posted Tuesday, May 22, 2018 at 6:05 AM EDT
Having a 360mm-equivalent zoom paired with a relatively large 1-inch-type sensor in a small and light package that fits in the palm of your hand is definitely enticing. I recently spent time with the Panasonic 50-200mm f/2.8-4, and that lens is super-light compared to what you can get in the APS-C and Full Frame worlds, but the Panasonic ZS200 can handle long range while still slipping comfortably in a vest pocket!
So I'd been hoping for a chance to try this little phenom out, but we've been swamped lately and it had been sitting in my queue. Then I realized we only had one more day with the camera at our headquarters before it was due to ship off for a Field Test, so I tossed it into my car and had 24 hours to drum up an initial gallery. You already have access to our laboratory First Shots, and yet the real story with this camera is the long range.
I'm sure there will be plenty of IR readers who want to know how the IQ stands up at that far-reaching zoom setting. For this reason I focused more on 360mm-eq. images than anything else, though there is still plenty of focal length variety for you in this initial gallery sampling. I've also tried to bring you a varied look at the possiblities for bokeh with this model, as well as including a few images shot at somewhat higher ISOs.
1/640s | f/6 | ISO 125 | 190mm eq.
[Images have been resized to fit this page, and some slightly altered in post-production, primarily to balance shadows and highlights. For the original image as output by the ZS200 please click any image, and for access to EXIF data and RAW files please see our
ZS200 Gallery page.]
1/125s | f/6.4 | ISO 125 | 360mm eq.
All images in this initial gallery were shot handheld with image stabilization enabled. Given that the aperture gets relatively small when zoomed to the long end, the onboard I.S. certainly comes in handy if you want to keep the ISO at base.
1/50s | f/6.4 | ISO 1600 | 360mm eq.
This image was taken in shadow, and I needed ISO 1600 just to get myself into the ballpark. The I.S. allowed for hand-holding at a really slow 1/50s shutter speed, which is a nice feat in and of itself. I am not stable enough to pull that off at 360mm eq. without I.S., so it is comforting to know that the stabilization does indeed work while zoomed so far. At these settings I had a few with motion blur as well, but there were also enough keepers in the bunch. And 1/50s at 360mm eq. range is certainly taxing the I.S. a good deal.
1/125s | f/6.4 | ISO 800 | 360mm eq.
I'm slightly front-focused here, and could have switched to pinpoint focus and really dialed it in.
1/800s | f/6.4 | ISO 125 | 185mm eq.
The images above show a variety of examples of the bokeh potential with the ZS200. The aperture does dim as it zooms, but the long zoom range coupled with the relatively large sensor still allow for a decent degree of subject-to-background isolation potential, and the actual quality of the bokeh is good for a compact camera. It won't compete head to head with larger, expensive models, but it isn't bad either.
Now let's pull the zoom toggle back and take a look at some wider perspectives.
1/100s | f/4 | ISO 125 | 24mm eq.
1/80s | f/3.7 | ISO 125 | 24mm eq.
Perhaps my favorite aspect of the ZS200 on this long day of shooting was that it's so light and compact compared to anything in this range sporting a larger sensor. For me, while trying to keep pace with a pair of energetic 8-year-olds, lighter is definitely better. Also, it's nice to be able to open up the aperture at least a bit while shooting at 24mm eq. here in a shady forest.
1/2000s | f/5.2 | ISO 125 | 35mm eq.
1/640s | f/6.4 | ISO 125 | 360mm eq.
I didn't need to use macro focus mode on this shot, but it's there if you need it. I did end up trying out pinpoint focus mode for this and a few additional shots. With the above image you can get a good sense of the shallow depth of field available while zoomed all the way to 360mm. With this you'll for sure want to pay close attention to nailing focus as a result, given that narrow corridor.
1/125s | f/8 | ISO 125 | 205mm eq.
This image is yet another reason I enjoy having a long zoom range in a small package. This mother goose probably knows me by now, but I still wouldn't want to scare her away by getting closer with a large camera while her babies are out having their breakfast.
1/500s | f/6.3 | ISO 125 | 30mm eq.
Stay tuned, as we'll have much more to come in our upcoming Panasonic ZS200 Field Test.
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Caffeine Priority is a series of short photo-tidbits to ease you into your day, and give us a chance to share a bit more of what life’s like here at IR. We're more like a group of friends testing and talking about cameras and lenses than the buttoned-down, big-corporation world that some of our photo-friends at other companies work in; hopefully these little snippets will share some of that. So... grab another coffee and join in the conversation with us down below!