Product Type: Panasonic digital cameras
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Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ7
Member Name: pcspinheiro
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ7
Advantages: simple to use, excellent picture quality, excellent optics and batery life
Disadvantages: Sensor is noisy in higher sensitivity modes
I was tired of not having a decent digital camera (I was actually still using the old film cameras three years ago...) so, as usual, did a lot of net surfing to compare different models. I was definitely on the market for a bridge camera. That is to say, not a compact featureless camera, but not a professional reflex (and expensive) camera. After comparing many models I came across this one. It looked good on paper and the price of about £230 at the time seemed quite reasonable.
The camera is not heavy at little more than 300g and does not feel cheap. I thought I was handling my friend's expensive Canon film camera. The buttons are nicely laid out and a large turn wheel allows you to choose between the different preset picture modes, film mode, fully manual mode or photo playback.
The screen is large enough at 2.5" and lets you visualize the scenes before shooting with quite good comfort, also showing the different settings, battery life, how many pictures you can still take and the focus ares. Most of these are user configurable so you can have more or less information displayed,which will also cramp it up. It is bright enough for comfortable outdoor use. Instead of a viewfinder like in SLR cameras you have an electronic viewfinder consisting of a smaller high resolution LCD. You can switch between both at the press of a button.
The camera has what Panasonic calls a Mega OIS, or image stabilizer. Mega or not it does its work extremely well and you will particularly notice this in high zoom or low light conditions where you may find it impossible to take a decent picture without it.
The menus are simple and comprehensibly organized and most settings are self explanatory.
The best feature of this camera by far is its excellent lens made by Leica, a German company that also manufactures highly advanced and precise research microscopes. It features a 12x optical zoom that can be extended to 14.7x in lower resolution settings. Even in the highest zoom setting the pictures remain sharp and show very little chromatic aberrations. Plus, the lens fits in quite a compact space and the zooming mechanism is internal meaning that once powered the lens will extend out but will not extend further when zooming.
Another feature that was decisive for my choice was the battery life. It is advertised that you can take 320 shots on a single charge. Of course real life use is more demanding with constant power on and off, flash, etc, but I found that even still it last for many many shots. At my friend's wedding a few weeks ago I took more than 250 shots throughout the day, including night shots with flash and finished the day without recharging it.
It also has its bad sides, unfortunately, and the one I can pinpoint to this otherwise perfect machine is that the sensor tens to get noisy in high ISO settings. This can be at times quite noticeable.
In the end this is a very capable machine and I can only imagine that the new models that came out from the same series are a step further.
Summary: Definitely a winner for all types of domestic users, both simple and advanced depending on you
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