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24th July 2006
Panasonic DMC-FZ50 image samples
by Ian Burley

More megapixels and yet dramatically lower noise for the Lumix DMC-FZ50 say Panasonic. So how did these claims bear out?

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I spent relatively little time with the DMC-FZ50 during last week's Panasonic Lumix Barcelona press event for the European press, so below is a smaller than ideal gallery of original JPEG images I took using the camera. However, I was able to make some quick comparisons with last year's DMC-LX1 to get an idea if Panasonic's claims that the latest Venus Engine III in the FZ50 dramatically lowers noise.

One the second page of this article, in light of Panasonic's exuberant claims concerning reduction in image noise, is some close examination of the ISO range noise performance of the FZ50.

But first, here are some sample images taken on a hot and humid day in Guell Park, overlooking Barcelona. The FZ50 sample camera used was late pre-production, but we were given the thumbs-up to publish images taken. All shots were taken with the camera set to record least-compressed JPEG files and Mega OIS image stabilisation was set to mode 2.

Please note, by clicking on the the thumbnails below, the full orginal 4-5 megabyte 10.2 megapixel JPEG image will show in your browser. You may prefer to download the image to your computer for convenient browsing offline. Windows users can do this by right-clicking and using the 'Save Picture as...' option.

In fact I urge you to evaluate these pictures offline by printing them, as I did, as I don't feel that on-screen examination, especially at the high resolution of these files, serves the overall quality that these files bear.

Here is a shot of the Gaudi museum in Barcelona's Guell Park taken at the widest (35mm equivalent) zoom setting. It's part of a series of ISO range comparison shots you can find on page 2. Shutter: 1/250th, f/5, ISO 100

     A pigeon caught in semi-shade at the longest (420mm equiv.) zoom setting. Notice the bird's left leg is motion blurred but the rest of the scene is sharp. Hand held. 1/200th, f/5.6, ISO 200

Again, using the longest tele setting, this close up of a palm tree printed up better than it looked on the monitor. I had switched up to ISO 200 but probably hadn't needed to. Shutter: 1/250th, f/5, ISO 200

Here is the same tree, but at the opposite end (35mm equiv.) end of the zoom. Shutter: 1/500th, f/7.1, ISO 200

At an equivalent focal length of 316mm this souvenir salesman, toiling in the oppressive sun and humidity, was captured well and the print looked especially good, with highlights preserved, though at the expense of some shadow detail. Really punchy colours. Shutter: 1/640th, f/8, ISO 200

Finally, another full tele shot. This one looked better on-screen than the print, which accentuated the softness of the flower head, probably because of some motion blur. Shutter: 1/250th, f/4, ISO 100

I need more time with the camera to come to firm conclusions, but colours are punchy, stabilised telephoto performance is encouraging amd noise does seem noticeably reduced. I'm yet to be convinced that the extra couple of megapixels contributes anything to image detail, though.

Now on page two we examine the FZ50's noise performance.

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