Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ50 Review

 
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Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ50 Optics


Lens

Zoom
A generous 12x optical zoom range, with excellent performance. Digital zoom is also well done.

35mm 420mm 4x Digital Zoom

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ50's Leica lens covers the equivalent of a 35-420mm range, outstanding among consumer digital cameras. Results were quite good at wide angle, with strong detail throughout the frame and only minimal softness in the corners and coma distortion. The camera's 4x digital zoom performed much better than expected, and maintained a good level of fine detail, despite minor losses in resolution.

Macro
A small macro area with excellent detail and high resolution. Flash is unfortunately blocked by the lens.

Standard Macro Macro with Flash

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ50's macro setting performed well, capturing a small minimum area of 2.09 x 1.56 inches (53 x 40 millimeters). Detail and resolution were both very good, though there's a fair amount of softening in the corners from the lens, as well as some noticeable barrel distortion. (Most cameras have some softening in the corners in macro mode.) The DMC-FZ50's long lens barrel blocks the flash up close, which results in a very dark shadow in the bottom of the frame. (Plan on using external lighting for your closest macro shots with the DMC-FZ50.)

Distortion
Moderate barrel distortion, though very low pincushion.

Barrel distortion at 35mm is 0.7%
Pincushion at 420mm is less than 0.00%

This is the tendency for the lens to bend straight lines outward (like a barrel -- usually at wide angle) or inward (like a pincushion -- usually at telephoto). The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ50's 0.7% barrel distortion at wide angle is just slightly less than average among the cameras we've tested, although still fairly noticeable in many images. You can also see that the barrel disortion curve is greater toward the center, then starts to flare back a bit in the corners. At the telephoto end, the FZ50's distortion was unmeasurable, less than a full pixel.

Chromatic aberration
Low to moderate, minimal effect on images at edges, good results for a long zoom.

Wide: low and dull,
top left @ 200%
Wide: only a hint bright,
top right @ 200%
Tele: moderate and a little bright,
top left @200%
Tele: also a little bright,
top right @200%

Chromatic aberration is low at wide angle, with low brightness. At full telephoto, the effect is a little higher, about 4-5 pixels, and slightly brighter. (This distortion is visible as a very slight colored fringe around the objects at the edges of the field of view on the resolution target.) Still, the overall effect is minimal in most images.

Corner Sharpness
Only minimal softening in the corners of the frame.

Wide: A hint soft in the
corners (lower left)
Wide: Sharp at center
Tele: Soft in the
corners (lower left)
Tele: Slightly softer in the center

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ50 produced only slight softening in the corners of the frame, and the effect wasn't very strong in its images. However, you can see a significant halo effect around the lines in the center due to edge enhancement. At telephoto, corners were slightly soft, but the center of the frame showed just about identical softening.

Viewfinder

Coverage
Excellent accuracy with both the EVF and LCD monitor.

35mm eq., EVF 420mm eq., EVF
35mm eq., LCD 420mm eq., LCD

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ50's electronic optical viewfinder (EVF) and LCD monitor produced identical results here (not surprising since they're essentially the same view), with right about 100% accuracy at both zoom settings. Good results overall.

 

The images above were taken from our standardized test shots. For a collection of more pictorial photos, see our Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ50 Photo Gallery.

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Note: For details, test results, and analysis of the many tests done with this camera, please click on the tabs at the beginning of the review or below.

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