The Panasonic Lumix FZ62, or FZ60 as it’s known in some territories, is the latest addition to Panasonic's successful range of bridge cameras. The model features an impressive focal range and advanced imaging specification, all in a traditional bridge camera body. Here’s how it fared under the WDC test.
Panasonic Lumix FZ62 review – Features
The FZ62 is the latest bridge camera from Panasonic, and it arrives with all the key characteristics of a bridge model.
The standout feature of the model is its large focal range. The FZ62 features a 24x optical zoom which covers a range of 25 – 600mm in traditional 35mm equivalent terms. The lens itself is a LEICA DC VARIO-ELMARIT optic with Nano Surface Coating technology, offering a maximum aperture of f/2.8 at the wide angle and complete with Panasonics proprietary Power O.I.S. image stabilisation, in both still and video capture.
Accompanying the impressive optical clout of the FZ62 is, Panasonic hopes, an equally impressive sensor. The model features a 1/2.33in High Sensitivity MOS sensor with an effective resolution of 16.1MP. The sensor is accompanied by Panasonic’s Venus Engine which the manufacturer claims improves response times, sensitivity and image quality even at high ISO settings. The Venus Engine also facilitates ‘Image Noise Reduction’ and ‘Multi-process Noise Reduction’ to help image quality at high ISO settings, as well as facilitate fast start-up speeds and high continuous shooting rates – the FZ62 can shoot up to 10fps, although only for three images.
A snappy user experience is also promised thanks to the presence of Panasonic’s impressive Light Speed AF system – the same as that found on the manufacturer’s CSC range.
Image capture and review is taken care of by the 3in LCD screen sitting on the rear of the camera, one which features a resolution of 460k-dots and a 100% field of view. Traditionalists, or those who often find themselves shooting in harsh lighting conditions, will welcome the presence of a viewfinder: the FZ62 features a 0.2in EVF with a resolution of 202k-pixels which offers 100% field of view.
As is often the case with bridge cameras, the FZ62 offers full manual control over image capture settings, in the form of Program, Aperture and Shutter Priority and full manual control. A host of automated shooting controls are also on offer for those wanting the camera to take care of the shooting decisions. The FZ62 feature an intelligent Auto setting as well as a host of scene modes. The model also features Panasonic’s ‘Creative Control’ setting – this mode serves the role of offering a host of filters and effects which you can apply to your images, including settings such as ‘High Key’ and ‘Miniature Effect’ which take the pain of image editing on your computer out of the capture process.
One final feature of note is the model’s video capture capabilities. The FZ62 offers full HD video capture at a resolution of 1920 x 1080 and in both AVCHD and MP4 formats, thus increasing compatibility with video editing software and playback hardware. Videos are recorded complete with stereo sound capture, while the model’s zoom has a noise reduction system and an Auto Wind Cut function available. Finally, the movie capture mode supports the FZ62’s 24x optical zoom, as well as the model’s Intelligent Auto shooting mode and Creative Control settings.
Panasonic Lumix FZ62 review – Design
While the FZ62 can be described as a traditional bridge camera in specification, the same can be said of the model’s design. The model features a distinctive body, the bulk of which is occupied by the large barrel section housing the model’s 24x optical zoom. The right hand side of the cameras body features a pronounced – and rubberised – hand grip which provides a solid hold of the camera’s body and offers a good counter-balance to the bulk of the lens.
The camera’s top plate offers quick access to a lot of the camera’s core functionality – it houses a large mode dial, zoom level, dedicated video record button and access to focus and drive mode settings, all within easy reach while shooting. The rear of the camera, thanks to the presence of the controls on the model’s top plate, feels pleasingly sparse and simplified, adding to the general classy feel of the body.
As is often the case with Panasonic’s Lumix models, the FZ62 has a real quality feel and finish. The body feels very well put together and as though it will stand the test of time. Another sign of this build quality is the assuring sturdy mode dial and power switch, both of which will certainly resist any knocks while shooting.
As mentioned previously, the design of the FZ62 is such that it sits very comfortably in the hand. One omission regarding design that is worthy of note is the lack of any controls on the barrel of the zoom. Several other bridge cameras in the market either have a zoom rocker or other controls and thus make good usage of the real estate. However, this is only a minor criticism, and on the model’s the body is wholly positive.
Performance, Image Quality and Verdict
Panasonic Lumix FZ62 review – Performance
As is becoming more and more often the case with Panasonic’s Lumix range compact cameras, the FZ62 features the same Light Speed AF technology as that found on the companies CSC models. This high-end Lite Speed AF system, as the name suggests, offers impressively prompt focus speeds throughout the whole of the model’s 24x focal range. While the focus speeds are fast, accuracy can be a bit of an issue at the tele-end of the zoom, with close-up focus accuracy slowing the speed noticeably. One way to counter this slow-down is by using the model’s AF tracking functionality – this allows you to set a focus point on a subject which the FZ62 will then follow, thus saving the need for the camera to hunt for focus.
The LCD screen found on the rear of the camera measures in at 3in and, with a resolution of 460k-dots, performs well in difficult lighting conditions offering true image reproduction. One possible criticism is the screens aspect ratio, which is 3:2. If you decide to shoot in this ratio, and thus utilise the full area of the screen, you’ll have to shoot at the slightly lesser resolution of 14MP. In contrast, if you decide to shoot using the full resolution of the sensor you’ll be faced with black tramlines down either side of the LCD, and thus not utilise it’s full area.
The aforementioned promptness of focus is just one element of what is, on the whole, a pleasing user experience. The FZ62’s menu system is well thought-out, making functionality easy to locate and alter. The presence of a host of dedicated function buttons located variously around the body, such as the AF/AE Lock and pair of user-assignable ‘Fn’ buttons, mean that most of the camera’s operations can be accessed without ever needing to enter the menu system.
The headline continuous shooting speed quoted by Panasonic is 10fps. This is, however, only applicable for a burst of three images, which makes the headline measure a touch misleading. Images can also be captured at a continuous shooting speed of 5fps, although that rate is also only applicable for a limited number of frames.
The presence of manual shooting control through PASM will certainly appease those looking for more advanced functionality from a bridge camera, although Panasonic’s proprietary Intelligent Auto (iA) mode features. The iA mode chooses the camera’s settings by selecting the correct scene mode depending on conditions, while an iA+ mode also offers automated colour and brightness adjustments to improve your images further. Both of these settings perform well, and offer a viable alternative so controlling the shooting settings manually and getting good results.
Panasonic Lumix FZ62 review – Image Quality
On the whole there’s very little negative to report with regards to image quality, although there are a few areas at which the FZ62 shows weakness.
Images straight out of the camera exhibit a pleasingly natural tonal range and are aided by the FZ62 offering reliable metering and exposures. The camera also displays an impressive dynamic range, maintaining detail in shadow and highlight areas.
Whenever a compact employs an extensive focal range, such as the FZ62, there are a number of issues which can result. On the whole, however, the FZ62 largely avoids these. Fringing, although evident at the wide-angle and tele end of the zoom, is generally well controlled. Edge sharpness is also apparent, although there is a slight softening throughout the frame towards the more tele end of the zoom.
Detail is well captured, although it really falls away if you choose to use the 48x Intelligent zoom – the technology, which involves resampling, results in a grainy image which lacks detail.
The Lumix FZ62 manages to cope with image noise well, no doubt in part thanks to the various noise reduction technologies. However, the noise reduction technologies do result in a slight loss of detail at the higher ISO settings, and with this in mind it’s a shame that the camera doesn’t offer Raw capture for post-production editing.
Panasonic Lumix FZ62 review – Verdict
The Panasonics FZ62 continues the proud tradition of the Lumix superzoom series, and is a very capable camera. Image quality is good throughout the focal range and in a variety of lighting conditions, while the combination of advanced functionality and features for the more novice shooter mean that it will appeal to a variety of photographers.
There are a few flaws in its performance. While it’s well designed, the lack of any control of the zoom barrel is a touch of an omission. The fact that the full area of the LCD screen can’t be utilised in conjunction with the full resolution of the sensor is also a shame. Finally, it’s a shame that Raw capture has yet to become standard on high-end bridge cameras, and especially one that is currently priced well north of £300.
On the whole though, the FZ62 is an excellent bridge camera and one that, if you’re willing to part with the relatively high price tag, will reward you with excellent images and a pleasurable shooting experience.