While a jog dial enhances ease of use, My Colour Mode and Film Mode make it easy to customise effects, and Intelligent Zoom extends the zoom ratio by approximately 1.3x, providing up to 32x equivalent should you wish, the trade-off being a further softening of detail.
A rocker switch for controlling the optical zoom encircles the shutter release button, ensuring it's always at your fingertip. Give this a nudge and the lens takes around 3 seconds to motor through its optical range, or 4 seconds to paddle on up to a 32x equivalent if you keep your finger resting on it.
Although the optical zoom can be deployed for shooting video, which even when it's such a big feature of this class of camera isn't always the case, its operational speed is slowed right down. This is so that the zoom, which isn't completely silent in operation, is nevertheless as unobtrusive as possible.
Big lens, small mercies
The potential pitfalls of using a longer than average lens on a smaller than average chassis are visible camera shake and softening of detail, getting more pronounced towards the further you zoom.
To combat this, Panasonic has deployed optical image stabilisation (its own Power OIS) rather than the sensor-shift variety. It's only partially successful, in that we needed two or three attempts to get our subject sharp when shooting handheld at longer focal lengths. It is possible though, which is commendable in itself.
Generally images are as warm and as colourful as we'd expect from a Panasonic camera on its default settings. Coming after our test of the manufacturer's interchangeable lens Lumix DMC-GF2 however, the difference in quality -- in terms of crispness of image -- was quite pronounced. It really does seem you get what you pay for and a £250 camera is not going to equal the quality of another costing £600. Funny that.
The FZ45 gave us a sense of déjà vu and in truth it feels like nothing we haven't already seen before. Competitors such ashave upped the ante with a class-leading 35x optical range.
That said, while the FZ45 is not as technically impressive as it might once have looked, its current pricing suggests something of a bargain for those on the lookout for a paparazzi-style focal range without a monstrous price tag.
Edited by Nick Hide