Reviewers say the 10.1-megapixel, 18x zoom Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ28 (*Est. $340) is among the best choices for ultra-zoom digital cameras, given its features, image quality, shutter speed, 13-ounce size and affordable price tag. While more versatile cameras with longer zoom lenses are available, experts say 18x is plenty. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ28 has a focal length of 27 mm to 486 mm (35 mm equivalent) that comes equipped with optical image stabilization to reduce blurry photos. Shutter speeds are comparable to market rivals: a 1.5-second start-up; 0.012-second pre-focus; and about 0.8 seconds in full telephoto.
An added advantage is the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ28's support for RAW format and HD video. It also has a larger 2.7-inch LCD display in addition to an electronic viewfinder. However, the Panasonic Lumix FZ28's display is fixed, whereas competitors like Canon's PowerShot SX20 IS (Discontinued) have a swiveling display that rotates 270 degrees. Steves-Digicams.com says the joystick control is balky, and some users find the camera to be a bit too lightweight to hold steady in their hands. For about the same price, the Lumix DMC-FZ35 (Discontinued) offers excellent image quality and fast performance.
Imaging-Resource.com and Steves-Digicams.com offer the most thorough testing and credible digital camera reviews of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ28, while Pocket-Lint.com and TrustedReviews.com offer coverage geared for more general audiences. Rounding out our sources are user reviews at Amazon.com, which vary in quality but provide insight into potential problems with long-term use.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ28 scores for its long zoom lens, excellent image quality at wide angles, and fast shutter times. Editors consider it a great all-round digital camera for indoor, outdoor and long-range photography.
Review: Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ28, Shawn Barnett and Mike Tomkins, Jan. 20, 2009
Steves-Digicams.com conducts thorough testing of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ28, covering key elements such as shooting options, controls, recording formats and image quality. The only major drawback is a balky joystick control; otherwise, photo quality is considered good, even indoors.
Review: Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ28 Review, Editors of Steves-Digicams.com, Nov. 10, 2008
Pocket-Lint.com provides credible reviews written for a general audience, although they are shorter than those found at photography websites. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ28 scores nine out of 10, and tester Doug Harman calls it a good all-around camera that's "easy to use" and produces "stunning" images.
Review: Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ28 Digital Camera Review, Doug Harman, Dec. 9, 2008
When comparing the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ28 with its predecessor, the FZ18, Cliff Smith sees the obvious similarities, but adds that "all the little changes add up to a camera that feels significantly more accomplished and assured than its predecessor." Build and image quality along with features are all first-rate, writes Smith, who considers it one of the best all-round ultra-zoom cameras on the market.
Review: Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ28 Review, Cliff Smith, Aug. 22, 2008
Out of more than 340 owner reviews, most give top scores to the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ28 for its versatility, image quality and value. Some users express disappointment with indoor shots, a common drawback for ultra-zooms.
Review: Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ28 Review, Contributors to Amazon.com