‘Super-zoom’ compact camera styled like a digital SLR
From a distance the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ48 resembles a digital SLR camera, but up close you'll see the lens is fixed in place.
This isn't necessarily a disappointment – the 24x optical zoom has a huge focal range equivalent to 25-600mm on an old film camera, which means this camera is classed as a ‘super zoom'.
The lens makes the FZ48 as useful for photographing landscapes as for close-up portraits and the zoom can even be used when recording video. The FZ48 can record high-definition video at the 720p resolution and has a separate record button for video, so you can record instantly, no matter which of the 14 shooting options are selected. The zoom moves more slowly in video mode to prevent the stereo microphones picking up its adjustment noises.
The FZ48 includes a chunky handgrip for holding it steady when attempting shots at full zoom and the lens has image stabilisation to help prevent blur from camera shake. It's not perfect but it's better than nothing. The small buttons on the back were fiddly but clearly marked and straightforward. A useful pop-up flash hides above the lens.
The camera powered up in two seconds. Photos and video are composed on the 3in rear screen, and though there is an electronic viewfinder above this, it's lower-quality than the screen and we found it less satisfactory.
Unusually, the FZ48 has a smaller resolution than its FZ45 predecessor with a maximum of 12.1 megapixels, but that's not a problem, quality-wise – it's more than enough.
The battery lasted 400 shots from a full charge, which is better than average. Colours were rich and warm without being unnatural, while a Photo Style mode allows for a vivid boost if desired.
Anyone looking for one camera to do everything will find the FZ48 worthwhile – it's a high-quality camera that delivered good photos and video.
However, it's not a small camera. If it's simply higher-quality photos you're after, a cheap SLR might be a better choice, while ‘travel zoom' cameras such as the TZ20 from Panasonic also offer extra zoom power but smaller proportions.
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This camera will appeal to anyone looking for an all-rounder, though if a huge zoom isn't required a smaller pocket camera might be better
Big zoom range; full zoom can be used when recording video; stereo sound
Too chunky to fit in a pocket; screen can't be tilted; pricey
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