Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ7 Review

 
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Panasonic DMC-FZ7 Optics


Lens

Zoom
Very nice 12x optical zoom range, with sharp detail throughout the range, though noticeable distortion at wide angle.

36mm
432mm
4x Digital Zoom

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ7 zooms over the equivalent of a 36-432mm range, which is quite generous in the world of consumer digital cameras. Details are pretty sharp at full wide angle, though some coma distortion is visible around the tree limbs against the sky, and some corner softening is noticeable as well. Though details are soft with the 4x digital zoom enabled, performance here is actually pretty good for a digital zoom.

Macro
A small macro area with good detail and high resolution, though slightly high lens distortion. Flash overexposes, and is partially blocked by the camera's long lens.

Standard Macro Macro with Flash

The Lumix DMC-FZ7's macro setting performed well, capturing a very small minimum area of 1.54 x 1.15 inches (39 x 29 millimeters). Detail and resolution are both very good, with great definition in the dollar bill details as well as those of the coins. There's fairly strong blurring in the corners from the lens, as well as some bright chromatic aberration in the dollar bill. (Most cameras have some softening in the corners in macro mode, the FZ7 a bit more than average.) The DMC-FZ7's flash had trouble throttling down for the macro area, and was additionally blocked by the camera's long lens. (Plan on using external lighting for your closest macro shots with the DMC-FZ7.)

Distortion
Moderate barrel distortion, though low pincushion.

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 Lumix DMC-FZ7's 0.8% barrel distortion at wide angle is average among the cameras I've tested, although I personally feel that this level is too high. At the telephoto end, the camera's 0.1% pincushion is fairly low.

Barrel distortion at 36mm is 0.8%
Pincushion at 432mm is 0.1%

Chromatic aberration
Low at wide angle, high at telephoto. Very noticeable effect on images in the corners, especially toward full telephoto.

Wide: moderately low, top left @ 200% Wide: moderately bright, top right @ 200%
Tele: high and bright, top left @200% Tele: very bright, top right @200%

Chromatic aberration is moderate at wide angle, showing only a few pixels of relatively faint coloration on either side of the target lines. However, at telephoto, the effect is much stronger and brighter, with an almost neon appearance that is very noticeable in images. (This distortion is visible as a slight colored fringe around the objects at the edges of the field of view on the resolution target.)

Corner Sharpness
Very strong blurring in the upper right corner at full wide angle, though much less in the other corners. Telephoto results in noticeable blurring as well, but overall better results.

Wide: very soft in the upper right corner. Wide: sharp at center.
Tele: strong blurring in the upper left corner. Tele: sharper at center.

The Lumix DMC-FZ7 produced very soft corners in a few shots, with the most notable instance in the upper right corner of the frame at full wide angle. However, the lower left corner of the same shot is quite sharp. At telephoto, blurring is a little high, especially in the upper left corner, but better overall.

Viewfinder

Coverage
Excellent results with both the electronic optical viewfinder (EVF) and LCD monitor.

36mm eq., EVF 432mm eq., EVF
36mm eq., LCD monitor 432mm eq., LCD monitor

The DMC-FZ7's electronic optical viewfinder and LCD monitor produced identical results. Both showed about essentially 100% accuracy at both wide angle and telephoto.

 

The images above were taken from our standardized test shots. For a collection of more pictorial photos, see our Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ7 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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