If you’re looking for a moderately priced, feature-packed camera, that handles both photo and video quite admirably then the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ40 may be well worth checking out.
This is not your typical slim, cell-phone sized photo/camcorder. The 24x optical image stabilized zoom lens adds a considerable amount of bulk while delivering a broad magnification range with excellent depth of field. While not at all heavy, you’ll still want to pick up a good shoulder bag to pack the DMC-FZ40 around in.
Among the advanced manual controls located on the back of the camera you’ll find a 4-way directional control pad with ISO, exposure control, a self timer and an assignable function button, an AF/AE Lock button, jog dial, AF/AF-MACRO/MF Mode Button, display and playback buttons.
Atop the unit lies the quick focus button, a large shooting mode dial, the video record button and the shutter button/zoom toggle combination. Images are recorded in the AVCHD Lite format to SD, SDHC or SDXC cards. While the AVCHD specification supports recording in 720p, 1080i and 1080p, AVCHD Lite records in 720p/30fps only – resulting in smaller file sizes.
The LCD is basic – 230,000 pixels – and fixed, lacking the versatility of a flip-out, rotating screen. Also included, however, is a color, electronic viewfinder – very desirable in bright light situations. Audio quality is decent, with the stereo microphone integrated into the top of the pop-up flash unit, which has a manual open button located on the back of the camera. There is no port in which to plug an external microphone.
The FZ40 has an excellent array of shooting features such as a manual mode with a 60-second shutter speed – great for long exposure shooting. The aperture settings range from F2.8 – 8.0 (F11 in movie mode). A brighter setting would be nice, but still, this is a very decent range. Achieving proper focus shouldn’t be a problem either as there is a plethora of options for this.
Want more features? There’s a macro mode with four composition settings, four different aspect ratios, absolute oodles of white balance settings, the usual scene modes plus an Art Mode with various digital effects for both still photos and HD video. Image quality ranges include Fine, Standard, RAW+ Fine, RAW+ Standard and RAW. Thankfully, with all of these many features, the menus are fairly intuitive and easy to navigate.
While the image quality is good, it isn’t outstanding – images could be crisper. Cramming this many pixels (14.1MP) onto a relatively small sensor (1:2.33) is bound to cause basic image performance to suffer to some degree. Increased noise and lack of detail also result from having a smaller sensor. Still, this camera packs in many great features and has a lot to offer most non-professionals.
Lens: LEICA DC VARIO-ELMARIT
Optical Image Stabilizer: POWER O.I.S. (Off – Auto – Mode1 – Mode2)
Optical Zoom: 24x
Manual Focus: Jog dial and cursor key button, One Shot AF, AF Area Select, AF Tracking Focus Icon Select White Balance: Auto – Daylight – Cloudy – Shade – Flash – Halogen – Color Temperature – White Set1 – White Set2
Macro Modes: Flower, Food, Objects, Creative
Picture Adjustment: Contrast: ± 2 steps, Sharpness: ± 2 steps, Saturation: ± 2 steps
Noise Reduction: ± 2 steps
Wind-cut in Motion Picture: Yes
Recording Media: Built-in Memory, SD Memory Card, SDHC Memory Card, SDXC Memory Card
Continuous Recordable Time: AVCHD
Recording File Format: Still Image – JPEG (DCF / Exif 2.3); Motion Picture: AVCHD Lite, Quick Time Motion JPEG
Aspect Ratios: 4:3 / 3:2 / 16:9 / 1:1
Image Quality: Fine / Standard / RAW+ Fine / RAW+ Standard / RAW Motion Picture Recording
Microphone: Yes (Stereo)
Interface: AV Output (NTSC/PAL, NTSC), HDMI (mini HDMI), USB2.0 High Speed
Included Software: PHOTOfunSTUDIO 5.0 HD Edition, SILKYPIX Developer Studio 3.1 SE, QuickTime, Adobe Reader
- Good design with nice layout of buttons, dials, etc.
- Abundant shooting features
- Lots of options, both manual and preset
- Large 24X, optical image stabilized lens
- Great depth of field
- Menus easy to navigate
- Image quality could be better
- lack of detail in low light situations
One Panasonic Way
Secaucus, NJ 07094
Whether you’re a complete beginner or an experienced non-professional looking for a feature packed camera to lug around on your next vacation, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ40, with options galore, may be just the ticket.
Mark Holder is a video producer and trainer.