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Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ20

By: Dave Etchells

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

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Page 1:Intro and Highlights

Review First Posted: 12/17/2004

5.0-Megapixel CCD delivers 2,560 x 1,920-pixel images
12x optical zoom lens covers 36-432mm equivalent range while maintaining f/2.8 aperture
Full range of manual and automatic exposure options, with nine preset shooting modes
Excellent image stabilization system makes long zoom truly useful, even in less bright light.


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Introduction - The Panasonic DMC-FZ20

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Panasonic's been a player in the digicam market for the last couple of years, but until now, we've not managed to get hands on any of their cameras to test. Our Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ20 review has been in much demand, with enthusiastic readers writing in requesting a review quite frequently. After repeated requests for an evaluation unit with no response from the Panasonic PR folks (other editors were apparently not letting go of their test samples once they got hands on them, perhaps a testimony to the appeal of the camera), we finally took the unprecedented step of going out and purchasing a Panasonic FZ20 to test. The Panasonic DMC-FZ20 combines a 12x optically stabilized zoom lens with a 5 megapixel sensor and a host of features designed to entice novice and enthusiast alike. (The Panasonic DMC-FZ20 is very similar to the FZ15 model, the biggest difference being its 5-megapixel CCD vs the 4-megapixel chip on the FZ15.) True to its Leica heritage, the Panasonic FZ20 's long zoom shows very good optical quality, and the rest of the camera happily measures up as well. Read on for all the details, but if you're in the market for a long-zoom digicam with optical image stabilization, the Panasonic FZ20 looks like a good bet.

NOTE: FZ20 vs FZ15. As noted, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ20 is very similar to the 4-megapixel Panasonic DMC-FZ15 model we reviewed previously. If you've read that review, you probably know most of what there is to know about the Panasonic FZ20 already. You can skip to our feature comparison chart to see the differences between the Panasonic FZ20 and other long-zoom Panasonic digital cameras, or jump down to the conclusions page to see what we thought of the FZ20, based on our tests.


High Points

  • 5.0-megapixel CCD delivering up to 2,560 x 1,920-pixel resolution images.
  • Electronic optical viewfinder.
  • 2.0-inch, color LCD monitor.
  • 12x Leica zoom lens, 6-72mm (equivalent to a 36-432mm lens on a 35mm camera) with auto and manual focus, and available nine-point focus area.
  • As much as 4x digital telephoto.
  • Program AE, Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority, and Manual exposure modes, as well as nine preset "Scene" exposure modes.
  • Manually adjustable aperture settings from f/2.8 to f/8.0.
  • Capable of maintaining f/2.8 across zoom range.
  • Manually adjustable shutter speed settings from 1/2000 to 8 seconds.
  • ISO sensitivity equivalents: Auto, 80, 100, 200, and 400.
  • Three metering modes: Multiple, Center-Weighted, and Spot metering.
  • White balance setting with six modes, including a manual setting.
  • Built-in pop-up flash with six operating modes and flash exposure compensation.
  • JPEG and TIFF still image file formats, movies saved as Motion JPEGs.
  • Images saved to SD/MMC memory cards, 16MB card included.
  • Movie mode with sound.
  • Flip Animation mode, plus three Burst continuous shooting modes and Auto Exposure Bracketing.
  • Color Effects option, as well as contrast, saturation, and sharpness settings.
  • DPOF (Digital Print Order Format) compatibility.
  • USB cable for high-speed connection to a computer.
  • Lens hood and hood adapter included.
  • ArcSoft PhotoImpression, Panorama Maker, and PhotoBase software on accompanying CD ( for both Mac and Windows)
  • Powered by Panasonic rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack, with optional AC adapter.


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