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Panasonic FZ330 review

Ben Pitt
3 Sep 2015
Expert Reviews Best Buy Logo
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
499
inc VAT

Fast, feature-packed and excels for telephoto photography, the Panasonic FZ330 shows how a bridge camera should be done

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Specifications

Sensor resolution: 12 megapixels, Sensor size: 1/2.3in, Viewfinder: Electronic (1,440,000 dots), LCD screen: 3in (1,040,000 dots), Optical zoom (35mm-equivalent focal lengths): 24x (25-600mm), 35mm-equivalent aperture: f/15.6, Weight: 703g, Size (HxWxD): 93x133x122mm 

Image quality

We've seen this lens and sensor combination before in the FZ200, and the FZ330 largely matched our high expectations.

The sensor itself isn't particularly remarkable – it's the same 1/2.3in size that's used in cheap compacts and most other bridge cameras. Comparing its output with the FZ200 in our studio tests, the FZ330's JPEGs at ISO 100 delivered smoother fine details such as strands of hair, and less evidence of noise in darker areas of the frame. Its advantage wasn't so noticeable at ISO 800, with both cameras' JPEGs exhibiting spidery textures where the noise reduction was struggling. The FZ330 still produced cleaner shadows, though. Both cameras were flailing by ISO 3200 but the FZ330's output looked better when resized for social media sharing.

These are respectable results for a camera with a 1/2.3in sensor, but the FZ330 has much less cause to use fast ISO speeds compared to its direct rivals, thanks to its constant f/2.8 aperture. This means it can capture telephoto shots at ISO 400 while other cameras must go up to ISO 1600. We much prefer this to the 50x and bigger zooms offered by most rival bridge cameras, which can be unwieldy to use.

This lens was also exceptionally sharp throughout its zoom range, delivering crisp details and coping admirably with dense textures such as foliage and hair. It also excelled for close-up photography, as it's able to focus on subjects just 1m away at its full 600mm (equivalent) zoom position. This means subjects just 8cm across fill the frame – perfect for capturing insects and other small creatures without having to come too close and scaring them off.

One area that left us slightly disappointed was shooting in low light at wide-angle zoom positions. Panasonic's cameras offer an Intelligent ISO mode that adapts the ISO speed not just depending on available light but also on focal length and the detection of moving subjects in the scene. This is available in the FZ330 but the settings it chose weren't always what we wanted. The slowest shutter speed it allowed was 1/60s, whereas for wide-angle shots of static subjects 1/15s gave us reliably sharp results. It's not hard to set the shutter or ISO speed manually but we'd prefer not to have to bother.

Panasonic FZ330 image sample

^ This wide-angle shot is packed with detail. The overcast sky is burnt out but there's only a little blooming and fringing.  (1/125s, f/2.8, ISO 100, 25mm equivalent)

Panasonic FZ330 image sample 2

^ Focus is exceptionally sharp at the long end of the zoom, too. (1/2,000s, f/4, ISO 100, 600mm equivalent)

Panasonic FZ330 image sample 3

^ The JPEG engine has handled these dense leaf and grass textures superbly. (1/1,300s, f/4, ISO 100, 61mm equivalent)

Panasonic FZ330 image sample 4

^ Accurate, natural colours, and outstanding details once again. (1/160s, f/3.5, ISO 100, 42mm equivalent)

Panasonic FZ330 image sample 5

^ The ability to focus on subjects 1m away at the long end of the zoom is perfect for macro shots without disturbing the subject. Meanwhile, the f/2.8 aperture keeps the ISO speed (and noise levels) down. (1/125s, f/2.8, ISO 250, 590mm equivalent)

Panasonic FZ330 image sample 6

^ Shaded skin tones are always a tough test and reveal the noise limitations of the small sensor, even at ISO 100. (1/1,000s, f/4, ISO 100, 500mm equivalent)

Panasonic FZ330 image sample 7

^ Indoor skin textures are respectable, though, thanks to the bright f/2.8 aperture. (1/80s, f/2.8, ISO 1250, 157mm equivalent)

Panasonic FZ330 image sample 8

^ There's little evidence of noise in this ISO 800 shot taken at dusk. (1/80s, f/2.8, ISO 800, 128mm equivalent)

Panasonic FZ330 image sample 9

^ This shady spot captured in late afternoon has pushed the ISO speed up to 2500. Details are smudged but it's not a bad effort. It would look a lot better if the automatic settings ventured to shutter speeds slower than 1/60s though. (1/60s, f/2.8, ISO 2500, 25mm equivalent)

Conclusion

The FZ330 is exactly what an ultra-zoom bridge camera should be, excelling for image quality at the long end of the zoom and with elegant controls and lightning-fast performance. It's not cheap, though. The Panasonic FZ200 is still a great option and is currently available for just £250 from Amazon, and there's a £60 cashback offer until 7 September 2015. Then there's the Panasonic FZ1000, which has a more modestly specified 16x (24-400mm) f/2.8-4 lens but more than compensates with a significantly larger 1in sensor. It's currently available for around £600, or just £500 with a cashback offer, again until 7 September.

Once prices settle down we envisage the FZ330 holding its own against its esteemed siblings. Frankly, there's nothing from rival manufacturers anywhere near this price that comes close. Though if you want to see some options then check out our regularly-updated Best camera 2015 and buying guide article. Buy Now from Amazon.

Hardware
Sensor resolution12 megapixels
Sensor size1/2.3in
Focal length multiplier5.56x
ViewfinderElectronic (1,440,000 dots)
Viewfinder magnification (35mm-equivalent), coverage0.7x, 100%
LCD screen3in (1,040,000 dots)
ArticulatedYes
TouchscreenYes
Orientation sensorYes
Photo file formatsJPEG, RAW (RW2)
Maximum photo resolution4,000x3,000
Photo aspect ratios4:3, 3:2, 16:9 1:1
Video compression formatMP4 (AVC) at up to 95Mbit/s
Video resolutions4K (3840x2160) at 24/25fps, 1080p at 24/25/50fps, 1080i at 25fps, 720p at 25fps, VGA at 25fps
Slow motion video modes720p at 100fps (1/4x), VGA at 200fps (1/8x)
Maximum video clip length (at highest quality)29m 59s
Controls
Exposure modesProgram, shutter priority, aperture priority, manual
Shutter speed range60 to 1/4,000 seconds
ISO speed range100 to 6400
Exposure compensationEV +/-3
White balanceAuto, 5 presets with fine tuning, manual, Kelvin
Auto-focus modesMulti, zone, flexible spot, custom multi, pinpoint, face detect, tracking
Metering modesMulti, centre-weighted, centre, face detect
Flash modesAuto, forced, suppressed, slow synchro, rear curtain, red-eye reduction
Drive modesSingle, continuous, self-timer, AE bracket, WB bracket, HDR, panorama, interval, stop-motion animation, 4K Photo
Lens
Optical stabilisationYes
Optical zoom (35mm-equivalent focal lengths)24x (25-600mm)
Maximum aperture (wide-tele)F/2.8
35mm-equivalent aperturef/15.6
Manual focusyes
Closest macro focus (wide)1cm
Closest macro focus (tele)1m
Physical
Card slotSDXC
Memory suppliedNone
Battery typeLi-ion
ConnectivityUSB, AV, micro HDMI, 3.5mm microphone in, 2.5mm wired remote
WirelessWi-Fi
GPSVia smartphone app
HotshoePanasonic TTL
Body materialPlastic
AccessoriesUSB cable, neck strap
Weight703g
Size (HxWxD)93x133x122mm
Buying information
WarrantyOne year RTB
Price including VAT£499
Supplierwww.jessops.com
Detailswww.panasonic.com/uk
Part codeDMC-FZ330EBK

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