The Bottom Line
Large zoom lens cameras have some inherent problems, especially with camera shake, but the FZ40 has plenty of other great features. This is one of my favorite fixed lens cameras currently on the market.
If you cannot afford a DSLR or DIL interchangeable lens camera, but you want the look and feel of that type of camera, the Lumix FZ40 would be a really good choice.
Just be sure to use a tripod with this camera.
- Great mix of automatic and manual control features
- Better image quality and sharpness than most fixed lens cameras
- Look and feel of a more advanced, DSLR camera
- Menu structure is pretty easy to use
- Having the option of using a viewfinder or an LCD to frame photos is nice
- You'll want a tripod with this camera, to protect against camera shake
- Camera is very large
- Occasional focus problems at full zoom extension
- Beginner photographers may be overwhelmed with all of the manual control features
- Resolution: 14.1 megapixels
- Optical zoom: 24X (25-600mm)
- LCD: 3.0-inch, 230,000 pixels
- Maximum image size: 4320 x 3240 pixels
- Battery: Rechargeable Li-ion
- Dimensions: 3.14 x 4.74 x 3.62 inches
- Weight: 17.57 ounces (with battery, memory card)
- Image sensor: CCD 1/2.33 in.
- Movie modes: AVCHD Lite and motion JPEG
Guide Review - Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ40 Review
As with all large zoom cameras, achieving high image quality can be a bit tricky with the FZ40, primarily because of camera shake issues. If you don't have a tripod, you'll have sporadic results. Without a tripod, some photos will end up blurry, if you're using the FZ40 in low light or with the 24X optical zoom fully extended.
When the camera is steady, image quality is very good with the FZ40, at least compared to other large zoom cameras. The image quality won't be as good as an advanced photographer will want or as good as you'll see with a DSLR camera, but it's good for a beginner camera.
The camera's focus is very good, either in macro mode or even with the zoom fully extended. The sharpness of the FZ40 was a surprise to me, as photos shot with fixed lens cameras sometimes can be a little soft. One issue I noticed: Occasionally, the camera will focus on the wrong subject when the zoom is fully extended.
The FZ40's overall response times are pretty good, although you will notice some shutter lag with the zoom fully extended, which is a common problem with fixed lens cameras. The start-up time for this camera is very short, and you'll rarely miss a spontaneous photo waiting for the FZ40 to be ready.
The 24X zoom lens moves smoothly, which makes it easy to shoot photos at any magnification.
Panasonic included a 3.0-inch LCD screen with the FZ40, which works well and is pretty easy to see most of the time. If you do have a little bit of glare when using the FZ40 outdoors, you can always switch to the eyepiece of the electronic viewfinder.
The popup flash unit with the Lumix FZ40 works pretty well, and it is centered over the lens. The primary problem you may notice is, when shooting close-up photos using the flash, the lens housing may block some of the light from the flash, leaving you with a large shadow in the photo.
For those used to small point and shoot cameras, using the FZ40 will cause a different mindset. The FZ40 is a large camera, and the lens extends another couple of inches beyond the camera body when you're using the full 24X magnification. The FZ40 is almost the size of a small DSLR camera.
Looking at the Lumix FZ40, you'd expect it to carry quite a bit of weight, but it doesn't feel heavy when you're using it. In fact, it's pretty easy to use this camera one-handed because of its light weight. Because of camera shake issues, I wouldn't recommend using the FZ40 one-handed when shooting at a large magnification or in low light, but it is surprising to be able to achieve decent results with a large zoom camera when shooting one-handed.
Finally, the FZ40 has an impressive collection of manual control features for a sub-$400 camera, and it works very well in either fully automatic or in manual modes. The mode dial at the top of the camera will remind you of a DSLR model. You can apply special effects or shoot from 17 different scene modes. The FZ40 offers a AVCHD Lite video mode, too, which is nice.