The FZ200 offers manual PASM modes, so there’s something for the advanced as well as casual shutterbugs. What sets the FZ200 apart from the rest of its competitors is its ability to shoot at F/2.8 throughout its entire focal length, impressive indeed considering the FZ200’s 24x optical zoom.
To put it in perspective, the FZ200 has a focal length of 25-600mm when put in DSLR terms. There's no single DSLR lens that can get you the same focal length in one lens, not to mention a constant aperture of F/2.8. A DSLR lens that can shoot at a constant F/2.8 will be a huge piece of glass and weigh much more than the FZ200. Not forgetting that a DSLR lens sporting the same zoom range will be very costly as well!
The FZ200 also has the ability to shoot in RAW, which allows for more changes to be made to images in post-production compared to JPEG files. While the average shutterbug might not shoot in RAW at all, the option to shoot in RAW definitely adds to the FZ200's appeal. The FZ200 scored 1,800 LPH (vertically and horizontally), which is a reasonably high level of clarity from a compact superzoom.
While the sensor resolution of 12.1 megapixels may seem a bit low when compared to current-generation models, this has also helped the FZ200 perform well in sensitivity tests. Noise is well controlled all the way up to ISO800 and details are retained to a reasonable degree. Once the sensitivity hits ISO1600 though, details get smudged together and noise is apparent when viewing the images at 100%. But if the images are going online, then they are still acceptable even at ISO1600.
As always, Panasonic’s optical image stabilization (OIS) does its job very well, which is important because the longer your zoom, the more camera shake is amplified. Thanks to Panasonic's OIS, if you have got a pair of steady hands, shooting at the 24x zoom end will not be a difficult challenge (the golden rule is not to go slower than 1 over your focal length; so if you're at the maximum zoom range of 600mm try not to go below a shutter speed of 1/600th). And if you do foresee a bit of video-recording thrown into the mix, the FZ200 is capable of recording 1080p or 1080i video, so no worries on that front.
These are sample photographs shot with the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200. The photos have not been post-processed and are copyright to SPH Magazines. They are provided for your reference only and we ask that you do not reproduce them elsewhere. Click for the full-resolution images.