Panasonic’s FZ300 zoom camera is the successor to the FZ200, building on its lens performance of full range f/2.8 aperture (equivalent: 25-600 mm), and featuring 4K ultra high definition photo and video recording.
The company notes that f/2.8 aperture at 600 mm “has never before been achieved by any digital compact camera.” So, capture moving subjects clearly with a fast shutter speed even at a distance.
The camera’s 12.1-megapixel High Sensitivity MOS sensor and the new Venus Engine allows for shooting high quality images up to ISO 6400, with a higher resolution and superior colour reproduction.
The FZ300 is capable of recording smooth, high-resolution QFHD 4K video in 3840×2160 at 30p (60Hz) / or 24p in MP4. Taking advantage of 4K Photo, users can capture images at 30 fps in 8-megapixel resolution. Three new exclusive functions will help: 4K Burst Shooting, 4K Burst S/S (Start/Stop) and 4K Pre-burst. These functions allow cropping the desired frame out of the 4K burst file.
The camera offers manual operation of both photo and video recording.
The FZ300 features a large, bright OLED (Organic Light-Emitting Diode) LVF (Live View Finder) with approximately100 percent field of view in 4:3 aspect. It boasts 0.7x magnification and very high contrast at 10,000:1 together with excellent colour reproduction.
For even faster response and higher mobility, the FZ300 also features the DFD (Depth From Defocus) technology to achieve ultra high-speed AF of approx. 0.09 sec, and contributes to the high speed burst shooting at 12 fps.
With Wi-Fi connectivity, users can connect the camera to their smartphone / tablet to expand the flexibility in shooting, storing, and sharing images.
The 24x Leica DC Vario-Elmarit optical zoom consists of 14 elements in 11 groups, including three ED lenses and five aspherical lenses with nine aspherical surfaces. Panasonic says the lens delivers a compact body while still delivering exceptional optical performance and suppressing distortion at the wide end and colour bleeding at the tele end. Plus, with the Nano Surface Coating technology, light reflection is minimized for the entire visual light range by applying the extra-low refractive index coating with nano-sized structure on the surface of the lens. The result is a clear picture with a dramatic reduction of ghosting and flare, says the company.
The camera also offers O.I.S. (Optical Image Stabilizer) to effectively suppresses hand-shake vibration.
The combination of the FZ300’s 12.1-megapixel High Sensitivity MOS sensor and new Venus Engine achieves even higher picture quality. The advanced Multi-process NR (Noise Reduction) applies effective noise reduction and detail processing according to each component frequency. Plus, newly added Random Filter granulates chromatic noise to be blended into the image even more naturally. As a result, a maximum ISO 6400 is achieved.
The aperture filter is capable of controlling a wider frequency range by adjusting the amount of sharpness according to the frequency level, resulting in faithful stereoscopic effect. The Venus Engine excels in diffraction compensation, says Panasonic, to make the resulting image crisp and clear when shooting with a small aperture. In addition, the Venus Engine also improves colour reproduction with accurate evaluation of each colour. It is superior not only in colour phase but also in saturation and luminosity.
The FZ300 records high-resolution QFHD 4K video in 3840×2160 at 30p (60Hz) or 24p in MP4, in addition to the full-HD 1,920 x 1,080 60p (60 Hz) videos in AVCHD Progressive or MP4 (MPEG-4 / H.264) format with practical full-time AF.
The 4K Photo feature lets users take advantage of the 4K video recording capabilities to capture images at 30 fps in 8-megapixel resolution by cutting a frame out of the 4K burst file to save as a JPEG photo. The 4K Burst Shooting allows consecutive shooting at 30 fps, which can be used just like photo burst shooting, notes the company.
The 4K Burst (Start/Stop) mode starts consecutive shooting with a single press of a shutter button and stops it when pressed again, which is more suitable for shooting opportunities requiring longer waiting times. The 4K Pre-burst automatically records a total of 60 images right before/after the shutter release.
The smooth 2-step zoom and 5-Axis HYBRID O.I.S.+ (Optical Image Stabilizer Plus) are available in video recording. The 5-Axis correction compensates for handshake occurring in virtually any direction.
High Speed Video enables recording subjects at 120 fps (NTSC / HD) / 100 fps (PAL / HD) or 240 fps (VGA), while Time Lapse /Stop Motion Animation are also available.
The FZ300 adopts a splash / dustproof rugged design.
Adopting a static-type touch control system, the 3-inch free-angle rear monitor lets users set the focus on the subject by touching it on the screen. You can even release the shutter and enlarge the target point with your fingertips to set a precise focus.
To further enhance controllability, the FZ300 comes with a side dial in addition to the rear dial. Users can change settings such as aperture and shutter speed with the side / rear dials and can also customize the assignment of functions as well as on the Fn buttons. Furthermore, it is also possible to make a temporary shift of dial functions with the Dial Operation Switch. For example, users can adjust white balance with a front dial and set ISO with a rear dial while choosing the shutter speed or seeing the noise effect. AFS/AFC/MF can be switched with the dedicated focus lever.
he FZ300 features a dedicated linear motor in the focus system to achieve ultra-high-speed AF. In addition, the Light Speed AF is further enhanced with an adoption of DFD (Depth From Defocus) technology, which shortens the time to set focus. It calculates the distance to the subject by evaluating two images with different sharpness level at 240 fps high signal exchange speed. As a result, the camera achieves ultra-high speed AF of approx.0.09 sec, which is approximately 350 percent faster than its predecessor. This improvement becomes more substantial as focal length increases.
The camera is capable of releasing its mechanical shutter at 1/4000 sec (at 25 mm) and 1/3200 sec (at 600 mm), and its electronic shutter at 1/16000.
The FZ300 comes with new focusing options including Full Area AF, which allows users to set focus on any part of the field of view. Focus detect area is increased to 49 points for more flexible composition, and together with Custom Multi AF mode users can freely select the blocks on which to focus in the 49 point focusing area. The 1-area AF area can be magnified not only in manual but also in autofocus mode. Pinpoint AF helps to focus on a tiny area by magnifying the focusing spot with a frame-in-frame window. With the Low Light AF, AF works in -3EV lower-lit situations, which is comparable to a moonlit sky with no other light source.
For more practical focusing control, the camera incorporates a Focus Peaking function that shows the focus position in MF and AF+MF mode. Users can see the optimal focus while monitoring the subject in live view. In addition to the conventional Face Recognition AF, the FZ300 also incorporates Eye Detection AF which automatically sets focus right on the eye of a human face. The Eye Sensor AF starts focusing by the user just looking into the LVF. Tracking AF offers advanced tracking accuracy, achieved by estimating the subject’s movement.
The FZ300 integrates Wi-Fi connectivity (IEEE 802.11 b/g/n). Pairing with a smartphone / tablet is quick and easy with no passwords required. After installing Panasonic’s dedicated application software, Panasonic Image App for iOS / Android, users can shoot, browse, and share images remotely.
The FZ300 is capable of shooting images in RAW and developing them in camera.
The Live View function makes it possible to adjust highlight / shadow separately with the rear dial. Three patterns of settings can be customized in addition to three patterns of preset.
The Panorama Shot function allows capturing of horizontal / vertical wide panoramic images by shooting sequential pictures. Either “Standard (minimum distortion)” or “Wide (maximum angle of view)” can be selected.
The Panasonic FZ300 will be available mid-September with an MSP of $799.99.