The bridge camera area of the market remains steadily buoyant in an otherwise declining area, and it's thanks to cameras such as the FZ72 which offer so much more than a mobile phone or simple point or shoot probably ever will.
In the FZ72, there's a lot to appeal to a wide range of different consumers. For the photographer that's looking to start getting more serious about photography, this camera offers a satisfying level of manual control and features things such as raw format shooting which means you could learn a lot. Similarly, for those used to shooting with DSLRs but looking to downsize now, the large number of direct control buttons and dials will surely be appealing.
It's a shame Panasonic hasn't invested a little more into the screen and EVF of the FZ72. They're both fairly low resolution, while the screen itself isn't articulated or tilting, which is useful for shooting from awkward angles. It's also not touch sensitive, which is starting to become fairly standard nowadays – we know Panasonic is capable of producing excellent touchscreens as we've seen them on the G series of CSCs, so it would have been nice to see one here.
Putting that aside, images are generally great, with special mention for those shot in good lighting conditions. The zoom function is of course the real stand out feature, and this doesn't disappoint, even when shooting at the telephoto end of the optic. Digital zoom is also good, so if you really do need 120x zoom, then you should be pleased with this camera.
It's a shame there's no inbuilt Wi-Fi for instantly sharing images, but perhaps this would have pushed the price of the camera a little too high.
The best thing about this camera is its huge zoom ratio. It's the world's longest available, and at 60x you've got a lot of flexibility. It's also nice to see that the widest point of the lens is 20mm, a good chunk wider than its nearest rivals and making it ideal for landscapes and capturing a large amount of the scene – traveling or holidaying photographers should love it.
It seems like an odd decision on a camera with so much manual control that is aimed at enthusiasts to not allow you to change the autofocus point. We'd like to see that addressed for the next version of this camera, as having to focus and recompose can be a little frustrating when you've paid a decent chunk of money for a camera.
At first glance, a camera like this seems pretty expensive, being as it costs roughly the same – or in some cases more – than a beginner level DSLR with a sensor size far exceeding the FZ72's 1 /2.3 inch device. However, for your money you get a huge amount of flexibility with that 60x zoom that you just wouldn't be able to achieve with a DSLR without shelling out a lot of money and carrying around a huge piece of equipment. This camera would be a great option for holidaying and travel photographers, as well as those stepping up to learn more about photography or those looking to lighten the load a little.