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Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ15

By: Dave Etchells

Panasonic introduces a four-megapixel digicam with the high quality optics of a 12x Leica lens.

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Page 4:Viewfinder

Review First Posted: 10/30/2004


The DMC-FZ15 features both an eye-level electronic optical viewfinder (EVF) and a 2.0-inch LCD monitor on the back panel for image composition. The EVF is essentially a miniaturized version of the larger LCD monitor, complete with all of the image and information displays. A button on the rear panel switches the view between the two monitors. A dioptric adjustment tucked on the left side of the eyepiece adapts the viewfinder optics to your vision, with a diopter range from -4 to +4 (an unusually wide range). The eyepiece has a high "eyepoint," making it well-suited to eyeglass wearers.

The 2.0-inch, low-temperature, polycrystalline, TFT, color LCD monitor has a 130,000-pixel display that's bright and clear. (LCD brightness can be adjusted in seven steps via the Setup menu.) The Display button controls the image and information displays, accessing five display modes in Record mode, and three modes in Review mode. The main display shows the image area, center AF brackets, camera modes and settings, battery level, image resolution and quality, and the remaining image capacity of the memory card. Pressing the Display button enables the same display but with the addition of a small histogram. A third press enables the "Out of Frame" display, which puts the image area into the top left corner, and displays the camera stats in the right and bottom borders (useful if you're having trouble framing with the information overlay, but still need to refer to it). The remaining two displays are a framing guideline (which divides the image area into thirds horizontally and vertically), and the image area only (with just the central AF brackets). You can also cancel the LCD monitor display (though the EVF remains active unless switched to the LCD monitor).

In Review mode, the LCD monitor provides a full-frame display of captured images, which you can view individually by scrolling left or right with the arrow buttons on the Multicontroller. Pressing the Zoom lever toward the wide position brings up a thumbnail index display of nine images at a time, which you can also scroll through with the arrow buttons. The telephoto side of the Zoom lever doubles as a Digital Enlargement button (marked by a magnifying glass), which allows you to enlarge an image up to 16x its normal size on the screen. This degree of enlargement is very handy, as it's sufficient to check focus accuracy and depth of field, something that's difficult to do on cameras with lower playback magnification. The arrow keys permit you to move around the enlarged image and check fine details and framing.

By default, the LCD screen displays basic information about the captured images, including the file name, date and time it was recorded, compression, resolution, what number it is in the sequence of images stored on the memory card, and the battery level. Depressing the Display button once brings up a more detailed information such as the shooting mode, aperture, f/stop, exposure compensation, and metering mode. In addition, the screen shows a small histogram to indicate the distribution of tonal values. If activated through the Setup menu, the Highlight Display will blink any blown-out highlights in the image from white to black and back again, letting you see exactly where detail has been lost. A third display mode shows only the image, without any information.


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