There was one thing that kept the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100 from earning a CNET Editors' Choice award: photo quality. Its replacement, the FZ150, was announced today, and although much of the camera stays the same as its predecessor, a new imaging sensor might fix its photo woes.
The main issue was Panasonic's JPEG processing of photos taken above ISO 200 that produced soft smeary details and yellow blotching caused by noise. It's not great for any camera, but it's especially disappointing in a $500 one. The FZ150 gets a new 12-megapixel MOS sensor (dropping from 14 megapixels in the FZ100), which Panasonic claims improves its signal-to-noise ratio, and new noise reduction more evenly suppresses noise in dark and light areas of photos as well. The end result should be better photos at higher ISOs.
The high-speed sensor and the camera's Venus Engine image processor also allow it to capture full HD movies at 60p (28Mbps) as well as fast continuous shooting at 12fps (without autofocus) and 5.5fps (with autofocus) in full resolution. And if its like the FZ100, it'll shoot nearly as fast when capturing raw+JPEG.
Other perks include a hot shoe for use with an add-on flash or mic (pictured); a 24x, f2.8-5.2, 25-600mm lens with nano coating to reduce ghosting and flares; zoom controls on the shutter release and lens barrel; a 460K-dot-resolution flip-out rotating LCD and electronic viewfinder; and an exhaustive set of shooting options ranging from full manual to everything automatic.
The Panasonic Lumix FZ150 will be available in black for $499.99 in late September.