Editors' note: Several of the features, shooting options, and aspects of the design are identical between the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ47 and the Lumix DMC-FZ150, so portions of our review of that camera are used again here.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ47 makes a convincing argument for buying the Lumix DMC-FZ150. That happened with its compact megazoom counterparts, the ZS8 and ZS10, too. The FZ150's MSRP is $100 more than the FZ47's, but packs in a lot more features, like a rotating LCD, a hot shoe for adding a flash, and an input for an external mic as well as raw capture, better shooting performance--particularly burst shooting--and nicer low-light photos.
That's not to say that the FZ47 is a bad camera; it's definitely not. It has a nice lens, fairly quick performance, and nice photo quality up to ISO 800, depending on how picky you are about what photos look like at full size. If you can find the FZ47 at a good price (I've seen it as low as $250), it's a solid choice and easy to recommend. But as with the ZS8, if you focus on what's been cut to get the price lower, you may decide to save up and spend the extra money.
|Key specs||Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ47|
|Dimensions (WHD)||4.7x3.1x3.6 inches|
|Weight (with battery and media)||1.1 pounds|
|Megapixels, image sensor size, type||12 megapixels, 1/2.3-inch high-speed CCD|
|LCD size, resolution/viewfinder||3-inch LCD, 460K dots/electronic|
|Lens (zoom, aperture, focal length)||24x, f2.8-5.2, 25-600mm (35mm equivalent)|
|File format (still/video)||JPEG/AVCHD (.MTS), H.264 AAC (.MP4)|
|Highest resolution size (still/video)||4,000x3,000pixels/ 1,920x1,080 at 60fps (interlaced; 17Mbps)|
|Image stabilization type||Optical and digital|
|Battery type, CIPA rated life||Li-ion rechargeable, 400 shots|
|Battery charged in camera||No; external wall charger supplied|
|Bundled software||PhotofunStudio 6.3 HD Lite Edition (Windows)|
Photo quality has improved from this camera's predecessor, the FZ40. If you're a pixel peeper you probably won't be thrilled with the noise and artifacts you can see when photos are viewed onscreen at 100 percent. But unless you're planning to do a lot of enlarging and cropping and regularly make prints above 8x10, you'll likely be very happy with the results. Like most point-and-shoots the FZ47 does well up to ISO 200, so the more light you give it, the better your photos. However, ISO 400 is still good for small prints and Web use, and so is ISO 800, as long as you don't do much enlarging and cropping. I'd stay away from ISO 1600, though, as colors desaturate and you'll get a lot of yellow blotching from color noise.
Color and exposure are very good. Colors are bright and vivid without looking unnatural. Again, though, as you get to the FZ47's two highest ISO sensitivities there is a noticeable drop-off in color quality, particularly at ISO 1600.
As for movie quality, its AVCHD clips are sharp with good exposure and color and some of the smoothest motion I've seen from a point-and-shoot. Low-light recording suffers from the same noise problems as the photos. The zoom does operate while recording, but its movement is picked up by the stereo mic, though barely. If you are recording in a very quiet environment, you will hear it in your movies, but otherwise it isn't intrusive. The camera also has an option for continuous AF for movies, which performed very well, as did its wind noise filter. Also, the FZ47 can capture 3.5-megapixel photos while shooting video and extract single frames for photos when in Playback mode.
|General shooting options||Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ47|
|ISO sensitivity (full resolution)||Auto, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600|
|White balance||Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Shade, Halogen, Color Temperature, Custom (2), White Balance Adjustment|
|Recording modes||Intelligent Auto, Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, Manual, Creative Video, Creative Control, Portrait, Scenery, Sports, Night Portrait, Close-up, Scene, Custom|
|Focus modes||Face AF, Tracking AF, Multi AF (23-area), 1-area (flexible and scalable), Manual|
|Macro||0.4 inch (Wide); 3.3 feet (Tele)|
|Metering modes||Multi, Center-weighted average, Spot|
|Color effects||Expressive, Retro, High Key, Sepia, Miniature Effect, High Dynamic, Pin Hole, Film Grain|
|Burst mode shot limit (full resolution)||7 shots|
The FZ47 has enough shooting options to make most snapshooters or enthusiasts happy. For those who want control over shutter speed and aperture, there are priority modes for each as well as a manual mode letting you control both. Shutter speeds go from 60 seconds to 1/2,000 second. Apertures go from f2.8 to f8 at the wide end with a total of 10 stops and the telephoto apertures go from f5.2 to f8 with a total of 5 stops. However, you can control much more in these modes and Program mode than shutter speed and aperture. There are six color types and a custom color type, for example, each with five-step sliders for changing contrast, sharpness, saturation, and noise reduction, and the settings can then be stored in memory. Basically, if you don't like the way the photos are coming out, you can tweak a lot of things, including white balance, focus, and ISO, to get the camera performing the way you want.