It’s priced like a quality production, and fortunately the Panasonic FZ200 feels like one too. Despite the smallest zoom in the gaggle of superzooms we’ve tested recently, the FZ200 impresses from the start and rarely drops the ball.
The FZ200’s Leica lens and solid exterior promise great things, and indeed that’s what you get. In Auto mode the Panasonic has a knack of nailing an almost perfect exposure, pulling out more detail and texture from the shadows than any of its rivals, at the same time exerting enough control over highlights to stop them bleaching out. Colours look vibrant but natural and it’s tops for detail.
Video is a mixed bag. The FZ200 is capable of shooting 1080p footage at a silky smooth 50fps, and at wide angle settings without employing the zoom the results are superb. Problems creep in when you start snooping around, with noise from the zoom motor marring the soundtrack and poor image stabilisation.
For usability it can’t compete with the likes of the Fujifilm HS30EXR’s DSLR form, but set against its more conventional bridge camera rivals the Panasonic comes out on top, easy to live with in either point-and-shoot or full manual modes.
It’s not short of a button or two but the FZ200 manages to keep things orderly, with controls given enough space to avoid accidental video recording and mode switching.
If you want a superzoom cam then, we'd recommend the Lumix FZ200 which wipes the floor with rival snoopy snappers. A small and solid build coupled with 24x optical zoom and that excellent Auto mode make it a winner but remember, video can be a mixed bag. As an overall package, it's our superzoom of choice in Stuff's best compact cameras line-up.