Panasonic Lumix DMC FZ50 | Digital Camera Review | Adjustments
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ50 is an advanced digital camera, and the majority of prospective users will likely know a thing or two about photography. Therefore, it is only logical that the camera offers a large amount of setting options. Fortunately, you can also save many of these in one of the three custom functions, so that you have quick and easy access to the correct settings. In addition to the P, S, A and M mode -a common feature for this type of camera- the Panasonic FZ50 offers a so-called green, fully automatic mode and pre-programmed scenes. These allow you to quickly obtain the settings for a certain situation. It seems to me, however, that most users will be experienced enough to set these values themselves. This simply offers more control; after all, you'll know exactly what you're doing. This doesn't change the fact, however, that the scenes form a useful tool for those who wish to use the Panasonic Lumix FZ50 to venture further into the world of digital photography. It more or less offers you a "second help line" in case a manual setting does not lead to the desired result.
Panasonic DMC FZ50 - RAW & JPEG files
The TIFF format seems to have found its downfall, and as far as I'm concerned, it will not at all be missed. TIFF doesn't offer that much more than RAW, apart from the fact that you do not need to convert, and it takes significantly more space. Fortunately, the Panasonic Lumix FZ50 is SDHC (Secure Digital High Capacity) compatible, so that you can also work with cards that offer a higher storage capacity than 2GB. With a resolution of 10 Megapixels, the file size increases relatively rapidly indeed, especially when working in RAW. For RAW conversion, Panasonic supply quite a decent programme. It does take a little getting used to, but the conversion itself goes smoothly, and is easy to work with. Adobe Camera RAW, a programme that is considerably more user-friendly, is now also able to deal with the files from the Panasonic FZ50. However, the SilkyPix programme allows you to adjust and alter even more. The downside is that you need to figure it all out by yourself, as it does not come with a proper user manual. In fact, I even had to download an update from the Internet first, as the supplied version could not yet handle the files from the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ50. If shooting in RAW, a standard JPEG file will also be created. Personally, I would like to see the option to switch off this feature. After all, it does take space on your memory card.
Panasonic FZ50 Megazoom - ISO settings
If converting the RAW files, you are able to get some very nice results indeed. The JPEG images are influenced more easily by all sorts of effects; such as high ISO and noise, which at times make you wish you had captured the image in RAW, especially when working with high sensitivities. By now, Panasonic seem so fixated on eliminating their main bottleneck; noise, that they sometimes apply a noise reduction that is a little over the top. Despite the fact that it is possible to select various degrees of noise reduction, it proves quite forceful in each case. ISO 400 already shows an extensive amount of filtering, which really does affect the details in the image. A pity really, especially as there is generally so much more to get from a RAW image. Although ISO 1600 proves to be virtually free of noise, practically all the details in the image have vanished. Everything has been softened, which surely isn't the result you had been hoping for. When converting the image through the RAW converter, and switching the noise reduction off, the image turns out to be a lot more realistic. Although the amount of noise does increase, you will at least be able to see details in your image. Prospective users of the Panasonic Lumix FZ50 should count on a maximum ISO of 400 is you want to sustain the high quality. Furthermore, in combination with the very effective optical image stabilisation MEGA O.I.S., you will maintain a very decent control of the shutter speed, which means there isn't really a need to resort to the high ISO numbers.
Panasonic Lumix FZ50 - Lage zoom range
The large zoom range of the Panasonic FZ50 forms one of the camera's most powerful feats. The range of 35-420mm (when compared to a 35mm camera) covers a very wide area, and will undoubtedly be seen as an interesting asset by many photographers. A pity, however, that the Panasonic Lumix FZ50 has not been equipped with a little more wide-angle and a little less tele, which would certainly appeal to fans of scenery photography. Hand-held photography with this type of range proves virtually effortless, thanks to the continuous support of the MEGA O.I.S. system. In addition to the camera's large range, the FZ50 allows users to venture into the macro world. The camera enables you to capture the subject from a 5cm distance. The side of the lens features a switch through which the macro mode is activated. Although the macro images are of a very decent quality indeed, they do tend to suffer from a certain degree of distortion in the wide-angle mode. However, upon zooming in lightly, this is easily fixed. We should point out that zooming in will increase the focus distance to the subject; up to approx. 2m at full tele.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ50 - 16:9 ratio
Standard, the photos are captured in a 4:3 ratio. In addition to this, the Panasonic FZ50 digital camera offers the 2:3 ratio, and even 16:9. The fact that these ratios can also be stored in RAW is a terrific asset, which allows you to capture extraordinary photos. Also the 16:9 ratio is likely to generate a wave of inspiration, especially if you enjoy dynamic photos.
If you prefer a little more tranquillity in your images, such as with a portrait, 4:3 is pretty much ideal. The variety of ratios and the diversity of resolutions greatly expand the ways in which an image can be stored. Wide-screen images are on the rise, and although this may seem a little strange at first; partly because we have gotten so used to the standard 4:3, their rendition on the monitor or television already proves the value and appeal of wide-screen format.
Panasonic DMC FZ50 - Colour rendition & Contrast
The standard settings for the colour rendition, contrast and saturation are excellent. Not too much, yet not too little. You may occasionally see the need to tone down the contrast somewhat, so that you will retain more details in the shadows or the high lights. This could arise from the fact that the small format pixels translates to a somewhat small dynamic range. The trick is to truly familiarize yourself with the camera and its exposure, so that you will know how to use the typical features of the Panasonic FZ50 to their fullest effect. It would, for example, be wise to keep an eye on the light parts when shooting with the Panasonic Lumix FZ50. Don't let them bleach out; but make sure you have enough coverage, so that you can -after converting from RAW to JPEG- correct the shadow parts with an image editing pack such as PhotoShop to obtain a more even exposure.
Panasonic Lumix FZ50 - Automatic white balance
The automatic white balance of the Panasonic FZ50 proves sufficient for most images. In addition to the automatic mode, the camera features five setting options; day light, cloudy, shadow, halogen and flash light. Remarkable is that the Panasonic Lumix FZ50 does not have a separate white balance setting for fluorescent light or incandescent. If you want to get this type of colour cast under control, you will have to resort to the automatic white balance or a manual setting. The latter produces the best results, yet does require more actions. In normal circumstances, the automatic white balance performs well, and most images are thus likely to be successful. The purists among us will find the manual white balance to be the only correct choice; it simply offers more accuracy and produces a flawless end result.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ50 - Multi-segment metering
It is also important to use a decent exposure; fortunately, the multi-segment metering in the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ50 performs superbly. If you wish to work more accurately, or find yourself in a situation where the multi-segment metering gets confused; such as with extreme contrasts, you also have the option to work with spot metering or centre-weighted metering. As said, however, the multi-segment metering is likely to suffice in most cases. In addition to still images, the Panasonic FZ50 allows you to capture moving images. A fun detail of the FZ50 is that you can now also record in wide-screen format (16:9). The video clips in the 16:9 mode are recorded in a resolution of 848 x 480 pixels at a speed of 30fps. Although the video clips are of a very decent quality, the compression does seem to be a little forceful here, which means a certain degree of detail is lost.
Panasonic Lumix FZ50 Megazoom camera
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ50 is a full-fledged digital Megazoom camera with several attractive features. The optical zoom with the MEGA O.I.S., for instance, is a very powerful asset, whilst the Venus Engine III offers a fast and high-quality performance. Moreover, the extensive settings options of the Panasonic FZ50 ensure the camera is an appealing alternative for a digital SLR camera. Especially when looking at the optical range, it becomes more than clear that the Panasonic Lumix FZ50 is a gladiator in a compact body. Although the ten Megapixel resolution adds virtually no surplus value to the camera, it does take it to a higher Megapixel platform. This is purely marketing, however, and not all that useful for the actual work in practice. 6-8 Megapixels is more than enough to meet 99% of the general user demand. It enables you to print high quality photos up to and including A3+ format -and let's be honest: what more do you want? Therefore, it is fair to say the two extra Megapixels do not add a surplus value to the camera.