|Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ50 Megazoom camera
The Panasonic Lumix FZ50 camera is already Panasonic's fourth FZ10-series Megazoom camera, the FZ40 never existed. It has to be said the step from FZ20 to the FZ30 was quite a leap indeed. The step to the Lumix FZ50 isn't quite as large, yet every bit as remarkable. This isn't just related to the higher resolution of 10 Megapixels. The ten Megapixel resolution is in fact a "logical" upgrade of the segment high resolution compact cameras. As far as efficiency is concerned, however, the resolution boost doesn't really add that much. The increased resolution results in the fact that the pixels on the sensor have even become smaller, which certainly affects the quality of the pixel itself. Consequently, Panasonic have had to resort to severe measures to fight negative effects such as noise. The increase is in fact marginal, which means you will not be able to make a sudden leap forward in print size.
Panasonic FZ50 - Venus Engine III & ISO settings
One of the key improvements, and one of the most significant assets in the battle against noise, is the Venus Engine III processor. Not only does it increase the camera's speed, it also aims at reducing noise. After all, this was the main Achilles heel of the previous model; the Panasonic FZ30. Granted, the amount of noise certainly seems to have been reduced. Enough in fact for Panasonic to also offer ISO 1600 in full resolution. ISO 3200 can only be shot in a lower resolution. However, Panasonic seem to have gotten so fixated on reducing the actual noise, that they have taken things a little over the top. The JPEG images in particular suffer from a loss of detail when working with the high ISO values, which is caused by an overly present noise reduction. If you decide to capture your photos in RAW with the Panasonic FZ50, you will notice an instant improvement in the image. You can also opt to eliminate the noise reduction altogether; which produces significantly more detail. Furthermore, a little bit of editing before converting to JPEG will provide you with an excellent end result, even at high ISO settings. A disadvantage of shooting in RAW, however, is the JPEG format image that automatically comes with it. We can only hope a firmware update will become available, so that this option can be switched off, which would save a considerable amount of storage capacity. Moreover, I personally prefer the freedom of choice to the automatism with which the choice is made for you by the camera. On the other hand, I can imagine a large group of consumers might find this a handy option; a JPEG that is ready to use, whilst you have a RAW image as the original, as well as for possible editing afterwards.
Panasonic Lumix DMC FZ50 - Image quality & Light metering
Apart from the noise reduction, the image quality of the Panasonic LUMIX FZ50 leaves very little to be desired. The colours are lively, whilst the contrast comes across both pleasant and realistic. The light metering too produces excellent results. It has to be said the dynamic range seems to be somewhat limited; which is caused mainly by the fact that there are too many pixels on a small surface. However, after having worked with the camera in practice, you soon come to know the characteristics and features of the FZ50. Images with high contrast may occasionally tend to bleach out, which applies particularly to the white surfaces, and we should point out this could cause a loss of detail. Paying a little extra attention to this type of image situation, however, will help prevent these shortcomings.
Panasonic DMC FZ50 - Leica lens with zoom ring
One of the major assets of the Panasonic DMC-FZ50 is its lens, which not only offers a gigantic range, but also proves to be of excellent quality. And let's be honest: that is exactly what one would expect of a lens that features the Leica brand name. The distortion is kept reasonably under control, the sharpness is high and chromatic aberration only occurs when working with extremely high contrasts. Another great addition is the camera's regular zoom and focus ring. This simply is a lot easier and more pleasant to work with than buttons.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ50 - MEGA O.I.S.
MEGA O.I.S. is yet another feature that forms an indisputable asset of the Panasonic FZ50. In fact, the absence of this type of system would mean the large optical range could cause an opposite effect; a lot of blur caused by jitter, and unusable in low-light conditions. The presence of such an optical image stabilizer ensures truly effortless and trouble-free photography. Even though it never hurts to keep an eye on the amount of light during the capturing of your images, it is no longer a priority. Panasonic have by now obtained quite a bit of experience when it comes to optical image stabilisation. Kudos to Panasonic for integrating MEGA O.I.S. into their cameras so consistently. As said, however, a camera like the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ50 really does need a decent image stabilisation.
Panasonic Lumix FZ50 - A shining star!
In practice, the Panasonic Lumix FZ50 left an excellent impression. It truly is a pleasant camera to work with; comfortable in your hand and solid to the touch. In fact, it feels just as if you were working with a digital SLR camera. However, the Panasonic FZ50 is a whole lot cheaper than a DSLR with this type of focal point and image stabilisation! This certainly makes the Panasonic FZ50 worth considering. Although you will lose out on a certain degree of speed; particularly the image speed when shooting continuously, you will find user ease and convenience are prime aspects of this camera. All in all, we can only conclude that the FZ50 is a very mature and complete digital camera, as well as the ideal substitute for a DSLR camera. Although there certainly is room for improvement, especially where the high ISO settings are concerned, we can look back on a successful concept. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ50 is an advanced digital Megazoom camera that will undoubtedly appeal to the creative photographer. A shining star!
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