Panasonic Lumix FZ28 Review

Panasonic Lumix FZ28 Review

Among the digital cameras without interchangeable lens connection, they are the “jack-of-all-trades”: The so-called super-zoom cameras (sometimes even called mega-zoom or ultra-zoom cameras) impress with enormous zoom power at the smallest dimensions. One of them is the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ28, which zooms over an 18x focal length range from 27 to 486 millimetres and, in addition to this heavy lens gun, also boasts a whole arsenal of intelligent automatic mechanisms designed to make life and photography easier for its user.

Brief assessment


  • Improved noise performance compared to the previous generation (but still high typical for compact cameras)
  • HDTV-compatible video resolution and HD component output (for A/V output)
  • Optical zoom can be used during video recording
  • Extremely comprehensive range of different camera automation systems


  • Battery/memory card compartment not accessible in tripod mode
  • No auto popup flash (automatic flash ejection or release)
  • Outdated Motion JPEG codec in video mode
  • Very small (electronic) viewfinder image

Ergonomics and Workmanship

The design of Panasonic’s FC models has not changed significantly over the years. The DMC-FZ28 also has a mini-DSLR-like design with external dimensions of 118 x 75 x 89 millimetres and a weight (including battery, memory card and lens cap) of 426 grams. The case looks cleanly processed, makes a solid as well as valuable impression despite the omnipresent presence of plastic, and lies reasonably good, respectively firm in the hand. The rubberized grip surface in a leather look has a small depression that contributes to the grip; on the back of the camera, everything looks a bit crammed together, but the ergonomics don’t really suffer in practice.

The 6.8 cm color screen (2.7″ TFT LCD) takes up the largest space. Its resolution of 230,000 pixels is somewhat modest by today’s standards (and is only sufficient for a rough estimate of sharpness), is not one of the most luminous LCDs on the market and reflects a little, but does not jerk at fast camera pans, produces little to no noise in low light and, thanks to the high-angle function, allows overhead shots or similar even without a pan/tilt mechanism. (the liquid crystals are simply realigned). Additional screen modes or settings are available in the form of an automatic or manual Power LCD mode (especially useful for outdoor shooting in bright sunlight) and a classic brightness control with seven brightness levels.

The screen is accompanied by an electronic viewfinder. Anyone who has ever had a look into the excellent electronic viewfinder of the new DMC-G1 from the same manufacturer will get a shiver down their spine when looking through the eyepiece of the DMC-FZ28 (the viewfinder image is comparatively small and, unlike the G1 viewfinder, miles away from the comfort of current DSLR viewfinders). Here, too, the screen resolution is a bit tight (201,000 pixels), but the pixel grid is extremely fine. A diopter adjustment/adjustment (-4 to +4 dpt.) is also available.

While the design of the FZ models has not changed much over the years, the operating concept has been continuously developed further. The main controls on the DMC-FZ28 are the upper program dial, the ring-shaped zoom lever with the shutter release button, the mode switch (recording and playback modes are separate on the newer Lumix models), the control button panel on the back of the camera (the control buttons also function as function buttons) and the knobbed miniature joystick (also on the back of the camera). Due to the lack of a front and a rear control dial, the latter serves, among other things, for the fast adjustment of shutter speed/exposure time and aperture in case of manual exposure control or still for the adjustment of the distance in case of manual focusing; but its most important function is to call up the so-called quick menu. This allows the access to many important camera adjustments (among others resolution, exposure metering mode, image stabilizer adjustments) without having to open the big camera menu by pressing the set-button in the middle of the control panel. Due to the separation of the recording and the playback mode, it remains halfway clear in the large menu; the screen shots that accompany this test report show how it looks like in the menu. All in all, the operation of the DMC-FZ28 takes some getting used to and is sometimes a bit fiddly, but for a camera of this size and “genre” it is well thought out.

The slightly offset position of the metal tripod thread (i.e. a little off the optical axis for panoramic photography) is almost typical for superzoom cameras. If you mount the DMC-FZ28 on a tripod, the battery compartment on the bottom of the camera cannot be opened anymore. This is all the more annoying as the memory card (SD/SDHC and, to a limited extent, MMC) can also be stored on it. Thus, it is better to start with a fully charged battery and an empty big memory card. The hinged hard plastic flaps of the camera’s two connector strips (USB 2.0/AV combo connector with analogue PAL/NTSC TV signal and PictBridge compatibility as well as 8.4 Volt power connector with standard 3.5mm jack socket on the left camera side and digital HD video output for optional component cable on the right camera side) are a nice touch – this is a change from the rather impractical rubber connector strip covers of other cameras.


The bridge camera concept can not only be understood to bridge the gap between compact cameras and SLR cameras, but is also aimed at both beginners and advanced users. The latter are already offered a whole range of intervention and setting options, such as the choice of metering mode (multi-field, center-weighted integral, spot), manual presetting of shutter speed and/or aperture, insertion of various visual aids to shooting (live histogram, highlighting of shadows and highlights, grid, etc.), input of exposure corrections, calling up exposure bracketing, etc.

If you prefer to operate the DMC-FZ28 in “worry-free mode”, for example, you can choose one of no fewer than 38 scene modes. In addition to the Panasonic classics such as the baby or pet modes (in these modes the age of the little creature is recalculated for each shot after entering the date of birth and, if desired, brought into the photo), there are now subcategories for the scene programs on the program dial. For example, the landscape mode is divided into the categories “Normal”, “Nature shot”, “Architecture” and “Creative”. Among other things, the extended motif program collection (SCN position on the program dial) also includes such newly added curiosities as the pinhole camera mode (for images with pronounced vignetting effect) or the sandblasting mode (for images with strongly emphasized grain). For most of the programs there are small explanatory texts on demand, but sometimes you have the feeling of being literally overwhelmed by the countless motif programs. In this case, the intelligent fully automatic (iA or intelligentAuto program) is recommended. Here, for example, the camera automatically switches to portrait mode when it detects one or more faces, switches to macro when shooting from a short to very short distance, and can adjust to other typical shooting situations such as landscapes, night scenes, or people in the dark by itself. With moving subjects, the camera sensitivity automatically increases to prevent blur, and if camera shake or increased risk of camera shake is detected, the camera’s built-in optical image stabilizer will operate automatically. The camera responds to backlighting situations with automatic exposure compensation; the Quick AF function is activated to shorten the shutter release time.

In principle, the camera’s built-in miniature flash would also switch on automatically in iA mode if it were not explicitly unlocked by pressing a button. Due to the lack of automatic pop-up, the small light dispenser doesn’t pop up automatically, so that the DMC-FZ28 doesn’t flash so “overzealously” in opposition to the recently tested DMC-TZ5, but rather increases the light sensitivity. You can set limits to this light sensitivity level adjustment if you are concerned about image noise (upper limit can be set to 200, 400, 800, or 1600 ISO). Like the intelligent exposure function (= automatic compensation of high contrasts), the intelligent ISO function can also be used individually, i.e. in other exposure programs, as part of the intelligent auto function or switched off completely if required.

If you take pictures with flash, there are several flash functions available (flash auto, flash sync, flash exposure compensation, forced flash, etc.). The on-board flash illuminates relatively evenly, has little tendency to overflash even at short distances, works in a special subject program even in continuous shooting mode (with throttled frame rate) and emits white light in a color-neutral manner, but has a very limited range. And if you forget to activate the corresponding flash setting before taking the picture, red eyes cannot be automatically detected and retouched by the camera afterwards. The just mentioned continuous shooting mode has two settings: In one, the rate of capture is limited (3 to 5 consecutive frames at 2.5 frames per second, depending on the image-quality setting) and in the other, theoretically unlimited (2 frames per second until the shutter-release button is released or the memory card or the camera’s 50MB internal memory is full). The DMC-FZ28 can film with optical image stabilisation, with the option of using the optical zoom (but at a much slower zoom speed) and with a memory card even in HDTV-720p video mode (max. 1,280 x 720 pixels at 30 or 15 fps). However, even when using larger memory cards, you cannot film for hours because there is a 2 GByte limit for video recording and the camera does not use any modern form of image compression (MPEG-4 or H.264 or DivX). Other features of the DMC-FZ28 include a world time clock with travel date function, various colour modes (b/w, sepia, warm tones, rich colours, automatic colour effect rows etc.), some personalisation options (two user programs on the program dial, picture parameter settings, reassignable function key), a voice memo function and numerous playback functions (e.g. crop, rotate, contrast, label pictures).


The former superzoom cameras have long since mutated into mega-zoom or even ultra-zoom cameras. Marketing departments are not stingy with superlatives to advertise the enormous focal length ranges of such cameras, and because today’s zoom giants also have to go further into the wide-angle range to remain competitive, the DMC-FZ28 does. The 18x optical zoom covers a focal length range of the equivalent of 27 to 486 millimetres (based on the 35mm format); the zoom noise is very discreet, and the DMC-FZ28 takes about 2.7 seconds to cover the entire focal length range. The zoom is controlled by the ring rocker at the top of the shutter release button. The zoom control is very sensitive and allows precise definition of the image section; as the lens moves from wide-angle to telephoto, the speed decreases progressively (from F2.8 at the WW end to F4.4 at the telephoto end) and the moving part of the lens barrel extends up to 2.5 cm out of the camera body.

The Leica lettering on the lens indicates that the quality inspection was carried out in accordance with Leica standards and, in some cases, with Leica brand inspection/measuring instruments. The zoom is internally composed of 11 lens elements (including 3 aspherical elements and 2 ED lenses) divided into 8 groups. A lens group is movable and serves to compensate for tremors. Interested readers will find a detailed description of the functions of this so-called Mega-O.I.S. system (Mega Optical Image Stabilizer) in previous articles and reports on Panasonic products. The risk of camera shake is naturally greater at telephoto than at wide-angle; incidentally, blur caused by subject movement is not corrected, at least not with the image stabilizer. There are other means against such motion blur. This allows you to set a safe shutter speed limit in the camera menu that must not be exceeded. Instead of extending the exposure time, either the light sensitivity is then increased or the on-board flash is switched on automatically, both if necessary. The camera’s autofocus system takes care of the correct distance setting. Depending on the settings and the subject, it automatically focuses on faces (the fairly fast and reliable face recognition system can distinguish up to 15 faces) or captures subjects in a more or less wide range (1, 3, 5 or 11 AF points). In both cases, the autofocus is able to keep track of moving subjects (even with focus tracking). Otherwise, there is the possibility to switch to a high-speed mode (to save time, the camera sometimes focuses in advance), to have the camera focus on a point of your choice (area AF) or to switch to manual focusing (with focus magnifier and distance scale) at the push of a button. At short distances (the camera can focus down to 1 cm), it is not necessary to switch to macro mode, but sometimes focusing is a little faster when the macro mode is activated manually.

Image quality

The creators of the zoom-intensive Lumix were well aware of the fact that digital cameras have long been in a critical area – in terms of image quality – when, as with the DMC-FZ28, over 10 million pixels are crowded on a tiny image sensor the size of a fingernail. So a new camera or signal processing processor called Venus Engine IV has been developed, whose capabilities include, among other things, the ability to first remove the background noise from the image being created (in a way comparable to the pre-wash cycle of a washing machine) and then to split the remaining image noise into high and low frequency noise, in order to treat only the latter intensively. The high-frequency noise is largely spared by the noise suppression, because otherwise it would affect the resolution. In the following noise reduction “corridors”, the noise is then separated into brightness and color noise; when suppressing color noise, Panasonic says that more attention should now be paid to ensuring that no color stains are created as a result of noise reduction.

This does not seem to be an empty marketing gimmick. The DMC-FZ28 also noises visibly and increasingly in the low sensitivity levels, but at least up to ISO 800 it doesn’t disturb. The days of watercolor images are over; noise is low at ISO 100, and when enhanced noise reduction starts at ISO 800, it’s not as detrimental to fine image detail as with previous generations of Lumix. In any case, the high-ISO noise reduction doesn’t change anything in the high-frequency brightness noise, while practically no color noise is visible. Nevertheless, the ISO 1600 level should be reserved for small-format prints (9 x 13 cm to 10 x 15 cm, and to a limited extent also 13 x 18 cm).


The DMC-FZ28 is therefore capable of more than correct image quality even in low light. In addition, there is the reasonably fast lens (F2.8 to F4.4), which achieves good to very good performance values even with a completely open aperture. The edge dimming is low, and the lens distortion is low even at wide angle; the edge dimming of the resolution is lowest at the center focal length or the resolution is highest at this zoom position. In fact, it is recommended not to fade too much, as diffraction effects occur even when fading by one level, which affects the resolution.

The sharpness of the DMC-FZ28 is low and shows little dependence on the alignment of the resharpened edges. Only on the light side of edges can somewhat unnatural-looking overdrive effects (visible in the form of slightly “glowing” outlines) occur. Somewhat pronounced are also the image defects on fine structures. The interference of the camera electronics in the image result is sometimes severe and causes significant artifacts. This is not disturbing as long as you do not want to edit the pictures from your camera on the computer later.

The DMC-FZ28 copes relatively well with strong subject contrasts; input dynamics are good apart from ISO 400. The output dynamic range is very good up to ISO 400, but is then limited in the higher ISO sensitivities by the somewhat high black level. The tonal value reproduction is neutral and precise from the slightly softer lights up to the medium brightness levels, and becomes increasingly low-contrast in the shadows. In most cases, the DMC-FZ28 exposes quite well for a compact camera. In many cases, automatic white balance can be relied upon – but not always. But due to the numerous possibilities of intervention (fine white balance correction, manual white point storage with two memories, direct color temperature input or RAW recording with subsequent white balance) and the various white balance presets (among which only one preset for fluorescent light is missing), this is not an unavoidable problem. Colors are reproduced vividly, but without significant deviation from the hue; the coordination of the two quality levels per resolution setting (either visually lossless but with increased memory requirements or with double the number of images with compression artifacts that become partially visible) is considered good for such a camera.


Even though Panasonic asserts to the press that the category of super zoom or bridge cameras will remain, the future of such cameras seems uncertain in view of the emerging Micro-FourThirds standard. The DMC-FZ28 has its own competition from the DMC-G1, which has a much more convenient electronic viewfinder, better expandability (including interchangeable lenses and attachable flash units) and, last but not least, a higher image quality with similar compact dimensions. Those who can do without such comfort features, don’t want to change the lens anyway and are satisfied with the meanwhile quite high image quality of the FC models or Panasonic cameras with an especially small image sensor, will get a powerful little camera with the DMC-FZ28 that is well equipped for most of the shooting opportunities. And saves a good 250 EUR (compared to the G1 for example). With such a saving, one can ask oneself if a camera with a fixed zoom does not do the same.


Manufacturer Panasonic
Model Lumix DMC-FZ28
Price approx. EUR 450
Sensor Resolution 10.1 megapixels
Max. Image resolution 3.648 x 2.736
(aspect ratio) (4:3)
Lens F2.8-4.4/27-486mm
Filter thread 46 mm
Viewfinder EVF (201,000 pixels)
Dioptre compensation -4 to +4 dpt.
LCD monitor 2,7″
Resolution 230.000
as Viewfinder yes
Video output Composite, HDMI
as Viewfinder
Automatic programming yes
Automatic aperture control yes
Automatic timer yes
manual exposure yes
BULB long time exposure
Scene modes
Portrait yes
Children/baby yes
Landscape yes
Macro yes
Sports/action yes
More 32 additional scene modes are available
Exposure metering Multi-field, centre-weighted Integral, Spot
Flash yes
Guide number 9.1 (measurement)
Flash connection
Remote release
Interval recording
Storage medium SD/SDHC, MMC (photo only)
Video mode
Format MOV (Quicktime)
Codec Motion-JPEG
Resolution (max.) 1.280 x 720
Frame rate (max.) 30 frames/s
automatically ISO 100-400
(ISO 100-1.000 with flash)
extended ISO 1.600-6.400 (at reduced resolution)
manually ISO 100-1,600
White balance
Automatic yes
Sun yes
Clouds yes
Fluorescent lamp
Incandescent lamp
Miscellaneous Tungsten light, manual colour temperature selection, fine correction
Manually yes
Number of measurement fields 1 or 11 (partly with high-speed option)
AF auxiliary light red-orange (LED)
Speed approx. 0.5-0.8 s
Languages English
More 14 additional languages are available
Switch-on time 1,5 s
One-hand operation
(zoom and shutter release)
(Ready for operation)
426 g
Continuous shooting function*
Number of serial images 3 (at lower compression
)5 (at high compression)
Continuous run
with flash yes (at reduced frame rate or flash range)
Zoom adjustment motorized via ring rocker
Zoom levels infinitely variable
Time WW to Tele 2,7 s
Memory speeds*
JPEG 0.2 s (2.5 MByte, with low compression)
RAW 1.1 s (11.7 MByte)
Triggering during storage possible. yes
Battery life approx. 290 pictures according to CIPA
– = “not applicable
“* with 8 GByte SanDisk Extreme III Class 6 SDHC memory card (30 MB/s Edition)

Brief assessment


  • Improved noise performance compared to the previous generation (but still high typical for compact cameras)
  • HDTV-compatible video resolution and HD component output (for A/V output)
  • Optical zoom can be used during video recording
  • Extremely comprehensive range of different camera automation systems


  • Battery/memory card compartment not accessible in tripod mode
  • No auto popup flash (automatic flash ejection or release)
  • Outdated Motion JPEG codec in video mode
  • Very small (electronic) viewfinder image

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ28 Datasheet


Sensor CCD sensor 1/2.3″ 6.2 x 4.6 mm (crop factor 5.6
)10.7 megapixels (physical), 10.1 megapixels (effective)
Pixelpitch 1.7 µm
Photo resolution
3.648 x 2.736 pixels (4:3)
3.072 x 1.728 pixels (16:9)
2.048 x 1.536 pixels (4:3)
1.600 x 1.200 pixels (4:3)
640 x 480 pixels (4:3)
Image formats JPG, RAW
Color depth
Metadata Exif (version 2.21), DCF standard
Video resolution
1.280 x 720 (16:9) 30 p
848 x 480 (16:9) 30 p
640 x 480 (4:3) 30 p
Video format
MOV (Codec Motion JPEG)


Focal length 27 to 486 mm (35mm equivalent
digital zoom
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
)F4.4 to F8 (telephoto)
Autofocus yes
Autofocus functions Single AF, Continuous AF, Manual, AF Assist Light
Filter thread 55mm

Viewfinder and monitor

Monitor 2.7″ TFT LCD monitor with 230,000 pixels
Video finder Video viewfinder available


Exposure metering Center-weighted integral measurement, matrix/multi-field measurement, spot measurement
Exposure times 1/2,000 to 1 s (Automatic
)1/2,000 to 60 s (Manual)
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 1,600 (manual)
Remote access non-existent
Scene mode Baby, various scene mode programs, fireworks, candlelight, landscape, aerial view, night portrait, party, portrait, sunset, food, sports, starry sky, beach/snow, and animals
White balance Clouds, Sun, Shadow, Flash, Manual
Continuous shooting Continuous shooting function max. 2.5 fps at highest resolution and max. 3 stored photos, max. 5 photos in standard mode
Self-timer Self-timer with 2 s interval, special features: or 10 s (optional)


Flash built-in flash (hinged)
Flash range 0.3 to 8.5 m at wide angle1
.0 to 5.4 m at teleflash range
at ISO auto
Flash functions Auto, fill-in flash, flash on, flash off, slow sync, red-eye reduction


Image stabilizer optical image stabilizer
Internal memory yes (50 MByte)
Power supply unit Power supply connection
Power supply 1 x Panasonic CGR-S006E (lithium-ion (Li-ion), 7.2 V, 710 mAh
)460 images according to CIPA standard
Playback functions Image index
Face recognition Face recognition
Connections Data interfaces: USBUSB type
: USB 2.0 High Speed Video output
: yes (component output)
Supported direct printing methods PictBridge
Tripod thread 1/4″
Special features and miscellaneous Face Detection Optical
Image Stabilizer O.I.S.

Size and weight

Weight 417 g (ready for operation)
Dimensions W x H x D 118 x 75 x 89 mm


standard accessory Panasonic CGR-S006E Special BatteryDE-A44
Battery ChargerVideo Connection CableUSB Connection CableLens Cover, Lens HoodRiser BeltImage Editing Software

Silkypix Developer Studio 3.0SEImage Editing Software
Arcsoft MediaImpressionImage Management Software
PHOTOfunSTUDIO ViewerPanorama Software
Arcsoft PanoramaMaker

additional accessories Panasonic DMW-LMC UV filterMains/ChargerNetwork

unitDMW-AC7PPCamera bag

USB 2.0 High Speed


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