Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ40

Weighing in at just over 1-lbs but packing more features than many bigger, heavier cameras, Panasonic’s new Lumix DMC-FZ40 might make you think twice about that heavy load of gear you’ve been packing. Here is a camera you can carry around all day and never get tired.

The most attractive feature is the sharp 25-600mm (35mm equiv.) f/2.8 Leica DC Vario-Elmarit lens that’s kept shake-free by Panasonic’s Power OIS (optical image stabilization system). It’s terrific to have a true wideangle (25mm) and super-telephoto (600mm) all in one easy-to-carry package. As you can see by the photos above (both taken from the same position and without a tripod), the zoom range is breathtaking.

The camera also features a 14.1-megapixel CCD, 3-inch LCD plus a very useable EVF (electronic viewfinder). Video is AVCHD Lite at 1280x720 with stereo sound.

Serious photographers will appreciate the full manual controls (Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority and Manual) and the complete set of overrides. You can even adjust White Balance by dialing up the color temp in degrees Kelvin (although the presets and manual options work just fine). And it captures in RAW or RAW+JPEG as well as regular JPEG.

The macro capability gets you so close (1-cm, about 0.4-inches) that I had to remove the lens hood to keep from smacking the subject.

Panasonic has a long history of making small cameras with long zooms. The FZ40 builds up the success of its predecessor, the wildly popular FZ35. I’ve been impressed by this series since its beginning, and the Lumix DMC-FZ40 does not disappoint.

—Jon Sienkiewicz