Panasonic FZ80 Review

 
Camera Reviews / Panasonic Cameras / Lumix Point & Shoot i Hands-On Preview
Basic Specifications
Full model name: Panasonic Lumix DC-FZ80
Resolution: 18.10 Megapixels
Sensor size: 1/2.3 inch
(6.2mm x 4.6mm)
Lens: 60.00x zoom
(20-1,200mm eq.)
Viewfinder: EVF / LCD
Native ISO: 80 - 3200
Extended ISO: 80 - 6400
Shutter: 1/16000 - 60 seconds
Max Aperture: 2.8
Dimensions: 5.1 x 3.7 x 4.7 in.
(130 x 94 x 119 mm)
Weight: 21.7 oz (616 g)
includes batteries
Availability: 03/2017
Manufacturer: Panasonic
Full specs: Panasonic FZ80 specifications
18.10
Megapixels
60.00x zoom 1/2.3 inch
size sensor
image of Panasonic Lumix DC-FZ80
Front side of Panasonic FZ80 digital camera Front side of Panasonic FZ80 digital camera Front side of Panasonic FZ80 digital camera Front side of Panasonic FZ80 digital camera Front side of Panasonic FZ80 digital camera

Panasonic FZ80 Review -- Hands-on Preview

by
Preview posted: 01/04

Panasonic FZ80 Review -- Product Image

In the superzoom market, the Panasonic FZ70 was something of a landmark camera when it was announced in the summer of 2013. It offered what was at the time a benchmark 60x optical zoom lens -- 20-1,200mm in a 35mm equivalence -- and a maximum aperture range of f/2.8-5.9. It feels like the FZ70 has been long overdue for a revision, especially in the face of Panasonic's massive push toward 4K video and 4K Photo features across its entire line of cameras. Well, the revision is here in the form of the new Panasonic FZ80, and it looks to have been worth the wait! Let's look at what this new superzoom bridge camera has to offer.

Similar appearance, but much different from its predecessor

You'll be forgiven for being unable to tell the FZ80 apart from its predecessor in terms of appearance, the two cameras look very similar in both styling and size. The FZ80 has dimensions of 5.13 x 3.71 x 4.69 inches (130.2 x 94.3 x 119.2 millimeters) and weighs 1.36 pounds (616 grams) with battery and SD card.

While the Lumix FZ70 has been on the market for well over three years, Panasonic has opted to utilize the same lens with the FZ80. There isn't necessarily anything wrong with that though as the powerful 60x optic offers a very wide 20mm equivalent to a super long 1,200mm equivalent range. The lens has 14 elements in 12 groups, including six aspherical elements, nine aspherical surfaces and three ED elements. The lens has optical image stabilization built-in as well in the form of Panasonic's Power OIS technology.

Panasonic FZ80 Review -- Product Image Back

Like its predecessor, the Panasonic FZ80 has a 3-inch display and a 0.2-inch electronic viewfinder. However, both displays have improved functionality. The rear LCD is now a touchscreen display with 1,040K-dots compared to the non-touch display of the FZ70, which had only 460K dots. The EVF, while the same size and offering the same 0.46x magnification (35mm equivalent), now has many more resolution too, 1,170K-dots equivalent versus 202K. Surrounding the display are the same arrangement of buttons and controls, including navigation buttons and a rear dial.

The top of the camera has a mode dial, power switch, movie record button and a pair of function buttons in addition to the shutter release with its surrounding zoom lever switch. On its mode dial, the FZ80 offers a wide array of shooting modes, including Intelligent Auto, P, A, S, M, Creative Video, C (Custom), Panorama Shot, Scene Guide and Creative Control, which offers an array of 22 different filters. There is also a hot shoe on top of the built-in flash. Speaking of the flash, it has a range of 0.3 to 14.1 meters at wide focal lengths and 1.5 to 6.1 meters at the telephoto end of the lens using Auto ISO.

Panasonic FZ80 Review -- Product Image Back

Panasonic FZ80 shooting features: New sensor, 4K and more

New 18.1-megapixel High Sensitivity MOS sensor

Starting our look at the inside of the camera, the changes since the Panasonic FZ70 become more apparent. The FZ80's imaging performance relies on a new 18.1-megapixel 1/2.3-inch High Sensitivity MOS sensor, offering about two more megapixels than the sensor found in the FZ70. Also, the ISO range is now expanded from 100-6400 to 80-6400. In addition to the new image sensor, there is a new version of the Venus Engine imaging processor found in the FZ80 as well, which we hope will lead to impressive image quality across the camera's ISO range.

Panasonic FZ80 Review -- Product Image Right Side

Autofocus and Metering: Faster, more sophisticated autofocus

The Lumix FZ80 includes a new, faster autofocus system than its predecessor. The Lightspeed AF-branded autofocus system now includes Depth from Defocus (DFD) technology, a feature not found in the FZ70. In addition to what we expect will be faster, more consistent autofocus speed, there are now 49 autofocus areas compared to 23. Autofocus modes include face/eye detection, tracking, 49-area, custom multi, 1-area and pinpoint. The addition of the touchscreen display also means that the new superzoom camera includes full area touch autofocus. Minimum focus distance is 0.39 inches (1 centimeter) in the macro focus mode and 11.8 inches (30 centimeters) during normal autofocus.

To expand on the AF performance, DFD technology basically works by the camera calculating the distance from the lens to the subject by comparing two images with different sharpness levels with a 240 frames per second signal exchange speed. The end result is that the FZ80 can achieve autofocus speeds as fast as 0.09 second (using AFS at the wide end of the lens), according to Panasonic.

Metering modes include intelligent multiple, center-weighted and spot with exposure compensation available for up to +/- 5EV when shooting stills and +/- 3EV when recording video.

Panasonic FZ80 Review -- Product Image Back

Continuous Shooting: Much faster shutter, slightly faster continuous shooting

While continuous shooting performance isn't particularly improved compared to its predecessor, the FZ80 does gain an additional frame per second of continuous shooting speed, bringing the total to 10fps when using AFS (5fps when using continuous autofocus). However, other aspects of its performance see more drastic changes. The FZ80 now includes a 4K Photo mode, which lets you shoot 8-megapixel JPEG images at up to 30fps in multiple burst modes. Further, the FZ80 has an electronic shutter mode in addition to its mechanical shutter, allowing for shutter speeds as fast as 1/16,000s when shooting stills. The overall shutter speed range is 4s to 1/2,000s when using the mechanical shutter and 1s to 1/16,000s when using the electronic shutter, although a special Artistic Nightscape mode is available which offers up to a 60-second exposure.

We will need to await full lab testing of the FZ80 to see how its performance fares, but on paper, this does appear to be a speedy superzoom camera.

Panasonic FZ80 Review -- Product Image Front Left

4K UHD video recording and 4K Photo burst modes highlight strong 4K features

4K fans take note, the Panasonic FZ80 has a wide array of appealing 4K features, including 4K UHD video recording at up to 30fps with a 100Mbps bitrate. The camera can continuously record 4K UHD video for up to 15 minutes, which while not matching the video specs of its big brother, the FZ2500, is still very impressive. The camera also offers Full HD video recording at up to 60fps and two high speed video modes: 1280 x 720 video at 120fps and 640 x 480 video at 240fps. The FZ80 includes a 4K Live Cropping mode as well, which lets you move a Full HD frame around a 4K frame while recording video providing a simulated camera slider motion or a "Ken Burns"-like effect all in-camera.

4K Photo, wherein the camera records 8-megapixel JPEG images, comes with a variety of modes beyond the aforementioned burst modes. You can also capture a series of images with different focus points, allowing you to select the focus point after capture (Post Focus). Alternatively, you can have the camera stack all of those images captured at different focal distances and create a final image with an increased depth of field (Focus Stacking).

Panasonic FZ80 Review -- Product Image Front Left

Connectivity, media and battery

The Panasonic FZ80 includes built-in Wi-Fi, although NFC connectivity is absent. It includes Micro HDMI (Type D) and USB 2.0 (Micro B) ports, a stereo microphone and a mono speaker. The camera records files to SD/SDHC/SDXC memory cards and has UHS-I, but not UHS-II, support. Notably, unlike its predecessor which included about 200MB of built-in memory, the FZ80 lacks on board storage, but that is in line with current cameras on the market.

Regarding power, the Lumix FZ80 uses a 7.2v 895mAh lithium-ion battery that offers a 330-shot battery life when using the LCD monitor and 240 shots when using the electronic viewfinder. This is a fairly large reduction in battery life compared to the FZ70 with the same battery, as it was CIPA-rated at 400 shots with the LCD, so it appears a spare battery might be in order for FZ80 users.

Improvements over its predecessor
  • Higher-resolution rear display, which now has touchscreen functionality
  • 18.1-megapixel sensor compared to the 16-megapixel sensor found in the FZ70
  • New Venus Engine image processing
  • Expanded ISO range to 80-6400 from 100-6400
  • The addition of an electronic shutter with shutter speeds faster than 1/2,000s
  • Improved autofocus with Depth from Defocus technology and more AF points
  • Faster continuous shooting speeds
  • 4K video and 4K Photo features
  • High speed video recording options
  • Built-in Wi-Fi
  • USB battery charging
Panasonic FZ80 Review -- Product Image Back
Pricing and availability

This superzoom camera will be available in March for just under US$400. It has been a long wait for this FZ70 successor, but it appears to have been well worth it as the FZ80 is poised to offer a lot of performance for the price. Look forward to more coverage on the Panasonic FZ80 in the coming months.

 

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