Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ50 review:

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ50

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MSRP: $549.95
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3.5 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Fast, 12X optical, image-stabilized zoom lens; raw capture; sensitivity to as high as ISO 1,600.

The Bad Big camera body; auto white balance is bad with tungsten lighting; relatively expensive.

The Bottom Line If you can get past its large size, Panasonic's DMC-FZ50 is a decent choice for a superzoom.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

7.4 Overall
  • Design 7.0
  • Features 8.0
  • Performance 8.0
  • Image quality 7.0

Its electronic viewfinder (EVF), like most EVFs, is bit coarse to look at, but again, is roughly equivalent with its competitors'. In continuous shooting mode, it doesn't go blank as some EVFs do between shots. Instead, it shows you the last image shot, which doesn't help if you want to recompose or try to follow a subject while shooting a burst of shots. This makes burst shooting something of a crap shoot and much less useful, though this is true of all EVFs. If you haven't ever shot with an EVF camera, we suggest you try one out in a store before you make your final decision.

Since the camera is styled like an SLR, it's no surprise that you'll likely want to use two hands, especially since Panasonic put the focus controls on the left side of the lens barrel. We found this convenient when switching between AF modes, choosing a focus point, or making a quick switch to manual focus. All other buttons find their home on the right side of the camera, and all are in reach of either your thumb or your forefinger. The focus/autoexposure lock button would've been more comfortable to use if it was a bit further to the right, but it wasn't out of reach.

Two dials, one in the front of the grip and one on the back, let you change aperture and shutter-speed settings, respectively, when in the appropriate exposure modes. This made shooting in manual mode faster and more convenient than with cameras that make you hold a button while turning a dial to set either aperture or shutter speed in manual mode. In addition to one ring to control the zoom, Panasonic includes a second ring on the lens barrel for manual focus. When you move the ring, a box pops up in the center of the LCD or EVF with a magnified portion of your subject to make it easier to see if you're in focus. If you press the shutter button halfway, the box disappears, or it won't appear at all if you press the button before touching the ring. You can still change the focus though, so be careful.

A 710mAh lithium-ion rechargeable battery powers the camera, is conveniently placed inside the grip, and loads from the bottom. Panasonic says that it's good for approximately 360 pictures in program AE mode, when measured according to the industry standard CIPA guidelines. The FZ50 stores images to SD cards, which load into the right side of the camera. The camera is SDHC compliant, which means that you can use it with SDHC memory cards. These cards allow the SD format to grow to capacities larger than 2GB but aren't compatible with all card readers or cameras. The most attractive feature of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ50 is its big, fast Leica DC Vario-Elmarit 12X optical, 35mm-to-420mm (35mm equivalent), f/2.8-to-f/3.7 zoom lens. Coupled with Panasonic's Mega OIS optical image stabilization, this lens's long reach becomes even more useful. It would've been better if the lens was wider than 35mm. Since not many superzooms go that wide, it'd be a nice selling point and would help when trying to shoot group portraits. Of course, that'd probably push the price of this camera up even more, and it definitely doesn't need that. If you do feel the need to get wide, Panasonic offers a 0.7X conversion lens, as well as a 1.7X teleconverter for anyone that needs more than the built-in lens's 420mm equivalent.

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