Almost all digital superzooms fall into the "bridge camera" segment, which were initially a niche segment that bridged the gap between point-and-shoots and DSLR cameras. These prosumer cameras offered more manual controls over the point-and-shoot models in a body similar to a DSLR, but they lacked optical viewfinders and had fixed lenses.
With the introduction of mirrorless system cameras, more affordable entry-level DSLR models and compacts with superzooms, the digital superzoom segment has been slowly shrinking in the past couple of years - both in variety and general interest level. Despite that, superzoom cameras retain its charm for users who need the extra zoom and find changing lenses a hassle.
So what does the Panasonic Lumix FZ200 offer in order to stand out from the sea of camera offerings? While other superzoom manufacturers have tried a bigger sensor approach or a longer zoom range, the Lumix FZ200 eschews all that in favor of a faster lens. The Lumix FZ200 is capable at shooting at F/2.8 throughout its entire zoom range, something remarkably unique among superzoom cameras.
With a larger lens, the Lumix FZ200 is larger than your average superzoom compact. But the larger body also provides more real estate, so controls are better spaced-out. The FZ200 has a rubber hand grip on the front and a small textured thumb rest on the rear for better handling. And despite its size, the lighter FZ200 is easier on your shoulders than a cropped sensor DSLR camera.
Zooming in or out can be achieved with the zoom lever at the top as well as the zoom rocker found on the lens barrel. For quick adjustment of focus modes, there’s a focus mode adjustment switch on the lens barrel, right behind the zoom rocker. This handy inclusion allowed us to switch to macro focus mode in an instant without needing to access the menu system.
Flipping over to the rear of the camera, you see a swivel 3-inch LCD display and an electronic viewfinder. While the LCD display sports an industry standard resolution of 460k dots, it looks dated and grainy when compared to higher-resolution screens found on high-end compact cameras.
There’s an AE lock button on the rear, which also doubles up as a Fn button. Besides the usual four-way navigation pad, there’s also a scroll wheel which lets you adjust aperture or shutter speed. The FZ200 also has an electronic viewfinder (EVF), which is bright but may feel restrictive when compared to framing your shots with the LCD display. Unfortunately, the EVF doesn't have an eye sensor, so the EVF won’t automatically activate when you place your eye to it. Instead, you need to press the EVF/LCD button to switch between the LCD display and EVF.