|Panasonic FZ8 - Leica DC Vario Elmarit lens
The optical range is enormous and gives photographers lots of freedom. Zooming in is accurate and you will notice the support from the optical image stabilizer. When I take a tele shot without a stabilisation system, I often end with blurred results, but I got excellent results with the Panasonic Lumix FZ8 camera. The Leica DC Vario Elmarit lens performs very well and gives attractive, sharp pictures that are full of contrast. The lens has hardly any problems with distortion ad there is only some slight distortion to be seen in wide-angle shots. Well done Panasonic!
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ8 - Focussing
Operating the Panasonic FZ8 lens is also a joy. You can adjust focus either manually or automatically. The camera has various auto focus settings from 1- to 9-punt AF, group focus and in between that it has High-Speed focus. I have to say that the Panasonic Lumix DMC FZ8 focuses really quickly. Sometimes, you have to look a bit to find the correct point with tele pictures in poor light, but you can get around this. For the rest, focussing is accurate and fast. As with its predecessor, you can focus the Panasonic FZ8 manually with the joystick on the back of the camera. It is handy, accurate and fast. The High-Speed focus in particular will stand out due to its extremely fast and surprisingly accurate focus.
Panasonic Lumix FZ8 - Optical image stabilization
The success of a camera with 12x optical zoom often depends on whether or not it has an optical image stabilizer. Optical image stabilisation is nothing new and once consumers have had a taste of a system like this, they will not want to do without anymore. The image stabilizer is especially indispensable when it comes to taking tele shots. This camera has 2 stabilizer programs; mode 1 for continuous stabilisation and mode 2 for stand-by stabilisation that is only activated when the shutter release is pressed in. I prefer mode 2 as it seemed to give me the best results. Panasonic's Mega O.I.S. and the Leica lens give an excellent performance across and form an unbeatable combination.
Panasonic DMC-FZ8 - White balance settings
The Panasonic Lumix FZ8 has limited setting options when it comes to white balance. As well as the automatic white balance, there is a setting for daylight, cloud, halogen and flash. There is not setting for fluorescent light. To remove colour cast that is still dominant with the aforementioned settings, you can set the white balance manually. In general there are no problems in daylight, but artificial light can give some colour cast. The manual white balance in enough to neutralize the colour cast.
Panasonic FZ8 - Pre programmed scenes
If you want to use the camera quickly or let someone else take a photo, it is easiest to use the pre-programmed settings. As well as the automatic mode and aperture and shutter speed priority, the Panasonic Lumix DMC FZ8 Mega zoom digital camera has a whole series of pre-programmed modes. Each mode has a priority for a certain setting and makes it possible to take some shots in an extremely user friendly way.
|To make things even easier, the camera has a Simple mode with which the user is given less information and sees larger symbols. If you think you may get into trouble with the manual settings, you can just relax and use the pre-programmed nodes.
Panasonic Lumix FZ8 - Speediness of the camera
The Panasonic Lumix DMC FZ8 camera may not be the quickest in town, but you can get above the average speed of 2 fps with a fast Ultra II or Extreme III Secure Digital card from SanDisk. With 7 Megapixels, the Panasonic FZ8 produces larger files than its predecessor, but you will hardly notice any delay with a fast memory card thanks to the large buffer. Unfortunately the new Venus Engine III does not guarantee any progress in regard to speed, but 2.5 fps was enough to satisfy me. During the practical test, I alternated a SanDisk Extreme III Secure Digital with a SanDisk Secure Digital Plus memory card. The continuous shots in a high resolution were no problem. In combination with the fast memory cards, I reached a speed of over 2.5 pictures per second. That was at a resolution of 3072 x 2304 (7 Megapixels) and the lowest compression (highest quality). The buffer is full after approximately five pictures and the Panasonic Lumix FZ8 needs two seconds before it can start on a new series. It is also possible to shoot continuously until the memory card is full. The speed will then slow down to 2 frames per second.
Panasonic DMC FZ8 - Signal / noise suppression
I am sure that signal/noise suppression is not a big favorite at Panasonic's design and marketing departments. It's an eternal struggle: one the one hand, as a manufacturer, you want to shut up the critics, on the other hand, it's a matter of pride and you want to keep the noise ratio as low as possible. The Panasonic FZ8 has more pixels on a small surface than its predecessors, but Panasonic has managed to keep noise well under control up to 400 ISO and we see equal results. The higher ISO settings are kept well under control by the internal noise reduction, which gives a better 800 ISO, but loses detail and contrast. The higher ISOs of 1250 and 3200 are not remotely useful. Personally, I would forget all about them and concentrate on using low ISO and the MEGA O.I.S. for better results.
Panasonic Lumix DMC FZ8 - JPEG & RAW pictures
Another important new feature of the Panasonic Lumix FZ8 is that it supports RAW format. It is now available in addition to JPEG with which the camera does all the preliminary work and gives a ready made, useable file. The advantage of RAW is that it gives you control over important things like noise suppression and focusing. Panasonic gives you SilkyPix for processing the RAW format, but you could also use other software such as Photoshop. The first time I used SilkyPix, I was not convinced, but after a lot of perseverance and trying out different settings, I discovered that the program does the job nicely. The Panasonic Lumix FZ8's JPEG pictures are fine, but the RAW format pictures after they have been converted while including your own settings gives much more sharpness and detail. It takes more processing, but the results are worth it. It's a welcome addition to any Megazoom camera!