Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ10; Big 12x Zoom Shows The Benefits Of A Built-In Image Stabilizer Page 2

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Follow the advice provided in the text, and the Lumix camera, with Venus LSI processor and Leica lens, produces exceptional image quality, suitable for prints as large as 10x13". (ISO 50; large/fine mode; low sharpening level; f/8 at 1/250 sec; 54mm equivalent; Hoya polarizing filter; Unsharp Mask applied in Photoshop.)

Final Assessment
While the OIS system is the most noteworthy feature, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ10 is a highly desirable camera in other respects. A wealth of modes and overrides allow for controlling all aspects of an image while the 35-420mm (equivalent) zoom maximizes versatility. Add the accessory 1.5x adapter and the lens becomes a 315-630mm equivalent, making the stabilizer just about mandatory unless you use a tripod. Thanks to the electronic viewfinder, framing is highly accurate at all focusing distances, at all focal lengths, although the view is not as clear and crisp as it is through an optical viewfinder.

Image quality is very good, too, as expected with a 4-Mp camera with a Leica-designed DC Vario-Elmarit 35-420mm f/2.8 zoom. For the most impressive results, select ISO 50, the large/fine JPEG option and set the sharpening level to low. Stop down to f/8, and activate OIS when necessary. To prevent overexposure with mid-tone subjects, set a -0.3 compensation factor. When shooting with flash, move in close to the subject; boost flash intensity slightly when required, using the pertinent control. Increase the file size in Photoshop with bicubic interpolation, apply Unsharp Mask, and you should be able to make exhibition quality 8.5x11" ink jet prints (at 240dpi) or very good 10x13" prints.

At a street price of $549, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ10 is a bargain, considering its solid construction, many capabilities, powerful zoom and optical image stabilizer. The combination will especially appeal to those who want to shoot wildlife, sports and stage performances without using a tripod. If you fall into that category, and if you cannot justify the higher price of a D-SLR plus long zoom lens with image stabilizer, this Lumix camera should be high on your list of models to consider.

A freelance stock photographer, Peter K. Burian is the author of Mastering Digital Photography and Imaging (Sybex). This highly-rated 300 page book covers all aspects of technology, equipment and shooting techniques, and offers a great deal of practical advice for imaging enthusiasts.

PROS
· Highly effective optical image stabilizer and very fast (f/2.8) lens for low-light shooting
· Great versatility with numerous features and fine Leica 12x optical zoom; accepts lens hood (included) plus accessories:
DMW-FL28 flash unit, 1.5x lens adapter and 72mm filters
· Exceptional burst speed, fast image processing, great ease of use plus through the lens viewing with full shooting data in the finder
· Often produces high image quality; high sharpness and color saturation; digital noise very low at ISO 50 and low at ISO 100

CONS
· In low-light conditions, electronic viewfinder image is dim and autofocus response is slow; pre-focus in dark locations
· Overexposes mid-tone subjects slightly; test sample underexposed when using flash in dark locations, a problem not encountered by other reviewers
· Images made at wide apertures exhibit edge softness and purple fringing (chromatic aberration) around ultra bright highlights, typical of wide-range zooms
· Aggressive sharpening in default mode produces jagged edges; use low sharpening and sharpen if necessary once you get the image into your image-editing software; obvious digital noise at ISO 400

 

More Digital Cameras With Image Stabilizer
The following digital cameras with image stabilizer were available at the time of this writing and we expect additional models to be announced this year. The Panasonic cameras with OIS employ an optical system, shifting a lens element to compensate for camera movement. The Minolta cameras with "Anti-Shake" function move the CCD sensor instead, to achieve a similar stabilizing effect. With all cameras, the stabilizer feature can be switched off if desired.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ1: 2-megapixel camera with Leica DC Vario-Elmarit 35-420mm f/2.8 (equivalent) lens; street price: $1599.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ10: 4-megapixel camera with Leica DC Vario-Elmarit 35-420mm f/2.8 (equivalent) lens; two stabilizer modes; street
price: $529.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX5: 4-megapixel camera with DC Vario-Elmarit 35-105mm f/2.8 (equivalent) lens; street price: $449.
Konica Minolta DiMAGE A1: 5-megapixel camera with high-definition 28-200mm f/2.8-3.5 APO GT lens; street price: $649.
Konica Minolta DiMAGE A2: 8-megapixel camera with high-definition 28-200mm f/2.8-3.5 APO GT lens; street price: $999.

FACTS
· Sensor: 1/2.5" CCD; 4.23-Mp gross; 4-Mp effective
· Lens: 6-72mm (equivalent to 35-420mm) f/2.8 Leica zoom with optical image stabilizer; up to 3x digital zoom
· Capture Modes: Single shot; Continuous framing at 2 or 4 fps, to 5 frames in Fine or 7 frames in Standard JPEG
· Capture Formats: JPEG, Fine and Standard quality; QuickTime MOV with sound
· White Balance: Auto, daylight, overcast, tungsten and Custom-set
· Viewfinder: Electronic, with diopter correction; full data display in some operating modes
· Focusing: TTL autofocus with focus lock; Spot AF; single shot and continuous autofocus; manual focus; Macro focus
· ISO equivalent: 50, 100, 200, 400 and "Auto"
· Operating Modes: Seven Program modes, Aperture and Shutter Priority AE, Manual
· Light Metering: Multi-zone and Spot metering; AE Lock, Exposure Compensation and Bracketing
· Shutter Speed Range: 1 to 1/2000 sec; in Manual and Shutter Priority AE mode, 8 to 1/2000 sec
· Flash: Built-in with auto flash, fill-in forced flash, redeye reduction; slow shutter speed flash; flash output control; hot shoe for accessory flash
· Storage: SD or MM card
· Connectivity: USB 1.1 and video output
· Power: Rechargeable 7.2v 680mAh li ion; AC adapter/charger
· Dimensions/Weight: 3.43x5.45x4.16" (138x87x106mm); 1.2 lbs (518g)
· Accessories Included: USB and AV cable; strap; lens cap and hood; lithium battery and charger; 16MB SD Card; three ArcSoft programs plus SD Viewer
· Street Price: $549, in black or silver

Further Information
PANASONIC LUMIX DMC-FZ10
http://www.panasonic.com

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