The FZ150 a preliminary field report

Jock Elliott

Hall of Famer
Troy, NY
Recently I took delivery on my third (ever) digital camera, a Panasonic DMC-FZ150, and I thought I would share some of my experience so far. There have been many excellent reviews of the FZ150 on the web, and I won’t attempt to duplicate those.

But first, some background: I am a fulltime freelance writer who sometimes shoots photos to illustrate my stories on the web or in magazine. For eight years, I shot with an Olympus D-550 and had hundreds of pictures published that were shot with the Olympus (a 3 megapixel camera). About 18 months ago, I purchased a Canon G12, which I still have and use professionally. While the G12 has a lot of advantages over the D-550, the main reasons for the purchase were the larger viewscreen and the manual controls.
I purchased the FZ150 primarily for its 25-600 (equivalent) zoom lens. I flirted briefly with various SLR and non-mirrored system cameras, but ultimately decided that an all-in-one camera best suited my style as an “opportunistic” photographer. As one seriouscompacts member neatly put it: carry a camera everywhere and see what happens.
The FZ150 is bigger (4.89 x 3.20 x 3.74 inch vs. 4.41 x 3.00 x 1.90 in.) than the G12 and heavier (about 1.1 lbs vs. .75 lbs) than the G12. If you go to Camera Size Comparison you’ll see that the FZ150 is noticeably smaller than most SLRs and many other superzoom cameras. The FZ150 has a slightly smaller sensor and has a lower DXOmark rating (40 vs. 47 for the G12).

The FZ150 is bulkier than the G12 and less easy to carry. It can’t be easily slipped under an overshirt when powered down. It does, however, shine at both ends of the zoom spectrum. The 25mm wide allows me to grab more sky for my skyscapes and the 600mm tele allows me to reach out and touch wildlife.

I like the electronic viewfinder which allows me to compose shots even in bright sunlight and also allows me to steady the camera against my face when shooting at full tele. Ergonomically, the Panasonic folks have done some really smart things. While the FZ150 is not studded with as many external controls as the G12, a Q menu allow the shooter to pop up a menu that provides fast access to many important controls: white balance, image size, aspect ratio, AF mode, metering mode, photo styles (vivid, mon, and so forth). A button provides AE and AF lock; another button provides instant access to exposure compensation, and another provides one-button access to ISO settings. A big wheel on top of the camera provides access to all the main photographic modes: program, aperture priority, shutter priority, manual, an intelligent automatic mode, a creative, mode, etc.

The zoom lever is located on top of the handgrip next to the shutter release. There is another zoom control on the left hand side of the lens barrel, next to a switch for AF, AF macro, or manual focus. Now, here’s the really cool part: you can assign the zoom control on the side of the lens barrel to control manual focus instead. Operationally, that means all the focus stuff can be controlled with the left hand while the right hand controls zoom and shutter.

When using manual focus, a magnified section pops up in the viewfinder to aid in focusing, but I found it to be too large. Fortunately, it can be turned off.
Bottom line: I think the Panasonic folks have the ergonomics of the FZ150 pretty well sorted out.

I am also pleased so far with the imaging performance of the FZ150.

From extreme wide angle

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To zoomed in

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And even using film grain effect.

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You can even use zoom to throw the background out of focus

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So far, the FZ150 seems to do what I need and do it pretty well.

Cheers, Jock Elliott
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