Cameras

Head to Head: Fujifilm FinePix F750 EXR vs. Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS20

In a year bereft of high quality travel zooms, we compare the two strongest contenders.

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This year has been pretty light on travel zoom cameras. Or rather, it's been light on quality travel zoom cameras, and saturated with mediocre ones. So far, the best 2012 model we've tested is the Panasonic ZS20, though not even this one should give owners of last year's Sony HX9V cause to worry. The field was therefore wide open for Fujifilm, and their new EXR cameras: the F750 and F770. We tested the F750 and, although we really liked the image quality and robust controls, a few limitations held this model back too.

To read our in-depth, hands-on review of the Fujifilm FinePix F750EXR, click here.

To read our in-depth, hands-on review of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS20, click here.

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Image Quality

Both cameras have trouble with image quality, though in completely different ways. The F750EXR, while very color-accurate, uses a noise reduction algorithm that pixelates and digitizes detail, making some shots look a tad unnatural. Panasonic's noise reduction uses a totally different technique, and this style introduces grain and unsharpness into detailed shots.

Of the two, Fujifilm's method is less distracting. We also have to commend the Fuji engineers for avoiding this category's most common pitfall: sacrificing sharpness for zoom. Although optical zoom has been upgraded since the F600EXR, this year's camera is sharper.

Winner: Fujifilm FinePix F750EXR

Design & User Experience

Here's where the F750 started lagging behind in our scoring system. The Fuji is much more specialized than the ZS20, and although that makes it more attractive for our purposes, this also means the camera simply offers less ancillary features, such as GPS or picture effects. The target customer is therefore pretty different between the two cameras, the F750 makes for a decent photographer's companion, while the ZS20 is more all-purpose and beginner-friendly. Strange, considering the F750's toy-like body design.

Winner: Tie

Conclusion

Although the F750EXR and ZS20 earned radically different overall scores, we think that each are viable options depending on what kind of photographer you are. Aside from some complaints over the menu system, a lack of extensive full resolution burst modes, and missing ancillary features, the F750 is a better package for us. We're going to depart from our own score here, and give this Head to Head to Fujifilm. Their F750EXR has better sharpness, more accurate color, and produces more natural-looking photos than any 2012 travel zoom we've yet tested.

Winner: Fujifilm FinePix F750EXR