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Panasonic LUMIX DMC-FZ45 review
|DATE REVIEWED: 22nd Feb 2011||Add Camera To Comparison Chart|
|Camera Type||Compact||Shutter Speeds||1 - 1/2000 sec|
|RRP||£280||ISO Range||80 - 1600|
|Megapixels||14||Focal Length||25 - 600mm|
|Weight||454g||Aperture||f2.8 - 8|
|Dimensions||120 x 80 x 91mm (WxHxD)||Focus Distance||30cm - inf|
|LCD Size||3 inches||Zoom (Opt)||24x|
|Zoom (Dig)||4x||Storage||SD, SDHC, SDXC|
|Max Resolution||4320 x 3240||Battery Type||Li-Ion|
If you’ve grown up with SLR cameras, the 24x optical zoom range of this Panasonic Lumix FZ45 bridge camera will seem astonishing. It’s the equivalent of 25-600mm in the old 35mm format, which remains the standard language of focal lengths. Take a look in any DSLR catalogue and you won’t find a single lens with anything like that stretch – you’d need to invest in a pair of zoom lenses at great expense. So to get this lens built into a fully featured camera for under £400 has to be a good deal.
To look at, the FZ45 is neat but unremarkable; it looks like a two-thirds size DSLR. Pick it up and the plastic body feels a bit cheap, and if you shake it gently you hear a rattle from inside. The camera powers up quickly via a small and fiddly switch on the top panel. The LCD is clear and bright or, by pressing a button, you can switch to the electronic viewfinder (EVF). This is less bright but useful in bright conditions, and has a dioptric adjustment so you can set it to suit your eyesight. A minor point, but once the EVF is selected, it remains set even if the camera is turned on and off. Some may find this useful if they use the EVF all the time, but others may get confused if they expected to see the LCD come alive.
The Shooting mode is set via a Control dial on the top plate; this may be less high-tech than buttons and menus, but it’s quick and easy, plus you can see at a glance what mode is in use. Other controls are set via buttons on the back and, again, these are clear and self-explanatory.
That mega-zoom is controlled by a ring around the Shutter button and is smooth and controllable, allowing you to make adjustments to the focal length. Built-in IS allows for handheld photos in good light at the telephoto end but, once light drops, a tripod is advisable.
If the 24x optical zoom isn’t enough, there is also a 4x digital zoom. This takes it up to 96x, or the equivalent of 2,400mm focal length in 35mm terms. At this magnification, a tripod or other support is needed to ensure shake-free images. Not surprisingly, even with a steady camera the image quality suffers as the digital zoom crops in the image. To be fair, though, despite increased noise, the quality is acceptable enough.
Speaking of image quality, the Leica-made lens is optically very good throughout the optical zoom range. Electronically images are noise-free at lower ISO settings, but noise increases over ISO 400. Our only grumble is that the images have slightly more contrast than we’d like. This may make photos look impressive at first sight but it does mean that some shadow detail is lost, especially if the lighting conditions are already high in contrast.
Panasonic has taken face recognition technology to a new level, in that you can set the camera to recognise a face you have pre-programmed in. Up to six faces can be registered and when the camera spots one of them in, say, a group photo, it will ensure that the focus and exposure is set for that person.
A range of shooting and scene modes, HD video and so on are combined with DSLR features including AE lock, Shutter and Aperture Priority modes, plus manual and exposure compensation. In many ways, then, the FZ45 gives you the best of both worlds, plus a lens that DSLR owners can only dream of.
A well-performing bridge that offers a compelling alternative to a full-blown DSLR. Image quality is good and all that lets it down for us is the feel of it
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|A well-performing bridge that offers a compelling alternative to a full-blown DSLR. Image quality is good and all that lets it down for us is the feel of it|
Debbi’s passionate about all things photographic: from the latest digital kit to the greatest techniques to capture a scene. She’s been at the helm of the photography portfolio of magazines, websites and more for three years.
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