We liked the Panasonic Lumix DC-FZ70 because of its long contact lens, low priced, and strong image quality. Nonetheless it had some serious shortcomings in the great features department. The DC-FZ80 ($399.99) keeps the same lens and ticks up the purchase price, but for the excess money you get Wi-Fi, an improved EVF, an impression LCD, and 4K video capture. It’s an improved overall camera, though nearly well known bridge superzoom. The Canon PowerShot SX60 HS continues to be our Editors’ Choice, however the Panasonic is an effective alternative unless you have the cover the Canon.
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The FZ80 is your typical bridge point-and-shoot. It marries a tiny (1/2.3-inch) image sensor to a huge zoom lens, putting both together in a body that’s about how big is a tiny SLR. Putting that glass before a sensor type developed for pocket-friendly cameras permits an unbelievable zoom range, a lot more than you’d get from any SLR lens, in a package that measures 3.7 by 5.1 by 4.7 inches (HWD) and weighs about 1.4 pounds.
The fixed lens covers scenes from an ultra-wide (20mm full-frame equivalent) perspective when zoomed all thew way to avoid it. It reaches a beyond-extreme telephoto (1,200mm) at its maximum extension. It not merely comes with an advantage in telephoto reach over pocket cameras-models just like the Sony HX90V reach about 720mm-but in addition, it covers a wider angle. The FZ80’s 20mm lens is drastically wider compared to the more typical 24mm of which most compact cameras start.
The shot above shows the lens at its widest angle, with the moon a faint dot obvious in the heart of the frame; the image below shows the lens zoomed completely in.
The FZ80 includes a deep handgrip, exactly like an SLR. The shutter release reaches its top, surrounded by a zoom control lever. Behind those you will discover programmable Fn1/4K Photo and Fn2/Post Focus buttons, plus a dedicated Record button for video capture. Gleam Mode dial and the camera’s on / off switch. The hot shoe sits atop the guts, just behind the pop-up flash.
Rear controls add a mechanical release to improve the pop-up flash, positioned left of the eyecup. On the proper you will discover the LVF/LCD toggle button, the AF/AE Lock button, and the trunk control dial. The trunk dial doubles as a primary EV compensation control-you have to press it directly into switch its function from aperture or shutter control to EV adjustment.
Below those, to the proper of the trunk display, there’s a button to improve focus modes, along with Play, Delete/Q.Menu, and Display buttons. Finally there’s a four-way control with Menu/Set at its center and direct adjustment over ISO, White Balance, Drive/Self-Timer, and Focus Area.
Physical controls are supplemented by the Panasonic Q.Menu. Every camera maker has its undertake this interface, which ultimately shows translucent shooting controls over the live view frame, so that you can make adjustments to settings without losing sight of what your lens is seeing. The FZ80’s menu is customizable, and will be navigated using rear control buttons or via touch.
The trunk LCD is a set panel, nothing like the more useful vari-angle display made available from the Canon SX60 HS or Panasonic’s own premium FZ1000. It is fairly sharp, however, at 1,040k dots packed right into a 3-inch frame. In fact it is sensitive to touch, in order to tap to create a focus point or navigate menus as you’ll with a smartphone.
Additionally, there is an eye-level EVF. That’s something you truly need with such an extended zoom lens. Despite having in-camera stabilization, it’s much easier to get yourself a sharp zoomed shot with the camera raised to your eye than it really is holding it at arm’s length. There is no eye sensor, so you need to use a button to change between your EVF and LCD manually.
The FZ80 has Wi-Fi for image transfer and handy remote control. It works together with the Panasonic Image App, a free of charge download for Android and iOS. It enables you to copy photographs from the camera to your phone for editing and sharing, and in addition offers full manual control and a live feed in order to use your phone as a handy remote control.
There are micro HDMI and micro USB ports on your body, the latter which is employed for in-camera charging. The camera is rated to nab about 330 shots using the trunk LCD or 240 shots using the EVF, both solid marks for a bridge model. The opportunity to add juice with a USB power bank is obviously an advantage for travelers, though if you are the sort of photographer to transport a spare battery, it makes sense to purchase an external charger aswell so that you can charge one in camera and one out of camera concurrently.
The memory card slot is in the battery compartment. The FZ80 supports SD, SDHC, and SDXC media at up to UHS-I speeds.
Performance and Imaging
The FZ80 requires a little while to carefully turn on, focus, and fire-about 1.8 seconds-due to its lens needing to move in position to seize a graphic. But once it’s on and and all set it’s quite speedy. The autofocus system locks on in about 0.05-second at both wide and telephoto result in bright light. In dim conditions it requires time, about 0.9-second, to target and fire at the wide end, and will hunt when acquiring focus at 1,200mm. A bridge camera isn’t the the best option for shooting in dim conditions, if you don’t decide on a model with a more substantial 1-inch sensor and shorter contact lens, just like the Panasonic FZ1000 or Sony RX10.
Burst shooting is offered by about 10fps at full 18MP resolution in Raw or JPG format. You can snap 13 Raw+JPG, 15 Raw, or 52 JPG shots at the same time, with about 15 seconds necessary to clear the buffer after a Raw burst and about 8 seconds to accomplish the same for JPGs. The camera supports Panasonic’s 4K Photo mode aswell, that may shoot 8MP JPGs at 30fps together with your selection of fixed focus through the burst or Panasonic’s Post Focus mode, which changes the active autofocus point between each shot.
Tracking focus is available when shooting full-resolution files. Setting the camera to AF-C may cause it to obtain focus for each and every shot in a burst, nonetheless it does slow the capture rate down. You’re limited by shooting at 5.4fps when tracking moving subjects. It is effective, delivering solid results inside our tests and in the field, where we used the FZ80’s long lens to snap shots of bald eagles in flight.
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I used Imatest to check on the sharpness of the FZ80’s lens. At its widest angle and aperture, 3.6mm f/2.8, it matches the field of view of a 20mm lens on a full-frame camera. It scores 2,078 lines per picture height on a center-weighted sharpness test, much better than the 1,800 lines you want to see out of a camera of the type with an 18MP image sensor.
At the 140mm equivalent position, the utmost aperture is f/5.3. Image quality remains solid at 1,811 lines. Zooming farther, to the 235mm equivalent focal length, cuts the utmost aperture to f/5.5, but resolution remains strong, 2,007 lines. Testing beyond that’s impractical inside our lab-there’s simply not enough space to back up from the test chart and keep it in frame.
I shot numerous images at full zoom in the field. The lens certainly loses some sharpness at its maximum extension. If you are hoping to create big prints of a handheld shot of the moon, you will be disappointed. But the email address details are still very Instagrammable.
Imatest also checks photographs for noise. Noise can detract from detail and put in a grainy quality at higher ISO settings. When shooting JPGs the FZ80 keeps noise under 1.5 percent through ISO 1600, which means you shouldn’t have trouble capturing low-noise images in sunlight, even though keeping the shutter speed short to freeze motion.
But just as the camera controls noise through ISO 1600, it generally does not imply that image quality is ideal through that setting. The truth is you can shoot through ISO 400 without the noticeable drop in quality. There’s some mild smudging of details at ISO 800, which is more frequent at ISO 1600. Results at ISO 3200 and 6400 are noticeably blurred.
If you’re much more serious about images, you can set the FZ80 to fully capture photographs in Raw format. Raw images require post-processing before sharing, but endure better at higher ISO settings. You visit a large amount of grain at ISO 1600 when shooting in Raw, but detail stands up well. Nevertheless, you don’t want to push too much beyond that-grain starts to overwhelm the image at ISO 3200, and at ISO 6400 it’s a lot more distracting.
The FZ80 shoots video at 4K resolution at a set 30fps frame rate and 100Mbps compression rate. You can even shoot at 1080p at 60fps (28Mbps) or 30fps (20Mbps), and at 720p at 30fps (10Mbps), all in MP4 format. In addition, it supports AVCHD compression, but only at 1080p quality. There is no 24fps option offered by all, a downer for many who prefer video with a cinematic look.
At wider angles video looks quite good, with crisp detail and strong colors. However the limitations of optical stabilization for handheld video show when zoomed in. Handheld footage at extreme zoom levels, beyond 500mm, show significant wobble. You will want to employ a tripod to steady the camera when recording at extreme focal lengths.
The Panasonic Lumix DC-FZ80 gives an unbelievable amount of zoom coverage for not lots of money. It uses the same lens as its predecessor, but increases on fit and finish, sporting an improved, touch-enabled rear LCD, a sharper EVF, Wi-Fi, and 4K video, all missing on the bargain-oriented FZ70. It costs about $100 more, but at $400 it still falls well in to the selection of affordability, especially given what lengths of a reach the lens delivers. You can spend somewhat more on our Editors’ Choice, the Canon PowerShot SX60 HS, that includes a similar zoom range and adds a vari-angle LCD. When you can spend a lot more than that on a superzoom model, consider getting one with a 1-inch sensor, just like the Panasonic FZ1000 or any person in the Sony RX10 series.