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Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ48 review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : 270
inc VAT

Builds on the excellent FZ45 with 1080p videos, faster performance and a more modest sensor resolution – this is the ultra-zoom camera to buy

Specifications

1/2.33in 12.0-megapixel sensor, 24.0x zoom (25-600mm equivalent), 498g

http://www.lambda-tek.com

If there’s a running theme in our camera reviews, it’s our frustration at huge megapixel ratings that push up noise rather than picture detail. With most casual shoppers assuming that more equals better, savvier consumers are left out in the cold. Panasonic is by no means blameless in this respect but it bucked the trend with its LX-series premium compacts. Now it’s doing it again for ultra-zoom cameras.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ48 front
Fewer pixels inside means less noise in pictures

The FZ48 is the successor to the FZ45 but it replaces the older model’s 14-megapixel sensor with a 12-megapixel one. Let’s be clear: that’s still a lot of pixels, and enough to make A3 prints at 240dpi. However, with fewer pixels crammed into its tiny 1/2.33in sensor, more light hits each one, leading to more accurate measurements and less noise.

That’s not the only positive change compared to the FZ45. The 3in screen’s resolution has doubled to 460,000 pixels, and looks crisp and bright. The main specifications of the 24x lens are unchanged but it now has what Panasonic calls a “nano surface coating” to minimise internal reflections. We were impressed to find barely any sign of lens flares in our tests, even when shooting directly into the sun.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ48 sample 1
Lens flare is almost non-existent thanks a new coating – Click on the image to enlarge it

With less data to process and store, the lower resolution also contributes to the FZ48’s faster performance. However, this doesn’t fully explain the threefold improvement in continuous performance, which now stands at 3.7fps. It’s limited to bursts of seven frames, but with a fast SDHC card it was ready for another burst in less than two seconds. The screen shows captured shots rather than a live view, though, and the autofocus didn’t update between shots, which made capturing moving subjects tricky. The pricier, even faster FZ100 remains a better choice for sports and wildlife photography.

The FZ45’s 720p AVCHD Lite video mode has been upgraded to AVCHD 1080p (files are encoded as interlaced but the video within is progressive scan). Details were crisp, noise was understated and the focus and zoom motors didn’t spoil the high-quality stereo soundtrack. Automatic exposures reacted smoothly to changing light, and there’s full access to priority and manual exposure modes for video – a rare feature for a digital stills camera and a crucial one for creative video projects.

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Basic Specifications

Rating *****
CCD effective megapixels 12.0 megapixels
CCD size 1/2.33in
Viewfinder electronic (201,600 pixels)
Viewfinder magnification, coverage N/A
LCD screen size 3.0in
LCD screen resolution 460,000 pixels
Articulated screen No
Live view Yes
Optical zoom 24.0x
Zoom 35mm equivalent 25-600mm
Image stabilisation optical, lens based
Maximum image resolution 4,000×3,000
Maximum movie resolution 1920×1080
Movie frame rate at max quality 25fps
File formats JPEG, MPO; AVCHD, MP4 (AVC)

Physical

Memory slot SDXC
Mermory supplied 70MB internal
Battery type Li-ion
Battery Life (tested) 400 shots
Connectivity USB, AV, mini HDMI
HDMI output resolution 1080i
Body material plastic
Lens mount N/A
Focal length multiplier N/A
Kit lens model name N/A
Accessories USB and AV cables, neck strap
Weight 498g
Size 80x120x105mm

Buying Information

Warranty one-year RTB
Price £270
Supplier http://www.lambda-tek.com
Details www.panasonic.co.uk

Camera Controls

Exposure modes program, shutter priority, aperture priority, manual
Shutter speed 60 to 1/2,000 seconds
Aperture range f/2.8-8 (wide), f/5.2-8 (tele)
ISO range (at full resolution) 100 to 1600
Exposure compensation +/-3 EV
White balance auto, 5 presets with fine tuning, manual, custom
Additional image controls contrast, saturation, sharpness, noise reduction, i.Dynamic
Manual focus Yes
Closest macro focus 1cm
Auto-focus modes multi, centre, face detect, tracking
Metering modes multi, centre-weighted, centre, face detect
Flash auto, forced, suppressed, slow synchro, rear curtain, red-eye reduction
Drive modes single, continuous, self-timer, AE bracket, WB bracket

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