A couple of months back I got a new camera – Panasonic Lumix FZ200. Advanced point and shoot camera with 12 MP sensor, 24x optical zoom, full HD (1080p) video recording and much more. The most important feature however is a constant aperture of f2.8 throughout the zoom range. I’ll come to that later.
I felt the need for a new camera because my old Nikon L1 was getting really old. It is working absolutely fine taking good pics but it is not that great to capture photos in low light and being almost 7 years old it lacks image stabilisation and many more features that are now common in even al-cheapo cameras. Once I started taking photos of my daughter, the camera’s woes became apparent. I needed a camera that can 1) Take sharp photos in low light and indoor, 2) Capture photos of stuff in motion like my one and half year old who is never steady even for a second 3) Can record full HD movies.
So primarily I wanted a camera that would help me capture memories of my daughter’s growing up years in both photo and video format. With this need in mind I started hunting for a camera. Having an insane zoom or large MP value wasn’t really on my radar. I looked at FlipKart and other camera selling sites but got really confused. Then I found the awesome Camera finder at DPReview. It lets you search for a camera by filtering various features. The list of features was mind boggling, and I did not understand many of them, so I started reading more about those features and the more I read, more I understood what exactly I needed. I quickly short listed Image stabilization, articulated LCD, Aperture range, shutter speed, manual controls, ability to shoot in RAW, manual focus, in camera HDR. After a lot of research and filtering I was down to 4 cameras – Panasonic FZ200, Nikon P520, Canon SX50, Sony HX200V. Nikon was the cheapest of the lot, Canon had the best zoom of 50x, Sony had some great features too. After comparing them a lot on SnapSort, reading reviews about them and watching videos I finalized the Panasonic for it’s constant f2.8 aperture.
Anybody who had a little knowledge about photography praised the constant aperture on entire zoom range as a great breakthrough on part of Panasonic. Aperture is the opening in the shutter that lets the light in on the sensor. Smaller the number, larger the opening and hence more light comes in. Result = better photos in low light. With all the mega zoom cameras the aperture goes on decreasing at the telephoto end of the lens. Panasonic was the first one to bring that to a point and shot camera. Even professional photographers preferred to keep the LZ200 along with their DSLRs for a quick shot because of this feature.
With its ability to shoot in RAW, full manual controls, 12 photos per second in burst mode and amazing aperture – Panasonic FZ200 was as close to a DSLR as a point and shoot can get. The only thing it lacks is ability to change the lens and that’s exactly what I wanted. I did not want a DSLR because I did not want all the hassles of changing a lens and keeping different lenses around for different situations. I am never going to shoot wildlife or super close ups of insects. I wanted one camera that will work for most of the situations and I got all that in Panasonic FZ200.
Here’s the unboxing video of the camera
I also got a high speed class 10, 16 GB SD card, a Lowepro camera bag and have just ordered a Vanguard tripod last night. I have taken some good photos with the camera. I try to take at least one photo a day. I take photos and then process them in FastStone Viewer. I will be posting photos on my Flickr account from time to time.