Panasonic FZ150: Lab Test Results & Comments

Jill Rahn's picture
The Panasonic FZ150 is a super-zoom bridge camera with a 12MP sensor and an integral 24x zoom lens.

The design of the body is similar to classic SLR systems, but the camera has no interchangeable lens system. It offers a zoom lens that ranges from a wide-angle setting (25mm) to an extreme tele setting (600mm, 35mm film equivalent). The FZ150 utilizes Panasonic’s newest version of the O.I.S. (Optical Image Stabilizer), dubbed “Power O.I.S.” It works very well and allows users to shoot images with long shutter speed settings as slow as 1/20 sec when using the maximum tele setting of 600mm.

The Panasonic FZ150 is a super-zoom camera (24 to 600mm) and the new flagship of Panasonic’s bridge cameras. The 12MP camera uses a swivel monitor for comfortable shooting and offers professional Full HD video capabilities.

The “Q.Menu” button and the “FN” switch allow the user to easily set up a wide variety of image parameters. The setup dial near the top allows for very efficient access to all controls.

A large mode dial helps for selection of the desired image mode. In addition to standard modes the photographer can choose creative effects (sepia, film grain simulation, pinhole camera style, etc.) and a custom defined preset (“CUST”).

On the left side of the large lens system the camera has two switches. The first one is used as a zoom switch, the second selects the focus mode. These switches are very handy.

The LCD monitor offers 460,000 RGB dots and can be swiveled to the left, upward, and downward. The camera uses a standard cursor field for menu navigation.

The image stabilizer also works when the camera shoots video (“Active Mode”); it records Full HD video with 1920x1080 pixels and can shoot in 50p mode with high bit rates because it works with the new AVCHD 2.0 standard.

The SLR-like body design allows for comfortable shooting. The large grip on the right side provides comfortable handling and the shutter release button and the zoom rocker switch fit perfectly for easy operation. The camera offers two additional switches on the left side of the lens system. The first switch is an additional zoom switch, the second switch allows for very fast changes of the focusing modes, including AF, AF macro setting (down to 1cm distance to the front lens), and manual focusing.

The only thing missing is a lens ring for manual zooming or manual focusing. Manual focusing is controlled with the setup dial on the back, which isn’t really comfortable. Manual focusing operation is aided by zooming into the center of the electronic viewfinder image when moving the setup dial (and when manual focusing is activated by the switch on the left-hand side).

The large LCD screen (3 inches) is fully articulated and can be flipped upward, swiveled to the side, downward, and even to the front for shooting self-portraits. The monitor offers a resolution of 460,000 RGB dots, which is standard in this camera class. The camera offers an additional EVF (electronic viewfinder); the user has to toggle manually between both systems by pressing the “EVF/LCD” switch.

The FZ150 is very fast: it offers a serial mode with up to 12 frames per second (with locked AF system) and up to 5.5 frames per second with activated AF for every image. The internal buffer allows the user to take sequences with 12 images.

The camera offers a large and handy mode dial on the top. The photographer can use standard exposure modes (P, S, A, M) and 24 scene modes in the “SCN” setting. In addition, it offers six of the most important scene modes on the mode dial (portrait, landscape, for example) and the “Creative Control” setting. This allows the user to create images with various special effects, including “Retro Look,” “High Key Mode,” and “Miniature Effect.”

The automatic white balance system causes a very slight light bluish cast in the standard test image. This is also visible in the color chart, which also shows that brighter areas are shifted into the more yellow and green areas.

The standard test shot shows good sharpness and detailed, rich reproduction even of very fine details. The colors are very pleasing and realistic and the automatic white balance system works very well.

Even though the FZ150 boosts sharpness by an intense filtering system, very fine details in this image (hairs, fabric structure) don’t look overdone. The skin tones are fine, while some areas have a slight high red color rate.

Image Quality
Color: The automatic white balance system causes a very slight light bluish touch in the standard test image. This is also visible in the color chart, which also shows that brighter areas are shifted into the more yellow and green areas.

This tendency is also noticeable in the background of the portrait test shot, although the results show natural-looking skin tones and a realistic reproduction of red colors (there is only a minor shift into the more yellow/green area). The saturation is a little lower than in images taken with competitive cameras: 98.96 percent saturation is a low result for a compact camera system, but it helps create realistic-looking, nuanced color results.

Sharpness: The results of the resolution tests are very good for a super-zoom camera. The FZ150 achieves up to 2689 lines in picture height, which would be a very good result even for an SLR system with a nominal resolution of 3000 lines in picture height. Nevertheless, the contrast lines in our test images show that the camera boosts sharpness by an electronic filtering system that creates some oversharpening that results in some halos/double contours on contrast lines.

Noise: Noise results are on a good level: the camera uses a 1x2.3” sensor with a moderate resolution of 12MP and creates clean images up to ISO 400. Due to the luminance noise factor (y-factor), which is on a high level even in lower ISO speed settings, we saw some noise artifacts even in our standard test shots done with the ISO 100 setting. Nevertheless, these noise artifacts are very discreet because the more annoying color noise is very low and electronically filtered.

Image Tech
Image Tech is where we publish web-exclusive lab reports on cameras. To read the reports please go to the Shutterbug homepage at www.shutterbug.com and click on the Image Tech tab on the top navigation bar. New reports are published frequently, so check Image Tech for updates. The following reports are available now:
• Leica X1
• Ricoh GR Digital IV
• Nikon P7100
• Olympus E-P3
• Panasonic FZ48
• Sigma SD1
• Sony SLT-A35
• Sony NEX-C3

Pro
• Very handy and fast camera
• Extreme zoom lens for wide-angle and extreme tele shots
• Robust, rugged body
• Internal flash system and additional
accessory shoe
• Raw image option
• Swivel monitor

Con
• Manual focus controlled by setup dial

Lab results and test images by BetterNet, our TIPA-affiliated testing lab. Edited by George Schaub.

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