The Bottom Line
The Panasonic Lumix FZ150 is an extremely impressive ultra-zoom camera, offering a 24X optical zoom lens. Its image quality is outstanding, and the FZ150's autofocus is sharp and accurate.
The FZ150 works well for either beginner or intermediate photographers.
The biggest drawback to the FZ150 is its almost $500 price tag. With the high-end features and performance levels of the FZ150, that's not an out-of-line price, but when you can almost purchase an entry-level DSLR for that price, it's tough to give the FZ150 the highest star rating.
If you can handle the price, though, this is a great camera!
Image quality is outstanding with the Lumix FZ150, and images are sharp and bright throughout the zoom range.
Colors are very accurate, and, when operating in automatic mode, the camera does a great job selecting the proper exposure settings almost all of the time.
You can shoot at four different ratios -- 16:9, 4:3, 3:2, and 1:1 -- and you can shoot at five or six different resolutions at each ratio, which provides great versatility.
Flash photos are of a good quality with the FZ150, thanks in large part to the popup flash unit that provides more even coverage and better results than the tiny built-in flash units you see on small point and shoot cameras.
One interesting feature on the FZ150 is the manual focus option. Using a switch attached to the side of the lens, you can move the switch up and down to sharpen the focus. The camera greatly magnifies the image on the LCD, allowing for extremely precise focus. You won't use this feature often, but when you need the sharpest focus, it works well.
With a 24X optical zoom lens, the FZ150 has plenty of telephoto capabilities. It also offers a nice wide-angle option (at 25mm).
For those who want some control over the photos, Panasonic has included plenty of manual-control features. In "Program" or "Manual" mode, you can set white balance, ISO, and exposure values. You also can set the noise reduction, color saturation, or sharpness at five different levels.
For those who like to keep things simple, the Lumix FZ150 works extremely well in fully automatic mode. When you turn the mode dial, explanations of each mode appear on the screen, which is great for beginners. Fifteen different scene modes provide additional easy-to-use options for slightly controlling the photo.
Special effect options include expressive images, retro, sepia, high dynamic, pin hole, and film grain.
I was impressed with the FZ150's response times, which can be poor with some ultra-zoom cameras. The FZ150 has a little shutter lag when shooting in low light, but, otherwise, it performs quickly.
This camera can shoot full HD movies through a dedicated video button, and the zoom is available while you're using the video function.
If you don't like black cameras, you'll be disappointed in the FZ150, as it's only available in that most basic color.
As with most ultra-zoom fixed-lens cameras, the Lumix FZ150 is a large camera. If you're used to point and shoot models, the FZ150 might give you a shock at first. However, keep in mind that the Lumix FZ150 is smaller and lighter than many other ultra-zoom cameras, and it's fairly easy to use and hold one-handed, thanks to the large right-hand grip on the camera.
You'll find both an EVF (electronic viewfinder) and an LCD with this camera. Although it would be better if the FZ150 automatically switched between the viewfinder and the LCD whenever you lifted the camera to your eye, you can switch between the two manually. It's always nice to have a viewfinder available when you want to use it, but the LCD is very bright and sharp. It's a high-quality LCD, and seven different brightness levels are available.
The FZ150's four-way switch, which is used to select the various menu options, is a little small, but it is raised away from the camera body, which helps make it easier to use.
Finally, this camera's menu structure is a bit odd, as is typical with Panasonic cameras. Depending on the mode you're using, some menu items will appear and disappear, which is very frustrating when you're looking for a particular feature.