Design and features
Panasonic likes to release its cameras in twos; for every flagship model, there is a companion camera. In this case, we're talking about the superzooms FZ200 and FZ60.
Both models share very similar characteristics, including a 24x optical zoom equivalent to 25-600mm, manual controls, electronic viewfinder and overall identical body design. The differences are more clearly manifest inside, as the MOS sensors differ in resolution (16.1 vs. 12.1 megapixels on the FZ60) and the FZ60 loses out on RAW shooting. The FZ200 also features an impressive constant aperture of f/2.8 throughout the focal length — the FZ60 just makes do with f/2.8 at the widest end, and stops down accordingly as the zoom increases.
There are many more ways in which the FZ60 is a scaled-back camera, but let's now focus on the elements that it does possess.
Overall, the shooting design is run-of-the-mill superzoom. A somewhat chunky right hand grip lets you hold the camera comfortably, while buttons and dials around the back are all within easy reach. A mode dial gives access to a myriad of shooting options.
Photographers get to choose from full manual controls (program, aperture, shutter or manual priority), as well as intelligent automatic, creative filters, scene modes and custom configurations.
The electronic viewfinder is small, but reasonably easy to see through. Unfortunately, there's no automatic detector, which senses when your eye is pressed up to it, so you need to manually press the button to switch the view between viewfinder and screen.
General shooting metrics (in seconds)
- Start-up to first shot
- JPEG shot-to-shot time
- Shutter lag
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ60
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Continuous shooting speed (in frames per second)
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ60
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
While the FZ60 has a range of fast burst shooting modes (5fps and 10fps), in both modes, the camera will only take three frames before stopping to process them, then letting you take more photos. The only mode that allows for an uninterrupted burst of images (that is, until your memory card gets full) is the 2 frames per second option. In all the speeds, you have the choice of shooting with continuous autofocus or focus fixed from the first frame.
Panasonic rates the battery at 450 shots.
Colours are bright and punchy, though more serious photographers will be disappointed that RAW shooting, which would bring out more detail from photos, is not an option. In particular, the FZ60 has a slight tendency to over-expose on some highlights, and shooting JPEG gives you no opportunity to recover detail.
Images are reasonably clean up to ISO 800, especially if you only plan to use photos for online display or produce small prints. At the upper reaches of the camera's sensitivity, ISO 1600 and 3200, photos start to look messy with smeared detail. The image stabiliser works hard to compensate for hand shake, particularly when shooting at the longer end of the zoom. However, as we've noticed with other superzoom cameras, the image processor kicks in quite aggressively to compensate for handshake at this extreme — and at full magnification at 24x optical zoom, things do look a little messy.
The view from the wide end (25mm, top) and telephoto end (600mm, bottom).
Video recording produces decent looking images, though lacking sharpness and with some obvious interlacing artefacts (this camera shoots in AVCHD 1080i, rather than 1080p as on the FZ200).
Video exposures on automatic suffer from a similar degree of over-exposure found with still photos, predominantly when shooting in bright, contrasty situations. Sound quality is surprisingly good from the stereo microphone, situated above the pop-up flash, giving good sound definition and clarity.
Exposure: 1/500, f/3.9, ISO 100
Exposure: 1/800, f/4.5, ISO 800
Exposure: 1/60, f/3.2, ISO 200
Exposure: 1/40, f/3.4, ISO 400
The FZ60 offers a lengthy optical zoom in a well-featured package, but image purists won't be satisfied with just JPEG capture and a steep price.
If you are forking out for a premium-priced superzoom camera, you might as well save up a little more and spend it on the FZ200, which gives you a fast and constant lens at f/2.8, as well as RAW capture.