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Panasonic Lumix FZ200 Digital Camera Review$599.00
Lens & Sensor
We'd guess the vast majority of the cash you'll be spending on the FZ200 is going toward the ambitious new lens, which is something of an engineering marvel. Although optical zoom still maxes out at 24x, just like the FZ150, the aperture iris is now capable of staying all the way open at f/2.8 even at maximum zoom.
This is sort of a tough feature to market, but trust us, it's a big deal. More light means less noise from fully zoomed shots, and hopefully better sharpness too.
Barrel action is slow, but no more so than the competition, and construction feels very sturdy.
The FZ200 has an electronic viewfinder with a 1.3 million dot resolution. The displayed image is small, off-color, and laggy, while the finder itself can be difficult to look through. A diopter adjustment wheel is accessible on the right of the eye cup, however the camera is not equipped with an eye lever sensor, so you'll need to press the EVF/LCD button with your left hand to swap from the LCD.
The rear review monitor is a 3.0-inch panel with full tilt-out and swiveling capability, which makes framing easy from any angle, especially while shooting video. Reproduction of color and detail is accurate, and viewing angle is very wide, however there's a 16:9 guide zone displayed by default that's very distracting.
The flash up pops up from the peak of the body by toggling a mechanical release beside it. The bulb is rated effective out to a whopping 44 feet, making it extremely powerful for a camera of this class. Stereo microphones reside on the outer surface of the flash arm, meaning when the flash is deployed those mics will face backwards. So remember to push the bulb back down before recording video.
Underneath a rubber cover on the right side of the body, you'll find a miniHDMI port as well as a microUSB port. Below them, there's a rubber stopper that can be moved out of the way for use with a DC coupler. There's also a small dual function connector on the left side of the body, which can be used for either an external microphone or a wired remote shutter.
Other than that, the only connector left is the hot shoe mount on top of the camera, which can be used for external accessories like supplemental flash.
The FZ200's thick battery pack is rated to an amazing 500 consecutive shots, giving it the best longevity of almost any camera in the class. The battery compartment is a little too close to the tripod mount, which could be annoying for certain users.