Panasonic FZ72 – Preview

You know what. You can go and buy yourself a pretty inexpensive camera and, with just a little bit of thought, a little bit of processing and a little bit of luck, produce a photo which on a monitor will look every bit as good as the ones you see in magazines*. Landscapes are helped if your camera has a wide angle lens. Portraits are all the better with some fast glass to give a bit of depth of field. Low light shots are helped with a larger sensor. Creative shots can be created on your PC later. Sure, a fancy camera will help plenty and make your job easier. But it’s not always a necessity.

Except for birding. Birding is really rather specialist. For that, a thousand dollar DSLR and lenses worth several times more than the camera are needed. Anything less, and it will show in your results. Which means for birding fans (thinking of you, Steve…) there is a choice to be made. Splurging a fortune, or settling for a compromise. That compromise will be hundreds of blurred shots, lack of feather detail, over cropping etc etc.

But has Panasonic just dropped a new bridge camera into the market place that offers birding fans a half decent compromise? The latest in their range is the soon to be released FZ72, a 16mp beast with a 60x zoom lens. Other cameras have reached 50x, and I’ve largely written them off as soon as I’ve taken a look at the spec sheet. But Panny’s tend to have better built in stabilisation and the lens is an f2.8 to f5.9 unit – cocks a snoot at Canon’s rather slow lens on their rival cam.

To top it off, you can buy a 1.7x telephoto lens attachment, taking the potential zoom all the way up to 102x. That’s impressive. That may put birding back on the menu for those who can’t, or won’t pay a kings ransom to Nikon or Canon for some hefty lenses.  I won’t try and kid you. The results won’t be DSLR perfect. There will still be some pretty big sacrifices to be made. A lot of shots will still be prime recycle bin material. But this camera might, just might, get some pretty decent birding shots for you. We’ll see. I’ll collect some samples once the camera is on general release, and proud new owners start uploading the goodies to Flickr.

FZ72

*You almost certainly will have to take quite a few more photos than those who tote DSLRs, but still. You’ll get a good ‘un now and again!

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