Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ28

The FZ28 produces some very nice images for a superzoom, thanks to its superior optics. There are a few problems with noise and build quality, but for the most part this is a competent camera that can sit up there with its competitors.


7.8
CNET Rating
9.0
User Rating

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Design
Although it shares a similar aesthetic to many superzoom cameras currently on the market (like Canon's PowerShot SX1 IS and Nikon's Coolpix P90), Panasonic's Lumix DMC-FZ28 is a little on the conservative side. On the outside is a rather cheap feeling plastic, along with silver tipped buttons on the top and plain black on the rear.

At the top sits a pop-up flash, but much to our chagrin, a hotshoe is not included. At the back, nothing deviates from the configuration that was laid out on its predecessor the FZ18. There's a 2.7-inch LCD screen, and a curious joystick-like dial which twiddles on a rotating axis.

With 18x optical zoom, everyone will be happy to see you.
(Credit: Panasonic)

What does deviate from the standard is the general look, feel and build quality of the unit. It's not coated in the usual high-quality textured plastic we're used to: instead we are (treated or subjected, take your pick) to a lightweight, flimsy black casing that feels incredibly fragile. Buttons too seem to have taken a leaf out of the cheapskate book and, while responsive, seem as if they could break at any moment.

In terms of size, the FZ28 is almost identical to the Lumix G1. Indeed, it's difficult to tell the two apart looking at them from top down, with the notable exception of the FZ28 having no hotshoe. All the standard manual controls are available via the mode dial, and while the power switch is located within easy reach just next door, it is still a little fiddly to turn on and off given its position.

The camera is weighted nicely so the bulk of the lens is offset by the battery and the right-hand grip, providing a nice even feel for one-handed operation. That said it still is a lot lighter to handle than many of the other superzoom cameras we've tested, at 370 grams without a battery. As a result, it's nice and portable for travellers and those who don't want to carry around a large bulky camera, but we can't help feeling like it's a little fragile because of this lightness.

Features
The main drawcard here is the 18x optical zoom lens. In the current climate, 18x might not seem like all that much, especially considering other cameras like the Nikon P90 reach 24x, and even last year 20x was seemingly standard on the Canon SX1 IS and SX10 IS. Also, unlike the other cameras, the FZ28 doesn't have that sought-after variable angle LCD screen.

Panasonic is banking on the rest of the specifications on the FZ28 to make its case for the superzoom throne. A 10.1-megapixel sensor and a 27mm wide-angle Leica lens, with a maximum aperture of f/2.8 are the other major features here. RAW and JPEG shooting are standard as well, and HD video recording is available (on the FZ28 it's 720p like on a myriad of other Panasonic cameras). As this model is now a bit older in relation to the new Panasonic range, there is no support for AVCHD Lite, the new format which the company is touting from now on.

Unlike the SX1 and SX10, the FZ28 doesn't use AA batteries but a rechargeable Li-ion.

Performance and image quality
Overall, the FZ28's colour rendition was mostly accurate, without over-saturating, and provided a more naturalistic image than we had expected. Compared to Canon's SX10, we found the FZ28 delivered images with less punch to them, but they were closer to the actual scene. The Canon also over-saturated reds a lot more than the Panasonic.

When it came to noise, we found the FZ28 wasn't as competent as the SX10 or SX1, especially at ISO 800 and above. ISO 1600, as indicated by our noise chart below, was for the most part unusable even at reduced magnification.

Images up to ISO 800 were relatively noise-free. Click on image to enlarge. (Credit: CBS Interactive)

In terms of chromatic aberration, the FZ28 coped pretty well, with little to no visible fringing on our shots, which is a surprise given the wide-angle optics.

Thanks to its 27mm wide-angle lens, the FZ28 had no trouble capturing this man dressed as a flowery clown... We don't quite understand either.
(Credit: Alexandra Savvides/CBS Interactive)

Performance-wise, the electronic viewfinder was a real disappointment and proved to be no match for the LCD screen. It couldn't keep up with most scenes, especially if we moved the camera body a little too fast. It also washed out colours. Bear in mind that we are, naturally, comparing it to the more refined, higher resolution viewfinder to be found on the G1.

We did like how the lens unit itself was quiet when extending and retracting. Furthermore, achieving a comparable zoom rate on the G1 would involve a considerable investment in additional lenses (and perhaps more importantly, the lenses to achieve such a focal length aren't being manufactured by Panasonic just yet).

The pop-up flash coped reasonably well with illuminating scenes without over-blowing highlights or washing out subjects, however, we still would have liked to see the additional flexibility of an external hotshoe.

Unfortunately, the movie implementation wasn't as good as we had hoped, mostly due to the tiny microphone located next to the lens. Audio was muffled and distorted, and while the image quality was for the most part excellent, the FZ28 struggled to focus when we zoomed in and out of the scene during shooting.

Conclusion
The FZ28 produces some very nice images for a superzoom, thanks to its superior optics. There are a few problems — notably with build quality and noise over certain levels, but for the most part this is a competent camera that can sit up there with its competitors from Canon and Nikon, despite its slightly shorter zoom length.

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Bricks posted a comment   

The Good:Zoom, clear screen, easy to use as P&S

The Bad:Expensive accessories like 2nd battery, no hotshoe. Viewfinder a waste of time

Going from an Olympus C-725 which when new had a great 8x zoom I didn't expect to be blown away as much as I was about the zoom lense and how clear the photo's are at zoom. Never thought a P&S could take moon photo's showing the creaters or lightning photo's from a storm 130KM away! HD video is great but sound is not as good as a video camera. Lots of customised settings to keep me happy. 160page manual says it all. One thing as neocnet said, turn sharpness up or you may be a little disappointed with some shots. Definately recommended for the price!

neocnet
9
Rating
 

neocnet posted a review   
United States

The Good:It's all about the lens and the Leica included is super sharp (turn up the sharpness), F2.8, non-distorted, focuses macro shots at 1cm, works with Extended optical, Ultra long focal lengths, unbelievable zoom range for better composition flexibility (fast) and only extends a tiny bit at max zoom. Plus, retracts into a small carry package. The focus lock-on speed and drive modes are super fast. Scene modes will set it to task; for you.

The Bad:You have to brace yourself to catch LOW light AND fast movement during pauses, but only with no flash. While the camera is super fast, in drive mode and even flash drive mode, you have to realize, there is a slight screen (only) lag, because you are seeing the actual results (WB and exposure). So you just lead your moving subject, a bit more. This is not extremely low noise at 800 ISO and up but makes up for it (you run about 1 ISO setting cleaner) with it's about 1 F-stop faster than usual lens. Noise is easily cleaned up with software, and still leaves outstanding detail, sharpness, contrast and the NR is adjustable in the camera.

Was the best camera for the price. It can be your only camera. No camera is perfect. Multiple benefits come from the tiny sensor. Even the ISO 1600 can give great 5x7 prints. 720p HD movie mode with zoom and smooth AF and AE works well for family captures from one device.

JohnM12 Facebook
9
Rating
 

JohnM12 posted a review   
Australia

The Good:Superb picture quality even in AI mode.
Excellent battery life.
Great HD movie quality
Size isn't as big as it looks - just right for me.

The Bad:Very few. Would have liked the "AVCHD Lite" format included in some 2009 models. Better video file sizes that way.

I recently ordered this camera using fly by points. It wasn't my first preference un cameras, but the choice was limited. Well, I couldn't be happier. This camera allows brilliant shots even in full "Intelligent Auto" mode and yet offers full manual control and flexibilty for those so creatively inclined.

Bigtoss
9
Rating
 

Bigtoss posted a review   

The Good:Too much to mention!

The Bad:Need to be careful when using flash in certain situations as the flash does not sit high enough over the lens & can create a shadow on your subject.

1 month ago i updated from the FZ5 to the FZ28 and am absolutely blown away by it. Low light & indoor shooting no longer any cause for concern..... FZ5 produced inconsistent results. Image stabilization much improved over FZ5.
Love it.

mnaah
9
Rating
 

mnaah posted a review   

The Good:- clear images in a camera with a decently small footprint
- great array of simple and advanced features, although a few a little ridiculous for me (like the pet function which can stamp the name of your pet and its age, based on the input of birthday and the camera's date; it does the same for 2 kids)

The Bad:- i don't mind about no external flash, but it would be good if the flash could be activated automatically (it must be manually released first)
- because the manual focus is digital (using the joystick) it is very fiddly and not much use

This is a fantastic camera - and one that definitely isn't discontinued yet. It takes great shots at the point and shoot end of the spectrum but packs the features to allow you whatever control you want over the camera settings.

I couldn't be happier with this, especially because it's significantly cheaper than the other decent cameras in this bracket.

ozzoid
9
Rating
 

ozzoid posted a review   

The Good:27mm wide angle+large zoom
Long battery life
Excellent controls and settings
Not too bulky/heavy for travel
Very good OIS

The Bad:In-built flash only
Small joystick needs to get used to (but works great)
Possible light vignetting when using some filters at wide angle
Lots of noise from ISO 800 onwards.

After the great FZ18 I got this model - even better in many small details. Perfect high-level camera from simple snapshot level to advanced and experimental levels. Picture quality is neutral and excellent, no 'pretty' extra saturation like many others.

albergo
9
Rating
 

albergo posted a review   

I have been using it for a couple of months now and think it is a great camera! It is also pretty idiot proof and that makes it friendly to all new users.

Viv
9
Rating
 

Viv posted a review   
Australia

I was hoping to get my hands on one of these but all the shops are saying that this camera is discontinued, can any one direct me where to go and try one out?

Magnumforc
9
Rating
 

Magnumforc posted a review   

The Good:Light, fast shooting, great for macros and action shots. Long battery life. Multiple auto stabiilization modes work well.

The Bad:Doesn't have the feel of the FZ-30, but doesn't need it either. It cost only half the price and does a better job in all the areas I've tested.

I have the FZ-30 and bought the FZ-28 as a lighter alternative for web photo shooting as well as an all around camera. In several hundred shots I think it outperforms the 30. I never used the LCD to compose on the 30 but do on the 28 as the size and brightness allow it to be done easily, making the 28 as versatile as a "point and shoot" while still having most of the pro features I need while on a trip, or shooting macros for web detail. A big plus is the 30 nd the 28 take the same batteries and they are available through Amazon (Lenmar brand with a 3 year warranty) so that adds to the interchangeability. Just wish the lens was the same size so filters would have been interchangeable too.

Phiroze B. Javeri
9
Rating
 

Phiroze B. Javeri posted a review   

The Good:Excellent features, good performance.

The Bad:Build quality and feel do not match the FZ50

The FZ28 is a replacement for the FZ18, but appears to have outdone its larger brother, the FZ50. The new G1 is surely going to be a hit, but will require a collection of interchangeable lenses to cover what the FZ28 offers in one. And that will prove to be costly. The real question is ... What is the fate of the FZ50 and its successors (if any)?




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User Reviews / Comments  Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ28

  • Bricks

    Bricks

    "Going from an Olympus C-725 which when new had a great 8x zoom I didn't expect to be blown away as much as I was about the zoom lense and how clear the photo's are at zoom. Never thought a P&S coul..."

  • neocnet

    neocnet

    Rating9

    "Was the best camera for the price. It can be your only camera. No camera is perfect. Multiple benefits come from the tiny sensor. Even the ISO 1600 can give great 5x7 prints. 720p HD movie mode wit..."

  • JohnM12

    JohnM12

    Rating9

    "I recently ordered this camera using fly by points. It wasn't my first preference un cameras, but the choice was limited. Well, I couldn't be happier. This camera allows brilliant shots even in ful..."

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