Monday 24 July 2017

Panasonic FZ82's monster zoom is big selling-point in a capable all-rounder which is perfect for holidays

  • Tech review: Panasonic FZ82
  • €379 from Conns Cameras
  • 4 Stars
The Lumix FZ82 can shoot 10 frames a second
The Lumix FZ82 can shoot 10 frames a second

I'm not usually one to mess too much with 'bridge' cameras, which are meant as all-in-one machines for people who want lots of zooming in an idiot-proof body.

But Panasonic's new FZ82 is a lot of fun to use. WIthout any doubt, the 18-megapixel camera's main attraction is its monster zoom. Its "60x" lens extends from a wide-angle 20mm equivalent to a ridiculous 1200mm. So you can capture both the contents of a room or the eye-colour of a cat from 100 yards away. I'm not used to having zooms that are this flexible, so using it to snap things half a mile off was something of a novelty.

It also facilitates a totally different type of photo style. Pictures taken at a range as extended as 1200mm in focal length have a very different look to ones taken at more normal telephoto lengths of 200mm or 300mm. Items are compressed together, allowing you to bunch lots of landmarks or structures together in the same photo. It's a really interesting effect. For me, it turned out to be the main advantage of the camera. Initially, I was worried that the relatively small 1/2.3-inch camera sensor (of the type normally found in entry-level compact models) and modest 3,200 ISO limit would combine to make the FZ82 poor in low light situations.

While it doesn't match the light-sensitivity of pricier cameras with bigger sensors (such as Panasonic's excellent FZ1000 or FZ2000 models, both of which I thoroughly recommend), it's not actually that bad.

I was able to take photos in moderately-lit rooms and dusky outdoor scenes and pick up most all of the details. This is helped by the camera's f2.8-5.9 lens, although you only get the benefit of the bright f2.8 when it's zoomed out at 20mm.

Low-light performance is also helped considerably by the camera's excellent image stabilisation, which lets you shoot as low as one sixtieth of a second (to make up for the lack of light) and still get a very sharp photo.

In terms of handling, this feels sturdy in hand but also quite light. The controls are clearly marked out and it's designed to be used as much in automatic mode as manually.

The camera's autofocus is also generally excellent and it can shoot at up to 10 frames-per-second, a really high rate considering its price.

One thing it doesn't have is a flip-out screen which can be very useful for video or selfies. But at this price, that's not too surprising. The three-inch LCD screen is clear and vibrant.

Like many Panasonic cameras, this one shoots video in 4K 'ultra' high definition. It also lets you grab 8-megapixel still shots from 4K bursts (taken at 30 frames per second). This more or less guarantees that you don't miss a shot, ever.

The only proviso is that using this feature will take up space quickly on your SD memory card, so get a big one (I recommend at least 32GB).

The FZ82 also has Panasonic's 'post-focus' mode feature, which I'm not really crazy about. Basically, this allows you to 'focus' on the part of the photo you want after the shot is taken. But it's awkward and slow. Setting the shot up takes time and I think few people will do it.

If you're going on holiday or just want a capable all-rounder, it's hard to go wrong.

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