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Overall, the Panasonic FZ200 is a pleasure to use, and the quality of images delivered by the camera leaves a generally good impression. Compared to other bridge cameras we've used, the raft of features, direct controls and manual control over your pictures make it stand out from most other popular models on the market.
Oh, and that fabulous lens. While there are bigger or equivalent zooms on the market - and even in Panasonic's catalogue - the maximum aperture of f/2.8 throughout the whole of the 25-600mm focal range gave us the freedom to shoot anywhere, at any time.
The lens, the 24x zoom, that fast aperture… oh yes. The flexibility of the Panasonic FZ200's optic and its bright, fully articulated LCD screen meant this was a take-anywhere camera in every sense of the phrase. Manual mode, raw capture and having the option to move the focus point around your frame and adjust its size only added to the camera's flexibility.
With a metering system that is biased towards the mid-tone, pictures were sometimes a bit too flat. The Panasonic FZ200 also seems to struggle a bit with luminance noise, even at lower sensitivities.
The Panasonic FZ200 offers a great number of features and direct control over the image-making process. But with its full price of £568.99/AU$799/US$599.99 and considerable size for a bridge camera, you might instead be tempted to consider upgrading to an entry-level DSLR.
The Nikon D3100, for example, can be found new for as low as £350/AU$550/US$500.
That said, its versatility, efficient AF system, fast f/2.8 aperture, manual mode, 3-inch fully articulated LCD screen, option to shoot raw and wide range of creative filters make the Panasonic FZ200 a wonderful all-rounder.
It's a suitable back-up camera for your DSLR, or could even be your primary camera if you just want to shoot holidays and other pictures to share online or make small prints for your photo albums.