Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ8
- Nice design, big zoom, nice image stabilisation options
- Soft pictures in some parts, oversaturated reds
While it does have a few things going for it, including a big zoom and comfortable design, the soft edges and colour reproduction issues mean the FZ8 isn't as impressive as it could have been.
Price$ 659.00 (AUD)
With a relatively compact design and powerful 12x zoom lens, Panasonic's latest advanced digital still camera, the Lumix DMC-FZ8, looks to be a strong entry into the category. However, it exhibited numerous issues in our image quality tests, including slightly soft pictures and some colour inaccuracies, which meant it wasn't as impressive as it could have been.
The chief issue we had was with the lack of sharpness. Our shots showed prominent fringing in some areas and had quite a fuzzy look to them when viewed at full size. As usual, when making 4in x 6in prints, this won't be a problem, but enlargements will begin to highlight these flaws and as this is an advanced camera, this is an area of concern.
Imatest returned some interesting results. Most vertical edges tested achieved scores around 1400, which is below average for a 7.2 megapixel sensor and corroborates the results of our informal test shots. However, some horizontal lines we tested returned much higher scores around 1650, as well as exhibiting strong degrees of oversharpening, upwards of 20%. This was a rare situation and the majority of the time the results were around 1400, however it is worth noting that this seems to vary a little. We were unable to reproduce the shots that scored highly at will.
Our chromatic aberration test returned quite good results, giving the FZ8 a score of .068%. This is well below the norm and means blurring and haloing towards the edges of the shots should be kept to a minimum. We did notice a small amount of blue haloing on areas of high contrast, but it wasn't hugely problematic.
The FZ8's noise performance was reasonable without being fantastic, with Imatest awarding it a score of .73% in its noise test. This is a fairly standard result and about what we were expecting considering the problems previous Panasonic advanced models had with image noise. Our test shots revealed slight signs of speckling which was visible at full size but not noticeable in smaller magnifications. The noise also scaled reasonably well, with our shots at ISO 1250 only scoring 1.68. However keep in mind that the speckling was extremely blotchy and quite colourful, making it much more noticeable than the noise produced by lower sensitivities. We wouldn't recommend exceeding ISO 400 if you want your shots to look their best.
Unfortunately the FZ8's colour reproduction left us a little disappointed. Our shots looked bright and vibrant for the most part, however there was some very noticeable over saturation in several shades, particularly red. Imatest gave it a score of 9.56 for colour, which is consistent with our test shots. This is a quite a bit higher than the scores we normally see from compact and advanced models, but aside from the strong over saturation of reds, most of the other inaccuracies were fairly minor and shouldn't prove to be noticeable in your shots.
In our speed tests, the FZ8 exhibited mixed results. While its shutter lag of .01 of a second was a bit sluggish, it only took .9 of a second before it was ready for the next snap. Meanwhile its 2.5 second start up time is a little slow, but completely understandable considering the behemoth 12x zoom lens has to extend each time you fire the unit up.
As usual, Panasonic accompany this lens with an array of options designed to make the most out of it. The now familiar Optical Image Stabilisation makes a welcome return and works as well as ever when it comes to keeping handshake and blur out of your pictures when shooting far off objects. w\What will really catch some people's eyes though, is the inclusion of Panasonic's new Intelligent ISO. When activated, this mode will automatically detect if the subject matter is moving too fast and compensates by increasing the sensitivity. In our tests this worked moderately well, although we'd like the ability to put a cap on how high it takes sensitivity because as we stated, anything much above ISO 400 tends to produce shots that are simply too noisy.
Aside from these technologies, all the standard features are here, including ISO sensitivities up to 1250 (and a High Sensitivity scene mode), white balance presets and custom modes and a 2.5 frame per second burst mode. There are the usual array of focus and metering modes, including the ability to pick from one of eleven points or one of several groups of points, as well as manual, shutter and aperture priority modes. Meanwhile there are 20 scene modes for novice users, along with a simple shooting mode that disables all the advanced features.
Aesthetically, the unit is quite nice. It is difficult to make comfortable, attractive ultra zoom cameras and while the FZ8 is far from the prettiest camera on the market it looks good. Constructed largely of matte black plastic, it isn't as sturdy as we'd like, but the jutting, rubber right hand grip is comfortable and makes the unit easy to grip. It is well weighted and all the controls are easily accessible. They are comprised of the standard combination of a directional pad, thumbstick, function wheel and a few buttons for focus mode, O.I.S, trash can and display.
Overall, the FZ8 is a decent but not noteworthy addition to the advanced camera market from Panasonic. It = could have been a very impressive unit, boasting a speedy shot-to-shot time, big zoom and nice design. But the soft edges and strongly oversaturated reds mean the pictures it produces aren't on par with those from competing models.
Join the newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 HP Envy x360 13 (Ryzen): Full, in-depth review
- 2 Dell G5 review: Easy to live with
- 3 D-Link Omna 180 Cam HD DSH-C310 review
- 4 Ring Video Doorbell review
- 5 Sony Bravia 2017 TVs: Full, in-depth review
Latest News Articles
- Canon expand EOS R lineup with cheaper, compact EOS RP
- Panasonic drop the deets on their new Lumix S1 and S1R cameras
- Ring expand local offering with new Stick Up Cam
- DJI launches Osmo Pocket stabilised camera
- Fujifilm launches Cashback promotion of up to $1,000
PCW Evaluation Team
This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.
Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications
I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)
It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!
The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.
I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.
- Everything we (already) know about the Samsung Galaxy S10, S10e, S10+ and Galaxy F
- Razer Phone 2 review: One for the fans
- Samsung’s Galaxy S10 will launch on Feb 20
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies