Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ150

Panasonic's FZ150 is king of the superzooms, sporting a long lens matched up with excellent image and video quality.


8.4
CNET Rating
9.0
User Rating

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CNET Editor

Lexy spent her formative years taking a lot of photos and dreaming in technicolour. Nothing much has changed now she's covering all things photography related for CNET.


Design and features

If you were at all familiar with the previous high-end superzoom from Panasonic, the FZ100, this camera will look very familiar. Besides a few tiny exterior alterations, the body configuration is identical to the older model. The FZ150 has the same 24x optical zoom Leica-branded lens, external microphone input, stereo microphone, hotshoe and button layout.

What is new on the outside is the addition of a zoom rocker on the lens barrel, which is useful for video recording and any application where you don't want to be reaching for the regular zoom around the shutter button. There's also a little label on the barrel stating that the lens now has nano surface coating, something that we're seeing quite frequently on lenses, which reduces flare and ghosting on images.

FZ150

A visual representation of just how close 24x optical zoom can get you. The wide end (25mm) at top, and full 24x optical zoom at the bottom.
(Credit: CBSi)

Things change more on the inside, with Panasonic downsizing the MOS sensor to a high sensitivity 12.1-megapixel version in an attempt to improve image quality. The FZ150 also gets full 1080p video recording rather than 1080i.

Like many of the late-2011 crop of cameras, the FZ150 boasts incredibly fast autofocus at just 0.1 second. This camera features the same three-inch, 460,000-dot articulating LCD screen and RAW image processing as found on the FZ100. The camera has full manual control, as well as intelligent auto, a range of preset scene modes on the dial and creative filters (expressive, retro, high key, sepia, high dynamic, pin hole, film grain, miniature).

The FZ150 also has an electronic viewfinder located just above the LCD screen, but it is very small and really only useful for bright situations where you can't see the LCD properly.

Compared to

FZ150 vs. P500 vs. SX30
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ150 Nikon Coolpix P500 Canon PowerShot SX30 IS
12.1-megapixel MOS sensor 12.1-megapixel backlit CMOS sensor 14.1-megapixel CCD sensor
3-inch, 460,000-dot articulating LCD 3-inch, 920,000-dot flip-down LCD 2.7-inch, 230,000-dot articulating LCD
24x optical zoom, 25mm wide-angle 36x optical zoom, 22.5mm wide-angle 35x optical zoom, 24mm wide-angle
HD video (AVCHD, 1080p, 30fps) HD video (MPEG-4, 1080p, 30fps) HD video (H.264, 720p, 30fps)
Pop-up flash, hotshoe Pop-up flash Pop-up flash, hotshoe

Performance

General shooting metrics (in seconds)

  • Time to first shot
  • JPEG shot-to-shot time
  • Shutter lag
  • Panasonic Lumix FZ1502.11.20.3
  • Nikon P5002.91.90.3
  • Canon PowerShot SX302.33.50.5

Continuous shooting speed (longer bars indicate better performance)

  • Panasonic Lumix FZ1505.5
  • Nikon P5002.1
  • Canon PowerShot SX301.2

The FZ150 has various continuous shooting modes, so we are basing this test on how many continuous frames it can take. The FZ150 can take 5.5 frames per second in continuous mode with autofocus, or 12 frames per second with fixed autofocus. The FZ150 is able to take approximately 23 images at full resolution JPEG (5.5fps) before slowing to process them, and 12 images at full resolution JPEG and RAW combined. The 12 frames per second measure is only valid for one second — after taking its sequence of 12 shots the camera stops to process them. Panasonic rates the battery at 410 shots.

Image quality

Panasonic has reduced the megapixel count in the FZ150 and tweaked the image processing engine, which has resulted in the camera delivering some excellent images. In particular, we were impressed by the camera's macro mode, which was able to resolve plenty of detail. Colours on JPEG images were bold but not unnatural, while the lens remained as sharp as it was on the FZ100.

FZ150 macro

An example of the excellent macro images the FZ150 can produce. 100 per cent crop inset.
(Credit: CBSi)

Naturally, with such a wide lens there were distortions, but these can be corrected in post-processing, and for most users won't present too much of an issue. Images taken at the full 24x optical zoom length of the lens appeared slightly sharper than those on the FZ100.

FZ150 RAW

An example of a RAW image from the FZ150 compared with its JPEG twin, 100 per cent crop inset. The FZ150 actually reduces the intensity of the blue channel in its JPEG processing, and applies some decent noise reduction as well as chromatic aberration control.
(Credit: CBSi)

Noise was controlled well up to and including ISO 800, and images beyond this will be usable for enlargements if shooting in RAW and applying noise reduction. In all, the images from the FZ150 were impressive and much less noisy at 100 per cent magnification than those from the FZ100.

Video quality was very good, with the move to 1080p an excellent one on Panasonic's part. Sound quality from the stereo microphones mounted on the hotshoe was good, and decently separated.

Image samples

Exposure: 1/100, f/4, ISO 100

Exposure: 1/500, f/4, ISO 100

Exposure: 1/60, f/2.8, ISO 800

Exposure: 1/2000, f/4.5, ISO 160

(Credit: CBSi)

Conclusion

Panasonic's FZ150 is king of the superzooms, sporting a long lens matched up with excellent image and video quality. While there's no huge jump in features from the FZ100 to warrant an upgrade, new users will benefit greatly from the additions and, of course, the improvement in image processing.

The companion camera to the FZ150 is called the FZ47, which features many of the same attributes, except it's downgraded to be interlaced rather than progressive full HD, and gets a CCD rather than a MOS sensor. The FZ150 retails for AU$799 and the FZ47 will be available for AU$649.

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MeredithW posted a comment   

It didn't specify in the video but does the screen twist around so you can see what you're doing with the camera pointing at you?

MarkA6 Facebook
9
Rating
 

"A do it all camera, that is light enough to take around the world in 80 days, without breaking your back, and give you images that will cature it all!"

MarkA6 posted a review   

The Good:Zoooom 25-600mm, great video (that focuses while recording) and the still you would expect. This is the best camera I have ever owned, and I've had about 12 digital and 10 film cameras.

The Bad:Manual focus is way too tricky and manual zoom using a lens barrel rotation (like an old fashioned zoom) rather than the fiddly switch would be a huge improvement.

Asked if like this camera, my reply..."I love this camera". Sure just like anything in life its not perfect, but boy its just great!

Stop thinking about getting one, just go out and get one now... you will see.

KymW Facebook
9
Rating
 

"Awesome camera that I can recommend unreserved."

KymW posted a review   

The Good:High speed shooting, lens mounted zoom and focus, sleep mode

The Bad:I really haven't found anything I dont like about this camera

I bought the Panasonic FZ150 to replace my Fuji HS20 which was too slow for the motor sport events I was shooting. The Lumix has many small changes that add up to one fast paced camera. A zoom button and focus button on side of the lens means two handed operation becomes quick and easy. A multiple setting fast shooting system that allows either locked focus or continuous auto focus as you shoot. Storing the images is so fast you can continue shooting over a long period without loss of quality.
When it comes down to it the right camera for you is the one that does what you need it to do. The FZ150 is well suited to the fast action motor sports I shoot and still great for the family BBQ's and nature shots I like so much.

 

ZhediekS posted a comment   

I Love FZ150, very good auto focus, excelent image stabilizer, macro 'ok, zoom 'no doubt, photo n video very sharp, a taste of Leica that i can feel without pay alot of money :)

 

JenniferR3 posted a comment   
Australia

Hi, would I be better off buying this FZ150 or buying a Nikon D3100. I am a beginner and photograph landscapes, animals, flowers

 

KymW posted a reply   

I hope you went with the Panasonic FZ150. It really is a great camera

 

mickdoma posted a comment   
Australia

Readily available online in NTSC format rather than Pal (many other cameras switchable). Will that be a limiting factor in Australia as far as enjoying video feartures?

 

lens darkly posted a comment   
Australia

Couple of things about the review. The first performance graph is labelled as FZ100 - I assume that should read "FZ150"

The 5.5 frames per second rating for the continuos shooting mode is not very informative without the length of time for which it can sustain this burst.

 

Lexy Savvides posted a reply   
Australia

Hi lens darkly, thank you for spotting that typo in the first performance chart, it has now been fixed.

I will add the information on how long the FZ150 can sustain its burst at 5.5fps now - if this is helpful information to you, please let me know so I can add for future reviews?

 

lens darkly posted a reply   
Australia

Hi Alexandra, I feel it would be helpful if this figure is included in future camera reviews as it determines the usefulness of the feature. The length at which the burst can be sustained helps determine at what point the photographer can start using this mode in anticipation of capturing fast action.




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User Reviews / Comments  Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ150

  • MeredithW

    MeredithW

    "It didn't specify in the video but does the screen twist around so you can see what you're doing with the camera pointing at you?"

  • MarkA6

    MarkA6

    Rating9

    "Asked if like this camera, my reply..."I love this camera". Sure just like anything in life its not perfect, but boy its just great!

    Stop thinking about getting one, just go out and ge..."

  • KymW

    KymW

    Rating9

    "I bought the Panasonic FZ150 to replace my Fuji HS20 which was too slow for the motor sport events I was shooting. The Lumix has many small changes that add up to one fast paced camera. A zoom butt..."

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