12.10
Megapixels
24.00x zoom 1/2.3 inch
size sensor
image of Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300
Front side of Panasonic FZ300 digital camera Front side of Panasonic FZ300 digital camera Front side of Panasonic FZ300 digital camera Front side of Panasonic FZ300 digital camera Front side of Panasonic FZ300 digital camera
Basic Specifications
Full model name: Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300
Resolution: 12.10 Megapixels
Sensor size: 1/2.3 inch
(6.2mm x 4.6mm)
Lens: 24.00x zoom
(25-600mm eq.)
Viewfinder: EVF / LCD
Native ISO: 100 - 6400
Extended ISO: 100 - 6400
Shutter: 1/16000 - 60 seconds
Max Aperture: 2.8
Dimensions: 5.2 x 3.6 x 4.6 in.
(132 x 92 x 117 mm)
Weight: 25.5 oz (724 g)
includes batteries
Availability: 10/2015
Manufacturer: Panasonic
Full specs: Panasonic FZ300 specifications

FZ300 Summary

The Panasonic FZ300 improves upon the FZ200 in numerous ways while building upon the same tried-and-true 12.1-megapixel sensor and 24-600mm equivalent f/2.8 lens. The redesigned body, improved EVF, and better tilting display really help the FZ300 handle well out in the field. With good imaging performance for its class, this 4K-capable camera is up to the task of being a versatile multimedia camera and proves to be a great performer and an even better value.

Pros

Good image quality for its class; Improved ergonomics; Impressive new EVF and rear display; Versatile 24-600mm equivalent f/2.8 lens; Faster autofocus performance; 4K video and 4K Photo features.

Cons

Bulky camera body; Excessive default noise reduction applied at lower ISOs; Continuous autofocus performance is inconsistent.

Price and availability

Available since October 2015, the Panasonic FZ300 retails for US$600.

Imaging Resource rating

4.5 out of 5.0

Panasonic FZ300 Review

by , Jeremy Gray and Zig Weidelich
Preview originally posted: 07/16/2015

Updates
02/26/2016: Field Test by Jeremy Gray posted
: Review Conclusion posted

Panasonic FZ300 Review -- Product Image

Back in 2012, Panasonic got long-zoom fans' pulses racing with the Lumix FZ200, a camera that paired a mighty 24x optical zoom range with an impressively-bright f/2.8 constant aperture. Now, it returns with the Panasonic FZ300, a camera which takes the best of its Dave's Pick-winning predecessor -- including the exact same lens -- but which brings the design right up to date and resolves the majority of our criticisms of the earlier model.

Just as in its predecessor, the 12-megapixel Panasonic FZ300 sports a 1/2.3"-type image sensor, but it's now paired to a current-generation Venus Engine image processor. That change brings with it a half-frame per second increase in performance with autofocus enabled, according to Panasonic. You should be able to extract six frames per second at full resolution with autofocus enabled, or as much as 12 fps with focus locked between frames. The new processor's more robust noise processing has also allowed Panasonic to do away with the concept of extended sensitivity, making the entire ISO 100 to 6400-equivalent range available by default.

The Panasonic FZ300 retains the SLR-like styling of its predecessor, but its body is just a little larger and heavier, having grown by some 0.2 to 0.3 inches in all dimensions, and gained around 3.6 ounces (17.5%) of extra mass. There's a very good reason for this, though, and it's one which will make the FZ300 a much more versatile camera than its predecessor, especially for sports and nature shooters who have to deal with the elements. The FZ300's body is brand new, and as well as the addition of some new controls, it's also been fully splash and dust-proofed!

Panasonic FZ300 Review -- Product Image
Panasonic FZ300 Review -- Product Image
Panasonic FZ300 vs FZ200

While the imaging pipeline is pretty similar to that of the earlier camera, the electronic viewfinder and LCD monitor have both received a significant overhaul. The EVF is now both higher-resolution and, with a 0.7x magnification, yields a much larger image than the 0.46x finder of the FZ200. Contrast ratio of the new finder's Organic LED display is said to be 10,000:1, and it now includes a proximity sensor that allows it to be enabled (and if you choose, autofocus started automatically) as soon as you raise it to your eye.

Panasonic FZ300 Review -- Product Image

And the tilting 3.0-inch LCD monitor also now boasts a higher resolution, brighter panel that should be easier to see in sunlight. For bonus points, it even includes a touch-screen overlay that lets it be used to select subjects for focus, control menus, and more. (You can even use the LCD monitor as a quasi-touch pad for selecting the focus point while framing through the viewfinder, which is a pretty cool feature.)

When we reviewed the FZ200, we noted our desire for better autofocus at longer focal lengths, and that seems to have been improved as well, though we no longer have an FZ200 to compare to. Panasonic has gifted the FZ300 with a brand-new Light Speed AF-branded autofocus system including Depth From Defocus technology. It now operates twice as fast, at a refresh rate of 240 frames per second, and includes predictive autofocus algorithms, changes that the company says will allow a doubling of tracking performance. And low-light AF -- an area we already singled out as impressive in the earlier camera -- has further improved, with Panasonic claiming that the Lumix FZ300 can now focus in starlit conditions all the way down to -3EV.

Panasonic has also worked on the FZ300's image stabilization system. In place of the dual-axis Power O.I.S. image stabilization system of the FZ200, the new model now sports a five-axis Hybrid O.I.S. system. Note, though, that during 4K movie capture or high-frame rate video, the five-axis system is not available. Oh, and if you found yourself disappointed that the FZ200 didn't allow access to its fastest 1/4,000 second shutter speed unless you stopped all the way down to f/8 or smaller, we have good news: The Panasonic FZ300 will now allow 1/4,000 second at f/4 or smaller. There's also a 1/16,000-second electronic shutter function, and the FZ300 can now automatically level horizons in your images much as do some DSLRs from Pentax.

Panasonic FZ300 Review -- Product Image

And yes, we did mention 4K capture: That's another new feature for the FZ300. Specifically, you get both 4K (3,840 x 2,160 pixel) video at 24 or 30 frames per second, as well as Full HD (1,920 x 1,080 pixel / 60i, 60p, 30p, or 24p), HD (1,280 x 720 pixel / 30p) and VGA (640 x 480 / 30p) reduced-resolution modes. You can also extract stills from 4K video clips in 4K Photo mode, have the camera save 4K still images at 30 frames per second, or even let it continuously pre-buffer two seconds of 4K stills and then save them as a burst once you hit the shutter button. (That's great for those of us whose reflexes aren't quite up to par!)

There's also a brand-new 4K feature which was released in late 2015 via the firmware v2.0 update. Dubbed Post-Focus, it is in some ways reminiscent of the final result provided by light-field cameras like the Lytro. The way in which it works -- as well as its strengths and weaknesses -- are very different, though. Lytro's weakness has always been its resolution, which even in the current-generation Lytro Illum is just four megapixels. By contrast, the Panasonic FZ300's Post-Focus imagery will have the same 8.3-megapixel resolution as 4K video.

However, it's achieved not in a single shot as in the Lytro camera, but with a series of sequential frames. (We don't know how many, but they're said to be captured at the same 30 frames-per-second rate used for 4K video.) Between frames, the lens' focus will be adjusted somewhat, giving you a selection of images whose focus varies. You can then select the area you want to be in sharpest focus post-capture, and the camera will compare the frames it captured before selecting the one in which that area is best-defined.

Panasonic FZ300 Review -- Product Image

The downside here is that your composition and subject position may also vary between frames, because they're being captured sequentially over a short period of time. In that respect, the Lytro has the advantage because no matter where you choose to put the point of focus, the overall composition won't change. (At least, not unless you intentionally use its pseudo-3D parallax effect, that is.)

Like its predecessor, the Panasonic FZ300 includes an external microphone jack, but rather than the less-common 2.5mm jack used by the earlier camera, the FZ300 now uses the much more common 3.5mm jack. And that's not the only connectivity change, either. These days, being able to get your photos onto your smartphone is important, and Panasonic delivers with in-camera Wi-Fi. Android and iOS devices can pair quickly and easily using a QR code shown on the camera's display, and once connected you can not only transfer images, but also control the camera and change settings remotely. Images and movies are still stored on a Secure Digital flash card, but as well as SDHC and SDXC types, the FZ300 supports the faster UHS-I cards too (U3 Speed Class needed for 4K video recording).

Panasonic FZ300 Review -- Product Image

Although the battery pack capacity hasn't changed (7.2v, 1200mAh), battery life has dropped significantly from its predecessor. The FZ200 was CIPA-rated at 540 shots per charge (Panasonic didn't specify if that's with the LCD monitor or EVF, but we suspect LCD), while the FZ300 is rated at 380 shots using the LCD monitor, and 360 shots when using the EVF. Still, that's not bad for its class.

Available since mid-October 2015, the Panasonic FZ300 is priced at around US$600. That's the exact same price at which its predecessor first went on sale way back in August 2012. Only one body color is available for this model -- a traditional black color scheme, just as in the earlier camera.

Panasonic FZ300 Field Test

Numerous improvements make this an excellent all-around camera

by Jeremy Gray |

Panasonic FZ300 field test photoIntroduction
In 2012, Panasonic released the FZ200 bridge camera, and then last October, just over three years later, Panasonic released the FZ300. During those three years, some things have remained the same between these two models, such as the sensor and lens, but many other things have changed, such as autofocus performance and video features. Not only that, but the camera body itself has seen an overhaul. Ultimately the FZ300 won't blow you away with resolving power or zoom capabilities but it is a versatile all-in-one camera that, overall, does nearly everything well.

SLR-like feel with a solid design
Built similarly to a DSLR, the FZ300 is far from compact. What it lacks in mobility it makes up for in versatility and overall build quality. This FZ200 successor has a completely redesigned camera body and even includes weather-sealing. Compared to its predecessor, the 24.4 ounce (691 grams) FZ300 is a bit bigger and is 3.6 ounces (just over 100 grams) heavier. The front grip is slightly larger, and the body is slightly taller. The ergonomics of the front grip have changed too, making the camera more comfortable to hold.

Panasonic FZ300 Walkaround

A closer look at Panasonic's new weather-sealed superzoom

by Mike Tomkins |

Panasonic FZ300 tech section illustration As we mentioned previously, the Panasonic FZ300 has a brand-new body that's just a little larger and heavier than that of its predecessor. Given the length and bright constant aperture of its zoom lens, though, it's certainly not unduly bulky -- in fact, the very opposite. Compare it to what would be needed to achieve the same focal range and aperture on an interchangeable-lens camera and it's actually impressively compact, with dimensions of just 5.2 x 3.6 x 4.6 inches (132 x 92 x 117mm), and a weight of 1.5 pounds (691g) loaded and ready to shoot.

It's when seen from the front that the Panasonic FZ300 looks most like its predecessor. Even here, though, there are changes aplenty. For one thing, the Lumix FZ300 has a more aggressive styling aesthetic than did the FZ200, with sharply-angled creases at its edges.

Panasonic FZ300 Conclusion

High-zoom camera includes many improvements and new features

by Jeremy Gray |

After releasing the popular long-zoom FZ200 back in 2012, Panasonic has followed it up with the Lumix FZ300. While some aspects of the camera have stayed the same, including the 24x zoom lens with a constant f/2.8 aperture and the 12.1-megapixel sensor, the Panasonic FZ300 includes numerous improvements that help make it an appealing choice for photographers looking for a long-zoom bridge camera.

Panasonic FZ300's redesigned body a bit bulkier, but also much better
While the Panasonic FZ300 shares many of the same internals as the FZ200, the exterior is vastly different and we found it to be much-improved. Some controls have been added and the body has become more durable, as it now sports dust and splash-proofing, as well as being slightly larger than its FZ200 predecessor.

Both the electronic viewfinder and rear LCD displays have been upgraded as well. The electronic viewfinder is higher-resolution and has more magnification, and the articulating 3.0-inch touchscreen LCD monitor is both sharper and brighter. During our time with the Panasonic FZ300, the improved EVF worked very well and provided a crisp, clear image.

 

In the Box

The Panasonic FZ300 retail package contains the following items:

  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300 digital camera
  • Li-ion battery pack
  • Battery charger
  • USB cable
  • Shoulder strap
  • Software CD-ROM with manual
  • Lens cap and string
  • Lens hood
  • One-year Limited Warranty

 

Recommended Accessories

  • Large capacity SDHC/SDXC memory card. We recommend at least 32GB capacity, with a minimum UHS Speed Class 3 rating for recording 4K video.
  • Medium-to-large camera case/bag
  • Extra battery pack for extended outings

 

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