Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38 (FZ35)
Successor to the very popular FZ28, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38 (FZ35 in the US ) brings even more to the table, including an increased resolution of 12.1 Megapixels, direct access to HD video and is very competitively priced. Making this in my opinion one of, if not the best digital superzoom cameras on the market.
The Panasonic DMC-FZ38 digital camera packs a bunch of features into a compact body, that includes the superb Leica DC Vario-Elmarit lens with a very powerful 18x zoom (35mm film camera equivalent: 27-486mm) and AVCHD Elite high-definition movie recording capability.
18x Zoom (486mm)
Obviously the main reason to get a superzoom camera is for it,s Zoom and the FZ38 has one of the best available. The super-powerful 18x zoom, equivalent to 486mm on a 35mm camera is great for getting closer to far away action as well as taking dramatic close-up shots. What is more, you can get even closer to the action, by using a 1.7x or 2.2x teleconverter lens (see below)
Tele Conversion Lens
If you do want to get even closer to the action and to be honest who doesn't? I highly recommend that you get 1.7x Tele Conversion Lens that easily attaches to the FZ38 that can increase your zooming ability to the equivalent of 826mm on a 35mm camera. For more, read my article on Telephoto Conversion Lenses for the Panasonic DMC-FZ38, DMC-FZ28 & DMC-FZ18 Digital Cameras.
2.2x Teleconverter Lens
For an ever larger focal length, read my review of the Raynox DCR-2025PRO 2.2x Super Telephoto Conversion Lens, which can also be attached to the FZ38.
You can also increase the optical magnification on the camera to 35.2x, but this Extra Optical Zoom function is only available with 3 megapixel recording, so I would suggest it only be used for identification purposes as the quality of the image will be highly compromised.
The beauty of a superzoom is the vesitality, one moment you can be taking close up photos of the herd of Zebra in the distance and then without having to change lenses, using the 27mm wide-angle feature, take photos of the broad view of the surrounding landscape.
Ultra High-Speed Auto Focus (AF)
For me one of the best features of the FZ38 camera was the very quick start-up time (just over a second) and super fast auto focus. There is a noticeable improvement between this and my older DMC-FZ28, meaning that you have a much greater chance of capturing that once in a lifetime photo that you may have previously missed.
According to Panasonic their high speed AF is industry-leading and is twice as fast as that on the DMC-FZ28.
What is more, the new auto focus system helps keep focus on the subject while the camera is in recording mode even before pressing the shutter button halfway. This improves the chances of getting the shot because the focus is always near the subject and AF time is therefore minimized.
One of the main advantages of a SuperZoom camera versus a digital SLR is the much lower cost and with the Panasonic FZ38 camera you get plenty of camera for your buck:
At first glance the Panasonic FZ38 camera looks almost identical to the older version and their main stats are fairly similar. But the main differences are important ones, much higher resolution image capture as well as the FZ38 now also has an upgraded Optical Image Stabiliser (O.I.S ), that Panasonic now calls their "Power O.I.S". On top of this the ultra high-speed AF is twice as fast as that on the DMC-FZ28 and it has a quicker start up time.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ28
Zoom tele (T): 486mm (18x)
Max Res: 4000 x 3000
3648 x 2736
Max Movie: 1280 x 720 @ 30 fps
1280 x 720 @ 30 fps
I have already spoken at length what I believe makes the best digital camera to take on safari as well as the pros and cons of a Digital SLR camera vs a Compact Superzoom, so I won't go into it in detail here, but if you do decide on purchasing a superzoom, I highly recommend this latest offering from Panasonic: In my opinion it is currently the best superzoom on the market and is ideal as a travel and safari camera.
For more take a look at this page of reviews on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38 on the TestFreaks website
Recently released is the latest superzoom camera from Canon, the PowerShot SX20 IS with a massive 20x zoom and loads of other features including full 720p HD video recording that make this camera a serious contender as the ultimate compact safari camera.
Below are some more articles that you may also find useful:
If you do decide that a superzoom compact camera, rather than a digital SLR, here is our guide to the best compact super zoom safari cameras. Includes features to look out for and review of the top two cameras with a side by side comparison.
>> Best Safari Camera (compact superzooms)
Turn your Turn your SuperZoom Camera into a MegaZoom Camera, a guide to Telephoto Conversion Lenses for the Panasonic DMC-FZ100, DMC-FZ38 (FZ35), DMC-FZ28 & DMC-FZ18 Digital Cameras. Including what telephoto lenses fit the Panasonic cameras, which ones to get and example photographs
What to Take on Safari
This page is part of a series of posts on what to take on safari, for further reading try:
Search the Safari Holiday Guide
Best Cameras for Safari
My guide to the best digital cameras for travel and wildlife photography. Including the best camera to take on Safari, bird photography and where you can buy cheap digital cameras >> more
Telephoto Conversion Lenses
Guide to Telephoto Conversion Lenses like the 2.2x Raynox DCR-2025PRO for superzoom bridge cameras like the Fujifilm FinePix HS20EXR and the Panasonic DMC-FZ100, FZ45 (FZ40), & FZ38 Digital Cameras. Learn how a telephoto lense can turn your SuperZoom camera into a MegaZoom camera, bringing the action ever closer to you. >> more
Fujifilm FinePix HS50EXR Review
The very powerful Fujifilm FinePix HS50EXR with it's 42x optical zoom (1000mm equivalent), very high quality 16 MP image resolution, super fast auto focus and movie recording in full 1080p HD at 60fps. This camera has to be one of the very best safari holiday cameras on the market.
For more information read the full review of the Fujifilm FinePix HS50EXR Bridge Camera >>
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After your camera, a good pair of binoculars is crucial in getting the most out of your Safari Holiday. So what is a good pair of binoculars? Here is my binocular guide and recommendations >> Binocular Reviews
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