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Camera Review, Lumix DMC-FZxx CCD Digital Bridge Camera Picks

Lumix DMC-FZxx CCD Digital Bridge Camera Picks
My picks of Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZxx digital bridge cameras for image test and reviews on the 'Re-Living the CCD Sensor' series.

A new 'cult culture' developing for enthusiasts looking for new areas in photography is the interest in CCD photography, or capturing images with vintage cameras built with CCD sensors. CCDs, as we know it, were the standard for camera sensors from the early 80s till the late 2000s. The sensor was acknowledged for its high quality, low noise, and as some say, film-like images.

Though most digital cameras today are fitted with sensors of the CMOS variety, which are less costly to produce, and use less power, CCD sensors are still the preferred sensor used in some regions of specialized photography such as optical microscopy, space photography, and near-infrared imaging.

One camera model that I turned to in pursuit of this interest is the Lumix-FZxx digital bridge camera. The series was produced by Panasonic, the company that launched the Lumix brand in 2001 with the introduction of the DMC-LC5 and DMC-F7.

Lumix DMC-FZ18, DMC-FZ28, DMC-FZ35, DMC-FZ49, and DMC-FZ45

While the FZ series was headed by the single-digit 2MP CCD Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ1 in 2002, I started my pick with the double-digit 8.3MP CCD DMC-FZ18 (2007), followed by the 10.1MP CCD DMC-FZ28 (2008), 12MP CCD DMC-FZ35 (2009), and the 14MP CCD DMC-FZ40 and FZ45 (2010). The FZ40 and FZ45 were identical based on the region these cameras were sold in.

As vintage models, built more than 10 years ago with production technology that has been bypassed and considered redundant, digital cameras with CCD sensors, including models from Panasonic and the DMC-FZxx series, are still readily available today, with prices for the asking, with some units available in near perfect or boxed near-mint condition. All it needs is a discerning eye and a whole load of interest in CCD photography.

These are the Lumix DMC-FZxx digital bridge cameras I have been using for image tests and short reviews.


Lumix DMC-FZ45

Lumix DMC-FZxx CCD Digital Bridge Camera Picks, Lumix DMC-FZ45

The Lumix DMC-FZ45 is identical to the Lumix DMC-FZ40, differing only on where the cameras were sold - DMC-FZ40 in North America, and DMC-FZ45 in Europe.

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One missing from the list is the 12MP CCD FZ-DMC47/48, which looks like it has a reversal on the MP count, and was also the last model that was fitted with CCD sensors. Hoping to get one soon!



Lumix DMC-FZ40

Lumix DMC-FZxx CCD Digital Bridge Camera Picks,Lumix DMC-FZ40

The Lumix DMC-FZ40, launched in 2010 comes with a 14.1MP CCD sensor and features a 24x 25-600mm equivalent superzoom lens. The camera is virtually identical to the higher spec DMC-FZ100 which has a 14.1MP CMOS sensor instead, a higher resolution 460K dot 3.0 inch tiltable LCD, and faster shooting speed. Both have a maximum shutter speed of 1/2000 second, ISO speed range from 80-1600 in Auto and 1600-6400 in Hi-Auto, AVCHD Lite 720p HD video recording, manual shooting mode, and comes with Panasonic's Sonic Speed auto-focus system that offers the industry's fastest focus times.

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On the FZ40, the Record/Playback slider as seen on the FZ35 is also missing, replaced by a push and turn Rear Dial to activate and set Exposure Compensation, Shutter Speed, and Aperture Opening when the camera is operated in PASM exposure modes. Playback, which will still push images to the LCD screen, is now a Green Arrow button on the camera back.

Also missing from the FZ40 is the Joystick that was used on previous models to adjust the camera settings including the aperture, shutter, and manual focus, or pushed-in to fire up a superimposed menu. In place of the Joystick is a cyclic selector button for AF, AF Macro, and MF focusing options.



Lumix DMC-FZ35

Lumix DMC-FZxx CCD Digital Bridge Camera Picks, Lumix DMC-FZ35

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ35, introduced in 2009, replaces the FZ28 and comes with a 12.1MP CCD sensor while retaining the 1:2.8~4.4 18X optical zoom 27mm Leica DC Vario-Elmarit wide-angle lens as seen on the FZ18 and FZ28, the 201,000 pixels in-line Electronic Viewfinder (EV) with dioptre adjustment, and the 2.7-inch 230,000 pixels live view TFT LCD. The camera was among the first to feature AVCHD lite format HD video recording, a faster Venus Engine HD processor, and a Quick AF system twice as fast as that of the predecessor.

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Lumix DMC-FZ28

Lumix DMC-FZxx CCD Digital Bridge Camera Picks, Lumix DMC-FZ28

Launched in 2008, the Lumix DMC-FZ28 is fitted with a 10MP CCD sensor and a newer Venus Engine IV image processor. While having the same 1:2.8~4.4 27mm Leica DC Vario-Elmarit wide-angle lens as the FZ18 and almost similar functional goodies, the in-line EVF (Electronic Viewfinder) of the FZ28 is now a 201,600-dot equivalent unit, and the LCD screen is 2.7-inch with 230,000 dots high resolution.

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The FZ28 is also fitted with a very convenient Record/Playback slider switch, located on the top right corner of the camera back, which flips playback images back to the LCD screen, even when you are in EVF while capturing the image.



Lumix DMC-FZ18

Lumix DMC-FZxx CCD Digital Bridge Camera Picks, Lumix DMC-FZ18

Introduced in 2002, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18 is fitted with an 8.1MP CCD sensor, a Leica DC Vario-Elmarit lens with an 18X (28-504mm equivalent) optical zoom, 188,000 pixel EVF, 207,000 pixels 2.5 inch LCD monitor, and a whole lot of features including a 1 cm. macro mode, RAW shooting mode, optical image stabilizer, dedicated AF/AE button, Face Detection, a new Intelligent Auto mode that integrates Image Stabilization, Intelligent ISO, Face Detection, and Scene Detection into a 'Super' Auto Mode, an ISO 6400 High Sensitivity mode, and a five-level noise reduction capability,

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