Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ8 Review

 
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Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ8 Optics


Lens

Zoom
A generous 12x optical zoom with very good performance. Digital zoom performance is about average these days.

36mm 432mm 4x Digital Zoom

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ8's optical zoom covers the equivalent of a 36-432mm, which is quite generous in the world of consumer digital cameras. Details are reasonably sharp at full wide angle, with low levels of coma distortion and very good corner-to-corner sharpness. Results at full telephoto are also quite good. Details are soft with the 4x digital zoom enabled, thanks to significant noise suppression; performance here is about average for a 4x digital zoom.

Macro
A very small macro area with good detail and high resolution. Closest focusing distance is too close for the flash.

Standard Macro Macro with Flash

The Panasonic DMC-FZ8's macro setting performed quite well, capturing a very small minimum area of 1.62 x 1.21 inches (41 x 31 millimeters). Detail and resolution were both good, though there's a moderate amount of softening in the corners from the lens, as well as significant chromatic aberration not far from the center. (Most cameras have some softening in the corners in macro mode, and it's not surprising to see chromatic aberration in a 12x lens's macro mode.) The FZ8's flash had trouble throttling down for the macro area and was blocked by the camera's long lens, resulting in a very uneven, severely blown-out exposure. Plan on using external lighting for any macro shots with the FZ8.

Distortion
Moderate barrel distortion, though low pincushion.

Barrel distortion at 36mm is 0.7%
Pincushion at 432mm is 0.1%

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 DMC-FZ8's 0.7% barrel distortion at wide angle is about average, though I think this level is too high. At the telephoto end, the DMC-FZ8's 0.1% pincushion distortion is fairly low.

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

Wide: Very low
top left @ 200%
Wide: Very low,
top right @ 200%
Tele: High and bright
top left @200%
Tele: High and bright,
top right @200%

Chromatic aberration is low at wide angle, showing only a couple of pixels of very 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 with high-contrast elements near the corners. (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 slight blurring in the corners of the frame at wide angle, slight at telephoto.

Wide: Slightly soft in the
corners (lower left).
Wide: Sharp at center.
Tele: Softer in the
corners (lower left)
Tele: Sharp at center.

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ8 produced slightly soft corners of the frame at full wide angle. At full telephoto, blurring was slightly stronger, but still quite low (though C.A. was quite noticeable). An impressive performance, especially at wide angle.

Viewfinder

Coverage
Very good accuracy from the electronic viewfinder and LCD monitor.

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

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ8's EVF and LCD monitor both showed about 101% coverage accuracy at wide angle, and about 99% at telephoto.

 

The images above were taken from our standardized test shots. For a collection of more pictorial photos, see our Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ8 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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