Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ72 review
1/2.3in 16.0-megapixel sensor, 60.0x zoom (20-1200mm equivalent), 606g
The majority of photos taken in bright light were excellent. Focus was sharp at the 20mm wide-angle setting, and it remained that way throughout most of the zoom range. However, from around 500mm to 1200mm there was a gradual loss of detail, with soft focus, chromatic aberrations and somewhat unreliable autofocus. These are common problems for ultra-zoom cameras with such huge zoom ranges, but the FZ72 fared slightly worse than the Canon SX50 HS. Its habit of picking shutter speeds as slow as 1/125s for telephoto shots probably didn't help, as this put big demands on the stabilisation.
This shot at a 501mm (equivalent) focal length is pin sharp, and colours are nicely exposed, too
The 20mm wide-angle setting loses a little sharpness towards the edges but it's still an excellent result
Focus wasn't so reliable at the full zoom extension. This shot is OK…
…but quite a few came out more like this. Focus is softer, and there's some chromatic aberration around the shoes
Again, details are pretty good in this shot taken at the longest 1200mm focal length…
…but on a different day, this was the best we could get from the camera
The FZ200's zoom only goes up to 600mm, but after resizing the FZ72's shot so it's the same size, it's the FZ200 that has captured more detail
Image quality took a further hit when taking telephoto shots in shady conditions, and when shooting indoors. Noise levels at ISO 1600 weren't terrible but the ensuing noise reduction took a heavy toll on fine detail.
Shooting at the full zoom extension in the shade pushes the ISO speed up, which has resulted in some heavy noise reduction
Using the same 1/250s shutter speed for both cameras, the FZ200's constant f/2.8 aperture really pays off, letting it keep the ISO speed down to 250. After resizing the FZ72's photo to match their sizes, the FZ200 has captured much more detail
The FZ72's image quality in low light is OK but it doesn't stand up to scrutiny
The 20mm wide-angle capability is probably the FZ72's strongest feature, not least because no other ultra-zoom camera can match it. However, the FZ200 offers superior quality, more sustained performance, an articulated screen and a superior EVF – it's worth paying extra for. If you must have a 1200mm lens, we'd recommend the Canon SX50 HS.