New cam takes sharpest snaps on the Panny block

Panasonic built the best 12x optical zoom camera it could. It said to the DMC-FZ5: ‘Take the best picture in the world’. The camera said that it could

Panasonic built the best 12x optical zoom camera it could. It said to the DMC-FZ5: ‘Take the best picture in the world’. The camera said that it couldn’t… but it could build a camera that could. And thus, the DMC-FZ7 was born.

Panasonic has managed to improve on its mighty sub-£400 12x-zoomy serious-o-cam. The FZ7 gets an extra megapixel, the same Leica DC Vario-Elmarit 12x optical zoom and some cunning new features.

Hang on, though – a 12x zoom. You’re thinking that them’s going to be some wobbly pictures with that kind of lens extension. Wrong! Panasonic’s Mega OIS physically moves the lens to counteract the unwanted action of your gin-sodden nerves.

Also upping the picture sharpness ante is the camera’s high sensitivity – up to 1600 ISO if you ask it nicely.

What does this mean? It means that even with super-fast shutter speeds, the sensor sucks up light like it’s on a mission to swallow the sun. The resulting pictures – in 1600 mode – will be slightly lower resolution, but in wobbly or low-light situations any sharp result is a score.

What of these new features? Well, Panasonic has added a digi-SLR style joystick for manual aperture and focussing. The LCD has been boosted to 2.5inch, and includes a Power LCD mode for bright conditions.

Geekiest of all is the High Angle LCD mode, which adjusts the output of the LCD so that it can be easily viewed when holding the camera over your head – at a gig, for example. We’ve tried it, and it works.

Colour options for the FZ7 are still silver and black, although the styling of the body has been smoothed off here and there.

On the street, you’ll probably be able to get one for two good stories, a punch in the face and a shopping trolley. We suggest you buy one in the shops, where you’ll get one for under £350 – terrific value.

It’s on sale now, to find out more click here.