"Beautifully Desgned but Deeply Flawed Camera"3.0 starson by archangelmr
Pros: Excellent build quality, superb lens, ergonomics, balance, wonderful articulating LCD, 16 x 9 movie mode
Cons: inconsistent image quality, inadaquate sensor, chroma noise, limited dynamic range, short warranty
Summary: As an experienced (25+ years) photographer, I can only say that this camera is a paradox.
On paper, the FZ-50 is without quesstion the best camera of its type. In the day-to-day use, the reality is quite different, however.
Although I absolutely love the handling and build quality of the FZ-50, its tiny, over-crowded 10MP sensor and image processing algorithms simply don't do the excellent Leica optics justice. As a result, the camera is a beautifully-desgned, but flawed tool that will ultimately disappoint most enthusiasts or serious amateurs.
Noise and graininess (at ALL ISO settings above 100) is one problem, but I've seen surprisingly little discussion of the camera's other issues such as its limited dynamic range (dark shadows, blown highlights, anyone?), and its often wildly inconsistent metering and autofocus capability.
I love the feel, feature set and optics of the Lumix FZ-50 more than any other camera I've owned, but also get FAR more throwaway images from it with it than any other, as well. The FZ-50 is an especially poor choice for any sort of indoor or low-light photojournalism-type work. (Don't even think about using the FZ50 for indoor sports, unless you're prepared for cell-phone quality images at its "high sensitivity" ISO 3200 setting.)
I have an ancient Nikon Coolpix 2100 (an entry-level 2megapixel point-and-shoot) that consistently produces higher quality images than the LUMIX FZ-50 in ALL modes under almost all conditions -- except ISO 100 -- Go figure.
So, consider the wonderfully built FZ-50 by all means, but also weigh its limitations, relative to other superzooms and bridge cameras, as well. Some may wish to onsider the Fuji FinePix 6500FD (with its superior sensor and face detection) as an alternative.
Had Panasonic focused on image quality instead of senseless, marketing department-driven pixel stuffing, the FZ50 would be the fineset bridge/superzoom camera available. But they didn't...So it isn't, alas.