The FZ47 has enough shooting options to make most snapshooters or enthusiasts happy. 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 60 seconds to 1/2,000 second. 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 5 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, and the settings 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.
It has plenty of automatic and scene modes, but even a handful of its scene modes have advanced options for fine-tuning the camera for what you're shooting. In addition to all these options for getting more control over final results, it uses Panasonic's "Intelligent" technologies for improving photo and video quality and shooting performance. The large number of options makes the FZ47 a good choice as a shared, family camera, as some people might want more control and others might simply want to point and shoot without worrying too much about settings.
When it comes to shooting performance, the FZ47, while not as speedy as the FZ150, is on par with other high-end megazooms and bests most sub-$300 models I've tested. From off to first shot is 1.8 seconds, but shot-to-shot times averaged 1.2 seconds in our lab tests (add roughly 2 seconds to that when using the flash). Shutter lag--the time from pressing the shutter release to capture--was very good at 0.4 second in bright conditions and 0.6 second in low light. And continuous shooting speed was 2.9 frames per second at full resolution; a 3-megapixel high-speed burst is available for up to 10fps.
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 1.1-pound weight. The grip houses a memory card and a large rechargeable battery that's CIPA-rated for up to 400 shots. On top along with the shutter release/zoom lever, power switch, and Mode dial are a one-touch record button for movies and a button for quickly changing focus modes.
On the back below the small but serviceable electronic viewfinder is a high-res 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 you might 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 be frustrating. However, there is a programmable function button and there's a button for direct access to ISO.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ47 is a very good megazoom camera at its MSRP, and an excellent one if you can find it for significantly less than $399. I say this only because its linemate, the DMC-FZ150, with its extra features, better shooting performance, and overall photo and video quality, makes the FZ47 a tougher sell. But if none of that stuff matters to you, then definitely consider the FZ47 a top choice.
(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)
Find out more about how we test digital cameras.