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Some observations on the FZ150 and FZ200

Discussion in 'Superzoom Salon' started by Jock Elliott, Sep 28, 2013.

  1. Jock Elliott

    Jock Elliott SC All-Pro

    Jan 3, 2012
    Troy, NY
    On their website, Leica calls the V-Lux 3 (their version of the Panasonic FZ150), “The ideal camera for every situation.”

    Dpreview, in giving a Gold Award to the FZ200, said: “Panasonic has done almost everything right with the FZ200, producing a super zoom with a no-compromises lens. It performs very well, takes photos that are comparable (or better) than other super zooms, and has a top-notch movie mode. With a few refinements in the design and image quality department, it would be darn close to perfect.”

    Since I now own both of these cameras, I can say with some authority that both Leica’s and Dpreview’s assessments are darn-near right.

    The FZ150 has 24mm-600mm equivalent reach in a package that weighs under a pound-and-a-half. I bought the FZ150 in April, 2012, and have used it to shoot pictures for my paid weekly blog as well as photos for paid magazine articles. I have become addicted to the convenience of 24-600 in a single package, and I have never missed a shot because I was changing lenses. Neither have I had any editors complain about the technical quality of my pictures. They have been simply accepted and published without comments, except for the occasional “nice pictures!”

    The FZ200 has the same amount of reach, a nicer electronic viewfinder, a revised and nicer user interface, a different sensor that score slightly lower than the FZ150 on DXOmark, and a lens that can maintain a constant f2.8 aperture through the full 24-600 equivalent zoom range. For me, that translates to more light gathering under extreme zoom and under doubtful conditions, as well as improved ability to through the background out of focus when desired. My preliminary tests indicate that the FZ200 offers more reach with less image degradation in “iZoom” mode.

    The two cameras differ somewhat in the electronic “tricks” they can perform. For example, the FZ150 has a B&W film grain mode that produces a result that looks like Tri-X film that has been pushed heavily. The FZ200 has a high contrast B&W mode that produces similar results but looks less grainy.
    Both cameras share a couple of goodies that are worth talking about.

    Manual focus. Both cameras implement manual focus the same way, and it is much better than, say, the manual focus on the F12. There is a switch on the side of the lens barrel with three positions: Autofocus, Autofocus Macro, and Manual Focus. When manual focus is engage, you can use the wheel at the upper right on the back side of the camera to set the focus. But the camera also has two zoom levers: one just in front of the shutter button, and the other next to the focus selection switch on the lens barrel, and it is this zoom control that can be assigned to manual focus. Choose this control, and you have zoom control at the shutter button and focus control on the side of the lens barrel. During manual focus, you can opt for a magnified section on the view screen or not. There is also a focus assist button that helps to rapidly snap the camera into focus during manual focusing. It’s a slick system that works very well.

    Autofocus. In addition, if you like to photograph wildlife as I do, you occasionally find your target of interest “hiding in the weeds,” and the autofocus system will naturally want to focus on the weeds or brush in front instead of the bird or beast behind. Fortunately, both the FZ150 and FZ200 offer some help. While in Autofocus mode, press the focus assist button on the side of the lens barrel. You then can turn the wheel on the back of the camera to reduce the size of the spot focus area. I used this technique to convince the FZ150 to lock focus on a deer hiding among some trees.

    Peebles_at_Dusk_022_Medium_.JPG

    I am very impressed with these cameras. I realize that I give up a great deal in sensor performance compared to cameras with larger sensors, but with the kind of photography that I “commit,” the convenience of a long-range all-in-one package more than makes up for it.

    Cheers, Jock
     
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  2. Biro

    Biro SC All-Pro

    Aug 7, 2011
    Jersey Shore
    Steve
    Jock, do you now use the FZ200 more than the FZ150? Which do you recommend if one is to purchase only one of them?
     
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  3. entropic remnants

    entropic remnants SC All-Pro

    Mar 3, 2013
    John Griggs
    The ability of the FZ200 to hold that f/2.8 over such a wide range is amazing! That is quite a lens!

    Nice shot, also. I'm not into these type of cameras, but if I needed one I think that fast zoom would draw me in.
     
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  4. Jock Elliott

    Jock Elliott SC All-Pro

    Jan 3, 2012
    Troy, NY
    Biro,

    I just received the FZ200 a few days ago, so I don't have nearly as much experience with it as the FZ150. If price is no object, I would go with the FZ200, but you can get some pretty good bargains on used FZ150s.

    I decided to give the FZ200 a try because I am really pushing the limits of superzoom technology with my wildlife photography. I decided against the Canon 50x superzoom because the autofocus is alleged to be slow. Likewise, the 60X Panasonic superzoom is reported to have a display that is not as good as the FZ200.

    I have done head-to-head testing of the FZ150 against the FZ200 at high zoom and with iZoom digital assist under various conditions, and I prefer the results of the FZ200. But if you took the FZ200 away from me, I would still happily use the FZ150. Right now, I am waiting to see if my wife wants to use the FZ150.

    BTW, we routinely have used the FZ150 at high zoom in place of binoculars to identify birds and animals at long range.

    I hope this helps.

    Cheers, Jock
     
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  5. grebeman

    grebeman Old Codgers Group

    Jul 13, 2010
    South Brent, south Devon (UK)
    Barrie
    Jock,

    Many thanks for bringing to my attention the ability to select the barrel control to manual focus (I really should play about more to see what's in these camera menus :redface:). I'm looking forward to giving that a try out tomorrow, it would seem to be a better way to achieve manual focus rather than the default method.

    Barrie
     
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  6. Jock Elliott

    Jock Elliott SC All-Pro

    Jan 3, 2012
    Troy, NY
    Barrie,

    You have to go into the "tools" menu and click on the "side lever" option to select using the focus on the side lever.

    Give it a try. If you find it a bit twitchy, push the focus assist button next to the lever.

    Be sure to let me know how it works for you.

    Cheers, Jock
     
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  7. grebeman

    grebeman Old Codgers Group

    Jul 13, 2010
    South Brent, south Devon (UK)
    Barrie
    Will do. When I bought my second hand GH2 it came with three batteries, one Panasonic and two third party ones. The third party ones failed to give the state of charge in the viewfinder on the GH2, even with a software update, however they register that on the FZ200, so perfect, two batteries dedicated to the FZ200 and another spare for my GH2 with the Panasonic battery that came with the FZ200. This little guy gets better and better.


    Barrie
     
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  8. grebeman

    grebeman Old Codgers Group

    Jul 13, 2010
    South Brent, south Devon (UK)
    Barrie
    Today I was using the FZ200 with the barrel switch set to manual focus and found it to be a very intuitive way to have that facility set up. Also I found the tip on using the focus button and control wheel to alter the size of the image focus area box to be very useful, so many thanks to Jock for bringing those to the attention of the forum.

    Barrie
     
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