Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ45 review

18 Jul 2011

Decent photos and videos, especially at this price, but performance and features are lacking

Price when reviewed: 
228(£255 inc VAT)
4

The DMC-FZ45 is an evolution of the older FZ38, with an improved zoom range of 24x. That might sound impressive in isolation, but it’s eclipsed by models offering 30x and more.

The 3in screen is large, but has a relatively low resolution of 230kpixels. The 14-megapixel figure looks more impressive, but with a the same 1/2.3in sensor as most superzooms, the benefits are minimal.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ45

Gripes aside, there’s still much to admire about the FZ45. Its battery lasts almost 600 shots, rivalling many DSLRs. All the controls are sensibly arranged, and a clickable jog dial means adjusting settings is easy. There’s full manual control, and Panasonic’s Intelligent Auto mode is excellent for point-and-shoot use. Autofocus tracking, meanwhile, helps when shooting moving objects.

The lens, although shorter than others, is sharp right across its range and into the corners of photos. At 600mm, shots were crisp in good light thanks to effective optical stabilisation, and the 25mm wide-angle setting is great for shooting indoors. Videos record at 720p and look great, too, plus you can zoom while recording.

There are two menu buttons. The QMenu lets you get at the most-used settings quickly. The main menu is overflowing with options, including the ability to set maximum ISO and minimum shutter speeds. You can also choose to shoot in RAW mode and JPEG simultaneously.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ45

As with other 14-megapixel bridge cameras, noise is obvious, but exposures are well judged and colours accurate. Details looked smudged, but we were happier with the images than with some more expensive cameras. Low-light performance wasn’t bad, despite some noise being apparent.

In the end, it was a close-run battle between the FZ45 and Kodak’s Z990 for best budget camera. The FZ45 just misses out thanks to the Z990’s superior quality in bright light and longer zoom.

Details

Price ex VAT £190
Price inc VAT £228
Overall rating 4
Performance 4
Features & Design 4
Image quality 4
Value for Money 5

Basic specifications

Camera megapixel rating 14.1mp
Camera screen size 3.0in
Camera optical zoom range 24x
Camera maximum resolution 4,320 x 3,240

Weight and dimensions

Weight 498.000kg
Dimensions 120 x 92 x 80mm (WDH)

Battery

Battery type included Lithium-ion
Charger included? yes

Other specifications

Built-in flash? yes
Aperture range f2.8 - f5.2
Camera minimum focus distance 0.01m
Shortest focal length (35mm equivalent) 25
Longest focal length (35mm equivalent) 600
Minimum (fastest) shutter speed 1/2,000
Maximum (slowest) shutter speed 1 mins
Bulb exposure mode? no
RAW recording mode? yes
Exposure compensation range +/- 3EV
ISO range 80 - 1600
Selectable white balance settings? yes
Manual/user preset white balane? yes
Progam auto mode? yes
Shutter priority mode? yes
Aperture priority mode? yes
Fully auto mode? yes
Burst frame rate 1.8fps
Exposure bracketing? yes
White-balance bracketing? yes
Memory-card type SDHC, SDXC
LCD resolution 230k
Secondary LCD display? no
Video/TV output? yes
Data connector type Proprietary USB

Manual, software and accessories

Full printed manual? no
Software supplied PhotofunStudio 5.2 HD Edition, Silkypix Developer Studio 3.1 SE
Accessories supplied Lens hood, USB and AV cables