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At some point past 30X, the zoom race started looking pointless. There is little difference between a 720mm and 750mm photo while both require truly fast shutter-speed, so good light in order to avoid increasing the ISO which causes very poor image quality on tiny sensors of ultra-zooms.

Panasonic today is changing this by introducing the widest ultra-zoom of all: The Panasonic Lumix FZ80 which features a 60X optical zoom lens, equivalent to 20-1200mm. This puts at 2mm ahead of its closest competitors which gives it roughly 10% wider field-of-view. Each mm is much more significant at the wide-end than at the long end of the zoom. At 20mm, the FZ80 shows a 94° field-of-view which is extremely useful for architecture. At 1200mm, it shows about 2° which is good enough to tightly frame almost anything which can be seen with the naked eye.

Panasonic Lumix FZ80

The new Panasonic Lumix FZ80 is built around an 18 megapixels high-speed CMOS sensor with 10 FPS full-resolution read-out and wide ISO 80-3200 sensitivity range. This is paired with an optically stabilized 20-1200mm F/2.8-5.9 lens. This camera can record 4K Ultra-HD video at 30 FPS too.

This mid-level ultra-zoom offers a tiny 0.2″ EVF with 1.2 megapixels and 0.46X magnification. The rear of the camera has one control-dial to help set parameters but offers a limited number of controls. The FZ80 this way remains relatively light-weight at 616g, much lighter than even most ultra-wide or long lenses alone.

The Panasonic Lumix FZ80 is schedule to ship the second half of March for a retail price of $399 USD. Adorama and B&H Photo are both ready to take pre-orders.

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