Image: The 24x zoom range is really about as much as most casual photographers will ever need
In the past few years Panasonic has made big leaps forward in the speed of the contrast detection AF systems in its G-series CSCs, and now it would appear that this technology has found its way into the Lumix DMC-FZ200. While the bridge camera cannot claim to be as fast as models in the G series, it is certainly quick, especially given the range of the zoom lens. At short distances the lens snaps quickly into focus, although at 600mm switching between a subject at the minimum distance and infinity takes a second or two. It will also occasionally hunt bit more if focus is suddenly switched from infinity to something just a few metres away.
Image: Shot from a few metres away in the FZ200’s macro mode, the camera has done a good job of picking up the fine dew in the cobweb
Having a dedicated AF button on the side of the camera makes it quick and easy to change the AF point: the left hand hits the button on the lens, and the right uses the directional controls on the rear of the camera.
In manual focusing mode, this AF button acts as an autofocus override, which is useful considering that focusing the lens manually is slow and a little awkward to do accurately, despite an enlarged section of the image being shown on screen.
Due to the size of the sensor, the camera’s macro mode isn’t truly 1:1, but with a 1cm minimum focusing distance from the end of the lens, it is close enough.
Using the macro mode is also one of the few times when switching the FZ200 to manual focus may be advantageous, although even when as close as 1cm the AF still snaps into focus.