Though not the best of its kind, the FZ20's electronic viewfinder looks crisper and smoother than the norm. The 51mm (2-inch) LCD is also fairly sharp and works adequately in all light conditions. Both show approximately 100 percent of the actual scene.
The maximum range of the flash is approximately 12 feet at ISO 100. If you set the ISO for Auto and activate the flash, the camera can set a sensitivity as high as ISO 400, which could easily produce disappointingly noisy results. There is a standard, non-dedicated hot shoe for external flashes.
In our formal battery tests, we obtained 520 shots (50 percent with flash) from a single charge of the camera's 680mAh lithium-ion battery. Our experience in the field, however, indicates that the zoom and image-stabilisation operations of the lens can cut battery life substantially.The FZ20 produces very good images -- with a caveat or two. Our test photos looked as sharp and detailed as those produced by the best 5-megapixel models. It renders colours quite accurately, and as such, less vividly than many other consumer digicams produce at their default settings. Exposures were generally good.
At default settings, there is a hint of electronic noise in images shot at ISO 80 and ISO 100, but it's of little consequence. Noise is about average at ISO 200, which is to say, easily visible at high magnification, and it's somewhat uglier than average in shadows at ISO 400. At ISO 80 and ISO 100, the high setting on the adjustable noise reduction slightly reduced the already modest noise without any discernable damage to sharpness. At ISO 200 and ISO 400, the three noise-reduction levels produced increasingly visible differences in our photos, with higher settings reducing both noise and sharpness.
The Leica lens produces remarkably little barrel distortion at its widest setting and essentially no distortion at more telephoto settings; another very impressive feat. Plus, the lens displays extremely good edge-to-edge sharpness across the frame, and photos show almost no purple fringing. It does, however, produce moderate red/blue chromatic aberration at telephoto settings, and we noted a similar red colour fringing around highlights in many of our shots.
Edited by: Lori Grunin
Additional editing by: Tom Espiner