Panasonic FZ300 Walkaround

by Mike Tomkins

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.

The handgrip is more deeply profiled for better comfort, but in other respects the basic layout from this angle is much as it was. There are no controls on the front of the camera, just the lens, autofocus assist lamp and product branding.

The top deck of the Panasonic FZ300 also looks quite similar to that of its predecessor, but the changes here are more significant. For one thing, the movie record button -- previously behind and left of the shutter button -- now jumps one button further right for an easier reach.

To the left, the button it previously occupied is now one of two top-deck function buttons, up from just one in the earlier camera, and defaults to exposure compensation control. The two custom positions on the FZ200's mode dial are consolidated into a single position on the Panasonic FZ300, a change that frees up space for a new dedicated panorama position on the dial. (The FZ200 could shoot panos too, but they didn't merit their own mode dial position.)

Visually, the biggest change on the top deck is to the top of the popup flash housing. Previously, it played host to two huge microphone grilles, but these are now replaced by two tiny left and right mic ports, directly between the flash and hot shoe. The rear control dial also projects up to the top deck, a change that makes it just a little easier to roll with your thumb. And one last change of note: The shutter button and the zoom lever that encircle it are now body-colored, where in the FZ200 they were silver.

There's a whole lot more going on when you move to the back of the Panasonic FZ300. The viewfinder now has a much more generous eyecup, and a small cutout near the top center of the eyecup indicates the location of the proximity sensor for eye-start autofocus and viewfinder / monitor switching.

The button at the top left shoulder still defaults to this latter function as well, but it's also one of two more buttons that's newly user-configurable. The other is the delete / return / quick menu button at the bottom right corner of the tilt/swivel LCD monitor. The play button has now moved to a more logical location alongside the display button, and the AF/AE lock button is now encircled by a new focus mode switch.

One last change of note is the addition of 4K Photo mode to the functions accessed by the down arrow position on the four-way controller.

Not a lot has changed on the right side of the Panasonic FZ300. Both the HDMI port and the cutout for the dummy battery sit just where they used to. You can, however, see that more silver trim has been removed, this time from around the lens barrel, giving the FZ300 more of a stealth look. And the rubber leatherette texture on the handgrip now wraps around the camera, where previously it stopped in front of the seam that lines the side of the camera body.

Saving the best for last, it's on the left of the camera body that we find the most significant change. There's now a dial on the left side of the lens barrel, just behind the zoom rocker. It's an unusual position -- most cameras put the second dial on the front or top of the grip, or encircle their four-way controller on the rear -- but it's quite a logical one that leads you to support the lens better with your left hand, and shares control duties rather than overloading your right hand.

The focus mode switch that used to sit in this location has, as we've mentioned, moved to the back of the camera. The focus button that sat beneath it remains on the lens barrel, though. And two other noteworthy changes: The microphone port cover is now larger and circular (likely because the port itself has gone from a 2.5mm to the more common 3.5mm type), while the four-hole speaker grille of the FZ200 is replaced by a seven-hole grille a little higher up on the FZ300's side flank.

Also note that you can see the diopter correction dial alongside the electronic viewfinder from this angle. The FZ200 had one as well, but on the FZ300 you can no longer see it from behind the camera because of the new model's more generous eyecup.


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