The popular FZ7 superzoom gets an update
With its DSLR-style features, compact size and long-reaching zoom, 2007’s Panasonic FZ8 could be the ideal one-stop solution for the digital photography enthusiast. But is it any good?
Like many compacts in the ‘superzoom’ or ‘bridge’ camera category the FZ8 seems to have something for everyone, from advanced PASM shooting modes to automatic shooting and scene modes for the less savvy user. The 7.2MP resolution ensures that you can crop or enlarge your shots to a respectable size, and there’s a Raw mode too.
However, it’s the lens on this camera that makes it special, combining a 12x optical zoom covering 36-432mm with Panasonic’s Mega OIS (Optical Image Stabilisation) to help ensure sharp, shake-free results.
There’s a real sense of ‘honey I shrank the DSLR’ with the FZ8, and while I find it a touch too small, it’s comfortable enough in the hand with the rear controls arranged in typical, easily located compact camera fashion. If you don’t want to use the diminutive digital viewfinder then there’s always a high-resolution 2.5in LCD screen instead.
A start-up time less than two-seconds, negligible shutter lag and competent AF system means the FZ8 rarely keeps you waiting, with digital images briskly stored to your memory card via the new Venus III processor. Playback is equally swift, making for a very pleasant shooting experience overall.
Like many of Panasonic’s compact models, the FZ8 has a lot going for it, with a reliable automatic white balance system and a multi-area metering pattern that delivers good exposures in almost all situations. The built-in image stabilisation is a definite boon given the far-reaching zoom and, despite some fringing at the long end of the focal length range, images are generally clean. The FZ8 suffers from heavy-handed in-camera noise reduction, though, with colours ‘bleeding’ into one another at high ISO settings and images taking on a distinct watercolour appearance under close scrutiny. However, stick to ISO 100 and shoot Raw, and you’ll find that you can create some stunning photographs.
Value For Money
When you consider the features and performance – especially in terms of the lens – the Panasonic FZ8 offers a lot for £300.
The FZ8 has a feature-set suited to a wide range of applications, and as an ?all-rounder? it?s definitely one worthy of consideration. Best stick to low ISO settings though.