The mode dial has no fewer than 14 options--from full manual for both photos and movies to creative modes with different effects to plain fully automatic. There's also a Custom mode for storing up to three sets of settings. Then, in addition to the five advanced scene modes on the dial, there are 17 scene types listed under the SCN mode, which includes a 3D photo option for viewing on a 3D TV and a high-speed movie record option for capturing small, slow-motion clips at 220 frames per second.
For those who want control over shutter speed and aperture, there are priority modes for each as well as a manual mode letting you control both. Shutter speeds go from 15 seconds to 1/2,000 second (a Starry Sky scene mode can be set for 30 seconds). Apertures go from f2.8 to f8 at the wide end with a total of 10 stops and the telephoto apertures go from f5.2 to f8 with a total of five stops. However, you can control much more in these modes and Program mode than shutter speed and aperture. There are six color types and a custom color type, for example, each with five-step sliders for changing contrast, sharpness, saturation, and noise reduction that can then be stored in memory. Basically, if you don't like the way the photos are coming out, you can tweak a lot of things, including white balance, focus, and ISO, to get the camera performing the way you want. (For more on all of the camera's settings and shooting options, check out Panasonic's global site.)
If you shoot a lot of moving subjects, namely children, pets, and sports, the FZ150's multiple burst shooting options give you a lot of flexibility and a fighting chance of getting a good photo. Its fastest burst modes--40 and 60 fps--are at reduced resolutions, but Panasonic packed in three at full resolution. There's one that captures up to 12 shots at 12fps, but that sets focus, exposure, and white balance with the first shot. What's better are the 2fps and 5.5fps options with autofocus, so you're able to get a moderately fast-moving subject in focus and properly exposed. Plus, these are available when shooting in raw plus JPEG. The camera's high-speed shooting also provides bracketing options for flash intensities and exposures.
Other aspects of the FZ150's shooting performance are excellent as well. Shutter lag is low at 0.3 second in bright lighting and 0.8 second in dim, low-contrast lighting. From shot to shot without the flash you're waiting only 1 second (1.3 seconds if you're shooting in raw); adding the flash extends that time to 3 seconds. The time from off to first shot is 1.9 seconds, which is a little long, but not uncommon for this camera class.
On top of everything I've mentioned, the camera is well-designed and generally nice to use. There's an ample hand grip so you can comfortably handle its 1.2-pound weight. The grip houses a memory card and a large rechargeable battery that's CIPA-rated for up to 410 shots. On top along with the shutter release/zoom lever, power switch, and Mode dial are a one-touch record button for movies and one for quickly setting a burst mode.
On the back below the small but serviceable electronic viewfinder is a flip-out, rotating 3-inch LCD. To its left are the main controls for menu navigation and shooting. They're all well-spaced and easy to press, and there's a jog dial for quickly changing details like aperture, shutter speed, and exposure compensation. However, because of the abundant feature set it's all too easy to get lost trying to find a setting in Panasonic's menu system. As a challenge it's not insurmountable, but if you frequently make changes it can quickly become frustrating. However, there is a programmable function button and there's a button for direct access to ISO.
It seems you get a lot of extras with the FZ150, too. The rotating LCD is nice, but there's also the hot shoe on top for adding different flash units. There are conversion lenses and filters available for it, and a mic/remote socket on the left allows you to add those accessories as well. Panasonic even includes a lens hood.
If you're looking for a bridge camera, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ150 is one of the best you're going to find. The photo quality, while improved from its predecessor, still isn't quite good enough to earn this camera an Editors' Choice. But because of its great feature set, fast shooting performance, and many ways to improve its results, we'd definitely still recommend it.
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
|Time to first shot||Typical shot-to-shot time||Shutter lag (dim)||Shutter lag (typical)|
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
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