At around $ 600, the FZ200’s looks are not bad. It has a light weight (590g battery) and small size. Inspired by the design style of the basic DSLR, Panasonic makes the FZ200 stylish, professional and powerful. The company also cleverly layout the letter L on the front (short for Luxury), implicitly affirming its superior position compared to conventional superzoom cameras. However, Panasonic’s use of the plastic cover for the FZ200 makes users have a little bit of a drawback, although still gives the feeling of quite comfortable and secure.
The number of physical keys is not much, almost only some basic buttons, similar to high-end digital travel camera. The operation keys are reasonable and quite responsive. The FZ200 has two fixed setting modes, C1, C2 (on aperture, speed, ISO, etc.) on a customizable shooting loop, which is useful in some situations that require the speed of the reaction fast. Therefore, the photographer can set the optimal C1 mode when shooting fast moving subjects. “Ready” shooting modes, such as portraits and landscapes, are lumped together into one, called iA (Intelligent Auto).
Due to the upgraded LCD monitor and EVF electronic viewfinder compared to its predecessor FZ150, the FZ200 received a lot of praise. Accordingly, 3inch LCD screen with a resolution of 921K pixels twice as much as the previous generation, while being coated with anti-glare layer on the surface. The result: the image appears on the screen in more detail, but the colors are also brighter when viewed on the computer screen or printed out. The ability to observe the sun is quite good. Users do not need to use an accessory, but can cover the cover or take advantage of the 360-degree rotation of the screen to minimize direct sunlight.
The EVF viewfinder is upgraded to 201.6K pixels, even though it is only 1.3 inches. This is a breakthrough change compared to the old version (only 1312 pixels). But when we use it, we still see slow motion (lag), which is noticeable when focusing. This is also the inherent disadvantage of the electronic viewfinder compared to the OVF optical viewfinder. Still, we still prefer to use this viewfinder to capture more of the Live View function via the LCD screen because of its sturdier posture, limiting hand shake and battery saving.
Panasonic also designed two body zoom keys with a rotation next to the shutter button, which is handy for movie recording and a switch on the lens for shooting, so you can keep your hand on the shutter button. Panasonic also incorporates an optimum autofocus mode to take close-up macro shots of the machine.
The specs did not impress us, except the fixed aperture of F / 2.8 of the integrated lens. The 24-600mm diagonal strip is half the size of the 24-1200mm range available on the competitor Canon SX50 HS. This is also a downside that many people consider when choosing to buy high-end super-zoom: choose image quality or long focal length.
Aperture can help better brightness and depth of field (DOF) effect when shooting portrait or macro shots. With long focal lengths, users will be able to shoot long distances that are sometimes unable to focus.
The size of the High Sensitivity MOS Sensor is just 1 / 2.3 inches, smaller than the LX7’s brother and just about the same as any other mid-range digital camera. It seems that Panasonic has spent a lot of effort working with Leica to design DC Vario-Elmarit lenses on the machine. This lens is not branded Lumix but Leica, which is known through the legendary lens of the photography village, which made us anxious to test the camera’s ability to take pictures.
At near focal lengths (about 24-100mm), the AF system is quite impressive, usually only takes 0.3-0.5 seconds to capture the subject. However, when increasing focus to maximum, the lens takes about 1-2 seconds to transfer the object at the closest distance to infinity. Of course, this system can not compare the speed with the phase-based technology on the traditional DSLR, but not too much inferior. On the other hand, the accuracy of the AF system is quite good, and sometimes it is flawed when the subject has many similarities to the background as when the subject is wearing a white shirt next to a light wall. Switching to Macro AF mode, the camera can focus on the object just 1cm away to bring the picture closer to a true 1: 1 ratio, but sacrifice a bit of speed.
The FZ200 can capture up to 5.5 frames per second in continuous focus mode. If you want to shoot faster, the camera can only focus on the first frame and use that value for the next picture. Maximum speed compensation can push up to 12 frames per second. If this number is not impressive enough to catch up with fast-moving situations (like kids, pets, sports, etc.), Burst mode will be the solution. The camera can capture 40, even 60 photos per second, but almost all images are taken at low resolution, with only the first 3 images, mid and bottom at maximum resolution. In normal shooting mode, the memory buffer allows the camera to capture 100 continuous images and reduce it to 12 images in fast shooting mode.
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We also noticed that the metering system was “active” more than necessary. In the default mode the images tend to be bright, so we have reduced -0.33EV brightness compensation and obtained very positive results. Under complex lighting conditions, the metering system remains stable and rarely burns. The white balance system is not really perfect. Machine algorithms tend to use opposing colors to compensate for over-steam. For example, when shooting a green forest, the image will be slightly purple, but not very clear because only when the zoom to recognize. In standard color mode, still images in JPEG format are quite brilliant, glare. For those who do not like this style can choose RAW format for editing easier at post-production stage.
The biggest drawback of image quality lies in Dynamic Range due to the small sensor size. Users can overcome the HDR feature – take 3 consecutive shots at 3 different exposures and then automatically reassemble or enable the Intelligent Dynamic Range mode to manually select the appropriate exposure value for a particular type of image. According to measurements, the Dynamic Range produces the equivalent of the popular PnS Canon G12 and less than the Nikon D3100.
Panasonic also emphasized the ability to process images at high ISO sensitivity when naming Sensors as High Sensitivity MOS. Combined with a large maximum aperture, the image obtained when taking photoshoots is a big step forward in the lineup of super-zoom cameras. Even at ISO 800, the picture still does not appear much noise, high detail. Up to ISO 1600, the color of the image changes, but can be used at low resolution.
Previously superzoom cameras often had poor picture quality at far focal distances due to poor quality lenses and ineffective anti-shake systems. With the use of Leica’s lens, we do not doubt the sharpness of the FZ200. The picture is very sharp in the center and almost unbound at the edge. The sharpness is only slightly reduced at the largest focal length of 600 meters and is very good at 24-70mm range. With a 24x optical zoom lens in a compact body, quality loss is a bit of a big effort for the two manufacturers. The coating on the lens completes the aberration control mission. Even in strong lighting conditions, purple fringing rarely occurs.
The POWER Vibration System O.I.S works relatively well. During testing, we defaulted to this feature, but rarely blurred, even when shooting low in low light or on low-light shooting. This feature is very useful because the zoom lens is very prone to vibration when there is no camera foot.
The ability to shoot movies is as good as the picture quality. The camera can record movies at Full HD 1080p resolution at 60 frames per second in AVCHD format. Panasonic also arranged a stereo recording microphone at the top of the flash, capable of capturing the sound of the zoom lens tuning in a quiet environment. Unfortunately, the microphone can only record well within a range of 4-5 meters.
IA and iA Plus image editing are also plus points. In this mode, the camera is able to automatically analyze the scene based on parameters such as light metering, aperture, focal point, scene, facial recognition to customize the rest parameters accordingly. Using iA Plus mode, users only need to view the appropriate frame such as portraiture, landscape, macro, evening shooting and press the shutter button. After that, the machine will take care of the rest to produce the best picture.
With a capacity of 1.200mAh, we capture about 500 shots on a single charge with plenty of image playback time. Charging time is more than 2 hours. The FZ200 uses the same battery with GH2 and G5, so finding a new battery is pretty easy.
It can be said, the FZ200 is one of the models of good-quality super-zoom today, but not quite perfect for everyone. The focal lengths make it very difficult for photographers to trade a little bit of image quality, which photographers find difficult to accept when using the FZ200 as a main camera. But if used as a secondary camera, there is nothing to complain. The FZ200 ensures that users get good quality photographs, especially when capturing birds or macro flowers. The FZ200 is also an option for dynamic people who are not too fussy about image quality, want a compact camera that can be taken with a compact body that can be worn daily, looking for a new experience after use normal travel camera.
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