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Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ47 review: Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ47

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ47

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Joshua Goldman
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Joshua Goldman

Senior Editor / Reviews

Joshua Goldman is a senior editor for CNET Reviews, covering laptops and the occasional action cam or drone and related accessories. He has been writing about and reviewing consumer technology and software since 2000.

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6 min read

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Editors' note: Several of the features, shooting options, and aspects of the design are identical between the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ47 and the Lumix DMC-FZ150, so portions of our review of that camera are used again here.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ47
7.8

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ47

The Good

The <b>Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ47</b> has excellent features, design, and shooting performance.

The Bad

For the $100 price drop from the FZ47's linemate, the FZ150, you lose a lot of features and get less-impressive shooting performance and low-light photo quality.

The Bottom Line

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ47 is a very good megazoom for the money, but if you want more control over results--especially in low light--you'll want to step up to the Lumix FZ150.

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ47 makes a convincing argument for buying the Lumix DMC-FZ150. That happened with its compact megazoom counterparts, the ZS8 and ZS10, too. The FZ150's MSRP is $100 more than the FZ47's, but packs in a lot more features, like a rotating LCD, a hot shoe for adding a flash, and an input for an external mic as well as raw capture, better shooting performance--particularly burst shooting--and nicer low-light photos.

That's not to say that the FZ47 is a bad camera; it's definitely not. It has a nice lens, fairly quick performance, and nice photo quality up to ISO 800, depending on how picky you are about what photos look like at full size. If you can find the FZ47 at a good price (I've seen it as low as $250), it's a solid choice and easy to recommend. But as with the ZS8, if you focus on what's been cut to get the price lower, you may decide to save up and spend the extra money.

Key specs Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ47
Price (MSRP) $399.99
Dimensions (WHD) 4.7x3.1x3.6 inches
Weight (with battery and media) 1.1 pounds
Megapixels, image sensor size, type 12 megapixels, 1/2.3-inch high-speed CCD
LCD size, resolution/viewfinder 3-inch LCD, 460K dots/electronic
Lens (zoom, aperture, focal length) 24x, f2.8-5.2, 25-600mm (35mm equivalent)
File format (still/video) JPEG/AVCHD (.MTS), H.264 AAC (.MP4)
Highest resolution size (still/video) 4,000x3,000pixels/ 1,920x1,080 at 60fps (interlaced; 17Mbps)
Image stabilization type Optical and digital
Battery type, CIPA rated life Li-ion rechargeable, 400 shots
Battery charged in camera No; external wall charger supplied
Storage media SD/SDHC/SDXC
Bundled software PhotofunStudio 6.3 HD Lite Edition (Windows)

Photo quality has improved from this camera's predecessor, the FZ40. If you're a pixel peeper you probably won't be thrilled with the noise and artifacts you can see when photos are viewed onscreen at 100 percent. But unless you're planning to do a lot of enlarging and cropping and regularly make prints above 8x10, you'll likely be very happy with the results. Like most point-and-shoots the FZ47 does well up to ISO 200, so the more light you give it, the better your photos. However, ISO 400 is still good for small prints and Web use, and so is ISO 800, as long as you don't do much enlarging and cropping. I'd stay away from ISO 1600, though, as colors desaturate and you'll get a lot of yellow blotching from color noise.

Color and exposure are very good. Colors are bright and vivid without looking unnatural. Again, though, as you get to the FZ47's two highest ISO sensitivities there is a noticeable drop-off in color quality, particularly at ISO 1600.

As for movie quality, its AVCHD clips are sharp with good exposure and color and some of the smoothest motion I've seen from a point-and-shoot. Low-light recording suffers from the same noise problems as the photos. The zoom does operate while recording, but its movement is picked up by the stereo mic, though barely. If you are recording in a very quiet environment, you will hear it in your movies, but otherwise it isn't intrusive. The camera also has an option for continuous AF for movies, which performed very well, as did its wind noise filter. Also, the FZ47 can capture 3.5-megapixel photos while shooting video and extract single frames for photos when in Playback mode.

General shooting options Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ47
ISO sensitivity (full resolution) Auto, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600
White balance Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Shade, Halogen, Color Temperature, Custom (2), White Balance Adjustment
Recording modes Intelligent Auto, Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, Manual, Creative Video, Creative Control, Portrait, Scenery, Sports, Night Portrait, Close-up, Scene, Custom
Focus modes Face AF, Tracking AF, Multi AF (23-area), 1-area (flexible and scalable), Manual
Macro 0.4 inch (Wide); 3.3 feet (Tele)
Metering modes Multi, Center-weighted average, Spot
Color effects Expressive, Retro, High Key, Sepia, Miniature Effect, High Dynamic, Pin Hole, Film Grain
Burst mode shot limit (full resolution) 7 shots

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.

Panasonic FZ47's controls
The FZ47 has a comfortable design with easy-to-press controls.

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.

Conclusion
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.

Shooting speed (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Time to first shot  
Typical shot-to-shot time  
Shutter lag (dim)  
Shutter lag (typical)  
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ150
1.9 
1 
0.8 
0.3 
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ47
1.8 
1.2 
0.6 
0.4 
Nikon Coolpix P500
1.1 
1.4 
0.6 
0.3 
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX100V
2 
1.5 
0.6 
0.3 
Canon PowerShot SX40 HS
1.6 
2.5 
0.6 
0.4 

Typical continuous-shooting speed (in fps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

Find out more about how we test digital cameras.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ47
7.8

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ47

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 8Performance 8Image quality 7