Panasonic FZ150 first tests

I November 2011 I bought a Panasonic FZ150 camera because I wanted ONE camera that would take reasonable quality photo’s and high quality video. Essential features for me were an external microphone socket and the ability to have manual controls of focus, zoom etc while videoing.

The Panasonic FZ150 is one of the ‘super zoom’ ‘bridge cameras’ and has x24 zoom and 12mp sensor.

My previous camera, bought in 2005 when it had the best zoom (x10) was a 4mp Olympus C770. I’ve been extremely happy with it and always thought it had a special lens.

Both cameras at Full Zoom

There are plenty of excellent reviews and tests comparing the Panasonic FZ150 with other current makes, but my main concern was to make sure the photo quality was at least as good as the Olympus.

I set both cameras up on tripods and used remote to take the photo’s, to eliminate shake. Both cameras used their automatic settings.

Full zoom on the Olympus (Olly) is x10, I framed the same photo with the Panasonic (Panny)

As soon as I imported the photo’s into Photoshop, I realised that a a 12mp photo is 3 times as large as a 4mp. I decided to shrink the 12mp image to the same size as the 4mp from the Olly. this of course means I’d reduced the quality from the Panny by 2/3rds, but at least I could make comparisons. Even allowing for that, the Panny photo’s were much superior.

I took some crops from both photo’s to display here,

Olympus at 10X zoom – these are full size (100%) crops

Panasonic at same zoom (but image reduced to a third original size)

The Panny photo is much sharper. The Olly favours yellow and the Panny blue.

The Panny is not limited to 24x zoom. It has a feature called iZoom and this multiplies the zoom by a factor of 1.3 – I think its dependent on aperture and exposure settings and the manual says there is ‘no detectable difference in quality’ suggesting it is NOT just a digital zoom- and there is a separate digital zoom function, which supports this.

Unfortunately the photo at x32 was noisy, but the video at x32 seemed sharp and I couldn’t see any noise. Max video sensor size is 2mp so perhaps, like the GH2, it can use part of the sensor to produce the image and so is clearer.

Realistically there are very few times when I have wanted more than the x10 zoom on the Olly, although I have used more zoom on video cameras when on a tripod.

The Panny also goes more wide angle than the Olly, so I reduced the zoom to zero on the Olly then framed the same shot in the Panny. Once again I had to reduce the image down to a third size so I could compare.

Olly -

Panny -

Quite obviously the Panasonic FZ150 takes clearer photo’s than my Olympus C770, as you would expect with a larger mp sensor and 6 years of technology improvements.

While the Panasonic was on the tripod I did a video test and I was very pleased with the quality. This was a grey overcast day, so a good test. As expected the pans at X32 zoom were blurred but the powerful zoom feature is amazing. At the end of the test video I zoomed in on a Mango tree about 10 metres away and it was as if the viewer was about one foot away.

Click the bottom right-hand corner of the youtube vid to see it full screen – of course the video is compressed by YouTube so not as sharp as the original.

This is a huge improvement over my previous video camera.

VERDICT: I’M VERY HAPPY!!!

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