The five-megapixel Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ5 is a very strong follow-on to last year’s highly popular FZ3 model. Like the FZ3 before it, the new Lumix DMC-FZ5 offers excellent value in a long-zoom camera with optical image stabilization such an impressive feature set. Aside from the boosted resolution in this year’s model, the new Panasonic FZ5 offers significant improvements in shutter lag, minor boosts in cycle time, and a larger rear-panel LCD, a welcome addition. To my mind, the dramatic improvements in shutter lag in its “high speed autofocus” modes is the biggest news, as it makes the FZ5 a truly excellent camera for shooting sports and other fast-breaking action (like active toddlers or older kids at play). Bottom line, the Panasonic Lumix FZ5 is a very capable camera that offers a lot of capability in an affordable consumer digicam, with an excellent 12x zoom lens, and optical image stabilization to boot. With a full range of exposure control modes, including a full manual setting and no less than nine preset “Scene” modes, the Panasonic FZ5 is an approachable camera for both novices and more experienced users alike. Its rich feature set, good image quality, and overall responsiveness made it a shoo-in for a “Dave’s Pick” award in the long-zoom category.