Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300 Digital Camera Review
Panasonic's superzoom is good, but is it worth the price?
By the Numbers
All and all, the FZ300 is a good camera that is held back by its small sensor compared to other cameras in its price range. It's still good, and the features and excellent handling mean it's worth the price, but the image quality leaves something to be desired at times. Compared to other superzooms it stacks up very well, but you're trading a measure of quality for the flexibility that the 24z zoom lens provides.
Color & White Balance
Color performance on the FZ300 is very good for a point-and-shoot. We measured a ∆C 00 (saturation corrected) error of 2.20, and an overall saturation of 93.1% while shooting in the "Natural" color mode. It's a little undersaturated, but it's nothing most people will pick up on. "Scenery" also posted a good score with a ∆C 00 (saturation corrected) error of 2.53, and an overall saturation of 101.5%.
White balance wasn't quite as impressive. While shooting auto, daylight was fantastic (within 100 kelvins), but both incandescent and fluorescent were tough for the camera to pinpoint–inaccuracies well over 1000 kelvins for both. As expected, custom was much more accurate and we recommend it for shooting in anything other than daylight.
Lenses on point-and-shoots have to be good because, unlike a SLR, you're stuck with the lens that it comes with. We know that Panasonic puts a considerable amount of work into these lenses as we've seen with the FZ1000. However, lenses are only as good as the sensor that it's directing the light to and vice versa.
In the case of the FZ300, the lens is probably much better if it was working in tandem with a more robust lens. Unfortunately for the FZ300's lens, it got paired with the smallest kid on the playground and it shows. The result is images that even when in focus, look a bit blurry and don't capture the detail most users are expecting form a camera like this.
Shot to shot
Continuous shooting with a long focal length has to be the main selling point of the FZ300. Whether you're a parent looking to capture their kids soccer game or a fan dying to get a shot of their favorite players from the nose bleeds, the FZ300 has the reach and speed to get that shot before it's gone.
With continuous focus active, we recorded just at 6 fps while shooting JPEG images. However, we really saw the FZ300 shine when we locked the focus and got it to rip through 12+ fps while shooting JPEG + RAW. That kind of speed coupled with the zooming power makes for a fantastic action camera.
The ability to capture 4K footage for just $600 is absolutely a head turning in this part of the market, However, the FZ300's 4K isn't going to compare to most other 4K option out there. We did see higher sharpness levels than a full HD 1080p camera would offer, but it barely broke 1000 line line-pairs per picture height (lp/ph) in bright light–and even less in low-light.
Low-light sensitivity was surprisingly good for a small sensor camera, only requiring 3 lux of light to create an image above 50 IRE. However, the image was hardly what I'd consider useable and the f/2.8 aperture was largely to thank. Artifcating, trailing, and interference were all moderate, but noting that would be noticeable for the applications it's suited for.
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