The Panasonic DMC FZ8 is a super zoom camera. It has a 12x optical zoom lens and seven megapixels. With this length of zoom you are likely to find that the built in image stabilisation is a useful feature. Panasonic have included manual exposure and focusing controls with the DMC FZ8. This means that the camera is well suited to someone who is looking for a camera that is a clear step up from a typical point and shoot model. The long lens is likely to be attractive to sports and wildlife photographers where getting in close to the subject is not possible.
112.5 x 72.2 x 79mm
SD / SDHC
It was a bit of a relief to see the test pictures taken by the DMC FZ8. I have reviewed a number of digital cameras recently that were quite frankly not very good. Therefore I was pleased to see the sharper focusing that this camera offers compared to many others. Focusing levels are well above average in most situations. In my first test shot the brickwork on the building in the centre of the photo is far sharper than I have seen recently. Focusing levels hold up well as you move away from the centre as well. Being picky I feel a small amount of detail has been lost on the boats under the glare of the sun.
In the second outdoor shot a little of the sharpness is lost with the zoom not used at all. This is very common affecting just about every compact digital camera not just the DMC FZ8. Focusing levels remain above average.
For the third shot the zoom is fully extended. Focusing is sharp. My only complaint is the level of purple fringing around the edges of light coloured objects. It is quite pronounced and you will need to be prepared to clean up this problem using a package such as Paint Shop Pro or Photoshop to get the best quality prints.
Colours are strong, but stay on the right side of over powerful. I particularly like the greens in the trees and areas of foliage in general. My specific test for colour shows a good balance between the primary colours.
The colour levels are something I like about the outdoor portrait. They are a touch stronger than I have seen recently and this helps to add a bit of extra warmth to the photo. I like the levels of pink in the skin tones.
My lowlight tests catch out many digital cameras, but the DMC FZ8 passes both tests with flying colours. The indoor portrait is bright and again focusing is sharp. This is one of the better efforts. Having the flash unit pop up on the top of the camera helps to greatly reduce the possibility of red eye.
Even in extreme lowlight the camera manages to produce a sharply focused photo of my beer bottles. Again this is one of the better attempts with plenty of light in the photo.
Next up is the macro shot. A tiny amount purple fringing creeps in. Otherwise the shot is sharp and clear. The issue of purple fringing is only likely to be an issue with jewellery type photos and should not affect outdoor, nature close up photography. There is also a slight blue caste to the photo. This is a reaction to the lighting used and should not be an issue outdoors.
Panasonic appear to have taken a big step forward when it comes to controlling noise at higher ISO levels. At ISO 400 it produces a credible photo. It is above average. If you push the ISO level up to the maximum 1250 there is a considerable deterioration in the quality level and I would suggest only using this setting if there is no other way of getting a photo.
Shutter lag times are competitive. A single shot without flash took 0.32 seconds. Five shots without flash took 5.59 seconds. With flash on I recorded 0.45 seconds for a single shot and 6.18 seconds for five photos. It is good to see that turning flash on does not make a great deal of difference. Turning image stabilisation on and off did not appear to influence delay times.
You can compare this camera to other models by taking a look at the Shutter Lag Comparison Table.
Style: The DMC FZ8 is shaped like a mini SLR camera. It has a grip on the front that helps you to hold it steady when taking a shot. You can buy either a black or silver model.
112.5 x 72.2 x 79.0 mm
Lithium ion. Battery and charger supplied. Panasonic estimates you should be able to take around 380 shots between charges.
27mb built in memory (enough for around seven photos). Also compatible with SD and SDHC cards.
Click here to save money on SD cards.
Ease of use rating: Very Good - especially when considering range of features
Points I like:
Overall picture quality - Lowlight photographs
Where it Could Improve
When looking at the picture quality, price and features of the Panasonic DMC LZ8 I would say it offers very good value for money. There are more expensive super zoom digital cameras, but there is not that much that sets them apart from this one.
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