Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200 - Bridging the Gap

Launch SRP: S$849



Superzooms offer a good compromise in terms of reach and weight; regular point-and-shoots cameras can't match their zoom range while DSLR cameras require a heavy telephoto lens in order to achieve the same reach.

In terms of image quality, the Panasonic Lumix FZ200 definitely offers better picture quality and versatility than your average point-and-shoot. Its image-stabilization lets you make full use of its 24x optical zoom, and the zoom range makes it a versatile camera that can accompany you on your travels. F/2.8 allows you to shoot in low light scenarios with a faster shutter speed and a shallower depth-of-field can be achieved as well.

You might be wondering just what a difference a constant aperture of F/2.8 makes. After zooming in with a normal lens, the aperture will likely be somewhere around a maximum of F/5.6, which means the lens opening is smaller. If it's dark, your camera will be forced to shoot at a slower shutter speed, which might result in blurry images. By being able to shoot at F/2.8 across the entire zoom range, the FZ200 can maintain fast shutter speeds and reduce the chances of blurry images. If you want to shoot fast moving subjects, the FZ200's F/2.8 aperture will land you better chances of getting something sharp and bright. And let's not forget the ability to shoot in RAW, which is icing on the cake, as not many superzooms allow for shooting in RAW. 

Build quality is good and the controls are laid out well so you won’t be having any trouble with operating and navigating them. However, the electronic viewfinder is a bit small and there’s no eye sensor to automatically switch from the LCD display to the EVF when you place your eye to it. The LCD display also leaves more to be desired as the 460k-dot display doesn’t do justice to the images. And since the FZ200 is styled like a DSLR, it's impossible to fit it in your back pocket, so it's not for you if you want a pocket-able camera.

The FZ200 does sport a zoom range shorter than some of the top-end superzooms in the market. For example, the Nikon Coolpix P510 offers 42x optical zoom at S$679, while the Canon PowerShot SX50 costs S$799 with 50x optical zoom. But what these cameras are unable to do is shoot at a constant F/2.8, and the FZ200 will set you back a high S$849 to do just that. In the end, that's the one sticking point we have with the FZ200, it's a good camera and F/2.8 is a very attractive feature, but the camera feels a little too pricey to us when placed against the competition.

The Panasonic Lumix FZ200 addresses the shortcomings of certain superzoom cameras, but with just an 'average' of 24x optical zoom, even its main selling point of maintaining an F/2.8 could be considered pricey at nearly S$850. A few more noteworthy improvements like a better display and an automatic EVF to LCD switching would really have helped Panasonic's cause, but alas, that's something you'll have to do without.

The Good
Constant F/2.8 lens
Good image stabilization
Has PASM modes
Able to shoot in RAW
The Bad
LCD quality can be increased
Loss of detail from ISO800 onwards
Pricey compared to the competition
No eye-sensor function

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