The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ72 was announced in July 2013 and is a bridge camera which has a 60x optical zoom lens. At the moment this is the most amount of zoom you'll find on a digital camera. If this isn't enough for you there is an optional tele conversion lens, shown below, which means the zoom can be extended further to 102x! The FZ72 is available now for approximately £330.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ72 Features
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ72 has a 16.1 megapixel high-sensitivity MOS sensor and a 60x optical zoom lens, a 35mm equivalent of 20-1200mm. The zoom can be extended in two ways - there is Intelligent Zoom which extends to 120x equiv and a tele conversion lens which extends to 102x. To help keep images as sharp as possible there is Power OIS (Optical Image Stabilisation)
To make picture taking as easy as possible there is an Intelligent Auto (iAuto) mode which automatically adjusts the camera settings based on the detected scene. There are also many scene modes to choose from or for full control over your shooting there are full manual controls - you can also shoot in RAW. There is a HDR mode and you can also shoot panoramas. In continuous shooting the FZ72 can record at up to 9 fps.
To help composition, particularly when shooting with lots of optical zoom, there is a 0.2 inch EVF (Electronic Viewfinder).
Videos are recorded in full 1080p HD and includes a new Wind Shield Zoom microphone that helps prevent wind noise.
16.1 megapixel MOS sensor
60x optical zoom lens (35mm equiv: 20-1200mm)
Power Optical Image Stabiliser (OIS)
3.0 inch 460k dot LCD screen
0.20 inch (202k dots equiv.)
Full manual controls with RAW shooting
Full 1080p HD video recording
1cm minimum focusing distance
9 fps continuous shooting
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ72 Handling
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ72 is like most bridge cameras - it has the look and feel of a DSLR camera. There is a chunky rubber hand grip and a large part of the camera is rubberised on the rear where your thumb sits. It has a plastic, yet solid feel and there is also a mode dial on the top. The FZ72 is not as big and heavy as you may expect it to be either! When using the camera with the teleconverter it becomes quite heavy on the front, so makes composing your shots a little harder, and a tripod is recommended.
The FZ72 has a dedicated button for accessing continuous shooting, which sits on the top with the movie, record and focus buttons. The focus button lets you use the d-pad to choose the exact point which you wish to focus on. There is also an ample set of buttons on the rear of the camera. There are a couple of function buttons which can be changed to your own personal preference from a wide number of choices. There are also buttons to change the focus mode, ISO and white balance.
The 3.0 inch screen has a decent 460k dot resolution. The screen is bright and colourful, but if you're struggling to see the screen you can used the 202k dot EVF. Although not a particularly high resolution, it is good enough to compose shots and makes darker scenes appear much brighter. To switch between the EVF and LCD screen there is a button to press.
The FZ72 has a simple to use, easy to navigate menu system. To quickly change picture settings, such as image size, quality, exposure compensation etc. there is a q.menu button.
Battery life is rated at fantastic 400 shots according to CIPA test results, plenty for a least a day or two of shooting. We took a number of shots to test the camera's responsiveness, from switch on to first photo, shot to shot, focusing speed etc. We take a number of shots and then use the average to ensure accurate and consistent tests, making it easy to compare with other cameras.
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo
Shot to Shot without Flash
Shot to Shot with Flash
Continuous Shooting - 2 fps mode
Continuous Shooting - 5 fps mode
Continuous Shooting - 9 fps mode
Continuous Shooting - H mode
Continuous Shooting - flash burst
When shooting with the flash, it is a little slow to recharge. Continuous H mode is restricted to 3 megapixels, but the other continuous shooting modes all record in full 16 megapixel resolution. The fps mode slows after 3 shots, flash burst slows after 5 shots and the 9 fps mode is limited to just 3 shots.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ72 Performance
Additional sample photos and product shots are available in the Equipment Database, where you can add your own review, photos and product ratings.
Panasonic Lumix FZ72 Sample Photos
Sample Photos - The FZ72 produces superb pictures that are well exposed and have excellent colour reproduction. When shooting portraits, skin tones are decent and free of red-eye when using the flash.
Panasonic Lumix FZ72 Lens test images
Lens Performance - Detail is good at both ends of the lens, there is a little purple fringing but it is generally kept to a minimum. To get the sharpest pictures possible when using the lens at its longest you're well advised to use a tripod if possible. The lens has a minimum focusing distance of just 1cm, this allows you to get really close for excellent macro shots.
Panasonic Lumix FZ72 ISO test images
ISO Noise Performance - Noise is minimal and remains so throughout ISO 100, 200, 400 and 800. Detail suffers a little at ISO 1600, with much softer images produced at ISO 3200. ISO 6400 is available but only in High Sensitivity mode where image size is restricted to a minimum of 3 megapixels
Panasonic Lumix FZ72 White-balance test images
White Balance Performance - The Auto White Balance (AWB) copes excellently under both our incandescent and fluorescent lights. The incandescent preset takes an image with a slight colour cast under the incandescent lights. There is no fluorescent preset.
Panorama | 1/250 sec | f/8.0 | 3.6 mm | ISO 100
Panorama mode - Panoramas have a good level of detail - the bright sunshine in our examples has caused a slight stitching issue, but stitching is generally decent.
With Teleconverter 1 | 1/200 sec | f/5.9 | 215.0 mm | ISO 100
With Teleconverter 2 | 1/500 sec | f/5.9 | 215.0 mm | ISO 250
The two images above have been taken using the optional Panasonic DMW-LT55 teleconverter which extends the zoom to 102x. Image quality remains quite good and gives to the option to shoot subjects so far in the distance that are barely visible to the human eye!
Panasonic Lumix FZ72 Digital filters
Digital Filters - The FZ72 is packed with photo styles and creative controls so you can take a wide range of creative pictures. There are many examples above.
Video - Below is a video recorded in full 1080p HD. We have upload a video which uses the optical zoom during recoding on the ePHOTOzine Youtube page, as you can see when zooming in the focus is fairly quick but the video quality does reduce a little.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ72 packs a number of features that will appeal to many users, highlights including the 60x optical zoom lens, 1cm minimum focusing distance, 9 fps continuous shooting and HDR shooting. There are plenty more features that will help justify the £330 price tag. The 9 fps continuous shooting mode is a little misleading, it only takes three shots, but if you want to shoot for longer you can switch to some of the slower modes. The camera has a small sensor, so image quality isn't the best, but when you're getting a camera with so much zoom, it is to be expected.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ72 packs plenty of features and decent image quality in a well-built body.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ72 Pros
Lots of optical zoom
Excellent battery life
Decent image quality
Plenty of buttons for the experienced user
Teleconverter available for additional zoom
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ72 Cons
Shooting slows down after just a few shots in some of the continuous shooting modes
The number of buttons may overwhelm a novice
Video quality suffers as you zoom in