More than just an upgrade of its predecessor, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200 has a new 12.1-million-pixel sensor and a 24x lens that’s f/2.8 throughout the zoom range. Read the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200 review
Viewfinder, LCD, live view and video
Unchanged from the earlier FZ150 is the Lumix DMC-FZ200’s 3in, 460,000-dot, articulated LCD, which is very good, especially when I am more used to using the 3in, 921,000-dot screens commonly found on DSLRs and CSCs.
The screen has a good level of anti-reflective coating, and while in very bright conditions there will obviously be some reflections, it is possible to still see the screen display. It also has quite a high viewing angle, which when paired with the screen’s articulated mechanism, means that it is easy to shoot at very low or high angles.
I must also reserve some praise for the EVF. The increase from 201,600 dots to 1.312 million dots is significant. The type of low-resolution viewfinder found in the FZ150 is one of the reasons why EVFs are so criticised, but the increase in resolution makes a huge difference. That is not to say the EVF in the FZ200 isn’t without its flaws, as it is still fairly small, even compared to an entry-level DSLR, and it seems as though the viewfinder image is quite far away when the camera is held to the eye. It also shows sensor wobble, whereby straight edges become slanted when panning the camera from side to side. However, there is little in the way of lag, and once an image is focused and framed it is easy to convince yourself that you are looking through an optical viewfinder.
As we have seen in Panasonic’s micro four thirds G-series cameras, video is a priority, and rightly so given the possibility of linking the cameras to one of the company’s range of televisions. Impressively, the FZ200 can shoot 1920×1080-pixel full HD video footage at a rate of 25fps, with the actual sensor output being 50p. Footage is saved in the AVCHD format at a bit rate of 28Mb/s. A stereo microphone is built into the camera’s top-plate, where it sits just behind the pop-up flash, and there is also a micro-jack socket for an external microphone to be used. As is now standard, an HDMI socket sits on the side of the camera to allow direct connection with a TV or other AV device. With very good image stabilisation and the slow zoom toggle switch on the side of the lens, the FZ200 is a great camera for those shooting video, although it won’t be possible to achieve the very shallow depth of field effects that can be obtained from a DSLR, due to the small size of the sensor and the shorter actual focal length of the lens.