Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ150 Review
Originally Posted: October 14, 2011
Last Updated: August 14, 2012
The Lumix DMC-FZ150 ($499) is Panasonic's flagship super zoom digital camera. It's the replacement to the FZ100, and the big brother to the DMC-FZ47 that I reviewed last month. Features include a 12.1 Megapixel Live MOS sensor, 24X optical zoom lens, 3-inch rotating LCD display, fast continuous shooting mode, plenty of manual controls, and Full HD 1080/60p video recording. Sounds good to me!
A family portrait showing the FZ47 and FZ150. Note the extra zoom lever on the side of the FZ150 at right.
I figured that I should probably show you what separates the FZ47 and FZ150, so you can decide whether it's worth spending the extra $120. Here you go:
As you can see, the major differences include AF performance, LCD rotation, continuous shooting, and video recording. The FZ150 is one of very few cameras that can record Full HD video at 60p using the new AVCHD Progressive format.
Is the FZ150 the ultimate super zoom camera? Find out now in our review!
Due to their similarities, portions of the DMC-FZ150 review will be reused here.
What's in the Box?
The DMC-FZ150 has a pretty standard bundle for a point-and-shoot camera in the year 2011. Here's what you'll find inside the box:
- The 12.1 effective Megapixel Lumix DMC-FZ150 digital camera
- DMW-BMB9 lithium-ion battery
- Battery charger
- Lens cap w/retaining strap
- Lens hood
- Shoulder strap
- USB cable
- CD-ROM featuring PhotoFunStudio 6.5 BD Edition and SilkyPix Developer Studio 3.1 SE
- 43 page basic manual (printed) + full manual (on CD-ROM)
Panasonic has built 70MB of memory into the DMC-FZ150. That'll hold four RAW or fifteen JPEGs at the highest quality setting -- enough for emergencies, but not daily use. Therefore, you'll want to buy a memory card right away. The FZ150, like all Panasonic cameras, supports SD, SDHC, and SDXC cards, and I'd recommend a 4GB card if you're mostly taking stills, and an 8GB or 16GB card if you'll be taking a lot of HD movies. A high speed (Class 6 or faster) card is highly recommended for best camera performance.
The DMC-FZ150 uses the same DMW-BMB9 lithium-ion battery as the DMC-FZ47. This battery holds 6.5 Wh of energy, which is fairly good for a camera in this class. The chart below shows how the FZ150 fares in terms of battery life compared to other super zooms:
The FZ150's battery life is about 13% above the group average, which is good news. Keep in mind that an extra battery for the FZ150 will set you back at least $43.
When it's time to charge the battery, just pop it into the included charger. This charger, which plugs directly into the wall, requires 155 minutes to fully charge the DMW-BMB9.
As with the DMC-FZ47, Panasonic includes a handy lens hood with the FZ150, for shooting outdoors.
There are a boatload of accessories available for the FZ150, including:
That's quite a lis! And I left out the various 52mm filters that you can screw onto the front of the camera. One thing that's optional that shouldn't be is an A/V cable. If you plan on connecting to a regular television, you'll need to pony up for the $9 A/V cable.
Panasonic includes PhotoFunStudio 6.5 BD Edition software with the Lumix DMC-FZ150. This Windows-only software handles basic tasks fairly well, though the whole "wizard" system gets tired quickly. On the main screen you'll see the usual thumbnail view, and you can view photos by folders, date, or by things as specific as scene mode. The software can learn to recognize faces (much like the camera itself), which offers you another way to browse through your pictures. Available editing features give you the ability to crop, rotate, or change the aspect ratio of your photos, as well as adjusting color, brightness, saturation, and more. You can apply special effects to photos, overlay text, or remove redeye. PhotoFunStudio can also be used to create panoramic images that you've taken on the camera.
PhotoFunStudio can also work with the movies produced by the FZ150. You can edit your video and then burn the results to a Blu-ray (or DVD) disc. You can also save the edited movie in MPEG-2 format. If you want to use something else to edit your videos, most modern Windows video editing suites can work with the AVCHD files produced by the FZ150. However, some of them may not support the AVCHD Progressive format, so check with your software manufacturer first. Mac users are in the same boat. You cannot currently edit AVCHD Progressive videos in either iMovie or Final Cut Pro. However, if you download the free Media Converter software (and its associated rewrap for QuickTime plug-in), you will be able to import them. The other movie sizes (as well as MPEG-4 videos) can be edited without issue.
Something PhotoFunStudio cannot do is edit RAW images. For that, Panasonic provides SilkyPix Developer Studio 3.1 SE, for both Mac and Windows. SilkyPix isn't going to win any awards for its user interface or poorly translated menus, but it's still a very capable editing tool. If you'd like to use Photoshop instead, just be sure you're running version 6.5 of the Camera Raw plug-in.
The FZ150's documentation is split up into two parts, something I'm never a fan of. Inside the box is a thin "basic manual" to get you up and running. If you want more details, you'll need to load up the full manual, which is PDF format on an included CD-ROM. The manuals aren't great reading material, either -- they're not very user-friendly. Instructions for using the bundled software is installed onto your Mac or PC.