Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ150

      Photo Review 8.8
      -/
      leadpic_DMC-FZ150

      In summary

       A welcome update to the FZ100 with a 12.1-megapixel sensor, improved optics and ISO performance plus new Full HD video recording capabilities.The Lumix DMC-FZ150 replaces the FZ100 at the top of Panasonic’s super-zoom digicam line-up. Announced on 26 August, it features a new, 12.1-megapixel MOS sensor (down from 14MP in the FZ100) but retains the same 24x zoom lens but adds a new ‘Nano Surface Coating’ to minimise flare and ghosting caused by internal reflections. The lens also carries a new zoom control on the side of its barrel, providing an alternative to the lever zoom surrounding the shutter button. . . [more]

      Full review

       

      -
      leadpic_DMC-FZ150

      The Lumix DMC-FZ150 replaces the FZ100 at the top of Panasonic’s super-zoom digicam line-up. Announced on 26 August, it features a new, 12.1-megapixel MOS sensor (down from 14MP in the FZ100) but retains the same 24x zoom lens but adds a new ‘Nano Surface Coating’ to minimise flare and ghosting caused by internal reflections. The lens also carries a new zoom control on the side of its barrel, providing an alternative to the lever zoom surrounding the shutter button.

      Released concurrently with the FZ150 is a lower-featured model, the DMC-FZ47. Both new models support the recent AVCHD 2.0 ‘Progressive’ standard, which was formulated by Panasonic and Sony and uses the same AVCHD folder structure and container files for storing video. However, it provides a maximum bit rate of 28 Mbit/s. Both models also include a dedicated 3D Photo Mode.

      While keeping most of the key functions of previous models, Panasonic has nonetheless made a few changes to the new cameras that will appeal to some potential purchasers, although maybe not to others. The main differences between the new models and the FZ100 the FZ150 replaces are outlined in the table below.

       

      FZ150

      FZ47

      FZ100

      Sensor size

      6.16 x 4.62 mm

      6.13 x 4.60 mm

      Effective resolution

      12.1MP

      14.1MP

      Lens

      Leica DC Vario-Elmarit 4.5-108mm f/2.8-5.2 zoom

      Nano Surface Coating

      Yes

      No

      Side zoom lever

      Yes

      No

      Raw file support

      Yes

      No

      Yes

      Shutter speeds (normal)
      Starry Sky mode

      15-1/2000 second
      15 or 30 seconds

      8-1/2000 second
      15, 30, 60 seconds

      ISO range (normal)
      High-sensitivity Mode

      100-3200
      1600-6400

      100-1600
      1600-6400

      LCD monitor

      Free-Angle

      Fixed

      Free-Angle

      Internal memory

      70MB

      40MB

      Continuous shooting Max. resolution
      High speed (image size)

      12 fps
      60 fps at 2.5MP

      3.7 fps
      10 fps at 3MP

      11 fps
      60 fps at 3.5MP

      Shutter & aperture adjustment for video

      Yes

      No

      Dedicated 3D Photo mode

      Yes

      No

      Remote control socket

      Yes

      No

      Yes

      Social network connectivity

      Yes

      No

      Dimensions (wxhxd) in mm

      124.3 x 81.7 x 95.2

      120.3 x 79.8 x 91.9

      124.3 x 81.2 x 95.2

      Weight (without battery & card) in grams

      468

      454

      496

      Build and Ergonomics
      Panasonic has stuck with its SLR-like styling in the new camera, so changes to the body design are largely cosmetic. The lens still dominates the front panel with the new power zoom lever a conspicuous addition to the side of the barrel. The focus selector switch and focus button carry over from the FZ100 and the front panel is otherwise the same in both cameras.

      -
      DMC-FZ100-150-K-Slant

      Front views of the Panasonic Lumix FZ100 (left) and FZ150 (right). (Source: Panasonic.)

      Nothing much has changed on the rear panel, either. All control buttons and dials remain in the same positions as on the FZ100 and the free-angle LCD is unchanged.

      -
      DMC-FZ100-FZ150-K-Back

      Rear views of the Panasonic Lumix FZ100 (left) and FZ150 (right). (Source: Panasonic.)

      The top panel is unchanged from the FZ100 and carries the same mode dial, stereo microphone grilles and flash hot shoe. The shutter button and surrounding zoom lever haven’t changed and the on/off switch, movie and drive buttons are the same as on the FZ100.

      -
      DMC-FZ100-FZ150_top

      Top views of the Panasonic Lumix FZ100 (left) and FZ150 (right). (Source: Panasonic.)

      As in the FZ100, the rechargeable battery and memory card share a compartment in the grip of the camera, accessed via the base panel. Lift-up hatches cover ports for HDMI, USB, AV-out and Microphone/remote connections on the left side panel.

      Sensor and Image Processing
      The drop in sensor resolution from 14 to 12.1 megapixels will have little impact on what users can do with their pictures as correctly-exposed shots should be able to tolerate enlargement to poster size, particularly if they are captured in raw file format. The FZ150 also sports the Venus Engine FHD LSI image processor that was introduced in the FZ100.

      The reduced resolution has enabled the FZ150 to offer a faster burst speed of 12 frames/second, using the mechanical shutter. Buffer capacity, however, has been reduced, with a maximum of 12 JPEG frames at full resolution or 11 RW2.RAW images or RAW+JPEG pairs. Typical file sizes are shown in the table below.

      Aspect ratio

      Image Size

      Resolution

      Fine

      Standard

      4:3

      RAW

      4000 x 3000

      15.5MB

      L

      4000 x 3000

      7.3MB

      3.6MB

      RAW+JPEG

      4000 x 3000

      23.3MB

      19.7MB

      M

      2816 x 2112

      4.0MB

      2.0MB

      RAW+JPEG

      2816 x 2112

      19.7MB

      17.7MB

      S

      2048 x 1536

      1.7MB

      0.87MB

      RAW+JPEG

      2048 x 1536

      17.1MB

      16.5MB

      3:2

      RAW

      4000 x 2672

      14.6MB

      L

      4000 x 2672

      7.0MB

      3.5MB

      RAW+JPEG

      4000 x 2672

      22.3MB

      18.3MB

      M

      2816 x 1880

      4.0MB

      2.0MB

      RAW+JPEG

      2816 x 1880

      19.0MB

      16.5MB

      S

      2048 x 1360

      1.5MB

      0.8MB

      RAW+JPEG

      2048 x 1360

      16.0MB

      15.5MB

      16:9

      RAW

      4000 x 2248

      13.5MB

      L

      4000 x 2248

      6.8MB

      3.4MB

      RAW+JPEG

      4000 x 2248

      20.5MB

      17.1MB

      M

      2816 x 1584

      3.9MB

      2.0MB

      RAW+JPEG

      2816 x 1584

      17.7MB

      15.5MB

      S

      1920 x 1080

      1.1MB

      0.6MB

      RAW+JPEG

      1920 x 1080

      14.6MB

      14.2MB

      1:1

      RAW

      2992 x 2992

      12.2MB

      L

      2992 x 2992

      5.4MB

      2.7MB

      RAW+JPEG

      2992 x 2992

      17.7MB

      15.1MB

      M

      2112 x 2112

      2.4MB

      1.2MB

      RAW+JPEG

      2112 x 2112

      14.6MB

      13.5MB

      S

      1504 x 1504

      1.2MB

      0.6MB

      RAW+JPEG

      1504 x 1504

      13.5MB

      12.8MB

      If you swap to the electronic shutter, image resolution is reduced but the camera can record up to 60 frames at between 2M and 3.5M resolution (depending on aspect ratio) with a burst rate of 60 fps. At 40 fps, image sizes rise to between 3.5M and 5M but buffer capacity is reduced to 50 frames.

      The High Speed Video setting in the Scene sub-menu lets you record a video clip at 220 frames/second and capture movement too fast to discern with the eye. Photos taken with the burst modes are automatically organised and can be played back either in the camera or on a computer using the bundled PHOTOfunSTUDIO software.

      Video capabilities are the same as the FZ100, with two recording modes: AVCHD and Motion-JPEG. Top AVCHD quality is 1920 x 1080 pixels (50i recording, 25 fps image sensor output with an average bit rate of 17 Mbps). Soundtracks are recorded in stereo, a step up from the FZ100.

      For the AVCHD format, ‘quality’ options are based on bit rate (the faster the bit rate, the higher the quality) and whether interlaced or progressive scanning is used. Top quality is obtained with the PSH setting which uses progressive scanning and has the highest bit rate. The FSH setting uses interlaced scanning and records at 1920 x 1080 pixels, while the SH setting has progressive scanning for 1280 x 720-pixel clips.

      In Motion JPEG mode, the frame rate is 30 frames/second and the ‘quality’ settings relate to the image size. The table below shows the approximate recording times for an 16GB memory card.

      Video format

      Aspect ratio

      Quality

      Picture size
      (pixels)

      Bit rate

      Frames
      /second

      Approx. recording time/16GB card

      AVCHD

      16:9

      PSH

      1920 x 1080

      28 Mbps

      50p

      1 hour 15 min.

      FSH

      1920 x 1080

      17 Mbps

      50i

      2 hours 4 min.

      SH

      1280 x 720

      17 Mbps

      50p

      2 hours 4 min.

      Motion JPEG

      FHD

      1920 x 1080

      n.a.

      30

      1 hour 41 min.

      4:3

      HD

      1280 x 720

      n.a.

      3 hours 13 min.

      VGA

      640 x 480

      n.a.

      7 hours 5 min.

      As with the FZ100, still shots can be recorded while shooting a video clip, although the maximum image size available is 3.5M with a 16:9 aspect ratio. If you press the shutter button halfway during a video recording, the refocusing movement will be recorded in the video clip. Fully pressing the shutter button reduces the refocusing time and minimises this effect.

      Shooting in burst mode is possible during a movie recording with a top burst speed of 10 frames/second. Up to 40 still frames can be recorded with each movie clip.

      Playback and Software
      Playback settings for still pictures are essentially the same as in other Panasonic models and include the standard single-frame, index and slideshow options, the latter with selectable background music. Both 2D and 3D slideshow playback are supported, the latter requiring a 3D TV set.

      The camera comes with the new built-in Lumix Image Uploader tool for transferring still pictures and video clips to social networking websites like Facebook and YouTube. This facility requires Windows PCs (XP, Vista and & are supported).

      The playback mode also lets users grab a still frame from a video recording. However, the frame size is confined by the video frame and images captured from the PSH, FSH, SH, FHD and HD are only 2M in size, while VGA shots are 0.3M.

      AVCHD and Motion JPEG videos can be played separately. The standard play/pause, stop and fast or frame-by-frame forward and rewind controls are provided and you can divide clips to remove unwanted footage. DPOF tagging for automated printing is also supported and selected images can be tagged for protection against accidental deletion when memory cards are formatted.
      Owners of Panasonic’s Viera TV sets can playback recorded images and videos by inserting the camera’s memory card in the Image Viewer slot on the TV set or DIGA Blu-ray Disc Player. They can also use the set’s remote control to operate the FZ150 for playback.

      Two applications were provided on the software disk: PHOTOfunSTUDIO 6.5 BD Edition for Windows, which is used for acquiring and viewing images and AVCHD video clips, and Ichikawa Soft Laboratory’s Silkypix Developer Studio 3.1 SE for Windows and Macintosh. There was also a web shortcut to a 30-day trial download of Super LoiLoScope, a video editor with a game-based user interface. We’ve covered these applications in previous reviews of Panasonic cameras.

      Performance
      The review camera lived up to our expectations for the Lumix Super-zoom series being both responsive to operate and a generally good performer. Both contrast and saturation were better controlled than in the FZ100 and low-light pictures were noticeably sharper with less image noise at high ISO settings.

      Imatest showed the review camera to be capable of high resolution and the FZ150 is among the cameras supported in the latest release of Adobe Camera Raw, which enabled us to obtain the maximum performance from them. Consequently, at ISO 100, JPEG images came close to expectations for the sensor’s resolution while RW2.RAW files were slightly above expectations.

      Resolution declined slightly as ISO sensitivity was increased, with raw file maintaining their advantage across the camera’s sensitivity range. The graph below shows the results of our Imatest tests.

      -
      FZ150_Res-vs-ISO-graph

      We recorded similar results to the FZ100 in our Imatest tests across the lens aperture and focal length ranges. This was expected as both cameras cover the same focal length range.

      The lens appeared to be distortion-free – or distortion was corrected by the image processing system. With most focal length settings, the highest resolutions were obtained at wide apertures although edge softening was evident at most focal lengths here.

      Diffraction reduced resolution from about f/5 onwards by f/8 a significant drop in resolution had occurred across all the focal lengths we were able to test. The graph below shows the results of our tests, which were unable to cover the entire focal length range of the lens due to a lack of space in our testing set-up.

      -
      FZ150_Res-vs-FL-graph

      Lateral chromatic aberration ranged between negligible and low, with most of the wider aperture settings being in the former category. Not unexpectedly, we found little evidence of coloured fringing in test shots. In the graph below, which plots the results of our tests, the red line marks the border between ‘negligible’ and ‘low’ CA while the green line separates ‘low’ from ‘moderate’.

      -
      FZ150_CA-graph

      Long exposures at night were as good as those from the FZ100 although shots taken with the High Sensitivity Scene mode, which records at ISO 6400, were under-exposed, visibly noise-affected and slightly unsharp – but definitely better than similar shots taken with this setting on the FZ100.

      The built-in flash proved capable of illuminating an average-sized room at all ISO settings and flash shots showed little apparent noise right up to ISO 1600. Flash exposures were consistent across the supported ISO range.

      Close-up shots were impressive, particularly with the Macro mode when the lens was zoomed in on a subject more than a metre from the camera. This produced images with attractive bokeh whereas close-ups shot with the lens at 4.5mm tended to have busy backgrounds, due to the camera’s small sensor. Digital zoom shots were sharper than those we commonly see from long-zoom digicams, thanks to effective image processing and lens stabilisation.

      Auto white balance performance was similar to the FZ100’s. The warm cast produced by incandescent lighting was suppressed but not eliminated while shots taken under fluorescent lights had close to natural colours. Both pre-sets produced close-to-natural colours and manual measurement delivered neutral colours under both types of lighting.

      Video quality was as good as we found with the FZ100, regardless of the file format and resolution setting and the AF and AE systems appeared slightly faster to respond to changes in the position and brightness of subjects. Clips shot with the FHD setting in the Motion JPEG mode were almost as sharp and clear when played on an HD TV set as those recorded in the AVCHD format.

      Even VGA recordings were relatively artefact-free when viewed at the appropriate size. Soundtracks were mostly clear and surprisingly crisp, although wind noise was an occasional problem and the wind filter tended to reduce clarity slightly.

      Our timing tests were conducted with a SanDisk 32GB Extreme Pro SDHC U1 memory card, one of the fastest available. The review camera took just under two seconds to power-up but shut down in roughly one second. Shot-to-shot times averaged 0.86 seconds without flash and 2.25 seconds with.

      We measured an average capture lag of 0.18 seconds, which reduced to less than 0.1 seconds with pre-focusing. JPEG images took 1.7 seconds to process, while RW2.RAW files took 2.6 seconds and RAW+JPEG pairs 3.1 seconds. Recording high-resolution images with the high-speed burst mode, the camera captured 12 frames in 1.3 seconds and took 5.2 seconds to process the burst.

      For raw file bursts, the buffer limit of 11 frames was reached in just over one second. It took 18.3 seconds to process this burst. The same 11-frame limit applied to RAW+JPEG capture but capture rates were marginally slower as it took 1.2 seconds to record the full burst. Processing was completed within 28.1 seconds of the final frame.
      Buy this camera if:
      – You want P, A, S and M shooting modes plus a useful range of functions in a long-zoom digicam.
      – You require effective image stabilisation.
      – You like shooting close-ups of flowers and other small objects.
      – You’d like the ability to shoot both still pictures and HD video clips.
      – You require good performance at moderately high sensitivity settings.
      Don’t buy this camera if:
      – You’re looking for a pocketable camera.

      IMATEST GRAPHS
      JPEG image files

      -
      FZ150_P1000554_colorerror_JPG
      -
      FZ150_P1000554_colors_JPG
      -
      FZ150_P1000554_YBL73_ca_JPG
      -
      FZ150_P1000554_YAR38_cpp_JPG
      -
      FZ150_P1000554_YBL73_cpp_JPG

      Raw image files converted into 16-bit TIFF format with Adobe Camera Raw.

      -
      FZ150_P1000554_colorerror_RAW
      -
      FZ150_P1000554_colors_RAW
      -
      FZ150_P1000554_YBL71_ca_RAW
      -
      FZ150_P1000554_YAR46_cpp_RAW
      -
      FZ150_P1000561_YBL71_cpp_RAW

      SAMPLE IMAGES

      -
      FZ150_P1000633_AWB-tung

      Auto white balance with incandescent lighting.

      -
      FZ150_P1000636_AWB-fluoro

      Auto white balance with fluorescent lighting.

      -
      FZ150_P1000237_wide

      4.5mm focal length, P mode, ISO 100, 1/400 second at f/4.

      -
      FZ150_P1000238_tele

      108mm focal length, P mode, ISO 100, 1/320 second at f/5.2.

      -
      FZ150_P1000239_digizoom

      Digital zoom; 108mm focal length, P mode, ISO 100, 1/160 second at f/5.2.

      -
      FZ150_P1000236_close

      Close-up in macro mode; 4.5mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/500 second at f/4.

      -
      FZ150_P1000692_macro-zoom

      Macro zoom; 108mm focal length, ISO 250, 1/125 second at f/5.2.

      -
      FZ150_P1000618_night-ISO100

      8 second exposure at ISO 100; f/3; 6.6mm focal length.

      -
      FZ150_P1000621_night-ISO800

      6 second exposure at ISO 800; f/5.6; 6.6mm focal length.

      -
      FZ150_P1000623_night-ISO3200

      3.2 second exposure at ISO 3200; f/4.5; 6.6mm focal length.

      -
      FZ150_P1000624_night-ISO6400

      High sensitivity mode; 1/4 second exposure at ISO 6400; f/3; 6.6mm focal length.

      -
      FZ150_P1000625_flash-ISO100

      Flash exposure at ISO 100; 35mm focal length, 1/40 second at f/4.

      -
      FZ150_P1000629_flash-ISO800

      Flash exposure at ISO 800; 35mm focal length, 1/60 second at f/4.

      -
      FZ150_P1000631_flash-ISO3200

      Flash exposure at ISO 3200; 35mm focal length, 1/60 second at f/4.

      -
      FZ150_P1000234_backlight

      Backlighting; 4.5mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/125 second at f/3.6.

      -
      FZ150_P1000251_distortion-4mm

      Distortion at 4.5mm focal length; 1/2000 second at f/4, ISO 100.

      -
      FZ150_P1000255_distortion_108mm

      Distortion at 108mm focal length; 1/1000 second at f/5.2, ISO 100.

      -
      FZ150_P1000232

      108mm focal length; 1/125 second at f/5.2, ISO 125.

      -
      FZ150_P1000240

      108mm focal length with Extended Optical Zoom; 1/200 second at f/5.2, ISO 100.

      -
      FZ150_P1000249

      25mm focal length; 1/1000 second at f/5.2, ISO 400.

      -
      FZ150_AVCHD-PSH

      Still frame from AVCHD video clip shot in the PSH mode.

      -
      FZ150_AVCHD-FSH

      Still frame from AVCHD video clip shot in the FSH mode.

      -
      FZ150_AVCHD-SH

      Still frame from AVCHD video clip shot in the SH mode.

      -
      FZ150_MP4_FHD

      Still frame from MP4 video clip shot in the FHD mode.

      -
      FZ150_MP4_HD

      Still frame from MP4 video clip shot in the HD mode.

      -
      FZ150_MP4_VGA

      Still frame from MP4 video clip shot in the VGA mode.

      Specifications

       

      -
      leadpic_DMC-FZ150

      Image sensor: 6.16 x 4.62 mm MOS sensor with 12.8 million photosites (12.1 megapixels effective)
      Image processor: Venus Engine FHD
      Lens: Leica DC Vario-Elmarit 4.5-108mm f/2.8-5.2 zoom (25-600mm in 35mm format)
      Zoom ratio: 24x optical, up to 4x digital
      Image formats: Stills – JPEG (Exif 2.21); RW2.RAW, RAW+JPEG; Movies – AVCHD, MP4
      Image Sizes: Stills – 4:3 aspect: 4000 x 3000, 3264 x 2448, 2560 x 1920, 2048 x 1536, 1600 x 1200, 640 x 480; 3:2 aspect: 24000 x 2672, 3264 x 2176, 2560 x 1712, 2048 x 1360, 640 x 424; 16:9: 4000 x 2248, 3264 x 1840, 2560 x 1440, 1920 x 1080, 640 x 360; 1:1 aspect: 2992 x 2992, 2448 x 2448, 1920 x 1920, 1536 x 1536, 480 x 480; Movies: AVCHD – 1920 x 1080 (50i 0r 50p), 1280 x 720 (50p); MP4 – 1920 x 1080, 1280 x 720, 640 x 480, 320 x 240, all at 30 fps
      Shutter speed range: 15-1/2000 second; 15 or 30 seconds in Starry Sky mode
      Self-timer: 2 or 10 seconds delay plus 10-sec. delay, 3 shots
      Image Stabilisation: Power O.I.S.
      Exposure Compensation: +/- 3EV in 1/3 EV steps
      Focus system/range: Contrast-based AF with 23 AF points; range 30 cm to infinity; macro to 1 cm
      Exposure metering/control: TTL metering with Multiple, Centre-weighted and Spot modes
      Shooting modes: Intelligent Auto, P, A, S, M, Portrait, Landscape, Sports, Night Portrait, Close-up, Scene ( Panorama Assist, Party, Candle Light, Baby 1, Baby 2, Pet, Sunset, High Sensitivity, Flash Burst, Panning, Starry Sky, Fireworks, Beach, Snow, Aerial Photo, Photo Frame, High-Speed Video, 3D Photo), Custom
      Picture Style/Control settings: Expressive, Retro, High Key, Sepia, High Dynamic, Pin Hole, Film Grain, Miniature Effect
      ISO range: Auto, ISO 100-6400
      White balance: Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Shade, Halogen, Kelvin temperature, White Set (x2)
      Flash modes/range (ISO auto):
      Sequence shooting: Max. 12 frames/second at full resolution (40 or 60 fps reduced size in High-Speed burst mode); up to 12 JPEG; 11 RW2.RAW or RAW+JPEG
      Storage Media: 70MB internal memory plus slot for SD, SDHC or SDXC memory cards
      Viewfinder: 0.2-inch EVF with 202,000 dots, 100% FOV; dioptre adjustment -4 to +4 dpt
      LCD monitor: 3-inch vari-angle TFT LCD with 460,000 dots
      Power supply: Rechargeable lithium ion battery; CIPA rated for 410 shots/charge
      Dimensions (wxhxd): 124.3 x 81.7 x 95.2 mm
      Weight: Approx. 468 grams (without battery and card)

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      Rating

      -
      PR-EdChoice-web-100

      RRP: $799

      Rating (out of 10):

      • Build: 8.5
      • Ease of use: 8.5
      • Autofocusing: 8.5
      • Image quality JPEG: 8.5
      • Image quality RAW: 8.8
      • Video quality: 9.0
      • OVERALL: 8.8

      Buy