Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ150: Build and Design

October 24, 2011 by Andy Stanton Reads (11,337)
Editor's Rating

Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

    • Image/Video Quality
    • 8
    • Features
    • 9
    • Design / Ease of Use
    • 9
    • Performance
    • 10
    • Expandability
    • 0
    • Total Score:
    • 7.20
    • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10

The FZ150 has the styling and build of a small DSLR, with a deep, rubber-coated right hand grip. While the camera is mostly plastic it apparently has a metal frame underneath and feels very solid. Its buttons and dials seem well-made. It has a large, chunky mode dial that turns in well-defined clicks. The camera weighs approximately 528 grams including its lithium-ion battery and a memory card. I found the camera easy to hold and use even for an extended period of time.

Panasonic Lumix FZ150

Along with the camera itself, Panasonic bundles a lens hood, a lithium-ion battery, a charger, a USB cable, a lens cap, a neck strap a basic owner’s manual and a CD-Rom which contains the full manual, Photofun Studio for organizing photos, Silkypix to edit RAW photos, Quicktime, and a trial version of Super LoiLoScope for editing videos.

Ergonomics and Controls
The FZ150’s deep right hand grip, with its rubber coating, allows you to get a firm hold on the camera, while leaving your forefinger free to press the shutter and manipulate the metal zoom ring. The large lens barrel contains controls on the side that can be used as an alternative method for adjusting the zoom or manually focusing the camera.

Panasonic Lumix FZ150

The front of the camera includes a lamp for auto focus assist and timer. One side of the camera contains a compartment for a microphone or a remote control cable and a second compartment with ports for an HDMI cable (not included with the camera) and a USB cable. The compartments are protected by solid, rubber covers.

Panasonic Lumix FZ150

A small speaker is located on top of the camera. Next to it is the flash mechanism, which is opened by a button at the camera’s rear. Above the flash are the camera’s left and right stereo microphones and the hot shoe. Next to the flash is the circular mode dial and, to the right of the dial, are an on/off switch, a button for controlling continuous shooting options, a dedicated movie button and a metal shutter button with an enclosed zoom ring. All controls work very well with one exception – I found the movie button difficult to press because it did not protrude sufficiently from the camera.

Panasonic Lumix FZ150

At the camera’s rear is its large, 3.0-inch diagonal monitor that has a 460,000 pixel resolution. The monitor, which has an anti-reflective coating, is fully articulated and can be set so that the screen faces in or out as well as moved to the side. Above the monitor is an electronic viewfinder with a 0.20 inch, 201,600 pixel screen and 100% coverage. On one side of the viewfinder are a diopter control for adjusting the viewfinder screen and the button for opening the flash. On the other side you’ll find a button for alternating between the electronic viewfinder and LCD monitor, a button for locking the autofocus, and a dial for moving through menu screens.

Panasonic Lumix FZ150

There is also a sculpted area for resting the thumb while holding the camera, which I found very useful. Beneath that is the standard control panel with a four-way dial (timer, exposure compensation ISO and function) surrounded by buttons for display, playback and quit menu/trash.

The camera’s bottom contains a metal tripod socket and the battery/memory card compartment with a sturdy plastic cover. The FZ150 will accept any SD, SDHC or SDXC memory card.

Menus and Modes
As I’ve found with other Panasonic cameras I’ve experienced, the menu system is very straightforward. The menu screens available to the user are shooting-mode-dependent, but with the most commonly used modes, Intelligent Auto, Program, Manual, Aperture Priority and Shutter Priority, the menus have three basic components – shooting, movie and setup, with various sub-menus. The menus have large type and are very easy to read on the LCD monitor. Here are the camera’s shooting modes:

  • Intelligent Auto: The camera identifies the shooting conditions and automatically selects the most appropriate settings. These settings include motion deblur (in which the camera adjusts the shutter speed when viewing moving subjects), intelligent handheld nightshot (allows shooting night scenery by combining consecutive images), face recognition (remembers registered faces and removes red-eye), auto focus tracking (keeps focus locked on moving subjects), intelligent ISO control (automatically adjusts ISO), intelligent D-range control (combines images to reduce extreme contrast), and six scene modes – macro, portrait, scenery, night portrait, night scenery and sunset.
  • Program: Users have access to most manual settings, including Photo Style (options to adjust contrast, sharpness, saturation, and noise reduction), ISO (up to 6400 in high sensitivity mode), white balance (auto plus five settings), flash (auto, auto/red-eye reduction, forced flash, slow-synch) and quality (fine, standard, and three levels of RAW).
  • Manual: Users get access to all functions of Program mode plus control of shutter speed (1/2000 seconds to 15 seconds) and aperture (up to 10 settings).
  • Aperture Priority: Users get all functions of Program mode plus control of aperture.
  • Shutter Priority: Users get all functions of Program mode plus control of shutter speed.
  • Scene: Users can select from numerous scene modes including panorama assist, party, candle light, baby 1, baby 2, pet, sunset, high sensitivity, flash burst, panning, starry sky, fireworks, beach, snow, aerial photo, photo frame, high speed video (220 frames per second) and 3D (for viewing on a 3D television).
  • Creative Control: Users can select special art filters including high key, sepia, high dynamic, pin hole, film grain, miniature effect, expressive, and retro. These can be used in still shots and movies.
Panasonic FZ150 Sample Image
Panasonic FZ150 Sample Image
High Key
Panasonic FZ150 Sample Image
Panasonic FZ150 Sample Image
High Dynamic
Panasonic FZ150 Sample Image
Panasonic FZ150 Sample Image
Film Grain
Panasonic FZ150 Sample Image
Panasonic FZ150 Sample Image
Panasonic FZ150 Sample Image


  • Movie: Available resolutions include 1920 x 1080, 60p fps (AVCHD), 1920 x 1080, 60i fps (AVCHD), 1280 x 720, 60p fps (AVCHD), 1920 x 1080, 30 fps (MP4), 1280 x 720, 30 fps (MP4), 640 x 480, 30 fps (MP4).

The camera’s LCD monitor has a 3.0 inch diagonal in a 3 x 2 aspect ratio with a resolution of approximately 460,000 dots. It has an anti-reflective coating and provides 100% coverage. The monitor can be adjusted in seven settings for brightness, contrast/saturation, red tint and blue tint.

Panasonic Lumix FZ150

DCR tests cameras for LCD screen quality, measuring for contrast ratio and a brightness unit called nits. The best LCD monitors have a contrast ratio above 500:1 and at least 500 nits. The LCD monitor of the FZ150 was found to have a contrast ratio of 508:1, 305 nits for peak brightness and 0.60 for dark. While the contrast ratio is in the optimum range, peak brightness is on the low side. However, despite its relatively low peak brightness score, I found the LCD monitor to be very usable in all conditions, including in bright sunshine.

The Lumix FZ150 also has an electronic viewfinder (a small LCD) with a 0.20 inch, 201,600 pixel screen and 100% coverage. The viewfinder is small but fairly bright. Next to the viewfinder is a diopter wheel for adjusting the viewfinder screen.

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