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**Why I bought this**
I purchased the Lumix Panasonic FZ100 as we were about to embark on a trip of a lifetime last year. We wanted something that took amazing photographs and took some decent video. Originally we wanted to buy a video camera and a DSLR camera, but upon true reflection, I know in my heart of hearts I wanted something that I could just point and shoot and get very nice images from which is why we went for this camera which is technically termed a 'bridge'. Furthermore, the hassle of having a video camera and a normal camera when travelling just seemed like an unnecessary nuisance, so we were thrilled to find this camera which incorporated photography and HD video images.
This camera cost us £330 from Amazon in May 2011. The price does not seem to have reduced very much since we bought it, but compared to other cameras of similar technical ability, we agreed that £330 was a great price, particularly when we were originally going to be buying 2 devices of several hundred pounds each. Every penny of that £330 was well spent in my opinion. This is an amazing device.
It will be hard for me to fully describe the features as I am still learning exactly what all the "modes" do myself but I will do my best from a novice photographers point of view.
1. The Zoom - the zoom is probably my favourite feature on this camera. It has a x24 optical zoom and many more digital zoom (which are OK considering the resolution of the final images is a lot lower). The zoom has allowed us to get some amazing shots of the moon for example. The photos are clear and the resolution is good, even at x24 zoom. It is pretty good for taking photographs of animals, especially when you don't want to get too close to them and scare them away.
2. The video screen - there is a great design on the camera which allows you to open up an additional flap which allows you to use the camera more like a video camera. The mini screen pops out and you can video away to your hearts content. If you don't want it to stick out when you are taking a photo, it has a rotation axle on it which allows you to fold it away into the back of a camera, similar to a typical point-and-shoot. I like the design of this as it is easy to use if you need to use if for the video, but handily tucked away if not.
3.The microphone - The microphone is on top of the camera and picks up the sound really well. We only had a few exceptions of times when the sound isn't great and that tended to be near to running water (river/waterfall) or in very high wind. We had to commentate speaking very closely to the camera to overcome that. I guess if it was very important, you could buy an additional radio microphone to attach to yourself?
4. HD-Video quality - I have never bought into the HD/Blu-Ray exceptional quality argument (my husband loves HD), but as we were making a substantial investment, we decided HD was going to be around for a while and we might as well spend the extra pennies future proofing. I'm so so so so so glad we made this decision. The quality of the video is stunning. I wouldn't go as far to say its on the level of a BBC documentary (!) but for such a small camera, it looks pretty awesome, the picture is brilliantly clear when we played it back on our 40" LCD television. It is worth noting, every DVD I have bought since owning this camera has been blu-ray! I'm a convert!! Worth noting here that you might want to get some high capacity SD cards - we got through 40Gb (4 hours of HD-video and 3000 images)
5. The flash - The flash is tucked away on top of the camera, there is a tiny button to press and it pops up and can be pushed back down easily. The design is very neat.
6. The self- timer - The self timer has been very useful for us on several occasions. Sometimes we want a picture of the two of us and there is no one to take it. We balanced the camera precariously on an unconsolidated rock pile and pressed the self timer. There are 3 options, a 2-second timer, a 10-second timer and a 10-second timer which takes 3 pictures. We generally use the 10-second timer so we can run round to get into the picture. Very useful.
7. USB/PictBridge - The camera transfers images via the computer through a USB cable (provided) but also has the capacity to print to printers using PictBridge feature which is available on many cameras. We printed to our thermal mini-printer (the PoGo) by connecting the camera to the printer, very handy for when we didn't have a printer on our road trip and wanted to keep our travel journal up to date!
8. Picture Quality - As a novice, I personally feel the picture quality is far superior than any standard point and shoot. The quality is awesome, the pictures are clear and crisp and the colours are true to the environment. I have seen some professionals completely slate the quality of pictures from this camera, so if you are a professional or if you have a DSLR, then perhaps this isn't for you. If you have a point and shoot and want to take some more special photographs without the hassle of multiple lenses and lots of things to carry, you might find this camera is brilliant for your needs. I certainly don't have any complaints.
9. The Photo Burst - Photo burst option is fairly standard I think, but very useful again for wildlife shots or action shots. There is an option to have a burst of 43 images (beware it fills up the memory card!) whereby the images are taken rapidly one after another within seconds, very useful and we used it a lot.
**Modes of picture**
OK this is where I come a little bit unstuck. There are multiple mode of shooting on this camera. I will try to list them (and their sub-sections) but can't offer much help with some of them as I am still learning. All of the sub-sections refer to the fact that the camera sets up its best possible settings for those particular moments e.g. sets up the camera perfectly for taking photos of flowers. This takes the hard work away from novices!
*Macro - flowers, objects, food - very nice close-ups, camera takes great macro shots.
*Active - indoor, outdoor, normal - for action shots
*Scenery - normal, landscape, architecture (with a handy grid on the screen to ensure buildings are lined up perfectly!)
*Portrait - Normal, soft skin, outdoor, indoor
*My colour mode - about 30 options for artistic photos including black and white, retro, pinhole etc. It is sort of an in-built version of photoshop for various types of artistic filter (bit of fun!)
*iA - intelligent auto mode - you half press the shutter and an image pops up in the top left hand corner to tell you if there is a better setting for the environment you are in. If for example you select iA and are taking a photo of a mountain, the image for "scenery landscape" would pop up and you can set your camera to that mode if you want, or you can just take the image using iA. Very useful for dark moments when the camera isn't taking a good shot, it tells you your best possible option. Very useful for the novice again!
*Scene - various things in here such as candle light settingm, fireworks, sunset, party plus the useful assisted panorama for landscape (grid on the screen helps you to line up the landscape)
*Night portrait - for portraits and landscapes and illuminations - if in doubt in the dark, use these settings!
The following are all photographically technical and I haven't yet mastered these concepts (sorry!).
*Programme AE - No idea what this is I am afraid.
*Aperture Priority - again, No idea what this is I am afraid.
*Shutter Priority - No idea what this is I am afraid.
*Manual Exposure - No idea what this is I am afraid.
**Other things I haven't figure out yet which may be of interest**
1. There are some focus options: AF, AF macro and MF - I always have mine set to AF (assuming this means auto-focus??)
2. A clip on top of the camera, possibly to put an extra flash/speaker?
3. I think you can get extra lenses which can be attached but they are a bit of a fudge, because remember this isn't a DSLR, it is a bridge. Not sure about any more details than this as I haven't looked into it yet.
4. I think there are some anti-shake modes too but I don't know enough about them to comment.
**The weight and transportability**
The camera weighs about two or three times that of a typical standard point and shoot. Saying that it is a fairly compact camera, 13cm x 8cm x 10cm - for the power that it holds, it really impresses me to be so small. There is a good neck strap on the camera which is useful and an ergonomic design which allows it to be held really easily. The front bit where your fingers grab is rough leather for extra grip - very useful!
We bought an extra case for ours for memory cards, chargers etc.
The battery life is super, takes about 1 hour to fully charge and lasts hours and hours. We were taking video and photos all day (literally) and it only used about half of the battery life. Very impressed.
If you have ever owned any Lumix Panasonic camera before, you will find the layout of the camera really easy to follow as the buttons are pretty much in the same place. On the whole I think it is perfect for people like me who want to get better photos but aren't sure where to start with the technical stuff. It is worth noting that you can only download videos to a computer with Windows 7 (think all macs are OK too). Very frustrating stuff! Don't know why, but this is probably my only real criticism of the camera. I would definitely re-purchase this if I had the chance, some of the photographs I have are of outstanding quality. Buy it, you won't regret it.
To be also posted on Ciao as rosaliecullen6.
If you want to ask me any specific questions please contact me directly and I will update the review with answers.