Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ28


    Photo Review 8.5
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    Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ28

      In summary

      An attractive long-zoom digicam with plenty of manual adjustments and an improved control layout.Replacing the popular FZ18 model in Panasonic's long-zoom line-up, the new DMC-FZ28 model offers higher resolution (10.1 megapixels vs 8 megapixels) for the same RRP. Its 18x zoom lens covers a 35mm equivalent focal length range of 27-486mm (compared with 28-504mm on the FZ18). This range can be almost doubled with the Extra Optical Zoom function, which reduces output resolution to 3 megapixels. . . [more]

      Full review


      The control interface is much the same as the FZ18's. The top panel carries the mode dial, power switch, focus and shutter buttons plus the zoom lever. On the rear panel are the LCD monitor, arrow pad and buttons for opening the flash, swapping between the EVF and LCD, AF/AE lock, display and drive/delete functions. Moving from shooting to playback modes is now easier, thanks to a new slider on the upper right corner of the rear panel.
      The joystick first seen in the FZ7 model is used to access the expanded Q.Menu system, which now includes adjustments for the LCD screen and Intelligent ISO settings. It's also used for adjusting exposure settings in manual mode and positioning the focus point in Spot AF mode.


      Front view of the DMC-FZ28 showing the large 18x zoom lens extended.


      Rear view of the FZ28 showing the LCD monitor, viewfinder and main control panel.
      The LCD monitor is slightly larger and the viewfinder housing has been re-styled, although the pop-up flash appears to be the same as on the FZ18. Disappointingly, the display on the review camera wasn't particularly bright and its contrast was relatively low, making it almost unusable in bright outdoor lighting. Its viewing angle was also quite narrow and the comparatively low resolution (230,000 pixels) limited the value of the playback zoom function.
      The electronic viewfinder (EVF) claims to have been improved in the new model but is still pretty ordinary, despite offering higher resolution (201,600 dots). However, it now provides full-screen focusing confirmation, even for manual focusing and dioptre adjustment is available via an easily-scrolled wheel on the left side of the EVF housing. Unfortunately, the eyepiece moulding is still made from hard, unyielding plastic and capable of scratching lenses if you wear glasses.
      Focus tracking has been added to the autofocusing modes, along with a new Pre AF mode that offers three settings: off, Quick AF and Continuous AF. The Quick AF setting is new and designed to keep focus on the subject while the camera is in recording mode. Both options work with most shooting modes. In addition, a new Auto mode has been added to the image stabiliser sub-menu, enabling the camera to choose whether to use Mode 1 or Mode 2, depending on the shooting zoom ratio.
      The lowest button on the arrow pad provides access to a Function (Fn.) sub-menu, which can be customised to provide quick access to one of the following: review, sensitivity, white balance, metering mode, AF mode or the new Intelligent Exposure (iExposure) setting. iExposure can detect when there is a large difference in brightness between the background and the subject. Usable only in the P, A S and M shooting modes, it processes images to suppress blocked shadows and blown highlights and includes an automatic backlight compensation function that activates whenever the camera detects that the light source is behind the subject. Four settings are available in the camera menu: off, low, standard and high.
      For novice users, Panasonic has added a new iA (Intelligent Auto) mode, which includes an 'Intelligent Scene Selector'. In this mode, the camera will set focusing, exposure, flash, sensitivity and stabilisation automatically. Users can set image size (but not quality) and aspect ratio and turn AF tracking on and off. The Colour Effect setting in the menu lets you choose between B&W and sepia (or Off for full colour) and you can adjust the LCD settings in The Q. Menu.
      Otherwise the FZ28 is essentially the same as the FZ18. It has a central Menu/Set button on the arrow pad, with the remaining buttons accessing the self-timer, exposure compensation and flash modes. Dedicated buttons are provided for the Display and Drive modes, the latter being shared with the delete function in playback mode. Near the top of the rear panel are three buttons for engaging the flash, swapping between the EVF and LCD and the AF/AE lock.
      The Leica DC Vario-Elmarit lens on the FZ28 is essentially the same as on the FZ18 but the slightly larger imager chip in the new model reduces its effective focal length marginally. There's not much difference between 27mm and 28mm (35mm equivalent) at the wide setting but some users may welcome the marginally wider angle-of-view in the new model. The maximum aperture at the tele end of the zoom range is also slightly smaller in the new model.
      Unchanged from the FZ18 are the autofocusing system, the stabilisation system, the normal sensitivity range and the shutter mechanism. The range of shutter speeds is identical in both models and both offer the same maximum continuous shooting speeds for full-resolution images (2.5 fps for up to three Large/Fine JPEGs or five at Standard compression).
      The Advanced Scene modes accessed via the mode dial provide the same sub-menu settings as in the FZ18. Users can choose from five Portrait mode settings, four Scenery mode settings, four Sports mode settings, four Night Portrait settings and four new Close-up mode settings. This makes a total of 37 selectable shooting modes.
      Internal changes are more significant and include upgrading the Face Detection system to make it capable of tracking up to 15 faces. The Film mode settings offered on the LX3 are not available in the FZ series cameras, although the new Scene mode settings are. As well as the High-Speed Burst mode, the FZ28 has three new Scene pre-sets: Flash Burst, Pin Hole and Film Grain.
      The Flash Burst mode records a burst of up to five shots at two frames/second, although at reduced resolution. Image quality defaults to Standard in both High Speed and Flash Burst modes and the focus, zoom, exposure, white balance, shutter speed and ISO are locked on the first exposure in the burst. The Pin Hole mode introduces edge darkening, while the Sand Blast mode produces pictures with a 'grainy' texture.
      Colour temperature adjustment via Kelvin values has been added to the white balance menu. The Picture Adjustment sub-menu contains the same four parameter adjustments as the FZ18 but each is now adjustable across a scale of five settings from high to low. The flash output power has been increased and coverage now extends to 8.5 meters at the wide setting and 5.4 meters at the telephoto setting (ISO AUTO). First- and second-curtain synchronisation are supported.
      Power management has also been improved; the new model is CIPA rated for approximately 460 shots/charge, where the FZ18 was rated for 400 shots. Finally, the on-board memory has been increased from 27MB to 50MB in the new model. The FZ28 is compatible with a number of optional accessories, including the DMW-LT55 tele conversion lens, DMW-LC55 close-up lens, ND and polarising filters, battery pack, soft case and camera bag. The DMW-HDC2 HD Component Cable is required for viewing HD video clips on a widescreen HDTV set.

      Sensor & Image Processing
      The 10.1-megapixel sensor in the FZ28 measures 6.13 x 4.6 mm and has a 4:3 aspect ratio. Although slightly larger than the 8.1-megapixel imager in the FZ18, it's significantly smaller than the sensor on the DMC-LX3 (which we reviewed recently), which also offers 10.1-megapixel resolution.
      Coupled to the sensor is the same Venus Engine IV image processing chip as used in the LX3. This new LSI chip supports separate processing of the high-frequency and low-frequency luminance noise signals, minimising the more noticeable low-frequency noise without affecting high-frequency noise and thereby reducing resolution. It also improves the way edge definition is recorded, reducing colour bleeding and producing a clearer image.
      The new image processor delivers better result in shadowed areas of shots taken at low ISO settings and supports a High Sensitivity mode that enables the camera to shoot at ISO settings up to 6400. In this mode, resolution is reduced to three megapixels (4:3), 2.5 megapixels (3:2) or two megapixels (16:9). A new High-Speed Burst mode has also been added to the Scene pre-sets, offering a maximum capture rate of 13 frames/second at 2M for 16:9 shots, 12 fps at 2.5M for 3:2 or 11 fps at 3M for 4:3 aspect ratio shots.
      Like the LX3, the FZ28 supports both JPEG and raw file capture. It also lets users record raw and JPEG images simultaneously, although you can't choose the image size or compression ratio for the JPEG shot.
      Raw files are compressed to the same size as JPEG images at the highest quality setting and JPEG compression is significantly higher than in the LX3for all file sizes and both quality settings. Typical image sizes are shown in the table below.

      Aspect ratio






      3648 x 2736



      3648 x 2736




      3072 x 2304




      2560 x 1920




      2048 x 1536




      1600 x 1200




      640 x 480





      3648 x 2432



      3648 x 2432




      3072 x 2048




      2560 x 1712




      2048 x 1360





      3648 x 2056



      3648 x 2056




      3072 x 1728




      2560 x 1440




      1920 x 1080



      Video capture capabilities are identical to the LX3 and above average for a digicam. Two aspect ratios are supported - 4:3 and 16:9 - with two sizes and two frame rates for each aspect ratio. Typical recording times are shown in the table below.

      Aspect ratio

      Picture Mode


      Recording time/1GB card




      11 minutes

      10 fps VGA

      32 minutes 50 seconds

      30fps QVGA


      32 minutes 50 seconds

      10 fps QVGA

      1 hour 35 minutes


      30fps 16:9H


      4 minutes

      15fps 16:9H

      8 minutes 10 seconds

      30fps 16:9L


      9 minutes 20 seconds

      15fps 16:9L

      28 minutes 10 seconds

      In Movie mode, which is selected via the mode dial, the length of recording time depends on the capacity of the SDHC/SD Memory Card. Up to 2GB per motion-image recording is supported. Panasonic recommends using a high-speed memory card with "10MB/s" or higher transfer speeds.

      Playback mode is accessed by sliding the Record/Playback switch down to the playback setting. This shows the last image captured and you can toggle forwards and backwards through shots with the horizontal arrows on the arrow pad. These arrows also provide the fast forward and rewind controls for video playback.
      Pushing the zoom lever to the left toggles through the multi playback modes, which include single image, 12 or 30 thumbnails or calendar display. Pushing the zoom lever to the right allows you to zoom in on the image, magnifying it by 2x, 4x, 8x or 16x with each step. Images can be deleted individually or all shots on the memory card can be erased simultaneously and you can protect individual shots against accidental deletion by selecting Protect in the Playback menu. DPOF tagging for automatic printing is also provided.
      Images can be marked as Favourites or allocated to one of nine Categories for playback. Slideshows can be displayed with background music, selected from audio clips stored in the camera, which have themes like natural, slow, urban and swing. You can also make HD slideshows with photos at 1920 x 1080 pixels for viewing on a widescreen HDTV set. However, you'll need the optional component cable since the component video output is only at 1080i resolution.
      Other playback functions include adding sound bites to still images, creating still pictures with one or nine frames from a video clip, trimming and resizing shots. You can also crop 16:9 shots to 4:3 or 3:2 aspect ratios in playback mode. Titles or date stamps can be superimposed on shots using the Title Edit and Text Stamp settings in the playback menu. A screen containing upper and lower case letters, special characters and numbers is displayed in both modes for inputting text.
      The levelling mode in the playback menu enables users to tilt images up to three degrees to right or left in 0.1 degree increments. It's handy for straightening sloping horizons or vertical components in shots. The image is cropped automatically as part of the process. The playback menu also includes a Rotate function that can be used to automatically rotate vertical shots or rotate images manually in 90 degree steps. Finally, the FZ28 also allows users to copy image files between the built-in memory and a memory card.

      The FZ28 ships with the standard Panasonic software suite containing Silkypix Developer Studio 3.0 SE, ArcSoft Software Suite (consisting of MediaImpression and Panorama Maker 4), PHOTOfunSTUDIO and Quick Time. We've already covered these applications in Photo Review's review of the Lumix DMC-LX3.
      Unfortunately, we were unable to obtain usable conversions from raw files taken with the review camera with the version of Silkypix Developer Studio 3.0 SE supplied on the bundled CD. Although the files could be uploaded to the application, the image thumbnails would display briefly before turning black. When the 'development' process was initiated, the resulting TIFF files were totally black.
      We tried again with the software supplied with the new G1 Micro Four Thirds System camera (which we're currently reviewing) but still couldn't open raw files from the review camera. Since the latest version of Adobe Camera Raw doesn't include conversion capabilities for raw files from the FZ28, all performance assessments for this camera have had to be made on JPEG files.

      Photographs taken with the test camera contained plenty of detail and colours looked natural under most types of lighting. Saturation appeared to be well-controlled. The autofocusing system was accurate under most conditions, although it occasionally locked on the wrong part of the subject with close-up shots when the 11-area or tracking AF modes were used. You can only change the position of the AF point in spot AF mode, although the manual focus mode (where the centre of the field can be magnified) should be used when precise focusing is required.
      In contrast, the Face Detection AF system worked very well and produced in-focus shots of both individuals and groups with both available and flash lighting. Exposure balancing with the flash was also generally very good - provided the subject was not too close or highly reflective. The in-camera red-eye reduction system was also effective for most flash shots.
      Mode 1 on the image stabiliser (which provides continuous stabilisation) enabled us to use shutter speeds as slow as 1/30 second and obtain acceptably sharp pictures more than 50% of the time with the lens zoomed to full tele position. Mode 2 (in which stabilisation is only activated when the shutter button is pressed) proved slightly more effective with a minimum shutter speed of 1/25 second for sharp pictures 50% of the time at full zoom extension.
      Exposure metering was generally good and we found no evidence of lapses with backlit shots. The test camera's dynamic range was better than average for the size of the sensor, although highlights were occasionally blown-out in very contrasty subjects. The iExposure control provided little in the way of dynamic range adjustment, even with the High setting. However, without the ability to convert raw files into 16-bit TIFF images we were unable to explore the full recording capabilities of the review camera.
      Imatest showed the review camera to be capable of above-average resolution, with best results coming when the lens aperture was closed down by one or two stops and at mid-range focal length settings. Diffraction began reducing resolution from f/5.0 onwards. The graph below shows the results of our tests.


      Resolution dropped sharply at ISO 400 and remained low - but without significant further declines - up to ISO 1600. Differences between centre and edge resolution were smaller at higher ISO settings. The graph below shows the results of our tests.


      Lateral chromatic aberration was generally low and we found only traces of coloured fringing in shots taken in contrasty conditions. Neither corner nor edge softening was visible and backlit shots showed no veiling flare. Digital zoom shots were also above average - but not on a par with shots taken with the optical zoom lens.
      Close-up capabilities were above average and the long zoom lens provided better scope for blurred backgrounds - although the camera's small sensor prevented true background blurring and imaging performance at small lens apertures was compromised by diffraction. The auto white balance setting on the review camera failed to remove the colour casts from either incandescent or fluorescent lighting. The pre-sets provided only partial correction but manual measurement produced a neutral colour balance with both types of lighting.
      Low-light performance was generally above average. The built-in flash was capable of illuminating an average-sized room at all ISO settings. Flash exposures were well balanced for both close-up and more distant subjects.
      Long exposures were noise-free up to ISO 400 but some image softening became apparent thereafter as noise-reduction processing kicked in. Noise reduction processing appears to be applied automatically, although an adjustment (+/- two steps) is provided in the Picture Adjustment sub-menu. However, we noticed very little difference in the appearance of image files at either end of the scale.
      The review camera took just under three seconds to power up and roughly two seconds to shut down. Zooming from the wide to the tele position took approximately 2.5 seconds. Shot-to-shot times averaged 1.2 seconds without flash and 2.3 seconds with flash but without red-eye reduction (which added approximately 0.6 seconds to processing times).
      We measured an average capture lag of 6.5 seconds, which reduced to less than 0.1 seconds with pre-focusing. It took 2.8 seconds to process each high-resolution JPEG image, 3.1 seconds for each raw file and 3.3 seconds for each RAW+JPEG pair.
      In the 'normal' continuous mode, the review camera captured three large/fine JPEGs in 0.8 seconds. These appear to have been processed on-the-fly as processing was completed within 2.9 seconds of the end of the burst. In the 'unlimited' continuous shooting mode, we recorded 10 Large/Fine JPEGs in 4.6 seconds, a burst rate of approximately two frames/second. Again, processing appeared to have been on-the-fly as it was completed within three seconds of the end of the burst.





      Auto white balance with incandescent lighting.


      Auto white balance with fluorescent lighting.


      Close-up (4.8mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/250 second at f/2.8)


      Digital zoom (86.4mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/80 second at f/5.6)


      Wide-angle (4.8mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/200 second at f/7.1)


      Telephoto (86.4mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/200 second at f/7.1)


      4:3 aspect ratio (12.8mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/250 second at f/4.5)


      3:2 aspect ratio (12.8mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/250 second at f/4.5)


      16:9 aspect ratio (12.8mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/250 second at f/4.5)


      Starry Sky mode: (14.9mm focal length, ISO 100, 30 seconds at f/2.8)


      14.9mm focal length, ISO 200, 8 seconds at f/2.8


      14.9mm focal length, ISO 1600, 30 seconds at f/5.6


      Flash portrait: 15.5mm focal length, ISO 400, 1/50 second at f/3.4


      31.2mm focal length, ISO 400, 1/640 second at f/8


      41.2mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/100 second at f/4.5


      86.4mm focal length, ISO 400, 1/80 second at f/7.1


      Replacing the popular FZ18 model in Panasonic's long-zoom line-up, the new DMC-FZ28 model offers higher resolution (10.1 megapixels vs 8 megapixels) for the same RRP. Its 18x zoom lens covers a 35mm equivalent focal length range of 27-486mm (compared with 28-504mm on the FZ18). This range can be almost doubled with the Extra Optical Zoom function, which reduces output resolution to 3 megapixels.

      Superficially the new model appears to be almost identical to its predecessor. However, the mode dial no longer carries settings for an Easy shooting mode or for Playback. Instead there are two Custom memory bank modes and Panasonic has added a Close-up mode to the Advanced scene settings on the mode dial.




      Image sensor: 6.13 x 4.6 mm CCD with 10.7 million photosites (10.1 megapixels effective)
      Lens: 4.8-86.4mm f/2.8-4.4 Leica DC Vario-Elmarit lens (27-486mm in 35mm format)
      Zoom ratio: 18x optical, up to 4x digital
      Image formats: Stills – JPEG (Exif 2.21), Raw; Movies - QuickTime Motion JPEG
      Image Sizes: Stills - 4:3 Ratio: 3648 x 2736, 3072 x 2304, 2560 x 1920, 2048 x 1536, 1600 x 1200, 640 x 480, 3:2 Ratio: 3648 x 2432, 3072 x 2048, 2560 x 1712, 2048 x 1360, 16:9 Ratio: 3648 x 2056, 3072 x 1728, 2560 x 1440, 1920 x 1080; Movies: 4:3 format: 640x480 / 320x240 pixels, 16:9 format: 848x480 pixels at 30 or 10 fps, HD(16:9 Aspect Ratio): 1280 x 720 pixels 30 fps
      Shutter speed range: P : 1-1/2000sec (Selectable minimum shutter speed); A/S : 8-1/2000sec, M : 60-1/2000sec; Starry Sky Mode : 15, 30, 60sec.
      Image Stabilisation: MEGA O.I.S. (Mode1/Mode2)
      Exposure Compensation: +/- 2EV in 1/3EV steps
      Focus system/range: TTL AF with iA (Intelligent Auto) Mode, Face Detection, Intelligent Scene Selector, Light Detection and AF Tracking; range: 30 cm to infinity; macro to 5 cm
      Exposure metering/control: Intelligent Multiple, Spot, Center-Weighted
      Shooting modes: Program AE, Aperture Priority AE, Shutter Priority AE, Manual, Custom1, Custom2, Portrait mode, Scenery mode (17 pre-sets), Sports mode, Night Portrait mode, Close-up mode, Scene mode, Motion Picture
      ISO range: Auto, ISO100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, (ISO 1600-6400 in High Sensitivity mode)
      White balance: Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Shade, Halogen, White Set 1,2, Colour temperature setting, Flash, White Balance Adjustment (2-axis adjustable, ±9 steps each)
      Flash modes/range (ISO auto): Auto, Auto/Red-eye Reduction, Slow Sync./Red-eye Reduction, Slow Sync., Forced On/Off, First/Second curtain synch; range: 0.3 to 8.5 metres
      Sequence shooting: Full Resolution Image, 2.5 frames/sec; Max. 5 frames (Standard Mode), Max. 3 images (Fine Mode)
      Storage Media: 50MB internal memory plus SD/SDHC expansion slot
      Viewfinder: 0.20-inch Color EVF (201,600 pixels equiv.), Field of View approx. 100%,
      LCD monitor: 2.7-inch Intelligent LCD with wide viewing angle (230,000 pixels)
      Power supply: Lithium-ion battery pack (7.2V, 710mAh); CIPA rated for approx. 460 shots/charge
      Dimensions (wxhxd): 117.6 x 75.3 x 88.9 mm
      Weight: 370 grams (without battery and card)





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