A Panasonic FZ in the field
Camera buyers eagerly await a successor to the Panasonic FZ300
When the Panasonic FZ330 or FZ300 (same model) came out, it was the best overall bridge camera that was value for money (under $800) with 24 X optical zoom, one of the largest constant apertures (extremely good low-light capability) for its lens capacity (f 2.8), a multi swivel LCD screen, weatherproofing, the capacity to attach an external microphone and several photo modes including time-lapse, burst photo shooting, low light filmography and several other perks such as 4K. Admittedly the sensor size at about 1/4 of an inch left something to be desired for professionals. I had several adventures in the jungle with it, now for at least 3 seasons. This camera was one of the finest bridge cameras ever marketed - a bridge camera is a cross between a compact point and shoot zoom and a pro-grade SLR type camera, now increasingly mirrorless. For its capacity, it also enabled budding filmographers to make movies.
This camera has now been replaced or superseded by the FZ1000 and FZ2500 that only go up to a maximum zoom of about 20 x. These are much better for 4K video filming with a 1 inch sensor but have not been weather sealed. They're also larger and pricier.
The FZ300 remained on sale and has been slightly usurped by the later Panasonic FZ82 with a huge 60 x optical zoom (equivalent to 35mm-~1400mm). The sensor is more or less the same as the FZ300 and there is no capacity to link an external mic that is somewhat unforgivable for even amateur film-makers. Shooting at low light is limited by the sensor and the superzoom range of the lens.
Weather sealing is not insignificant. My FZ300 fell into a stream. It wasn't submerged but went under. Mercifully, after I pulled it out and dried it in the sun, it still worked. So it's semi waterproof and according to the advertising dustproof. It's been compact and light enough to carry easily on long hikes, not to mention, third world transport in extreme heat.
Weight, durability, ease of use are all areas where the Panasonic FZ300 excels, leaving aside price. Check out some reviews for yourself. For someone who has to go into extreme conditions like leech infested rainforests, weight and weatherproofing are extremely important.
I've yet to have had the pleasure of investing in any of the above except the FZ300 that replaced its almost as good FZ250. To my mind, Panasonic has not quite created a camera as versatile as the FZ330/300 yet. The Panasonic service has been quite good in helping me to maintain the integrity of my camera, beyond the 1 year warranty.
The replacement current flagship cameras in the range, the FZ1000 and FZ2500, lack weather sealing or in the case of the FZ82, ports for external mics. The FZ300 is looking very tired since its release, given improvements in chips and related technology. I'm sure faster focussing is now possible.
We await with bated breath a successor to the Panasonic FZ300 that's weather sealed, with a slightly higher zoom or a bigger sensor that can be linked to an external mic.
Whereas there are competitors to this brand such as Canon, Nikon and Sony, most have been overpriced or were never as rugged as the FZ300. Please Panasonic, pull something out of the hat for wildlife filming!
There are now ultra zoom cameras like the Nikon P1000 that has an astonishing 83 x optical zoom. Quite useless for bird filming thank you.
One of the largest battery manufacturers in the world can now do better. Thanks.
Postscript: a more expensive Sony model the RX10 v.4 and successors may be better but is very expensive. I did try it but the slow motion was very clumsy to operate and the camera was over a kilo in weight so still think the FZ is easier to use and value for money.