Panasonic released a wide variety of digital cameras from point and shoot to digital cameras, under the Lumix branding, in the past. Fitted with their German designed Leica lens, the Lumix series have been fairly popular among amateurs and professionals photographers, alike. Panasonic have recently launched the Lumix DMC-FZ150, a super zoom camera with a capability of shooting at 24x. We’ve put it through its paces in our labs and let’s have a look if this new offering from Panasonic is worth the bucks.
It's got the looks
Design and Build Quality
Like most cameras nowadays, the Lumix DMC-FZ150 comes in a complete black finish with a slight hint of silver circling the rim of the lens and on the buttons. Majority of the camera face is covered by the ultrazoom Leica lens, whilst the remaining area is for indentations that provide better grip and support to the user. The back consists of the optical viewfinger, a three-inch swivel LCD screen and a host of buttons that are quite familiar, if you’re pretty used to a Panasonic camera. The three-inch swivel LCD has wide viewing angles with a 270 degree rotation. To the top left, next to the viewfinder is the flash button, along with the focus adjustment dial for the viewfinder.
24x optical zoom
The EVF/LCD button and AF/AE lock buttons are located on the top right next to the jog dial located at the far end. Underneath the dial, the display, play, directional keypad and delete buttons have been placed. The top consists of the various modes, the Power button, a separate record button, a burst mode button and the shutter button, along with the zoom rocker. Just behind the existing flash, the additional slot allows placement of an extra microphone or a bigger flash. The buttons and dials are predominantly made of plastic, but they are quite responsive and deliver the right amount of feedback and resistance. The bottom houses the removable 895mAh Li-ion battery and the SD card slot. Another set of buttons are located on the left, near the lens to toggle between different zoom settings, auto and manual focus.
Nano coated surface to reduce glare
There are silver loops on either sides of the camera for attachment of the neck strap accessory. Connectivity options, include an AV out and HDMI port along with a 3.5 mm jack. At 528 grams, it’s definitely not the lightest camera around, but it’s got a solid build and has the looks as well.
The FZ-150 comes loaded with a lot of stuff. Let’s have a look at the more important details first. It’s got a 12.1 megapixel MOS sensor with a 25mm ultra wide-angle lens capable of optical zoom up to 24x. The zoom can be extended up to 32x with Panasonic’s Intelligent zoom feature. The Leica lens comes coated with a nano surface, which gives a lesser light reflection due to the low refractive index of the coating.
A three inch screen
The camera comes with an optical image stabilizer which comes in handy during zoomed shots. The FZ-150 is capable of shooting 3D images but it’s more of a pan and shoot feature and is definitely not one of the main features of the camera as it’s a pseudo function and not actually 3D shooting.
Video recording features are covered as well with the camera capable of shooting at 1080p at 30fps. The camera comes with 70MB of internal memory, which definitely won’t suffice your photography needs and we’d suggest you stock a few extra cards, if you’re planning to use this camera, extensively. With the battery supplied, the camera is capable of taking 410 shots on a single charge, according to Panasonic.
Flash powerful enough to light up a room
The interface of the Lumix FZ-150 is extremely simple. The icons are pretty big and self explanatory. If this is your first Panasonic camera, you’ll require a 15 odd minutes learning curve to get used to all the controls on the FZ-150, as Panasonic have kept a bare bones interface. The FZ-150 has the looks and features of a enthusiast-class camera, let’s see if it performs like one.
The camera takes around a second to startup, so there’s a two second time gap before you can get clicking. We put the camera through our indoor, outdoor and controlled environment tests and in a nutshell, it’s a solid performer.
ISO sensitivity test
ISO Sensitivity Test
In the ISO sensitivity test, noise only starts appearing from a setting of ISO 400 and gets quite apparent at 3200. Discolouration and merging also tends to set in due to which the picture loses its sharpness. In contrast, the colour reproduction and clarity is extremely good at the lower ISO levels. Also, the noise is much more in the darker areas of the image and text starts getting distorted.
The Aperture Priority Test
Aperture Priority Test
From the image, depth of field is quite apparent in the area near the RAM clips, with the focus area being right in the centre. At F/2.8 the logos on the gun on the left are also blurred out whilst they’re quite clear at F/8.0. This camera handles depth of field pretty well and it will be more apparent at a further distance.
The Panasonic Lumix FZ-150 is an ultra zoom camera and as can be seen from the images, the added image stability and extra long zoom help in clicking good long distance shots. Even during video shots, the camera stays quite still and there’s isn’t any unnecessary movement that will get recorded on video.
Macro shots are impressive
The camera is quite responsive to different light settings and images are sharp and vivid. Outdoor shots appear natural, though indoor shots do seem a little colour heavy, but that could be due to a personal taste, and some users might just find that quite natural. Video recording has smooth transitions from dark to lighter areas and vice-versa as well. The camera is equipped with a powerful flash and under the right settings and shutter speed, it can easily light up a completely dark room in the pictures. The customary presets and scene modes work quite well and overall, the performance is extremely satisfactory.
24x optical zoom
The Panasonic Lumix FZ-150 is priced at Rs.24,990. It competes with the likes of the Nikon Coolpix P500, which is a superzoom at a similar price as well and both these cameras are pretty good in their own regard. Though a little expensive, it’s a solid performer. If you’re looking for a camera with a superior and stable zoom, this one quite fits the bill and is a worthy buy.
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