Panasonic Lumix DMC FZ7 | Digital Camera Review | Adjustments
The possibilities and options available on the Panasonic Lumix FZ7 are abundant and offer the photographer an extensive tool to help unleash his creativity. Those who are not willing to invest in a digital SLR camera, but are still interested in an advanced camera, will find a camera such as the Panasonic FZ7 an excellent solution. The undisputed best asset of the camera is of course its 12x optical zoom with image stabiliser, which, to make things even better, comes in a highly compact and light housing. The strong points of a system camera (for instance, an interchangeable lens) are virtually diminished by the large optical range (36 - 432mm). Naturally, the DSLR camera offers several advantages, but it is the amateur series of digital SLR cameras in particular that will experience a considerable share of opposition from the Panasonic FZ7 where the amount of setting options is concerned.
Panasonic Lumix FZ7 - 12x optical zoom
The optical lens features an impressive range. The optical zoom can be accurately operated and is assisted and accompanied by the powerful optical image stabiliser (Mega O.I.S.). The Leica DC Vario Elmarit offers an excellent sharpness over the entire range. The wide-angle mode suffers only from a slight form of vignetting, which disappears entirely upon zooming in. The Venus Engine II reduces the chromatic aberration well, but does however not manage to erase the effect entirely. It is with a close-up and wide-angle image in particular that chromatic aberration occurs, although it is not bothersome.
Panasonic Lumix DMC FZ7 - Focussing
The zoom lens is pleasant to work with. A separate lens cap offers a certain amount of protection. Upon activating the Panasonic Lumix DMC FZ7, the camera needs approximately 2 seconds to position to zoom lens. Focussing can be done both automatically and manually. The camera offers a variety of auto focus settings, from 1- up to 9-point AF, with the so-called High-Speed focus in between. Credit where credit be due, it should be said that this makes the Lumix FZ7 an exceptionally fast camera. The subjects are focussed on very quickly and accurately, excellent! In dim-lit and even extremely dark conditions, the accuracy remains, with help of the AF assistance illuminator. Focussing is possible from 30cm; and from 5cm in macro mode. A new feature that we didn't find on the FZ5 is the option to focus manually. The focus is selected by the small joystick on the back of the camera. This is handy to work with, as well as accurate and quick.
Panasonic DMC FZ7 camera - Image stabiliser
An asset that should not be underestimated is the optical image stabiliser. Panasonic have gained a fair share of experience in this area, and the Panasonic Lumix DMC FZ7 greatly benefits from this. When working with the tele lens in particular, the effect of the image stabiliser is considered indispensable. The camera offers 2 programmes for stabilisation: mode 1 for a continuous stabilisation and mode 2 for the stand-by stabilisation; which is only activated when the shutter release button is pressed. Personally, I prefer to use mode 2, which seems to give me the best results. The combination of Panasonic's Mega O.I.S. and the Leica lens, which performs excellently over the entire range, is exceptionally strong.
Panasonic Lumix FZ7 - Fast digital camera
As far as speed is concerned, the Panasonic Lumix FZ7 user has no reason to complain. With 6 Megapixels, the camera produces larger files than its predecessor, but thanks to the presence of a larger buffer, the Panasonic FZ7 handles the six Megapixel photos without any problems at all. During the practice tests, I used a SanDisk Extreme III Secure Digital, and alternated with a SanDisk Secure Digital Plus memory card. Continuous shooting in high resolution is carried out effortlessly. In combination with the fast memory cards, a speed of over 3 images per second is reality. This means we are talking about a resolution of 2816 x 2112 (6 Megapixels) and the lowest compression (highest quality). After approximately seven images, the buffer is full, and the Lumix FZ7 needs a mere two seconds to prepare itself before capturing a new series.
In addition, it is possible to shoot continuously until the memory card is full. This does mean that the speed decreases to over 2 images per second. All in all, the Panasonic FZ7 is a digital camera that offers speed as one its most noteworthy features, which is excellent.
Panasonic Lumix DMC FZ7 - White balance
When looking at the performances concerning white balance, we see that the Panasonic Lumix FZ7 offers an additional 5 options, among which a manual setting, besides the automatic settings. The camera features an accurate automatic white balance. It is only when capturing at night and in fluorescent light that an overly dominant colour cast tends to make the image too "warm". This is however easily solved by a correction through manual white balance. Overall, the colour rendition is good and reasonably true to nature.
Panasonic FZ7 - Pre-programmed scenes
If you want to use the camera quickly, or hand it over to someone else and wish to have a photo taken in the easiest and most effortless way, you can opt to use the pre-programmed scenes. In addition to the automatic mode, aperture and shutter speed priority, the Panasonic Lumix DMC FZ7 is equipped with a large variety of scenes. Each scene has a priority for a certain setting, and enables you to capture specific images in a very user-friendly way. To make things even easier, the camera features a Simple mode, which offers the user less information and larger symbols. Those who are hesitant to venture into the world of manual settings can thus easily resort to the extensive automatic programmes.
Panasonic Lumix DMC FZ7 - Multiple light metering
The Panasonic Lumix DMC FZ7 features a so-called Multiple light metering, in which the entire composition is included in the exposure metering. Most images can be captured with this exposure effortlessly. The other metering methods; which are the centre weighted metering and spot metering, are not likely to be used very often. In comparison, centre weighted metering lays the emphasis more on the centre, whilst spot metering bases the metering solely on a small part of the composition. The camera also offers an exposure correction of +/-2EV in 1/3 step.
Panasonic DMC FZ7 - Signal / noise ratio
The Panasonic FZ7 offers features that perform within a range of good to excellent. There is however one specific part of the camera that leaves Panasonic room for improvement, which is the signal/noise ratio. Remarkable is that noise is already noticeable at low ISO (80 ISO) values, which I really wasn't expecting. The camera also offers high sensitivity settings of 800 and 1600 ISO. In comparison, these ISO values do not experience quite so much noise, but due to the noise reduction and in-camera image editing, a certain of degree of detail is lost. Granted, it is a start, as high ISO values are more than welcome, but at this time the optical image stabiliser and a lower ISO value offer me more quality and freedom when capturing an image in a tricky light situation.