At the core of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200 is a 12.1-million-pixel, High Sensitivity MOS sensor that is 1/2.3in in size, or approximately 6.17×4.55mm. This is a standard size for a compact camera sensor, and is smaller than the 1/1.7in (7.6×5.7mm) sensors in high-end models such as the LX7. The difference in size may seem small, but it equates to a difference in surface area of more than 50%, which is significant when you consider that its surface packed with 12.1 million photodiodes.
Handling the data created by the sensor is Panasonic’s Venus processing engine, which the company claims will ‘elevate the response, sensitivity and image quality of the DMC-FZ200 to an even higher level’. There are few improvements to the camera’s actual shooting specification – the most notable is an increased maximum shutter speed, from 1/2000sec in the FZ150 to 1/4000sec in the new FZ200. Sensitivity is also increased by 1EV, with a new extended setting of ISO 6400. Previously, ISO 6400 was only available when shooting in High Sensitivity mode.
As with most bridge cameras, both raw and JPEG images can be recorded, with the former proving useful for those wanting to squeeze every last ounce of detail from the 12.1-million-pixel sensor. Two other notable improvements include a fairly substantial increase in the resolution of the electronic viewfinder (EVF), from the FX150’s 201,600 dots to 1.312 million dots in the FZ200, although the display still remains a small 0.21in size. The other is a constant f/2.8 aperture throughout the 24x optical zoom range of the lens, whereas on the FZ150 it is f/2.8-5.2. While it may seem like a small increase to the maximum aperture setting at the longest focal length, it is significant, particularly for those who will make good use of the 600mm equivalent setting. There will be more to come on the EVF and zoom lens later in this test.