I'm sure that the big draw for this camera is the all-glass aspherical Leica DC-VARIO
ELMARIT 12x zoom lens, equivalent to a 35-420mm zoom on a 35mm camera. This is the most
powerful zoom lens available on any digital camera. And it features a fast F2.8 aperture
throughout the entire zoom range.
A feature we haven't seen since the Olympus C-2100UZ, the DMC-FZ1 is equipped with an optical image stabilization system to minimize camera shake at long focal lengths. You learn to really appreciate image stabilization when you get past 5x focal lengths unless you're using a tripod.
The TTL contrast-detect auto focus system covers from 11.8 in (W) / 3.94 ft (T) to
infinity in normal mode and from 1.97 in (W) / 3.94 ft (T) in macro mode.
This is what you can do with a 12X zoom!
To minimize the occurrence of flares or ghosting when shooting outdoors or
in any bright environment you can attach the supplied petal-shaped lens
shade. It only takes a moment to unscrew the dress ring and attach the lens
shade. One of our readers told me that he was able to attach a 55mm filter
to the front of the lens shade, something that I did not try myself.
The eye level viewfinder is a miniature color LCD monitor with a magnifying eyepiece. It
has a diopter adjustment and can be used with eyeglasses. This electronic viewfinder
(EVF) gives you true TTL (through the lens) viewing and overlays important camera and
exposure data on top of the live display. It can also be used to review images and access
the menu system which is handy outdoors where it can often be difficult to see the LCD
The built in manual pop-up speedlight features Auto, Red-eye reduction, Slow-sync, Fill
and Forced Off modes. The flash range (at ISO 100) is 11.8 in - 6.89 ft (W) / 3.94 - 6.89
ft (T). There is no external flash port or accessory shoe.
Controls on the back: Across the top (L to R) is the viewfinder diopter adjustment dial. The OPEN button pops up the builtin flash. The DISPLAY button switches between the EVF and LCD monitor and controls the amount of data displayed. A menu option allows using either the shutter release or the FOCUS button to start the auto focus. The ON/OFF switch turns the camera on and off. The MENU button calls up and dismisses the menu system.
The 4-way selector in Record mode toggles the flash mode when pressed "Right." When
pressed "Up" it selects either exposure compensation or AE Bracketing. Press "Left" to
activate the Self-timer and press "Down" to use the Quick Review mode to examine the
last image captured. In Playback mode the 4-way selector is used to select images and
of course in both record and play modes it is used to navigate the menu screens, press
"Down" to accept (SET) menu selections. The
Trashcan button is for deleting images.
Controls on the top include the combination shutter release and zoom control ring. The zoom ring is used in playback to enlarge the image or display an index page. The button toggles the drive mode between Single frame, High Speed or Low Speed Continuous.
The Mode Dial has positions for:
Movie - Capture motion JPEG at 10fps with audio, length of clip is limited only to available memory. Consumes approx. 10MB per minute
Night Portrait - Slow shutter speeds and slow-synchro flash
Panning - Pan with fast moving subjects to blur the background
Sports - Faster shutter speeds to freeze action subjects
Portrait - Portrait mode uses large aperture to help blur backgrounds
Macro - Macro focus mode for closeup photography
Record - Normal still image capture mode with all menu options
Simple - Point-n-shoot mode, has menu options for image size but called Enlarge (1600x1200), 4x6" (1280x960) and Internet (640x480) to not confuse novice users.
The A/V Out port sends the audio and video to a television set, the video format
is user selectable for NTSC or PAL standard. Data I/O is via a USB v1.1 port, it is not
Mass Storage compliant and requires the USB driver to be installed on the host PC. The
AC power adapter can be connected to the DC IN port.
Still images, movie clips and audio files are stored on removable Secure Digital or
MultiMedia Card flash memory cards. Panasonic supplies a (very wimpy) 8MB size SD
card so the first thing you need to buy is a bigger one. We had no problems using a
256MB SanDisk SD card and larger 512MB cards are now available.
Power is supplied by a Panasonic 7.2v 680mAh Li-ion battery pack. The run time is rated at
100 minutes when using the color LCD monitor (approx. 200 pictures) and 120 minutes when
using the electronic viewfinder (approx. 240 pictures). It's small and adds
little to the total weight of the camera.
The battery charger can replenish a fully depleted pack in about 90 minutes. Batteries are charged out of the camera so you can be charging one and using another. It also serves as an 110-240V AC power adapter when used with the included DC power cable.
Continue on to the
Recording Modes & Menus
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