This is an old archive page of HWZ prior to revamp. Please visit HWZ for the latest reviews and news.


» News

Panasonic DMC-FZ30
Digital Cameras/Camcorders | First Looks
Thu 03 Nov 2005

Feels Almost Like a DSLR

The FZ30 looks like a DSLR camera and comes with a built-in flash unit.

The LCD monitor flips open and can be swiveled around.

For a prosumer camera, the FZ30 is big and heavy, but has an excellent grip to offset.

Panasonic has once again shown its dedication in the digital camera segment with the recent release of three new and improved digital cameras based on LEICA DC VARIO-ELMARIT lenses. The new cameras are the FX9, LX1 and the FZ30 models. We have featured the LX1 in our August First Looks coverage and today, our focus is on the more powerful, FX30. Just like the LX1, the FZ30 also has a resolution of 8-Megapixels and comes with a larger 1/1.8-inch CCD that captures finer details. Let us update you on the improvements that make this a noteworthy camera in our opinion 

Handles Like a DSLR

Compared to its predecessor (FZ20), the FZ30 comes with notable upgrades and improvements that were lacking previously; especially in the handling department. Take the new zooming method for example. While most other prosumer cameras rely on a lever zoom (electronic) which can be difficult to handle at times, the FZ30 uses a mechanical-linked manual zoom ring like that of a DSLR camera. Users can carefully zoom onto a subject by controlling the twist of the zoom ring to achieve a smoother zoom transitioning. As for holding on to the camera, the FZ30's body is slightly bigger and comes with a deeper handgrip for a comfortable hold. Panasonic has given the FZ30 a larger mode dial and separate command dials for shutter speed and aperture priority modes that resembles a DSLR-class camera.

Other minor changes include the relocation of the macro mode switch to where the focus mode switch is located on the lens barrel, a dedicated one-shot focus button, as well as a more logical tripod mount and card door placements. The LCD display monitor can be swiveled around to gives user more flexibility during picture framing at awkward positions. The display monitor has also been given an upgrade to 235K pixels to show higher resolution images on the screen. 

Besides the physical upgrades, Panasonic also packed in new features like additional scene modes. The most interesting of them would be the "Starry Sky" mode for taking night landscapes and "Soft Skin" mode for taking professional-like portraits without using a diffusing filter. The FZ30 can also record video at resolutions from QGVA (320 x 240) to beautiful VGA (640 x 480) at a smooth 30fps

Some Shortcomings 

While there are many improvements over its predecessors, unfortunately it also has a couple of disappointments. Maintaining the 12x optical zoom, the FZ30 took a 'downgrade' path and comes with an aperture of F2.8 - F3.7, while the FZ20 has an aperture of F2.8 throughout its focal range. This means that images taken at maximum zoom will be darker compared to the FZ20 for the same shutter speed and maximum aperture size. The second disappointment would be the high noise level. Images taken above ISO100 aren't suitable for large printing and if it must be done, it is recommended to perform some post-processing to minimize the noise.

Final Thoughts

From its design elements, we feel that the FZ30 is suited for prosumers who are aiming to step up to a full DSLR camera in future, but aren't quite ready for one just yet. Since the handling of both camera types is very similar, it is easy for one to transition to a more complicated DSLR camera later. So long as one can cope with the aforementioned shortcomings, the FZ30 is a near perfect long-zoom camera for those aspiring to eventually springboard to the arena of pure DSLR cameras. All things taken in to consideration, the Panasonic DMC-FZ30 is a superb camera with many features and advancements that address the issues of its predecessors.

The FZ30 doesn't handle marco shots as well as its ultra-compact series, LX1.

The issue with FZ30 is high noise level. The use of an enternal flash should solve most problems.

In this night shot, the notice level is obvious even at ISO 200.

FZ30's 12X zoom is excellent. Click on the image to see the zoomed image.

The deeper hand grip makes it easy to secure the FZ30 with your right hand.

The FZ30 is one of the bigger prosumer cameras in the market.

  Product Specifications
  • Imager: 1 / 1.8” Type CCD (8.3 million total pixels
  • Aperture Range: F2.8 – F3.7 
  • Shutter Speed Range: Manual: 60 – 1/2000 sec; Other modes: 8 – 1/2000 sec
  • Scene Modes: Portrait, Sports, Scenery, Night Scenery, Night Portrait, Fireworks, Party, Snow, Self-Portrait, Food, Baby, Soft Skin, Candle, Starry Sky
  • Sensitivity: Auto, ISO 80/100/200/400
  • Movie Recording (with audio): 640 x 480 or 320 x 240, 30/10 FPS, limited by storage.
  • Built-in Flash Range: 0.3 - 7.0m
  • Recording Media: SD/MMC card (32MB SD Card supplied)
  • Dimensions: 141 x 86 x 138mm
  • Weight: Approx. 740g (with battery)