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Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ3

By: Dave Etchells

Panasonic offers an affordable three-megapixel digicam with an optically stabilized 12x Leica lens.

(Next): Executive Overview>>

Page 1:Intro and Highlights

Review First Posted: 11/03/2004

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3.2-Megapixel CCD delivers 2,016 x 1,512-pixel images
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12x optical zoom lens covers 35-420mm equivalent range
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Full range of manual and automatic exposure options, with nine preset shooting modes
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Styled like a traditional 35mm SLR

 

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Introduction - The Panasonic DMC-FZ3

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Panasonic's been a player in the digicam market for the last couple of years, but until now, we've not managed to get hands on any of their cameras to test. The 3-megapixel Panasonic FZ3 is now the second of their cameras that I've reviewed, and I was as pleasantly surprised with it as I was with the 4-megapixel DMC-FZ15 before it. Relative to the FZ15, the FZ3 makes some obvious compromises in build quality and heft to keep the price below $400, but the result is still a very capable digicam. Like the FZ15 (and FZ20, which I hope to review soon as well), the Panasonic FZ3 offers a 12x Leica zoom lens, incorporating Panasonic's own "Mega OIS" Optical Image Stabilization technology. As I've said about other cameras offering image stabilization, it's hard to overstate the benefit of this technology on long-zoom digicams: It makes an incredible difference in the usability of long telephoto focal lengths, and the Panasonic FZ3's 12x lens with Mega OIS is no exception. Read on for all the details, but if you're in the market for a relatively affordable long-zoom digicam with optical image stabilization, the Panasonic FZ3 could be the camera for you.

 

High Points

  • Similar Cameras
    If you're looking at the Panasonic DMC-FZ3, here are some similar models to consider:

    Canon PowerShot S1 IS
    HP Photosmart 945
    Kodak EasyShare DX7590
    Konica Minolta DiMAGE Z3
    Konica Minolta DiMAGE Z10
    Nikon Coolpix 4800
    Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ15
    Olympus C-765 Ultra Zoom

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    3.2-megapixel CCD delivering up to 2,304 x 1,728-pixel resolution images.
  • Electronic optical viewfinder.
  • 1.5-inch, color LCD monitor.
  • 12x Leica zoom lens, 4.6-55.2mm (equivalent to a 35-420mm lens on a 35mm camera) with autofocus, and available nine-point focus area.
  • As much as 4x digital telephoto.
  • Program AE, Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority, and Manual exposure modes, as well as nine preset "Scene" exposure modes.
  • Manually adjustable aperture settings from f/2.8 to f/8.0.
  • Manually adjustable shutter speed settings from 1/2000 to 8 seconds.
  • ISO sensitivity equivalents: Auto, 80, 100, 200, and 400.
  • Three metering modes: Multiple, Center-Weighted, and Spot metering.
  • White balance setting with six modes, including a manual setting.
  • Built-in pop-up flash with six operating modes and flash exposure compensation.
  • JPEG and TIFF still image file formats, movies saved as Motion JPEGs.
  • Images saved to SD/MMC memory cards, 8 MB card included.
  • Movie mode with sound.
  • Flip Animation mode, plus three Burst continuous shooting modes and Auto Exposure Bracketing.
  • Color Effects option, plus, saturation adjustment with three settings.
  • DPOF (Digital Print Order Format) compatibility.
  • USB cable for high-speed connection to a computer.
  • Lens hood and hood adapter included.
  • ArcSoft PhotoImpression, Panorama Maker, and PhotoBase software on accompanying CD ( for both Mac and Windows)
  • Powered by Panasonic rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack, with optional AC adapter.

 

Comparison With Other Panasonic DMC-FZ Models

As of this writing (in early November 2004), Panasonic currently has three long-zoom, optically-stabilized digicams on the market. While there's a steady progression of sensor resolution as you move up the line, other features are not so consistently distributed. Here's a table showing how the features of the different "FZ" models compare:

  DMC-FZ3 DMC-FZ15 DMC-FZ20
List Price
(At introduction)
$399 $499 $599
Megapixels
(Effective)
3.2 4.0 5.0
CCD Size 1/3.2" 1/2.5" 1/2.5"
Size 108 x 68 x 85 mm
4.3 x 2.7 x 3.3 in
128 x 87 x 106 mm
5.0 x 3.4 x 4.2 in
128 x 87 x 106 mm
5.0 x 3.4 x 4.2 in
Weight
(With Batteries)
323 g (11.4 oz) 556 g (19.6 oz) 556 g (19.6 oz)
Body Material Plastic Metal Metal
Lens Zoom 12x 12x 12x
Lens equiv.
Focal Lengths
35-420 mm 35-420 mm 36-432 mm
Max. Aperture f/2.8 f/2.8 f/2.8
Manual Focus
Option
No Yes Yes
Supports Conversion Lenses No Yes Yes
LCD Size 1.5" 2.0" 2.0"
LCD Pixels 114,000 130,000 130,000
Stated Flash Range (Auto ISO) 4.6 meters 7.0 Meters 7.0 Meters
External Flash Connection No No Hot Shoe
ISO Options Auto, 80, 100, 200, 400 Auto, 64, 100, 200, 400 Auto, 80, 100, 200, 400
Image Adjustment Options Sharpness Contrast, Saturation, Sharpness Contrast, Saturation, Sharpness
Scene Modes 9,
One "SCN" mode setting
9,
Two "SCN" mode settings
9,
Two "SCN" mode settings
Noise Reduction Adjustment No Yes Yes
Shot to shot cycle times (Full res JPEGs) 0.42 sec.
(1.47 sec. with 9-area AF)
0.54 sec.
(1.57 sec. with 9-area AF)
(not tested as of this writing)
Sound Recording Yes No Yes
Included Memory Card 8 MB 8 MB 16 MB

 

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