As far as appearances go, the Panasonic Lumix FZ8 is practically identical to its predecessor. The Panasonic FZ8 Megazoom camera is carefully and neatly finished and feels good to hold. The material used for the body feels rough and thanks to the short, stiff handgrip it feels very comfortable and stable. It's a good sign that the design did not have to be changed much, it is as if consumers like this design, and the compact format has not been achieved at the expense of a comfortable grip. Of course, the presence of an optical stabilizer is a big help in keeping the camera still when taking a photo. You can also take a shot easily with the camera in just one hand, even if the lens is totally zoomed out, without pictures getting messed up by movement blur.
Panasonic DMC FZ8 - DC Vario-Elmarit f/2.8-3.3 ASPH lens
If you look at the front of the camera, the first thing that strikes you is the large lens. The name of Leica lends instant prestige and the lens is a DC Vario-Elmarit f/2.8-3.3 ASPH with a total optical range of 12x. In comparison with a 35 mm camera it gives a range of 36 - 432 mm. This is an enormous range for such a light, compact camera. To the right of the lens there is a clear orange LED with a double function; it's both a self-timer indicator and AF assistance illuminator. Beside it there are the two minuscule holes of the in-built microphone. The in-built flash is above the zoom lens and to the left of the lens there is a hand grip covered with a rubber layer to give users a better grasp.
Panasonic Lumix FZ8 - LCD display & Electronic viewfinder
The back of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ8 camera is the control centre. Most of this side is taken up by a large format 2.5-inch screen. The LCD display's resolution is an improvement on its predecessor; 207,000 instead of 114,000 pixels. An electronic viewfinder (EVF) protrudes above the screen. It has also increased in size (0.44-inch instead of 0.33 inches in the FZ-7) and has more pixels (188,000 as opposed to 114,000 pixels in the FZ7). To the left of the high resolution EVF there is a small command dial for setting the aperture. Beside it is a button for the internal flash. To the right of the EVF is a button for switching between the viewfinder and the screen. Next to it is the main switch for activating the camera and turning it on and off. The small joystick, a feature that I liked in the last model, is the same. You can use the stick to manually set the focus and exposure. The familiar multi-control button together with two small buttons completes the picture.
Panasonic Lumix FZ8 - Camera handgrip & Interfaces
On the side with the hand grip, there is just an eyelet for the camera strap. The hand grip is nicely covered with a rubber layer that feels soft and comfortable. The opposite side has the same eyelet over a well concealed flap that covers the interfaces for video and USB as well as an entry point for the power supply. The flap is well made and shuts properly.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ8 Megazoom - Buttons
The top of the Panasonic FZ8 looks well ordered and has a minimum of buttons. A big command dial with the most important programs is to the right of the inbuilt flash. The command dial can be turned 360 degrees to both sides and makes a soft, slightly tangible clicking noise at every setting. On the hand grip itself, there is a large shutter release surrounded by a ring for zooming in and out digitally. The ring can be moved to both left and right and is slightly resistant so that you don't move it too quickly. The two remaining buttons are for setting the optical image stabilizer (MEGA O.I.S.) and adjusting the focus setting.
Panasonic Lumix FZ8 compact megazoom camera
The Panasonic Lumix FZ8 camera comes with an internal memory of approximately 27MB, battery charger, CGR-S006E Lithium Ion battery, lead, A/V en USB cables, CD-ROM with software, camera strap, lens cover and sun cap with accompanying adapter. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ8 is still compact and it doesn't seem possible to make it any smaller without sacrificing some ease of operating. The Panasonic Lumix FZ8 is one of the smallest and lightest Megazoom digital cameras on the market.
Panasonic DMC-FZ8 - Memory & Battery compartment
The bottom of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ8 camera is smooth with a universal (metal) tripod connection. This is placed in the middle, but due to the heaviness of the lens, the camera is not totally in balance and tends to lean forwards. Near the tripod connection, is the compartment for the Lithium Ion battery and the Secure Digital or SDHC memory card. Both are kept in place with a small safety lock and will not fall out unexpectedly when you open the compartment. The flap is well made and shuts the compartment off safely.