Price (RRP): $1699
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ2500 digital camera is a very interesting beast. It is priced at significantly more than many interchangeable lens cameras, yet it has a fixed lens. It’s also as large as many interchangeable lens cameras. And Panasonic calls it a hybrid video and still camera.
So what’s it all about?
To start with, rather than having changeable lenses, it packs a highly versatile lens. Not any old lens. Panasonic Lumix cameras basically carry two lines of lenses: Panasonic Lumix branded and Leica branded. The latter are more expensive. This camera packs a Leica DC VARIO-ELMARIT lens. You will rarely feel the need to change lenses because it has a 35mm equivalent focal length of 24 to 480mm, which is 20x from a respectably wide wide-angle to a super telephoto.
As for size, standing 102mm tall, 138mm wide and 135mm deep with the lens retracted, and weighing not far short of a kilogram (966 grams including battery and SD card), yup I’d hesitate to call it compact.
That said, I did go on several walks of several kilometres with the camera slung over my shoulder and it left me unbruised.
The camera uses a 20.1 megapixel MOS sensor to capture images. The “hybrid” moniker comes from certain video-friendly features (many of which are useful in still photography as well). For example, there’s a built in neutral density filter with three settings – 1/4, 1/16 and 1/64 – accessible via switch on the side of the lens. The bane of cinematography can be too much light, leading to fast shutter speeds, leading to too little motion blur during camera movement, leading to judder as the picture jumps from one sharp position to the next at 24 times per second. A bit of neutral dimming allows a slower shutter speed, eliminating the problem.
The 9-blade aperture diaphragm provides smooth out-of-focus backgrounds. There’s a variable frame rate function where you can dial in frame rates of between 2 and 120 frames per second, allowing from near time-lapse speeding up to 1/5x slow motion. And, of course, there’s real time-lapse video recording.
An external microphone input is provided, and some of the video formats support LPCM stereo sound for the highest quality.
In addition, basically all the features that Panasonic packs into its interchangeable lens cameras are built into this one as well. The video tops out at 30fps in 4K, but you can record at up to 100Mbps for very high quality. There’s focus bracketing, high speed burst shooting, 4K post-shooting focus selection. You’re not going to be disappointed by some missing features. For still photographers, a socket for an optional remote shutter release is provided.
There’s also WiFi for uploading content and for remotely controlling the camera.
Both a 75mm one megapixel rear panel LCD screen – that can conveniently fold out to all kinds of angles – and a 2.3 megapixel OLED viewfinder are provided. Panasonic says the viewfinder has a contrast ratio of 10,000:1. Of course it uses SD cards for holding your photos and videos. For the highest 4K video standards, UHS U3 cards are recommended.
This was an easy camera to use. I don’t say that lightly. If you just leave it on Intelligent Auto it will handle pretty much everything for you. All you’ll have to do is zoom and shoot. A two-stage shutter release press is available to allow it to focus, although in normal circumstances that was extremely fast. Want a little more flexibility, then choose “P” for Program. In that mode you can use the quick menu to bring up settings like Auto ISO and White Balance and switch them to fixed settings. Hit the Exposure Compensation button and you can dial up to five stops either way using a thumb wheel. A couple of stops was great for shooting birds on power lines, silhouetted against the sky. Or you can move the dial further to Aperture or Shutter priority, or fully Manual should you want.
I mention those for the enthusiasts. Most will stick with Program or fully Auto.