As a photographer, my first choice for any professional assignment is a digital SLR. But, as a guy who just walks around and likes taking pictures, I want something slammer and more convenient. And I also want to be able to shoot video. Also, as a pro, a nice camcorder that I can use as a B-roll camcorder to back up my big video camera is a big plus. So, after a lot of research, I settled on getting a Panasonic Lumix FZ200—the successor to the impressive FZ150—as a walking-around camera/camcorder.
Today, I decided to do a little comparison of images taken with my Canon D50 with the FZ200. All images are zoomed to 100%.
Canon 50D original JPG image
Lumix FZ200 Original JPG image
Canon 50D Uncorrected RAW Conversion (Photoshop RAW converter)
Lumix FZ200 Uncorrected RAW Conversion (SilkyPix RAW Converter)
iPhone 4S JPG image, included for curiosity’s sake. iPhone shoot 8 MP compared to the 12.1MP of the FZ200 and 15MP of the Canon 50D. It’s actually really good for a tiny cell phone camera.
A couple of interesting differences are evident. The Lumix shoots much warmer. Dropping the color temperature of the RAW image from 5100 to about 4600 produces a much closer color match. The smaller 1.2/3" sensor on the Lumix loses some fine detail, producing a softer image, which is not totally fixable in RAW, but can be sharpened nicely in SilkyPix.
The Lumix JPG compression is really too aggressive. The image is full of compression artifacts at 100% when you shoot in JPG. However, for sharing images on the web, you’ll resize them down by quite a bit, anyway, so much of that won’t be obvious. Shooting for the web and sharing via email will work just fine with the FZ200 in JPG mode. If you’re interested in blowing up any of the images, then you’ll really want to shoot in RAW, so you won’t have to deal with the in-camera JPG conversion.
I’m hoping that a firmware update for the FZ200 will be forthcoming from Panasonic in the not-too-distant future, to improve the in-camera JPG conversion. Until then, shooting in RAW is the best option for shots that you’ll want to use at 100% of zoom.
On the other hand, if you’re just shooting for vacation or family pics, and for sharing online, the Lumix FZ200 is a pretty good camera.
I also took some test shots, using both 6x and 12x zoom with the camcorder function. The long zoom length is great, and the full 1080 HD video shows more detail and clarity than the Canon Vixia I was using. I’ll be very happy to shoot B-roll with this camera.
Overall, the Lumix FZ200 is a fine camera/camcorder for casual shooting, and—using RAW—for some light pro applications. It’s perfect to use as a camera for online sharing, and has quite a lot of capability for such a small, compact camera. So, far, I’m pretty happy with it.
I’ll be even happier if Panasonic cleans up the in-camera JPG conversion with a new firmware update.