.080
Frame rate (max.) 50 frames/s
Sensitivity
automatically ISO 200-3.200 (upper limit adjustable)
extended ISO 100-3,200
manually ISO 100-3,200
White balance
Automatic yes
Sun yes
Clouds yes
Fluorescent lamp
Incandescent lamp yes
Miscellaneous Lightning
Manually yes
Autofocus
Number of measurement fields 23
AF auxiliary light red-orange
Speed approx. 0.2-0.6 s
Languages English
More 15 additional languages are available
Weight
(ready for operation)
528 g
Zoom
Zoom adjustment motorized via ring rocker
One-hand operation
(zoom and shutter release)
yes
Triggering during storage possible. yes
Battery life approx. 410 pictures( according to CIPA)
– = “not applicable” or “not available

 

This test of the Panasonic Lumix FZ150 was created with DXOMARK Analyzer.

Brief assessment

Pros

  • Fast AF even when shooting movies
  • Lens with very wide zoom range and effective image stabilizer
  • Good handling, further improved by a second zoom lever
  • Ordinary dynamic range
  • Good noise suppression

Cons

  • Cheap plastic housing
  • Small, coarse-pixel video viewfinder
  • Images are poorly detailed

Panasonic Lumix FZ150 Datasheet

Electronics

Sensor CMOS sensor 1/2.3″ 6.2 x 4.6 mm (crop factor 5.6
)12.8 megapixels (physical), 12.1 megapixels (effective)
Pixelpitch 1.5 µm
Photo resolution
4.000 x 3.000 pixels (4:3)
3.264 x 2.448 pixels (4:3)
2.560 x 1.440 pixels (16:9)
2.048 x 1.536 pixels (4:3)
640 x 480 pixels (4:3)
Image formats JPG, RAW
Color depth
Metadata Exif (version 2.21), DCF standard
Video resolution
1.920 x 1.080 (16:9) 25 p
1.280 x 720 (16:9) 50 p
Video format
MOV (Codec Motion JPEG)
AVCHD (Codec H.264)
MPG4 [codec MPEG-4]

Lens

Focal length 25 to 600 mm (35mm equivalent) 24x zoom – Digital zoom 4x
Sharpness range 30 cm to infinity (wide angle) 200 cm to infinity (telephoto)
Macro area 1 cm (wide angle) 100 cm (telephoto)
Aperture F2.8 to F8 (wide angle) F5.2 to F8 (telephoto)
Autofocus yes
Autofocus functions Single AF, Continuous AF, Manual, AF Assist Light
Filter thread 52 mm

Viewfinder and monitor

Monitor 3.0″ TFT LCD monitor with 460,000 pixels
Video finder Video viewfinder available

Exposure

Exposure metering Center-weighted integral measurement, matrix/multi-field measurement, spot measurement
Exposure times 1/2,000 to 15 s (automatic)
Exposure control Programmed automatic, Shutter priority, Aperture priority, Manual
Exposure bracketing function Bracketing function with a maximum of 3 shots, 1/3 to 1 EV increments
Exposure Compensation -2.0 to +2.0 EV with step size of 1/3 EV
Photosensitivity ISO 100 to ISO 3,200 (manual)
Remote access non-existent
Scene modes Baby, fireworks, candlelight, landscape, aerial view, night portrait, party, portrait, sunset, food, sports, starry sky, beach/snow, and animals
Picture effects Pinhole camera
White balance Clouds, Sun, Shadow, Flash, Manual
Continuous shooting 40 fps at the highest resolution, high-speed mode 60B/s at max. 3.5-megapixel resolution
Self-timer Self-timer with 2 s interval, special features: or 10 s (optional)
Recording functions Live histogram

Flashgun Of The Panasonic Lumix FZ150

Flash built-in flash (hinged) Flash shoe: Olympus/Panasonic (also Leica compact camera), standard center contact
Flash range 0.3 to 9.5 m at wide-angle 1.0 to 5.1 m at teleflash range
at ISO auto
Flash functions Auto, fill-in flash, flash on, flash off, slow sync, red-eye reduction

Equipment And Features

Image stabilizer optical image stabilizer
Memory
SD
Internal memory yes (70 MByte)
Microphone Stereo
Power supply unit Power supply connection
Power supply 1 x Lithium-ion (Li-Ion) battery (7.2 V, 895 mAh) 410 pictures according to CIPA standard
Playback functions Image index, slide show function
Face recognition Face recognition
Grille can be faded in during recording yes
Connections Data interfaces: USB – USB type: USB 2.0 – High Speed Video output
: yes (HDMI output Micro (Type D))
Supported direct printing methods PictBridge
Tripod thread 1/4″
Special features and miscellaneous Face Detection and Detection Optical
Image Stabilizer O.I.S.
2-axis color temperature fine-tuning High
ISO mode (1600 to 6400)
“Starry Sky” program 15 and 30s Exposure time Automatic
backlight correctionWorld time function Travel time function Stereo Microphone3D recording

Size and weight

Weight 528 g (ready for operation)
Dimensions W x H x D 124 x 82 x 95 mm

Miscellaneous

standard accessory Li-ion battery charger Video connection cable USB connection cable Lens cover Lens hoodBackstrapImage editing software

PHOTO fun Studio HD 56.5Image editing software
Silkypix Developer Studio 3.1 SE

additional accessories Olympus FL-700WR attachable flash with swivel reflector Replacement rechargeable battery Power supplyRemovable memory cardTele-converterCamera bag
USB
USB 2.0 High Speed

 

Previous articleSony NEX 5 Review
Next articleSony NEX 3 Review
Peter Dench
I am Peter Dench. Digital Photographer, born in London 1972, currently living in Deerfield, near Chicago. I have numerous photography expositions and also working in model photography. In this website, PhotoPoint, I usually review cameras provided by local dealers in Illinois and by the manufacturers. Sometimes I, Peter Dench, review lenses too, but only when I have a suitable camera for them. Please let me know in the comments if I can improve any of these articles.