Panasonic Lumix FZ200 Digital Camera Review$599.00
Ease of Use
The FZ200 is equipped with both Intelligent Auto, a scene-detecting automatic mode, as well as Intelligent Auto +, which allows limited control over exposure, aperture, and white balance. It's sort of like Program Auto, but more annoying and harder to use.
Buttons & Dials
The control scheme is organized around no less than three customizable Function buttons, making this camera more appropriate for users with some experience. You'll need to commit some of your own internal memory—meaning your brain—to actually remembering what all these buttons do, and you'll also need to practice and use the camera frequently to make this work. We see this as slight overkill on an ultrazoom camera.
We're also bugged by the EVF/LCD button, which is necessary to swap between preview modes in the absence of an eye lever sensor. On the opposite side of the panel, the rear command dial is another example of chintzy, plasticky construction from Panasonic, however the dial is at least highly useful, especially with extra push-in functionality added.
The FZ200's menu system is competent but ultimately average. The main menu is a horizontal tab-based system that displays too few options onscreen at a time, and those options are ordered rather haphazardly, with important options spread out evenly across the six pages of the still shooting tab.
The quick menu isn't much better, option group icons are arranged across the top and bottom of the screen, but you must navigate horizontally to scroll through them, then press down or up to change individual settings. At least the quick menu remembers your place from the last time you accessed it, the main menu does not.
The camera ships with a moderately-helpful Basic Owner's Guide, but the information we needed for review was split between this document and the electronic-only Owner's Manual for Advanced Features. So if you have something to learn about your new FZ200, this may necessitate swapping back in forth between two manuals.