Build and handling
In terms of both size and design, the Lumix DMC-FZ200 is very similar to Panasonic’s own G2 compact system camera. The polycarbonate body is well built and feels solid, with no creaks, unwanted movements or parts that feel flimsy. The handgrip is fairly large with a contoured shape and textured rubber grip that makes it comfortable to hold. On the opposite side of the handgrip sits a small bump on which to rest the thumb. This really helps when it comes to holding a camera securely, especially when stability is an issue, such as when using the FZ200’s full extent of the zoom lens.
The placement of buttons and controls on the FZ200 is fairly standard, with nothing untoward or unusual in their placement. Everything is logically placed, and most photographers should have no problem just picking up the camera and getting started. Direct controls are in place for all the most used settings, with a large dial on the camera’s top-plate allowing the different shooting modes to be accessed quickly. On the rear are buttons for white balance, AF, metering and ISO sensitivity, while three custom Fn buttons allow speedy access to the user’s own favoured menu items. On top of all this, there is a quick menu button that allows access to almost everything the photographer could want to change, including the image colour mode.
On the side of the lens are further buttons that switch between standard AF, macro AF and manual focus modes, and there is even a separate focus button in addition to the standard half-press of the shutter button to focus the lens. For video purposes, a zoom-control slider switch is also fitted to the side. This makes it easy to adjust the speed of the lens as it zooms back and forth, which avoids jerky movements when shooting video.
There is very little to dislike about the FZ200’s handling, and in this respect it is on a par with most recent bridge cameras. If asked to nitpick, all I can really come up with is the fact that the memory card is inserted into the bottom of the camera in the same place as the battery. This is slightly annoying if it is necessary to change memory cards when the camera is mounted on a tripod, but this is never going to be an everyday situation, especially as I shot around 250 raw + JPEG images on an 8GB memory card. If shooting JPEGs only, experience tells me that closer to 750 images can be expected when using an 8GB card.