The Catching up Act – Panasonic FZ2500

dthecatching2Panasonic has been a very strong player in compact cameras, especially with the decades of experience they have in motion picture industry. The recent trend of 1-inch sensor ‘premium’ compacts and the strong presence of arch rival Sony in this area might have prompted the response from Panasonic in the form of the new Lumix FZ2500.

Design and Build Quality
The Panasonic FZ2500 is built with a polycarbonate exterior along with a predominantly metal lens assembly. The lens has a very large diameter, similar to the Sony RX10. The body feels quite sturdy. The camera has a metal tripod mount. The tiny flash pop-up button is at the side of the EVF. The camera has a dedicated dial for drive modes and video modes. The grip is deep and provides good balance. Though the camera is not very compact, we shall not complain since it is a super-zoom with 20x optical zoom and a wide-aperture lens.

Key Features
The Panasonic FZ2500 uses a 1-inch Type (9.6 x 12.8 mm) High Sensitivity MOS sensor with 20.1 megapixels. The lens is a Leica DC Vario-Elmarit 24- 480mm equivalent zoom lens, which uses internal zoom and focussing. The lens has a maximum aperture of f/2.8 at the wide-angle and f/4.5 at the telephoto end. The minimum aperture is f/11 at both ends. The lens uses a 9-blade circular aperture diaphragm, which provides smooth  bokehs. The lens is constructed with 16 elements in 11 groups including five aspherical, four extra-low dispersion (ED) and one Ultra High Refractive (UHR) elements, providing eight aspherical surfaces. The camera providesive speed options for zoom. In addition to choosing High, Medium and Low zoom speeds, the camera also allows you to set soft zoom at the start, end, or both. The lens features a 5-axis Hybrid Optical Image Stabiliser, which can be used for both still and videos (except 4K and special modes). The FZ2500 also has built-in ND filter providing options of 1/4, 1/16, 1/64 and Auto.

The lens focusses from 30 cm to infinity at the wide-angle end and from 100 cm to infinity at the telephoto end. In macro mode, it focusses from 3cm to infinity at the wide-angle end. Focus modes available are AFS (Single), AFF (Flexible), AFC (Continuous) and MF (Manual). The camera uses Depth Form Defocus (DFD) technology for accurate focus. The camera also allows you to alter the focus of the image after capturing it. Focus stacking is also available. Autofocus modes include Face/Eye Detection, Tracking, 49-Area, Custom Multi, 1-Area and Pinpoint.

The camera features the usual three metering modes—Multiple, Centre- Weighted and Spot. Shooting modes available are Program AE, Aperture Priority AE, Shutter Priority AE and Manual. ISO sensitivity ranges from ISO 125 to 12800 (expandable from 80 to 25600) with additional Auto and Intelligent ISO options. In motion picture mode, you can choose ISO sensitivity between ISO 125 and 6400. White Balance options are Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Shade, Incandescent, Flash, White Set (4 modes) and Colour temperature (4 settings). White Balance can be fine-tuned with Blue/Amber and, Magenta/Green bias. Colour Temperature can be varied from 2500 to 10,000K in 100K increments. The FZ2500 incorporates both mechanical and electronic shutters, providing shutter speeds of 60 to 1/4,000 sec and 1 to 1/16,000 sec respectively. A Bulb mode is also available, which provides a maximum of two minutes.

The camera can record still images in JPEG or Raw formats along with Digital Print Order Format (DPOF), while motion pictures can be captured in MOV, MP4 or AVCHD. It can be configured to capture Raw, Raw+JPEG Fine, Raw+JPEG Standard, JPEG Fine or JPEG Standard. For still images, the maximum pixel dimension is 4864 x 3648 pixels, while motion pictures can be recorded at the best quality of 3840 x 2160 at 29.97p. The camera features WiFi and NFC. The viewfinder is a 2,360k-dot OLED Live View Finder. The self-timer can be set to 10sec (3 images), 2sec or 10sec. Auto Exposure Bracketing provides bracketing for 3, 5 or 7 images in 1/3, 2/3 or 1 EV steps. Focus bracket can be set with 10 levels. The 2500 provides a maximum burst speed of 12 frames per sec for mechanical shutter and 50 frames per sec in case of electronic shutter. The buffer is enough for more than 30 JPEG or Raw images at this speed. The built-in flash covers a distance of 0.5 to 13.2m (wide-angle, ISO Auto) or 1.0 – 7.9m (telephoto, ISO Auto). Flash modes available are Auto, Auto/ Red-eye Reduction, Forced On, Forced On/Red-eye Reduction, Slow Sync., Slow Sync./Red-eye Reduction and Forced Off. The FZ2500 uses a 3.0- inch articulated touch responsive TFT LCD with approximately 1,040k-dots. The camera uses an SD/SDHC/SDXC memory card (compatible with UHS-I Class 3 cards) for storage. The camera measures 137.6 x 101.9 x 134.7 mm and weighs approximately 966g with card and battery.

The Panasonic FZ2500 is quite comfortable to use. The camera has a deep grip, which has a textured rubber lining. This prevents the camera from slipping. The fully articulated LCD is quite useful and protects the LCD from scratches when not in use. The buttons are small, yet easy to use. Images in the EVF and the LCD were crisp and clear. The command dial needs some effort to access. This could have been moved to the front or back to avoid the inconvenience.