Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ47 Review
Originally Posted: September 4, 2011
Last Updated: July 2, 2012
The Lumix DMC-FZ47 ($399) is Panasonic's "standard" super zoom camera, sitting just below the newly introduced FZ150. This camera, the replacement of the DMC-FZ40, features a 24X optical zoom lens (equivalent to 25 - 600 mm), manual and automatic controls, Full HD video recording, and much more.
A family portrait showing the FZ47 (left) and higher-end FZ150
To show the differences between the old FZ40, the FZ47 that I'm reviewing here, and the top-of-the-line FZ150, I put together the following chart:
So there you have it! As you can see, the FZ47 is generally a nice improvement over its predecessor, and that doesn't include a 35% increase in autofocus performance that's not listed in the chart. One thing that's really gone downhill is battery life, though it's not clear why that dropped so much.
Is the Lumix DMC-FZ47 a super zoom camera worth considering? Keep reading, our review starts now!
What's in the Box?
The DMC-FZ47 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-FZ47 digital camera
- DMW-BMB9 lithium-ion battery
- Battery charger
- Lens cap w/retaining strap
- Lens hood
- Shoulder strap
- USB cable
- CD-ROM featuring PhotoFunStudio 6.3 HD Lite Edition and Super LoiloScope trial
- 43 page basic manual (printed) + full manual (on CD-ROM)
Panasonic has built 70MB of memory into the DMC-FZ47. That'll hold fifteen photos at the highest quality setting -- enough for emergencies, but not daily use. Thus, you'll want to buy a memory card right away. The FZ47, like all Panasonic cameras, supports SD, SDHC, and SDXC cards, and I'd recommend a 2GB card if you're mostly taking stills, and a 4GB or 8GB card if you'll be taking a lot of HD movies. A high speed (Class 6 or faster) card is recommended for best performance.
The DMC-FZ47 uses the same DMW-BMB9 lithium-ion battery as its predecessor. This battery holds 6.5 Wh of energy, which is fairly good for a camera in this class. The chart below shows how the FZ47 fares in terms of battery life compared to other super zooms:
The DMC-FZ47's battery life is a bit above average in this group. As the comparison chart in the review introduction showed you, the old FZ40 had much better battery life than the FZ47.
Like most of the cameras on the above list, the FZ47 uses a proprietary battery. These batteries are expensive, with an average price of around $45. In addition, should you main battery die, you can't get something at the corner store to get you through the day. If you want a camera that doesn't have either of those issues, then you might want to consider the Fuji or Kodak cameras listed above, which both use AA batteries.
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 you'd expect, Panasonic includes a lens cap (and retaining strap) to protect that 24X zoom lens.
Panasonic also provides buyers with a lens hood, which comes in handy when you're shooting outdoors.
As usual, there are plenty of accessories available for the DMC-FZ47, though not as many as on last year's model. The highlights include:
That's a pretty good selection, if I do say so myself. If you want support for an external flash, you'll need to pony up for the DMC-FZ150. Also, thumbs down to Panasonic for not including an composite A/V cable with the camera.
PhotoFunStudio 6.3 HD Edition
Panasonic includes version 6.3 of their PhotoFunStudio HD Edition software with the Lumix DMC-FZ47. This Windows-only software handles basic tasks fairly well, though the whole "wizard" system gets old 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. Other options on the main screen include slideshows, creating "short movies" (basically video slideshows), printing, e-mailing, or uploading to YouTube or Facebook. You can also copy photos and movies to SD cards or DVDs.
Editing photos in PhotoFunStudio
Above you can see the still photo editing screen. Here you can quickly 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.
Movie editing features include the ability to trim unwanted footage from a clip, turn a video frame into a still image, or convert a video to MPEG-2 format.
I want to briefly discuss how to work with the videos produced by the DMC-FZ47. The camera records video in two formats: AVCHD and Motion JPEG. The former allows for unlimited recording time (outside of Europe) and looks great when you plug your camera (or the memory card) into your HDTV, but it can be difficult to edit on your computer. Even finding the video files themselves is difficult -- try looking for MTS files in the /PRIVATE/AVCHD/BDMV/STREAM directory on your memory card. Thankfully, Panasonic also gives you the option of using the MPEG-4 codec (a change from M-JPEG on previous models), which is easier to edit and share on your PC. The only real downside to MPEG-4 is shorter recording times.
I already told you that PhotoFunStudio can play and edit the videos produced by the FZ47. Other options for video conversions in Windows include Handbrake, CoreAVC, or AVS Video Converter. For editing, Windows users will want to use something like Adobe Premiere, Pinnacle Studio, or Sony Vegas (there's a complete list here).
Mac users don't get any video viewing/editing software with the camera. If you just want to view the AVCHD movies, try downloading VLC. If you want to convert them to other formats, try Handbrake, SmartConverter, or Toast Titanium 10 (which can also burn the movies to DVD or Blu-ray). You can edit the AVCHD videos using iMovie or Final Cut Pro, though do note that your not natively working with the MTS files -- the software converts them to another codec first.
The documentation for the DMC-FZ47 is, unfortunately, split into two parts. Inside the box is a 43 page "Basic Owner's Manual" that has enough information to get you up and running. If you need more details, you'll need to load up the full manual, which can be found on an included CD-ROM in PDF format. Neither manual is what I'd call user friendly, as they're loaded with lots of fine print and other "notes". Instructions for the bundled software are installed onto your computer.