Panasonic FZ200 Review: Bright f/2.8 Leica lens adds even more versatility to 24x optical superzoom camera


posted Friday, April 5, 2013 at 3:44 PM EDT

Panasonic has a long-standing legacy for producing quality long-zoom bridge cameras, including the FZ150 superzoom which we reviewed and heartily recommended a little more than a year ago. However, the company pumped some new excitement into the line when it was announced the Panasonic FZ200 would house a Leica DC Vario-Elmarit-branded lens that boasted a f/2.8 max aperture across the entire 24x optical zoom range. After all, such a bright lens is a rarity among long zooms these days and -- teamed with the camera's excellent AF system -- it proved to perform well in low-light and high shutter speed situations.

We found a lot to like about the upgraded FZ200, ranging from its solid build and comforting heft to its responsive and relatively speedy shooting. Being able to fire off 12 frames per second in continuous shooting mode -- and capture all 12 images (in one burst) in full-res -- truly makes it a versatile tool for capturing action, as does the ability to record movies in Full HD 1080p at up to 60 fps. The FZ200 also features a host of advanced photographic controls and capabilities, including PASM shooting modes and manual focusing, RAW and RAW+JPEG image capturing, and a wide range of creative modes and filters.

As far as image quality is concerned, we were pleased with the pictures produced by the Panasonic FZ200, though -- like most bridge cameras -- they were ultimately limited by the camera's relatively small, 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor. At low ISOs and on the shallow end of the zoom range, pictures were sharp and detailed. But at longer focal lengths and ISOs of 800 and above, things began to get softer as the camera's noise suppression efforts often blurred and smudged the details. And like its predecessor, the FZ200 showed a tendency to clip highlights (though as our reviewer noted, dialing in some negative exposure compensation is an easy fix, and using the camera's built-in HDR can help improve dynamic range  ). 

So what was our final conclusion on the camera? Read our Panasonic FZ200 review to find out how it performed in our lab tests and out in the real world, and see the range of images it produces.