Panasonic Lumix FZ40 – FZ45 Review

Panasonic Lumix FZ40 – (Lumix FZ45) Review

As the little sister of the FZ100, the Panasonic Lumix FZ40 (FZ45 in Europe) meets conflicting expectations. On the one hand, it has almost as much equipment and features as the FZ100 and therefore has to offer something, on the other hand, it is “only” its little sister and therefore does not have to meet all requirements.

The fact is that the FZ40 wants to be a thoroughly sophisticated camera, and with its 24x zoom, which covers a focal length of 25 to 600 mm, a CCD chip with 14.5 megapixels, HD video recording with stereo sound and manual mode, it has some very promising features.

Panasonic Lumix FZ40 Pros And Cons

Pros

  • Lies well in the hand
  • Excellent video mode (although not Full HD)
  • Manual mode for aperture and shutter speed, manual white balance
  • Extensive equipment and features with a clear menu
  • Great focal length coverage from 25 to 600 mm with optical image stabilizer

Cons

  • LC display with 230,000 pixels, weak detail rendition
  • Minor weaknesses regarding image quality
  • Cheap-looking, sometimes creaking plastic case

panasonic lumix fz40

Ergonomics and Workmanship

Although the plastic housing of the Panasonic Lumix FZ40 (FZ45 in Europe) looks a bit cheap in parts, the camera feels nice to the touch and sits well in the hand.

This is made possible on the one hand by the prominently protruding handle underlaid with rubberized plastic and on the other hand by the low weight of just over 500 grams.

The handle also provides space for various switches and buttons with which many functions of the Panasonic Lumix FZ40 (FZ45) can be directly selected.

On the top of the camera, for example, in addition to the mode dial, zoom lever, shutter release button and power button, there are a focus button and a video button that can be used to start a movie directly without having to use the mode dial.

The mode dial itself is very comprehensive and includes a manual mode in addition to the usual scene programs such as landscape, portrait and sports and the semi and full auto-modes.

There is also a setting called Custom, which can be freely assigned.

Panasonic also offers various color settings and effects such as pinhole camera or retro under the symbol of a color palette.

On the rear panel, in addition to the usual buttons for menu navigation, shortcuts, playback, display, etc., there is a dial that can be controlled by pressing and turning, an AF/AE lock button, and the button for switching between the LCD and electronic viewfinder.

The image provided by the viewfinder is not comparable to that of an optical viewfinder. Details are very difficult to see with the approx. 200,000-pixel resolution and with fast pans the picture does not follow fast enough.

Dioptre compensation is of limited help to spectacle wearers. Another button on the back lets the flash jump up. This active intervention of the photographer is also necessary when the flash is set to automatic flash. A flash shoe for external flash devices like the FZ100 is missing.

panasonic lumix fz40

The Panasonic Lumix FZ40 (FZ45) can be operated safely and quickly thanks to the many buttons and the comprehensive mode selector wheel.

 

But even if you have to go into the actual configuration menu, you can get along well thanks to the clear layout. Jump from one tab to another using the zoom lever and quickly navigate through the extensive settings.

 

The rest of the back is taken up prominently by the three-inch display, which – unlike the FZ100 – cannot be rotated or swiveled. So the Panasonic Lumix FZ40 (FZ45) does not allow comfortable overhead photography.

 

Panasonic has also saved on the resolution of the display: 230,000 pixels are just about enough for domestic use.

 

The automatic brightness adjustment works very well and the size of the screen is reasonable. However, one should not expect a detailed picture in all situations.

 

The flap for the connections, including HDMI, is made of hard rubber and looks a bit cheap.
But it is relatively tight. The tripod thread made of metal is very solid. However, it is not on the optical axis and is so close to the flap for the memory card and battery that it cannot be opened when using a tripod.

 

However, as the battery lasts quite long with an average of 580 frames according to CIPA, it doesn’t need to be removed as often as in competing models for charging. Incidentally, the CIPA figures are confirmed in practice.

 

The Panasonic Lumix FZ40 (FZ45) also includes a sun visor, which is made of simple plastic and does not always click into place satisfactorily.

panasonic lumix fz40
panasonic lumix fz40

Equipment And Features

Like the FZ100, the Panasonic Lumix FZ40 (FZ45) is full of equipment. Nevertheless, one economy measure compared to its big sister is the reduction of the full HD resolution to 1,280 x 720p in AVCHD Lite format. But this does not cancel the video function.

Thanks to stereo sound and the well-working wind reduction, the image quality is underlaid with correspondingly high-quality sound.

The optical zoom can be used at any time and is wonderfully soft and comfortable for the eye to control. Many of the settings that are used when taking pictures are also available in video mode.

These include, for example, the choice of exposure metering, backlight compensation, determination of the ISO number, white balance, etc.

There’s even a manual exposure mode and special video options such as the zoom mic, which is designed to capture particularly distant sounds in the telephoto position and ambient noise clearly in wide-angle mode. The effect is quite noticeable.

The whole spectrum of intelligent automatic, scene mode and creative programs, semi-automatic and manual modes is available for taking pictures. Just how extensive the possibilities are is shown by the subject programs on the mode dial.

There are not only sports, portrait mode or landscape mode, but also sub-programs like nature photography, architecture or creative landscape photography.

In addition, the conventional scene programs such as Baby, Sunset, etc. can be used. For panoramic shots, a wizard is available that supports horizontal and vertical panoramas and helps with transparent fade-ins from previous images. But you still have to assemble the pictures on your computer.

Panasonic offers many possibilities for fine adjustment. For example, if you take the manual focus, it can be adjusted by turning the thumbwheel or using the cursor keys. The focus button on the top of the camera can be used to jump in for a picture in the MF position.

The MF magnifier, which can be activated when needed, enlarges the focus area and helps to optimize the focus setting.

Because of the low screen resolution, this is very useful, because the not very detailed display makes it difficult to adjust in diffuse light conditions. On the positive side, manual focus can be used in all programs including video.

A manual white balance can also be further optimized, and those who disagree with the hue can use the cursor keys to enhance certain color directions. Those who don’t think they can do it themselves can have white balance series created or even adjust the color temperature directly.

In general, however, the automatic adjustment also fits, so that fine adjustment is not absolutely necessary.

The Panasonic Lumix FZ40 (FZ45) also allows for series exposures. For the AF setting, there is Face Detection, which can be personalized as usual with Panasonic. A tracking AF is also on board, but it is not activated by half-pressing the shutter button, but by the AF/AE lock button. Otherwise you have the choice between 23-field AF and 1-field AF.

Many of the Panasonic Lumix FZ40 (FZ45)’s features are well thought out from start to finish, and you can tell that Panasonic would like to take some of the work off the hands of even the most experienced photographer. This is also the case with the intelligent ISO setting, which adjusts the ISO number and shutter speed to the subject when the shutter release button is pressed halfway until the shot is taken.

Afterwards, the camera offers various possibilities for image processing such as rotating the image, changing the size, entering text, starting a slide show, etc.

panasonic lumix fz40

panasonic lumix fz40

Image Quality Of The Panasonic FZ40

We have already certified the Panasonic Lumix FZ40 (FZ45) for good handling and excellent equipment and workmanship. But what about the image quality?

The testing software we utilize has checked the Panasonic Lumix FZ40 (FZ45) in all details. The FZ40 gets good marks for artifacts and sharpness.

Image details are usually displayed true to life and the camera does not add to them through excessive image processing. The sharpness is pleasant and not excessive.

The resolution of the FZ40 decreases from the center to the edge of the image. In general, the resolution is lower as the aperture becomes smaller. With the directional dependence of the resolution, the blue channel immediately catches the eye, which is extremely out of focus at all focal lengths and aperture openings.

This is a problem that we had already found with other Panasonic models and that is detrimental to a homogeneous image result. The Panasonic Lumix FZ40 (FZ45) gets a lower score for this, and there is also room for improvement in terms of efficiency. The super zoomer cannot achieve more than 60 percent at 5.0 and 128 mm focal length.

The lens is something that Panasonic had under control. You will not notice a darkening of the edges.

This is given a grade of 1.0, and there are no problems with cushion or barrel distortion. This is particularly positive for a camera of this focal length coverage. The situation is different with noise. The outliers at ISO 400 and ISO 1.600 are not extreme in the measurement curves. To the trained eye of an expert, however, they are still perceptible and the best picture results are achieved in the lower ranges ISO 100 and ISO 200, but there’s nothing to be said against taking pictures at parties without flash with higher ISO values. The quality is still okay.

The measured values for the noise behavior show differences to the FZ100, whose curve is more constant, but the Panasonic Lumix FZ40 (FZ45) achieves slightly better values for the input dynamics.

For the ISO values 80, 100 and 800, 8 aperture stops are cracked. This corresponds to a large extent with the noise distribution and indicates shadow areas that are sometimes too much attenuated. All in all, the Panasonic Lumix FZ40 (FZ45) behaves rather average with regard to input dynamics. Only from 8.5 f-stops upwards are comparisons with analog photography realistic.

The curve for the signal transmission and the tonal value reproduction also shows some muddy appearing shadow areas and partly contrasty middles. The area of the shadows is round and wide.

A straight curve is ideal, which the FZ40 cannot achieve. Panasonic offers different resolution settings, each with two quality levels. Two is usual, three would be desirable. Compression is generally good, although the better quality level is sometimes a bit highly compressed.

A maximum factor of 1:6 is the goal, the FZ40 usually offers 1:7, leaving the speed at the end: the values are very good for a camera with this zoom range. The shutter release delay is only 0.01 to 0.07 seconds. If the camera still has to focus, it can achieve values between 0.28 and 0.51 seconds. That is more than appropriate.

panasonic lumix fz40

 

Conclusion: Is The Panasonic Lumix FZ40 Worth It?

The Panasonic Lumix FZ40 (FZ45) has high ambitions, which is clearly visible in the extensive features included.

Intelligent automation, creative features, and full manual settings are “a given” and apply to both the photo and the video functionalities.

The superzoom camera is therefore suitable for all levels of knowledge and daily photo use. With the utilization of the test software, it shows one or two small weaknesses in terms of image quality, but can also prove its suitability for everyday use here, for example with speed.

If you want to take ambitious photos without a reflex camera, the Panasonic Lumix FZ40 (FZ45) is just right for you.

Profile Of The Panasonic Lumix FZ40 (FZ45)

Profile
Manufacturer Panasonic
Model Panasonic Lumix FZ40 (FZ45 in Europe)
Price approx. 350 dollars
Sensor Resolution 14.5 megapixels
Max. Image resolution 4.320 x 3.240
(aspect ratio) (4:3)
Lens F2.8-5.2/25-600mm
Filter thread optional
Viewfinder electronically
Dioptre compensation yes
Resolution 201.600
Enlargement
Image field coverage
LCD monitor 3″
Resolution 230.000
rotatable
swiveling
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 modes
Portrait yes
Children/baby yes
Landscape yes
Macro yes
Sports/action yes
More 17 additional scene modes
Exposure metering Multi-field, centre-weighted Integral, Spot
Flash yes
Flash connection
Remote release
Interval recording
Storage medium SD/SDHC/SDXC
Video mode
Format AVCHD Lite or Quick Time
Codec H.264 or Motion JPEG
Resolution (max.) 1.280 x 720
Frame rate (max.) 30 frames/s
Sensitivity
automatically ISO 80-1,600
extended ISO 1,600-6,400
manually ISO 80-1,600
White balance
Automatic yes
Sun yes
Clouds yes
Fluorescent lamp
Incandescent lamp yes
Miscellaneous Shadow, flash, color temperature
Manually yes
Autofocus
Number of measurement fields 23
AF auxiliary light bright orange
Speed approx. 0.3-0.5 s
Languages English
More 15 additional languages are available
Weight
(ready for operation)
503 g
Zoom
Zoom adjustment motorized via ring rocker
One-hand operation
(zoom and shutter release)
yes
Triggering during storage possible.
Battery life 580 images (according to CIPA)
– = “not applicable” or “not available

Brief assessment

Pros

  • Lies well in the hand
  • Excellent video mode (although not Full HD)
  • Manual mode for aperture and shutter speed, manual white balance
  • Extensive equipment with clear menu
  • Great focal length coverage from 25 to 600 mm with optical image stabilizer

Cons

  • LC display with 230,000 pixels, weak detail rendition
  • Minor weaknesses regarding image quality
  • Cheap-looking, sometimes creaking plastic case

Panasonic Lumix FZ40 (FZ45) Datasheet

Electronics

Sensor CCD sensor 1/2.3″ 6.2 x 4.6 mm (crop factor 5.6) 14.5 megapixels (physical), 14.1 megapixels (effective)
Pixelpitch 1.4 µm
Photo resolution
4.320 x 3.240 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
1.280 x 720 (16:9) 25 p
640 x 480 (4:3) 30 p
Video format
MOV (Codec Motion JPEG)
MOV (codec n.a.)
MPG4 [codec MPEG-4]
MPG4 [codec MPEG-4]
Audio format (video) WAV

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, Area AF, Manual, AF Assist Light

Viewfinder and Display

Monitor 3.0″ TFT LCD monitor with 230,000 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 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 modes Baby, various scene mode programs, fireworks, candlelight, landscape, aerial view, night portrait, party, portrait, sunset, food, sports, beach/snow, and animals
Picture effects Pinhole camera
White balance Clouds, Sun, Shadow, Flash, Manual
Continuous shooting Continuous shooting function max. 1.8 fps at the highest resolution and max. 5 stored photos, high-speed mode 10B/s at max. 3- 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 FZ40

Flash built-in flash (hinged)
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 (40 MByte)
Microphone Stereo
Power supply unit Power supply connection
Power supply 1 x Lithium-ion (Li-Ion) battery (7.2 V, 895 mAh) 580 pictures according to CIPA standard
Playback functions Image index, slide show function
Voice memo Voice memo (WAV format)
Face recognition Face recognition
Image parameters Sharpness, contrast, noise reduction
Grille can be faded in during recording yes
Connections Data interfaces: USB – USB type: USB 2.0 – High SpeedVideo 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, 30 and 60s Exposure time Automatic
backlight correctionWorld time function Travel time function Stereo Microphone Noise reduction, contrast, sharpness and saturation adjustment /-2 levels

Size and weight

Weight 501 g (ready for operation)
Dimensions W x H x D 120 x 80 x 92 mm

Miscellaneous

standard accessory Li-Ion battery charger – USB connection cable AV cableLens cap, lens hoodRiser strapImage editing software

PHOTOfun Studio HD 5.2

additional accessories Replacement battery Power supply unitRemovable memory cardTele converterCamera bag
USB
USB 2.0 High Speed

 

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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.