Panasonic Lumix FZ200 Review

In order to stand out from the flood of digital cameras, a manufacturer has to come up with something. Less fashionable accessories such as bright colours or even patterned housings are important for the committed photographer, but rather technical features. Extreme focal length ranges and special comfort functions or effect filters are usually already worn out. Panasonic stands out with its unique selling proposition of a continuous light intensity of 2.8 across the entire focal length range from 25 to 600 millimetres (KB). In our test laboratory and in an extensive practical test, the Lumix DMC-FZ200 had to show what it is capable of in addition to its high luminous intensity.

In 2015, the FZ300 appeared in the market to replace this camera.

Short evaluation

Pros

  • Long battery life
  • Versatile video options
  • Very extensive equipment
  • Lens with high light output but open aperture capability

Cons

  • Autofocus in telescopic position quite slow
  • Moderate image quality when aperture is closed
  • Disturbing background noise already at ISO 100
  • Somewhat cheap looking housing material

Panasonic Lumix FZ200 Review

Panasonic was once known for superzoom cameras with a Leica lens and a continuous speed of F2.8. That was almost ten years ago and at that time a tenfold zoom was called a superzoom, which is now found in the smallest compact cameras (although not as fast). The Lumix DMC-FZ200 now continues this tradition, but features a 24x optical zoom of 25-600 millimeters. The light intensity is again F2.8 throughout and the Leica label is just as important as the optical image stabilizer. This makes the FZ200 a full two f-stops brighter than its competitors at the end of the telephoto range and also gives it a clear advantage when it comes to noise, as the ISO sensitivity can be reduced from 400 to 100 accordingly, for example. The lens consists of 14 lenses in eleven groups and is nano-coated. In addition, one UHR element, three ED lenses and five aspherical lenses with a total of nine aspherical surfaces are used. Especially the distortion in the wide angle and the color fringes in the telephoto area should be minimized.

 

Panasonic Lumix FZ200 Review

 

Ergonomics and workmanship

The Panasonic FZ200 doesn’t stand out at all with its typical bridge camera look – it’s very similar to a small SLR. Despite the powerful lens it even looks quite dainty. Nevertheless, the grip also lies perfectly in the big hand. The shutter release and zoom rocker are easily accessible with the index finger and even one-hand operation is possible. The reasonable weight of about 600 grams conveys a certain solidity, even though the case is made of plastic and looks a bit cheap. The AV/USB and HDMI connectors on the right side of the housing as well as the connector for the external microphone on the left are protected against contamination by inconspicuous plastic caps. However, the combined memory card and battery compartment is hidden behind a solid flap with a neat lock. Unfortunately, the tripod thread sits well outside the optical axis and very close to the hinge, so even a tiny quick-release plate blocks access to the memory card and battery. Discreetly hidden there is at least an opening at the bottom of the housing, which serves to lead through the battery dummy cable. At least the battery does not have to be changed during stationary operation.

Panasonic Lumix FZ200 Review

Most keys are located close to the thumb and all make a consistently neat impression. The central main program selector clicks into the ten positions, but is still easy to adjust. Since it has no stop, any function can be achieved by the shortest possible route. In addition to the usual functions, there are also two freely configurable positions. On the top of the camera, there is a function button and a switch for setting the continuous-advance functions in addition to the two shutter-release buttons for taking pictures and videos. The back provides a further five keys, two of which can be assigned individually. A knurled wheel completes the equipment. Of course, the usual four-way rocker is not missing either. Since all buttons are quite generously dimensioned and still have enough space, operation is not difficult even blindly after a short time.

Panasonic Lumix FZ200 Review

But the bridge camera also convinces with video recordings. In FullHD it films with 50 frames per second, in HD with 100 frames per second and in VGA resolution even with 200 frames per second, which already allows considerable slow motion. The 1/2.3-inch small MOS sensor resolves twelve megapixels. At full resolution, the high-speed sensor can take twelve continuous shots per second. With tracking autofocus, 5.5 frames per second are possible.

Panasonic Lumix FZ200 Review

Another improvement concerns the electronic viewfinder, which now resolves fine 1.3 million pixels. The frame rate has been doubled from 30 to 60 frames per second. In contrast, the rear rotating and swivelling screen still “only” achieves 460,000 pixels with a diagonal of three inches. Photos and videos can be taken with numerous automatic modes, scene programs, creative filters or semi-automatically as well as manually exposed. HDR images and the electronic spirit level are further innovations of the FZ200. The large 1,200 mAh battery is sufficient for a full 540 recordings according to the CIPA standard measurement procedure. Panasonic has also improved the zoom lever on the left side of the lens, and with three freely assignable buttons, the photographer should be able to adapt the camera even better to his own needs. The FZ200 can be expanded with both a system flash unit and a stereo microphone. An HDMI connection is no more missing than a remote trigger connection. The FZ200 is also capable of RAW recording, panorama mode and 3D photography.

While in “intelligent automatic mode” the camera controls almost everything itself and allows only little influence, in other modes the photographer can determine a lot himself. The wheel above the thumb recess acts as a program shift or aperture ring, changes parameters or changes to another function after a short press. In manual mode, for example, you can switch between aperture and shutter speed, which is very practical. To change the focal length, the Panasonic not only has the familiar zoom lever on the shutter release, but also a second slide switch on the left of the lens. Both buttons offer two speed levels. This enables very comfortable and precise zooming. The button on the lens can also be assigned the manual focus. This could work much better with the eye on the viewfinder than the fumbling on the thumbwheel, if the focus motor only responds slightly more sensitively and directly. You can also select between AF, Macro AF and MF directly on the lens barrel, whereby the photographer can be helped to focus with an additional button in manual mode. But more about this in the “Equipment” section.

Panasonic Lumix FZ200 Review

Panasonic Lumix FZ200 Review

Excursions to the menu are rarely necessary, as most functions can be selected directly. Depending on the operating mode, the menus may vary in length: In the simplest case there are only four pages, in the most complex there are six in the shooting menu alone and a total of fifteen. This has the advantage of not unnecessarily confusing beginners, but on the other hand allows experienced users enough fine-tuning. The menu is quite clear, all functions are distributed on three or four tabs, which are subdivided again several times. In principle, all settings are easy to find, only a little longer scrolling is sometimes necessary – this is unavoidable with this wealth of functions. Do not forget the flash, which has to be manually folded out of the viewfinder housing even when fully automatic. Unfortunately, the mechanism is quite rickety and raises the flash only slightly above the optical axis. This leads to typical compact camera lighting such as red eyes and unattractive flat lighting. It is a good thing that the accessory shoe accommodates an external flash unit.

The electronic viewfinder of the Lumix FZ200 leaves a twofold impression: On the one hand, it is sufficiently sharp and fine-pixed, but on the other hand, it goes a little in the direction of tunnel vision. Not quite as with other models, but it is much more possible with today’s technology. The model we tested also had a strange flickering when zooming in and a jerking when panning fast. The display is much better. It is anchored to the left edge of the case so that it can be rotated and swivelled in all directions, has a fine enough resolution of 460,000 pixels, and is clear and brilliant. All the usual image information can be displayed, including various grids and a histogram. An exposure preview simulates the FZ200 when the shutter release button for focusing is pressed halfway. Uncomfortable is that you have to switch between viewfinder and display at the push of a button, an automatic would be appropriate here.

Equipment

A camera that reaches the dimensions of system cameras in terms of price must leave nothing to be desired, not even in terms of speed. After switching on, the powerful lens moves to the start position and the FZ200 is ready to shoot in about one second. Unfortunately, access to the menu or other functions is delayed by another long second due to memory card access. Once this forced pause has been overcome, the Lumix reacts quite quickly to key commands. In contrast, there is hardly anything left to be desired when it comes to the speed of the series shot. Photos are taken at up to 12 frames per second at full resolution and up to 60 frames per second at 2.5 megapixel reduced resolution. The recording time is one second at a time, then the internal memory is full and the camera is busy with image processing, while it refuses further commands.

Of course, the latest Lumix Bridge has much more to offer. In the “intelligent” automatic mode, it can make all decisions itself or be operated completely manually. Therefore, it is suitable for photo beginners and even children, but also grows with the demands. In addition to the usual automatic functions, the camera offers 18 scene programs, including the usual portrait, landscape and sports programs. The automatic panorama function takes photos in quick succession during a 360-degree pan and combines them to form a widescreen image. The maximum resolution is indeed limited to 8,000 x 1,440 pixels, but as long as there are no moving objects in the picture and one swivels evenly, the quality is impeccable. The HDR automatic also uses a fast image sequence to create high-contrast images from overexposed and underexposed images. The results are convincing and also impress with less noise in the dark areas. Meanwhile a must: the 3D program, which also takes photos with a fast image sequence when the camera is tilted, and which can be viewed spatially on appropriately equipped televisions.

Panasonic Lumix FZ200 Review

The autofocus module can be configured quite differentiated. There is single and continuous AF, focus tracking and face recognition that detects up to six registered individuals, as well as a fully manual mode with screen magnifier. Unfortunately, the indirect transmission of the control commands makes manual focusing somewhat spongy. After all, the screen magnifier switches on quickly for precise control. If you don’t want to miss out on comfort in manual mode, press the little button on the left side of the lens and the automatic system will do its job reliably. When measuring distance, the photographer can trust the 23 AF fields or select a focus field whose size and position can be adjusted. The light meter also provides a choice of multi-field, centre-weighted or spot metering, which leaves nothing to be desired in critical lighting situations.

A live histogram, which shows exposure details even before the shot is taken, should help the photographer to find the optimal exposure. Unfortunately, with a size of about one square centimetre, it is only conditionally meaningful. After recording, the histogram is supplemented by the overexposure warning, which can be activated in the menu. For creative players, the Lumix offers a wide range of image influencing parameters: Pictures with strongly saturated colors, various monochrome variations, toy effects and much more.

Panasonic Lumix FZ200 Review

Panasonic Lumix FZ200 Review

The camera is also very interesting for videographers. The FZ200 records in either AVCHD or MP4 format, with a choice of three qualities. In addition, high-speed mode records movies at up to 200 frames per second in VGA resolution. Playback takes place with eightfold time stretching. With all normal video modes, the lens can be zoomed in, the optical zoom works very quietly and without leaving any noise on the audio track. The sound recording can be further improved by connecting an external microphone, which can then also be better protected against wind noise. If the subject doesn’t move too fast, the AF module even manages to hold the focus. Only at the long end does the Lumix succeed increasingly hesitantly. The image stabilizer, on the other hand, holds the image firmly in place. In conjunction with the large initial aperture, which is maintained up to the maximum focal length, the FZ200 can show its strengths especially in video mode. This is how filming is really fun.

The possibilities for editing recordings are very extensive. High contrasts can be compensated with “Autocorrection”. Images can also be rotated, cropped and the resolution changed. But the 14 creative filters from the recording menu are also available afterwards. The camera saves the editing result as a new file, so the original is preserved. In addition, video films can be split quite comfortably and cleaned of superfluous areas.

Picture quality

A moderate 12 megapixels on the admittedly somewhat small 1/2.3-inch sensor in combination with the fast zoom lens promise a reasonable image quality.

In any case, the resolution measurement shows that excellent values of around 40 line pairs per millimeter can be achieved even with the aperture open. Towards the long focal length, the resolution gets only slightly worse, but dipping doesn’t really bring much. From f-stop 5.6 the resolution decreases again and then drops significantly at f-stop 8. Positive: the lens is therefore fully open aperture suitable and should be used in the same way! This even applies to almost the entire field of view, only in the wide angle a clear loss of sharpness towards the edge can be seen. Also vignetting and distortion are low or almost invisible, in any case not problematic. If you want to give the lens another reprimand, it is because of its tendency to chromatic aberration. However, this error is more likely to occur at the long end of the telephoto and only slightly exceeds the visible 1.5 pixels. When dipping down, this error increases especially in the wide angle. This is probably one of the reasons why the resolution with open aperture is almost the best.

Panasonic Lumix FZ200 Review

The sensor of the FZ200 doesn’t have too many pixels, but it is quite small. In the measurement laboratory he showed a relatively low signal-to-noise ratio. Even the input sensitivity does not significantly exceed the critical value of 35 dB. Up to ISO 1.600 it falls moderately but continuously. The sharpness of the texture, in which fine, irregular details are transferred, confirms this behaviour. Already at ISO 400 the loss of texture exceeds the inconspicuous range and becomes clearly visible from ISO 1.600. The input dynamic, however, oscillates around a good 10 f-stops up to ISO 800 and only decreases at higher sensitivities. The best image quality is therefore obtained at ISO 100 and open aperture. Enlarged at the pixel level, the FZ200’s images nevertheless appear slightly artificially structured. For prints up to A4 this is no problem.

The Panasonic scores again with colour fidelity. The FZ200 is characterised by only slightly falsified colour reproduction and excellent white balance at the same time. The shutter release delay with and without pre-focus is a fast tenth of a second, only at the long end the autofocus slows down to 0.6 seconds. During the entire test period, the battery only had to be recharged once, despite intensive use of the display! I liked this very much.

Bottom line

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200 leaves a mixed impression. On the one hand, the lens has good imaging performance over the entire focal length range when the aperture is open. On the other hand, the image quality collapses during dimming and the sensor already trickles at ISO 100. The image distortions should become visible during large magnifications. The equipment, on the other hand, is enormous, especially for videographers the FZ200 offers many possibilities. From beginners to dedicated amateurs, the Lumix offers almost limitless possibilities. In view of the key data of the lens, it remains quite handy. So if you are looking for a fully equipped camera with a uniquely powerful giant zoom lens, but can limit yourself to 20 x 30 cm images, the FZ200 is a handy all-rounder with great video capabilities and long battery life.

Fact sheet

Fact sheet
Manufacturer Panasonic
Model FZ200
Price approx. 590 EUR
Sensor Resolution 12 megapixels
Max. Image resolution 4.000 x 3.000
(aspect ratio) (4:3)
Lens F2,8/25-600 mm
Filter threads 52 mm
Viewfinder electronic
Disbandment 1.312.000
Field coverage 100 %
Diopter correction yes
LCD monitor 3″
Disbandment 460.000
rotatable yes
swivelling yes
as viewfinder yes
Video output AV and HDMI
(each PAL/NTSC)
Program automation yes
Aperture priority yes
Aperture priority yes
manual exposure yes
BULB long-term exposure
Scene modes
Portrait yes
Children/Babies yes
Countryside yes
Macro
Sports/Action yes
more 14
Exposure metering Multi-field, Centre-weighted Integral, Spot
Flash yes
Flash connection TTL system flash shoe
Remote release
Interval shooting
Storage medium SD/SDHC/SDXC
Video mode
Size AVCHD or MP4
Codec MPEG-4/AVC
Resolution (max.) 1.920 x 1.080
Frame rate (max.) 50p
Sensitivity
automatic ISO 100-3.200
(upper limit adjustable)
extended ISO 100-6.400
manually ISO 100-3.200
White balance
Automatic yes
Sun yes
Clouds yes
Fluorescent lamp
Light bulb yes
Other Lightning bolt
Manual yes
Autofocus
Number of measuring fields 23
AF auxiliary light Red-orange
Speed approx. 0.1-0.6 s
Languages Yes
more 15
Weight
(ready)
600 g
Zoom
Zoom adjustment motorised via ring rocker
One-hand operation
(zoom and shutter release)
yes
Battery life approx. 540 pictures
– = “not applicable” or “not available”

 

This test of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200 was created with DXOMARK Analyzer.

Short evaluation

Pros

  • Long battery life
  • Versatile video options
  • Very extensive equipment
  • Lens with high light output but open aperture capability

Cons

  • Autofocus in telescopic position quite slow
  • Moderate image quality when aperture is closed
  • Disturbing background noise already at ISO 100
  • Somewhat cheap looking housing material

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200 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)
Pixel pitch 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)
Picture formats JPG, RAW
Colour depth k. A.
Metadata Exif (version 2.3), DCF standard
Video resolution
1.920 x 1.080 (16:9) 50 p
1.280 x 720 (16:9) 100 p
640 x 480 (4:3) 100 p
Video format
MPG4 (codec MPEG-4)
AVCHD (Codec H.264)

Lens

Focal length 25 to 600 mm (35mm equivalent
)24x ZoomDigital zoom
4x
Focus range 30 cm to infinity (wide-angle
)100 cm to infinity (telephoto)
Macro sector 1 cm (wide-angle
)100 cm (telephoto)
Apertures F2.8 to F8 (wide-angle
)F2.8 to F8 (telephoto)
Autofocus yes
Autofocus Functions Single autofocus, Continuous autofocus, Tracking autofocus, Manual, AF Assist Light
Filter threads 52 mm

Viewfinder and Monitor

Monitor 3.0″ TFT LCD monitor with 460,000 pixels, swivels 180°, rotates 180
Video viewfinder Video viewfinder available

Exposure

Exposure metering Center-weighted integral measurement, matrix/multi-field measurement, spot measurement
Exposure times 1/4,000 to 60 s (automatic)
Exposure control Program automatic, Aperture automatic, Time automatic, Manual
Bracketing function Bracket function with maximum 3 shots, step size from 1/3 to 1 EV
Exposure compensation -2.0 to +2.0 EV with step size of 1/3 EV
Sensitivity to light ISO 100 to ISO 6.400 (automatic
)ISO 100 to ISO 6.400 (manual)
Remote access non-existent
Scene modes Baby, various motif programs, fireworks, candlelight, landscape, aerial photo, night portrait, party, portrait, sunset, food, sports, starry sky, beach/snow, animals, 0 more motif programs
Picture effects Pinhole camera
White balance Clouds, Sun, Shadow, Flash, Manual
Continuous shooting 12 fps at highest resolution, 5.5 fps with AF tracking; high-speed mode 40 fps at 5 megapixels and 60 fps at 3.5 megapixels
Self-timer Self-timer at intervals of 2 s, special features: or 10 s (optional)
Shooting functions Live histogram

Flashgun

Flash built-in flash (hinged
)Flash shoe: Olympus/Panasonic (also Leica compact camera), standard center contact
Flash range 0.3 to 13.5 m at wide-angle1
.0 to 13.5 m at telephoto flash range
at ISO auto
Flash functions Auto, Fill Flash, Flash On, Flash Off, Slow Sync, Red-eye Reduction

Equipment

Image stabilizer optical image stabilizer
Memory
SD
Internal memory yes (70 MByte)
Microphone Stereo
Power supply Power supply connection
Power supply 1 x Lithium ion (Li-Ion) battery (7.2 V, 1,200 mAh
)540 images according to CIPA standard
Playback Functions Picture index, slide show function
Face recognition Face recognition
Grid can be faded in during recording yes
Ports Data interfaces: USB USB Type
: USB 2.0 High Speed Audio Output
: noAudio Input
: noVideo Output
: yes (HDMI Output Micro (Type D))
Supported direct printing methods PictBridge
Tripod socket 1/4″
Features and Miscellaneous Face Detection and Capture Optical
Image Stabilizer O.I.S.
2-axis color temperature fine tuningHigh
ISO mode (1,600 to 6,400)
“Starry Sky” program 15 and 30s Auto
Backlight CompensationWorld Time FunctionTravel Time FunctionStereoMicrophone 3D Capture

Size and weight

Weight 588 g (operational)
Dimensions W x H x D 125 x 87 x 110 mm

Other

included accessories Li-Ion batteryChargerVideo connector cableUSB connector cableLens coverBacklight hoodHarness

strapPhotoFun Studio 8.3 Premium image editing software
Silkypix Developer Studio
image editing software

optional accessory Olympus FL-700WR Slip-on flash with swivel reflectorSpare batteryPower supplyRemovable memory cardTeleconverterStereomicrophoneRemote cable releaseCamera bag
USB
USB 2.0 High Speed

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