One of the best
ultra zoom cameras in the last year was the Panasonic
Lumix DMC-FZ10. It featured an F2.8, 12X optical
zoom with image stabilization, a 4 Megapixel CCD,
manual controls, a hot shoe, and more.
In Summer 2004,
Panasonic introduced three more ultra zoom models:
the DMC-FZ3, DMC-FZ15, and DMC-FZ20. The FZ15 ($499)
and FZ20 ($599) are successors to the FZ10, offering
4 and 5 Megapixel CCDs, respectively, while the FZ3
is a compact model with 3.2 Megapixels. This chart
describes the differences between the three new models:
||35 - 420 mm
||35 - 420 mm
||36 - 432 mm
|Supports conversion lenses
Please note that those street prices
were accurate at the time I wrote this and are subject
to change. I'll compare the dimensions and weight of
these cameras a bit later
in the review.
The final thing to mention before
we begin is that the camera comes in your choice of
black or silver bodies. And with that out of the way,
we can start our review of the DMC-FZ20!
What's in the Box?
The DMC-FZ20 has an average bundle.
Inside the box, you'll find:
- The 5.0 effective Megapixel Lumix
- 16MB Secure Digital card
- CGA-S002A lithium-ion rechargeable
- Battery charger
- Lens hood w/adapter
- Lens cap
- Shoulder strap
- USB cable
- A/V cable
- CD-ROM featuring ArcSoft software,
SD Viewer, and USB drivers
- 127 page camera manual (printed)
Panasonic includes a skimpy 16MB Secure
Digital (SD) card with the FZ20, which won't hold very
many 5 Megapixel photos. So consider a larger card
a required purchase! I would recommend a 256MB card
as a good place to start. While there are some great
deals on SD cards these days (I just bought a 256MB
card for $7 after rebate!), you should know that the
FZ20 does take advantage of high speed memory cards.
For example, it took 10 seconds to flush the buffer
after a burst of 4 shots using a "regular speed" SD
card and only 2 seconds using an "ultra high speed" card.
While the camera can use MultiMediaCards (MMC), I would
recommend avoiding them, as they are slower and lower
capacity than SD cards.
The FZ20 uses the same CGA-S002A lithium-ion
battery as the FZ10. This battery packs a modest 4.9
Wh of energy into its plastic body, which translates
to approximately 240 photos using the new CIPA battery
life standard. The FZ15 gets the same number, while
the FZ3 does even better, taking 260 photos. As for
the two other stabilized cameras out there, I only
have CIPA numbers for one of them: the Konica Minolta
DiMAGE Z3 can take 320 photos using 2300 mAh rechargeables.
(The Canon PowerShot S1 is the other camera in question.)
The usual caveats about proprietary
batteries apply here. For one, an extra battery will
set you back $50. Secondly, if you're ever in a jam,
you can't just pop in some alkaline batteries to get
you through the day like you could on an AA-based camera.
When it's time to charge the battery,
just snap it into the included charger. The charger
plugs right into the wall -- no power cord is needed.
It takes about two hours to fully charge the CGA-S002A.
You'll find a big plastic lens cap
in the box with the camera, but sadly, there's no retaining
strap. So be careful that you don't drop it off a cliff
-- believe me, it can happen!
Something else you'll find in the
box is a massive lens hood, which comes in handy when
you're shooting outdoors. The lens hood is actually
comprised of two parts: an adapter and the hood itself.
The adapter can also be used for attaching 72 mm filters.
The lens hood, of course, matches
the color of your camera -- if you buy the silver body,
you get a silver lens hood. Also, it's advised that
you don't use the hood with the flash, since you'll
have dark shadows in parts of the image.
Wide conversion lens
Tele conversion lens
There are some very nice accessories
available for the FZ20, and I put them into this handy
chart for you:
||Why you want it
||Brings the wide end of the lens down by
0.8X to 29 mm
||Boosts focal distance by 1.5X, up to an
incredible 648 mm
||Reduces the amount of light hitting the
lens without affecting the color balance
||Protect your lens from the elements; has
no effect on photo quality
||Get much better flash photos and less redeye
|Remote shutter release cable
||Take pictures without touching the camera
|AC adapter / battery charger
||Power the camera without wasting your batteries;
can also charge a battery.
Man that teleconverter is pricey!
I should add that folks have had good luck using third-party
conversion lenses with the FZ10 and I assume they'll
work here as well. Try our Panasonic
forum for some good advice about that.
Panasonic includes ArcSoft's camera
suite with the FZ-series cameras. This includes PhotoImpression
5, PhotoBase, and Panorama Maker for Mac and Windows.
PhotoImpression (shown above) lets you view, enhance,
and share images. The interface is unique and easy-to-use,
and the whole product is well designed. PhotoBase is
a less impressive product that you can use for organizing
and performing basic edits on your photos. Panorama
Maker will stitch together several shots into one big
Panasonic's manuals leave much to
be desired. Much like the manual that came with your
VCR or DVD player, there's tons of fine print and bullet
points, and finding what you're looking for can be
Look and Feel
If there was ever a poster child for "big
cameras", the DMC-FZ20 is it. It's as large as
a digital SLR which means that it won't be spending
any time in your pocket. It's built of metal and plastic
and it feels pretty solid for the most part. It's got
a large grip for your right hand and the massive lens
barrel has plenty of room for your left. Most of the
controls are well positioned, though I would've preferred
to have the zoom controller a bit closer to the edge
of the camera.
Now, let's take a look how the FZ20
compare in size to other ultra zoom cameras in this
(W x H x D, excluding protrusions)
PowerShot S1 IS
x 3.1 x 2.6 in.
x 3.2 x 3.1 in.
x 3.2 x 3.2 in.
x 3.4 x 3.4 in.
Minolta DiMAGE Z3
x 3.1 x 3.3 in.
x 2.9 x 3.4 in.
x 2.6 x 2.1 in.
C-765 Ultra Zoom
x 2.4 x 2.7 in.
C-770 Ultra Zoom
x 2.7 x 3.3 in.
x 3.4 x 4.2 in.
As you can see, the FZ20 is much bigger
and heavier than anything else on the market. That's
not a bad thing, in my opinion, as I like cameras that "feel" like
a real camera rather than a plastic toy! And speaking
of which, the Panasonic FZ3 is a lot smaller and lighter
-- and plastic.
The FZ20 towers
over the DiMAGE Z3 and especially the Lumix DMC-FZ3
Enough numbers -- let's start our
tour of this camera now!
If there's one feature that defines
the FZ20, it's the lens. This is an incredible F2.8
(all the way through the zoom range) 12X optical zoom
Leica lens. The focal range is 6 - 72 mm, which is
equivalent to 36 - 432 mm. As I mentioned in the previous
section, the FZ20 supports both filters and conversion
While having an F2.8, 12X zoom lens
alone is great, Panasonic takes things one step further
by having an optical image stabilization system (the
same system as the other FZ-series cameras). When you
shoot at the telephoto end of the lens, slight movements
of the lens can blur your photos, even at fairly fast
shutter speeds. Sensors in the camera detect this motion
and an element in the lens is shifted to compensate
for the shake. This lets you use shutter speeds 3-4
stops slower than what you can use on an unstabilized
camera. For example, a 1/30 sec shutter speed will
result in a blurry photos for most people (unless you
have hands of stone), but with image stabilization
you'll most likely get a nice, sharp photo.
For more details on how the OIS system
works, see this
page. Want to see how well it works? I have two
examples for you.
Both photos were taken at 1/4 sec.
The shot on the left was without OIS turned on, while
the shot on the right was with the OIS set to mode
2 (more on this later). I think the difference is pretty
For another example, have a look at
this movie taken
with and without OIS. One side effect of using image
stabilization while taking movies can be seen here:
while the image isn't as shaky, it does tend to slowly
wander in various directions (camcorders do this as
Directly above that huge piece of
glass is the FZ20's pop-up flash. The working range
on this flash is a very impressive 0.3 - 7.0 m. If
that's not enough flash power for you, or if you want
to bounce the light or eliminate redeye worries, you
can attach an external flash to the hot shoe you'll
see in a bit.
The only other items of note on the
front of the camera are the microphone and AF-assist
lamp (which doubles as the self-timer lamp). The AF-assist
lamp helps the camera focus in low light situations
(the FZ10 didn't have one of these)
and it has a range of about 1.5 meters.
On the back of the FZ20 you'll find
a larger-than-average 2.0" LCD display. The resolution
isn't terribly high, with 130,000 pixels, but images
on the screen were plenty sharp. The screen is bright
and colorful, and motion is fluid. In low light the
LCD doesn't "gain up" automatically like
on some other cameras, making it darn near impossible
to see your subject. Turning up the LCD brightness
Like all ultra zoom cameras, the FZ20
uses an electronic viewfinder, or EVF. The EVF resolution
isn't so hot when compared to some of the latest models
out there (with just 114,000 pixels), and you can tell
when you use it. Don't get me wrong, it's not horrible,
but I've seen better. As was the case with the LCD,
the EVF is basically unusable in low light conditions
since it doesn't brighten automatically.
The EVF has a diopter correction knob
which can be used to focus the image on the screen.
Above the LCD are four buttons plus
the power switch. The buttons are for:
- Flash release
- EVF/LCD - choose which one to use
- Display - toggles what's shown
on the EVF and LCD
- Exposure - adjust the shutter speed
or aperture in the manual shooting modes
To the right of the LCD are the menu
and delete photo buttons, as well as the four-way controller.
The four-way controller is used for navigating the
menus as well as:
- Up - Exposure compensation, flash
exposure compensation, white balance fine-tuning,
auto bracketing (see below)
- Down - Review (quickly jumps to
- Left - Self-timer (2 or 10 seconds)
- Right - Flash setting (Auto, auto
w/redeye reduction, flash on, flash on w/redeye reduction,
slow sync w/redeye reduction, flash off)
I want to talk about those options
that appear when you press the "up" button
on the four-way controller. Exposure compensation is
the usual -2EV to +2EV in 1/3EV increments like on
every camera. Flash exposure compensation lets you
adjust the flash strength using the same range. Auto
bracketing takes three shots in a row with each shot
having a different exposure. You can choose from ±0.3EV, ±0.6EV
or ±1.0EV increments. White balance fine-tuning
lets you adjust the preset or custom WB that you've
selected in the red or blue direction, with a total
range of ±10 (in 1-step increments).
The last item to see here is the FZ20's
speaker, which is located to the right of the four-way
Once again my trusty Olympus lens
cap comes in handy. Some cameras don't like to stand
up in this position without a little help!
The first thing to see on the top
of the FZ20 is the hot shoe. You can attach Panasonic's
DMW-FL28 flash or you can purchase a third party flash.
If you use the third party flash you will probably
have to use both the camera and flash in manual mode.
The FZ20 can sync with flashes as fast as 1/250 sec.
The next item to the right is the
mode dial, which has the following options:
||Fully automatic mode; a program shift feature
lets you choose from several aperture/shutter
|Aperture Priority mode
||You pick the aperture, the camera picks
the appropriate shutter speed; aperture range
is F2.8 - F8.0
|Shutter Priority mode
||You choose the shutter speed and the camera
picks the correct aperture. You can choose
from a range of 8 - 1/2000 sec; Do note that
the 1/1300 sec speed is only available at
F4.0 or higher, the 1/1600 at F5.6 or higher,
and 1/2000 at F8
|Full Manual mode
||You pick the aperture and shutter speed.
See above for values and restrictions
||Same as program mode
but for close subjects; program shift works
here; more on macro later
| Movie mode
||More on this later
|Scene 1, Scene 2
|| You pick the scene and
the camera uses the appropriate settings;
choose from portrait, sports, scenery, night
scenery, night portrait, panning, fireworks,
party, and snow; the two scene options on
the mode dial contain the same items (it's
just a way to have two preset scenes ready
||More on this later
Hopefully everything up there is self-explanatory.
I should mention that I'm not a huge fan of having
macro mode as an item on the mode dial. If you want
to shoot close-ups in program or scene mode, you must
use manual focus. However, in A/S/M mode, the camera
can focus at macro distances without having to resort
to manual focus.
To the right of the mode dial is the
is the burst mode button. There are three burst modes
on the FZ20: high speed, low speed, and infinite. Both
high and low speed modes have the same number of photos
that can be taken continuously: 4 at the high image
quality setting and 7 at low quality. High speed shoots
at 3 frames/second while low speed is at 2 frames/second.
Infinite mode will keep shooting at about 2 frames/second
until the memory card is full. The LCD and EVF don't "black
out" between shots (though there's a slight pause),
so you should be able to track a moving subject.
The final item on the top of the camera
is the zoom controller, which is wrapped around the
shutter release button. The zoom controller moves the
lens from the wide-angle to telephoto position in about
2.8 seconds. One thing I like about the FZ20 is how
precise you can be with the lens: quick presses of
the zoom controller make tiny adjustments to the focal
There's still plenty left to see on
our tour. One of the nice features of the FZ20 is its
manual focus ring. This is an electronic ring which
tells the camera to adjust the focus (rather than doing
it mechanically). The dial has a nice feel to it, and
you can make precise adjustments by slowly turning
To control manual focus you use the
switch located right in the center of the frame. Move
it into the MF position and you can rotate that ring
to your heart's content. Manual focus can be a bit
frustrating, as the camera doesn't tell you the current
focus distance. It does, however, enlarge the center
of the frame so you can ensure that your subject is
in focus. If you need a little help focusing, you can
press the focus button all the way down and the camera
will focus automatically, leaving you to make fine
The final thing to see here is the
bank of I/O ports on the far right of the photo. These
- Remote (for the optional wired
- A/V out + USB (one port for both)
- DC-in (for optional AC adapter)
Those ports are covered by a sturdy
Nothing to see over here!
The final stop on our tour is the
bottom of the FZ20. Here you'll find the battery compartment,
memory card slot, and metal tripod mount (not seen
in this picture). The battery/memory card slots are
covered by a sturdy, reinforced plastic door. I'm not
a big fan of having the memory card slot down here
because you can't get to it while the camera is on
Speaking of which, the metal tripod
mount is blocked by the door in the above photo. It's
location is neither centered nor inline with the lens.
Using the Panasonic Lumix
If you just turn the FZ20 on and let
it go, it'll take about 4.4 seconds before you're ready
to shoot. It takes so long to start up because the
lens has to move all the way to the wide-angle position.
You can press a button to stop the lens from zooming
out, which speeds things up, as long as you want to
use the lens where you stopped it. I hope that makes
There's a live histogram!
You'll get the best focus speeds by
using center-frame AF instead of 9-point AF (which
is the default setting). At wide-angle the FZ20 locked
focus in about 1/2 a second, with times closer to one
second near the telephoto end. Low light focusing was
good thanks to the AF-assist lamp. It's too bad that
the LCD and EVF were so dark in those situations as
to be nearly unusable.
Shutter lag was low, even at slower
shutter speeds where it often occurs.
Shot-to-shot speed is excellent, with
a delay of a little over a second before you can take
another shot, assuming the post-shot review feature
is turned off.
There is no easy way to delete a photo
immediately after it is taken -- you must use the Review
Now, here's a look at the resolution
and quality choices on the FZ20:
||# images on 16MB card
||# images on 256MB card
Now you see why I recommend buying
a larger memory card!!
As you can see, the FZ20 supports
the TIFF image format. This is uncompressed image data
that is as close to perfect as you'll get out of the
camera (as there's no RAW mode). There was no major
delay when shooting in TIFF mode on the FZ20 -- the
camera was locked up for about three seconds and then
it was ready to take another, though I think my ultra
high speed SD card had a lot to do with that.
The camera saves images with a name
of PXXXYYYY.JPG, where X = 100-999 and Y = 0001 = 9999.
The camera will maintain the file numbering, even as
you erase and switch memory cards.
The menu system has gotten a nice
facelift since the FZ10, and it's simple and easy-to-navigate.
Here are the options in the record menu:
- White balance (Auto, daylight,
cloudy, halogen, flash, white set) - the latter option
will let you use a white or gray card to set a reference
for white, allowing for accurate color under any
lighting; I mentioned the ability to fine-tune the
WB earlier in the review
- Sensitivity [ISO] (Auto, 80, 100,
- Picture size (see chart)
- Quality (see chart)
- Audio recording (on/off) - record
a 5 sec audio clip with each picture
- Metering (Multiple, center-weighted,
- AF mode (9-area, 3-area, 1-area
[center], spot) - those last two options will allow
for the fastest focus times
- Continuous AF (on/off) - camera
is always focuses which reduces AF delays; puts extra
strain on batteries
- AF-assist lamp (on/off)
- Digital zoom (on/off) - it's best
to keep this off
- Color effect (Off, cool, warm,
black & white, sepia)
- Picture adjust
- Contrast (Low, standard,
- Sharpness (Low, standard,
- Saturation (Low, standard,
- Noise reduction (Low, standard,
high) - now here's an option you don't see
- Stabilizer (Off, mode 1, mode 2)
- see below
- Flip animation - see below
- Conversion lens (Off, wide, tele)
- External flash (Preset, manual)
- preset locks the ISO at 100 and the aperture at
F2.8; manual lets you adjust those
- External flash burst (on/off) -
take up to 3 shots in a row at 2-3 frames/second
I want to mention two things here.
First, the stabilizer options. When the "mode
1" setting is used, the stabilizer is always running,
which helps you compose your photo. Mode 2 only activates
the stabilizer when the picture is actually taken,
which actually does a better job of eliminating camera
shake. You can also turn the whole thing off, which
is advisable under certain situations, one of which
I'll describe in a bit.
The flip animation feature lets you
take up to 100 shots in a row and then throw them together
into a 320 x 240 movie up to 20 seconds long. You can
choose from a frame rate of 5 or 10 frames/second.
This feature can be used for making "stop motion" animation.
There's also a setup menu, which
is accessed from the record or playback menu. The items
- Monitor/finder brightness (-7 to
+7 in 1-step increments) - you can have a different
brightness setting for the EVF and LCD
- Auto review (Off, 1 sec, 3 sec,
zoom) - the zoom option shows the picture for a second,
then enlarges it by a factor of four for a second
- Play on LCD (on/off) - photo is
always shown on LCD after it is taken or in playback
mode, even if you're using the EVF
- Power save (Off, 1, 2, 5, 10 mins)
- MF-assist (on/off) - center-frame
enlargement while using manual focus
- Beep (Off, soft, loud)
- Shutter sound (Off, soft, loud)
- Volume (0-7)
- Clock set
- File number reset
- USB mode (PC, PictBridge/PTP)
- Highlight (on/off) - overexposed
areas of your photos flash in review and playback
- Video out (NTSCP, PAL)
- Scene menu (Off, auto) - if set
to auto, scene menu opens automatically when you
turn the mode dial to one of the two scene mode positions
Well I've had it with menus so let's
move on to more interesting things now -- photo quality!
The DMC-FZ20 did a fine job with our
macro test subject. The image is sharp (and a bit grainy)
with accurate color. The easiest way to shoot close-ups
is to use the macro item on the mode dial, although
that limits you to program mode. In A/S/M mode you
can shoot at those distances using autofocus, or you
can use manual focus in the other shooting modes. The
manual white balance feature made color accuracy with
my studio lamps a non-issue.
You can get as close to the subject
as 5 cm at wide-angle and a whopping 200 cm at the
Before I discuss the night test shot,
let me give you a word of warning. When shooting on
a tripod, do not use the "mode 1" stabilization
option, as it will result in a blurry
picture. Instead, use mode
2, or just turn
the whole thing off.
Back to the discussion, now. The FZ20
took a great picture (after a few failed attempts due
to the issue I just described) of the San Francisco
skyline. There's a bit of noise/grain in the picture,
but it's nothing horrible, and the picture is plenty
sharp. One thing I don't see here is purple fringing,
and that's a good thing.
Using that same shot, let's have a
look at the effect of the ISO sensitivity on noise
As you can see, noise levels are pretty
low at ISO 80 and 100. ISO 200 isn't too bad, but noise
starts eating away at details by ISO 400. Even then,
it's not that bad -- just wait 'til you see what the
DiMAGE Z3 looks like at ISO 400!
As was the case with the FZ10, the
FZ20 has some redeye, despite having that big pop-up
lens. While my test results may not reflect what your
experiences will be, there's a good chance that you'll
be doing some redeye removal in software with the FZ20.
The distortion test shows moderate
barrel distortion at wide-angle and just the slightest
hint of vignetting (dark corners). Barrel distortion
will be especially noticeable if you take a lot of
pictures of buildings -- instead of having straight
lines, they'll be curved. While a tiny bit of vignetting
showed up in this test, I didn't see it in my real
Overall the FZ20's image quality was
very good, though a bit on the noisy side (especially
indoors). Colors and exposure were accurate, and everything
was very sharp -- which was probably why things seemed
noisy. Turning down the sharpness helped slightly but
noise levels remained above average. (Do note that
when images are downsized or printed the noise is usually
not an issue.)
When compared to the two other stabilized
cameras I have at the moment, I found the FZ20's photos
to be superior to those from the Konica Minolta DiMAGE
Z3 and about equal to those from the Panasonic DMC-FZ3.
Here's a quick comparison:
I think it's pretty obvious that the
FZ20 produced a much sharper and more pleasing image
than the Z3. If that shot doesn't convince you, compare
the FZ20 and Z3 photo
One thing Panasonic has done a great
job eliminating is purple fringing (chromatic aberrations)
-- there is hardly any, which is amazing for a camera
with a big zoom lens.
As always, don't let my words be the
final say on the photo quality on this camera or the
competition. View the gallery,
print them if you like, and decide of the FZ20's pictures
meet your expectations!
While decent, the FZ20's movie mode
isn't really anything to get excited for. You can record
video at 320 x 240 at either 10 or 30 frames/second
until the memory card is full. Sound is recorded as
The included 16MB memory card can
hold a whopping 25 seconds of video at the 30 fps setting.
By comparison, a 256MB SD card will allow you to take
a movie 480 seconds long.
As is usually the case, you cannot
use the zoom lens during filming. The image stabilizer
functions in movie mode which is certainly a nice feature.
Movies are saved in QuickTime format.
A capture of the first frame of the movie is saved
as JPEG along with the movie.
Here's a brief sample movie for you:
to play movie (5.9 MB, 320 x 240, 30 fps, QuickTime
Can't play it? Download QuickTime.
The DMC-FZ20 has a pretty standard
playback mode. Basic playback options include slide
shows, DPOF print marking, image protection, thumbnail
mode, audio captions (10 seconds), and zoom and scroll.
The camera is also PictBridge-enabled for direct printing
to a compatible photo printer.
The zoom and scroll feature (my term)
allows you to zoom in as much as 16X (in 2X increments)
into your photo, and then scroll around. This feature
is well-implemented on the FZ20.
You can also rotate, resize, and crop
your photos in playback mode.
One other feature that I appreciate
is the ability to delete a group of photos, instead
of just one or all.
By default, the camera doesn't give
you a lot of information about your photos. But press
the display button and you'll see plenty of info, including
The camera moves between photos very
quickly, with roughly a barely-noticeable delay between
How Does it Compare?
While not perfect, the Panasonic Lumix
DMC-FZ20 is one of, if not the best, ultra zoom cameras
on the market. It takes very good, though slightly
noisy photos, with accurate colors and exposure. Unlike
most ultra zoom cameras, the FZ20 does not have a problem
with purple fringing. Two image quality-related issues
(in addition to noise) that you will encounter are
above average redeye and barrel distortion. But let's
not beat around the bush here, the big thing about
the FZ20 is its awesome lens. This F2.8, 12X Leica
lens isn't just impressive for its zoom power -- it
also features an optical image stabilization system
that will help reduce the effect of camera shake for
those long telephoto shots, or just you take sharper
shots indoors under less-than-adequate lighting. The
FZ20 features full manual controls which includes focus
and white balance. The ring around the lens works nicely
in manual focus mode, though I wish the camera gave
you an indication of the current focus distance on
the LCD and EVF. The camera is quite responsive as
well, especially if you use a high speed SD card. Three
other nice features are a hot shoe, support for conversion
lenses and a wired remote control, and an AF-assist
lamp. Okay maybe that was four nice features.
But everything isn't perfect on the
FZ20, and I already mentioned a few of my complaints
above. Neither the LCD nor the EVF "gain up" in
low light situations, making it very difficult to see
what you're shooting in those conditions. In addition,
the EVF's resolution pales in comparison to EVF found
on other cameras. The FZ20's movie mode isn't terribly
modern (though I like the 30 fps frame rate), and I
don't like how you can't swap memory cards while the
camera is on a tripod. My last issue isn't really a
complaint since it doesn't bother me personally, but
I'll mention it anyway: the FZ20 is a big, bulky camera.
Despite a few flaws I highly recommend
the DMC-FZ20, just as I did the FZ10 before it. If
you want the FZ20 in a smaller package and don't mind
the lower resolution or plastic body, have a look at
the DMC-FZ3. Either way, you've got yourself a great
ultra zoom camera.
What I liked:
- Very good photo quality (though
a bit noisy)
- F2.8, 12X optical zoom lens
- Image stabilization system
- Very little purple fringing; unusual
for an ultra zoom camera
- Full manual controls including
ability to fine-tune white balance
- AF-assist lamp
- Robust performance
- Manual focus ring
- Supports conversion lenses, external
flash, and remote shutter release
- Larger-than-average LCD display
- Lens hood/filter adapter included
- Histograms in record and playback
What I didn't care for:
- Above average noise levels, redeye,
and barrel distortion
- LCD and EVF don't "gain up" in
- Can't remove memory card while
camera is on tripod
- EVF resolution isn't so hot compared
to other cameras these days
- A VGA movie mode would've been
- Skimpy memory card included
I'm going to break my list of other
cameras to look at into two parts. First, these are
the other cameras with image stabilization: Canon
PowerShot S1, Konica
Minolta DiMAGE Z3 (I'm leaving out the DiMAGE A2/A200
since they're only a 7X zoom), Nikon
Coolpix 8800, and the Panasonic
DMC-FZ3 and DMC-FZ15.
If you're willing to give up the very useful stabilization
feature, these cameras are also worth your time: Fuji
FinePix S5100, HP
Photosmart 945, Kodak
EasyShare DX7590, Nikon
Coolpix 4800, and the Olympus
C-770 Ultra Zoom.
As always, I recommend a trip to your
local camera store to try out the DMC-FZ20 and its
competitors before you buy!
Want to see how the photo quality
turned on? Check out our photo
Feedback & Discussion
If you have a question about this
review, please send them to Jeff.
Due to my limited resources, please do not e-mail me
asking for a personal recommendation.
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