Panasonic's Lumix FZ-series of bridge cameras have offered photographers the versatility of vast focal ranges, without the need to change lenses, for several years now. But its new Lumix DMC-FZ70 (FZ72) takes things even further by packing in a monstrous 60x zoom. This gives it a 35-mm format focal length equivalent of an almost ridiculous 20-1,200-mm.
The headline attraction of the Lumix DMC-FZ70 is undoubtedly the fact that its telephoto end reaches to a 1,200-mm equivalent. But, while that's a whole lot of zoom, it's worth noting its wide angle has also been expanded from previous models, and now goes out to an ultra wide 20 mm. This could be particularly useful for capturing wide landscapes, which is something FZ-series cameras have struggled with in the past.
To enable the camera to cover such a wide focal range, its extending lens is comprised of 14 elements in 12 groups. Panasonic says this includes six aspherical lenses with nine aspherical surfaces and three ED (Extra-Low Dispersion) lenses. A maximum aperture of F2.8 at the wide end of the zoom, and F5.9 at the telephoto, also means the DMC-FZ70 should be capable of performing reasonably in lower light situations.
However, as is typical of bridge cameras, the large optical zoom is only possible because of the sacrifices made in terms of sensor size. The FZ70 has a 1/2.3-inch (4.54 x 3.42 mm) 16.1-megapixel MOS sensor, which is undeniably small. But it's this crop which makes the 3.58-215-mm lens a 20-1,200-mm equivalent. Yes, it would be nice to have a big zoom range like this on an APS-C or even Full Frame camera, but just look at the Nikkor 800-mm lens and imagine how big and heavy it would be.
Because long telephoto lenses can be hard to control while handholding a camera, it's also good to see there's built-in Power O.I.S. (Optical Image Stabilizer) to help reduce hand-shake vibration. The FZ70 uses a Venus Engine image processor to give it a top burst speed of nine frames per second in full resolution, and an ISO range of 100 to 3200 (6400 with boost). It shoots JPEG and RAW stills.
Measuring 130.2 x 97.0 x 118.2 mm (5.13 x 3.82 x 4.65 inches) and weighing 606 g (1.34 lb), the Lumix DMC-FZ70 is styled like a DSLR with a familiar button layout. On the rear there's a 3-inch monitor with 460K dots, and a 0.2-inch electronic viewfinder with a 202K dot equivalent resolution. The viewfinder has an increased frame rate of up to 60 fps for minimized lag.
On the video front, the DMC-FZ70 is capable of shooting Full HD at 30/25 fps, which is increased to 60/50 fps at 720p. A newly developed stereo Windshield Zoom Microphone is said to minimize wind noise by 70 percent compared with the predecessor DMC-FZ60(FZ62).
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ70 is due to go on sale in September for a price of US$400.
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