The Lumix DMC-FZ8's image quality isn't quite equal to its performance. But, while its ISO noise was probably its worst point, it wasn't as bad as we've seen in the past from other Panasonic models. On the other hand, while the lens is plenty fast with its f/2.8 maximum aperture at its widest angle, it also showed more distortion than we'd like at that same 35mm-equivalent setting, so some straight lines may appear a bit bent when shooting wide. Of course, some photographers like that effect, so it's not always bad, but it also shouldn't be this pronounced at 35mm, though we were pleased that we saw almost no fringing. As we often see, the FZ8's automatic white balance yielded yellowish results with our lab's tungsten test lights. The tungsten setting gave much more neutral results, and the manual white balance worked the best. The metering and flash systems work well together, providing a very nice balance of fill flash when shooting in a room with some, but not enough, ambient lighting.
Even at its lowest sensitivity setting of ISO 100, we saw some noise in our test images, along with other image artifacts, such as the tell-tale jaggy lines that often come along with substandard JPEG processing. Colors were well-saturated though, and we saw an adequate, though not stellar, amount of finer detail. At ISO 200, we saw slightly more noise that, while noticeable on monitors, probably won't adversely affect your prints. At ISO 400, noise begins to pick up, softens fine details, and decreases some shadow detail. At ISO 800, noise becomes very prevalent, lots of finer detail is lost, and shadows take on a mottled look, holding little detail but plenty of blurred, off-color speckles. ISO 1,250 yields extremely noisy results with almost no fine detail anywhere in the image. We suggest you stick to ISO 400 and below whenever possible with the DMC-FZ8, and don't expect to get decent prints with the camera set to ISO 1,250.
While the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ8 has problems with noise, in many other ways it is a very nice camera. Its controls make it easy to use, and it packs a very impressive feature set. If you're not persnickety about noise or image quality, it makes a nice camera for beginner and intermediate photographers to learn on. Advanced shooters who want pristine image quality should look elsewhere.
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
|Typical shot-to-shot time||Time to first shot||Shutter lag (typical)|
(Longer bars indicate better performance)