Panasonic Lumix FZ45 / FZ40 digital superzoom
At the same time that the top of the range Panasonic DMC-FZ100 was announced, Panasonic has also launched the Lumix DMC-FZ45 superzoom camera (FZ40 in the USA).
The FZ45 sits just below the FZ100 in the series and is the successor to the very popular FZ38/35 which was previously my favourite safari camera.
The FZ45 has many of the same features as the FZ100 including the same and very powerful 24x (25-600mm equivalent) lens, but with a 14.1MP CCD sensor and simpler 230K dot 3.0 inch fixed LCD (as opposed to the FZ100's CMOS sensor and high-res screen).
24x Zoom (35mm camera equivalent: 25-600mm)
Compared to the older DMC-FZ38, The LEICA DC VARIO-ELMARIT lens in the DMC-FZ45 further extends it's optical zoom range from 27mm to 25mm at wide end and the zoom power from 18x to 24x to be even more powerful and versatile. The 24x optical zoom is now equivalent to 600mm on a 35mm camera.
Tele Conversion Lens
If the zoom lens is not enough for you, the good news and one of the main reasons why I love the Panazonic FZ series of cameras is that you can get MUCH closer to the action using a tele converter lens. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ45 digital camera is compatible with their DMW-LT55 1.7x teleconverter lens which will give you zooming ability equivalent to an epic 1020mm (35mm camera equivalent). You will need a Lens Adaptor (DMW-LA5) to attach the telephoto conversion lens to the camera.
For more, read my article on Telephoto Conversion Lenses for the Panasonic DMC-FZ45 Digital Camera.
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 FZ45.
32x Intelligent Zoom
Another interesting feature is that thanks to the new Intelligent Resolution technology on the Panasonic DMC-FZ45 that extends the zoom ratio by about 1.3x but maintains the picture quality even though it is using the digital zoom. This means the 24x optical can now virtually and realistically extend to 32x!
... but wait there is more, the "Extra Optical Zoom" function further extends the camera's zoom power to a massive 50.6x by using the center part of the large MOS sensor to bring subjects even closer. This setting unfortunately reduces the resolution to 3 megapixels (3MP), which could be useful for identification purposes.
25mm Ultra Wide-Angle
The 25mm ultra wide-angle lens on the Panasonic DMC-FZ45 has about twice the shooting area as a standard 35mm lens. This wide angle enhances all kinds of shooting situations, like when you're photographing herds of animals, groups of people at the lodge or a large structure or stunning African landscape.
Sonic Speed Auto Focus
An important feature in any camera, but especially one where your subjects don't always stay still, like birds and other wildlife is just how quickly it can focus. The Sonic Speed AF system in the DMC-FZ45(FZ40) has many enhancements, including a higher-speed actuator, optimized algorithms and parallel software processing. The result is a faster and more accurate Auto Focusing performance.
Full HD Movie Recording
A big improvement on older models is that the Panasonic DMC-FZ40 (FZ45) has a separate button on the top of the camera that you can use to instantly start recording movies even whilst shooting photos without changing any other settings.
What is more is the 24x optical zoom is also available for shooting films too and you can cut out a clear still image from any movie created on the camera thanks to the Intelligent Resolution technology.
Photos or movies recorded in AVCHD Lite on SD Memory Cards are easy to view on a Panasonic VIERA TV. Simply insert the card into the VIERA Image Viewer (SD Memory Card slot) on VIERA TV or DIGA Blu-ray Disc Player to playback your contents. Alternatively, you can use an optional mini HDMI cable to output the still and motion images you took from the FZ45 directly to the TV for VIERA Link.
The DMC-FZ45(FZ40)'s large 3.0-inch LCD has been improved from the FZ38's and now features a high 230,000-dot resolution, and a wide-viewing angle that lets you frame your shot in a variety of ways for both shooting and viewing.
Annother innovation is the Intelligent LCD function that automatically adjusts the brightness in 11 steps according to shooting conditions, with everything from from nighttime to bright daylight scenes.
A big difference between the FZ100 and the FZ45 is that this camera sticks with the fixed LCD screen, whilst the FZ100 has a flip out LCD.
Another one of the main advantages of a SuperZoom camera like the FZ45 (FZ40) versus a digital SLR is the much lower cost:
At first glance the Panasonic FZ45 (FZ40) camera looks very similar to the older FZ38 (FZ35). But the main differences are important ones: more powerful optical zoom, much higher resolution image capture, faster auto focus, movie recording in full HD, wider aperture range and a 25mm ultra wide angle lens.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ45/40
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38
Zoom tele (T): 600mm (24x)
Zoom tele (T): 486mm (18x)
Max Res: 4320 x 3240
Max Res: 4000 x 3000
Max Movie: 1280 x 720 @ 30 fps
Max Movie: 1280 x 720 @ 30 fps
The FZ45 is definitly an improvement on the already very good FZ38 and because you can further increase the zoom with a teleconverter lens I feel this camera makes an ideal digital camera to take on safari.
The lack of a flip-out and rotating LCD screen and slight lower quality movie mode make this camera not quite as good as the top of the range FZ100, but then again it is also about £100 / $100 cheaper.
For the ultimate safari camera, you may wish to consider the Panasonic Lumix FZ100, that has a few improvements on the FZ45 including a flip-out and rotaing LCD screen and CMOS sensor:
With a super powerful 24x optical zoom (35mm camera equivalent 600mm), much higher 14.1 MP image resolution, rotating LCD screen, movie recording in full HD and a 25mm ultra wide angle lens, this is the best superzoom compact digital camera on the market and an ideal safari holiday companion.
Other options also include the more powerful Fujifilm FinePix HS20EXR full on bridge camera and the Canon PowerShot SX30 IS.
The successor to the very popular FinePix HS10 from Fujifilm, comes very powerful Fujifilm FinePix HS20EXR with it's 30x optical zoom (35mm camera equivalent 720mm), much higher 16 MP image resolution, faster auto focus and movie recording in full 1080p HD. This camera has to be one of the very best for taking with you on any safari holiday.
This superzoom bridge camera from Canon, the PowerShot SX30 IS features a massive 35x zoom (35mm equivalent of a 24-840mm lens) and loads of other features including full 720p HD video recording, excellent image stabilization and a vari-angle 2.7 inch LCD display.
I take a look at the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38, the successor to the very popular FZ28. Still will the excellent 18x optically stabilised lens (27-486mm, 35mm equivalent) and an increased resolution of 12.1 Megapixels, could this be the perfect compact superzoom camera to take on safari?
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:
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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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