ZS100: My Take

Started Jul 27, 2016 | Discussions
AksCT Regular Member • Posts: 229
ZS100: My Take
4

My DSLRs+lenses are perfect at one end of spectrum (bulkiness, etc) and my cell phone takes amazing images+4K video on the other end of spectrum. I have been looking for a better P&S to replace my two small sensor (12X and 20X) cameras. The key: Image Quality

ZS100 with 1-inch sensor and 10X seemed to be the right camera for in-between of the spectrum, so I bought one.

Out of box, the build quality is excellent and although I have never used Panasonic camera before, I found physical controls and menu to be very intuitive and easy to use.

Also, this camera has a ton of HW and SW features, more than all my DSLRs, combined. I can live with a number minor issues (such as small EVF, no GPS, 4K video starts at 37mm, slower lens, slippery body, ...). I just needed to check the image quality to make sure it is a keeper.

I took numerous pictures JPG+RAW under various settings, conditions and scenes. Here is my concise take, based on visual examination (not time to measure SNR, MTF, ...):

DR: RAW files have great range, which provides significant range for creating very good JPG. However, in-camera JPGs are flat and very sub-optimal in terms of color/gray level distribution (clearly internal algorithm problem for conversion). To get the best results, you need to work on every RAW, which is not my idea of P&S for travel.

Noise: Starting at around ISO 640 noise is clearly visible in RAW and by the time you get to ISO 1600 it reaches threshold of being unacceptable (JPG images are awful at 1600 and beyond, very clumsy default noise filtering). Noise level is quite surprising for a 1-inch sensor and not much better than other small sensor cameras that I have.

Lens: When looking at images at full resolution (1:1) at 10X zoom, I found my eyes constantly scanning across the image and not being able to latch on any single area. at 10X, images are soft all over place (consistent with the samples that others posted). Not quite sure if I have a bad copy.

If one plans to view images on a tablet or post to social media, the processed RAWs form this camera would be fine (and for those applications, other small sensor cameras would be OK as well).

Reluctantly, I am returning this camera.

Panasonic ZS100
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axlotl Senior Member • Posts: 2,080
Re: ZS100: My Take
1

AksCT wrote:

My DSLRs+lenses are perfect at one end of spectrum (bulkiness, etc) and my cell phone takes amazing images+4K video on the other end of spectrum. I have been looking for a better P&S to replace my two small sensor (12X and 20X) cameras. The key: Image Quality

ZS100 with 1-inch sensor and 10X seemed to be the right camera for in-between of the spectrum, so I bought one.

Out of box, the build quality is excellent and although I have never used Panasonic camera before, I found physical controls and menu to be very intuitive and easy to use.

Also, this camera has a ton of HW and SW features, more than all my DSLRs, combined. I can live with a number minor issues (such as small EVF, no GPS, 4K video starts at 37mm, slower lens, slippery body, ...). I just needed to check the image quality to make sure it is a keeper.

I took numerous pictures JPG+RAW under various settings, conditions and scenes. Here is my concise take, based on visual examination (not time to measure SNR, MTF, ...):

DR: RAW files have great range, which provides significant range for creating very good JPG. However, in-camera JPGs are flat and very sub-optimal in terms of color/gray level distribution (clearly internal algorithm problem for conversion). To get the best results, you need to work on every RAW, which is not my idea of P&S for travel.

Noise: Starting at around ISO 640 noise is clearly visible in RAW and by the time you get to ISO 1600 it reaches threshold of being unacceptable (JPG images are awful at 1600 and beyond, very clumsy default noise filtering). Noise level is quite surprising for a 1-inch sensor and not much better than other small sensor cameras that I have.

Lens: When looking at images at full resolution (1:1) at 10X zoom, I found my eyes constantly scanning across the image and not being able to latch on any single area. at 10X, images are soft all over place (consistent with the samples that others posted). Not quite sure if I have a bad copy.

If one plans to view images on a tablet or post to social media, the processed RAWs form this camera would be fine (and for those applications, other small sensor cameras would be OK as well).

Reluctantly, I am returning this camera.

HI, Yes, that is pretty much my experience of the TZ100 (TZ110 in Australia)  also.  One member on this forum reports the lens on his copy is as good as that on his FZ1000 but others have an experience more like yours.  My copy was just not quite sharp at any focal length or aperture and in addition had some odd characteristics. In particular at some focal lengths (but not others) sharpness would decrease as the lens was stopped down from wide open. The lack of a proper handle and thumb sup[port did not help.

I suspect the lens issues may be due to the very ambitious design  making it highly susceptible to the inevitable  imperfections which  creep in during manufacture and assembly. That's my guess anyway.

Andrew

Jon_T
Jon_T Veteran Member • Posts: 5,123
1"-Type Compacts Lens Quality "Hit-or-Miss"?
1

axlotl wrote:

AksCT wrote:

...Lens: When looking at images at full resolution (1:1) at 10X zoom, I found my eyes constantly scanning across the image and not being able to latch on any single area. at 10X, images are soft all over place (consistent with the samples that others posted). Not quite sure if I have a bad copy....

HI, Yes, that is pretty much my experience of the TZ100 (TZ110 in Australia) also. One member on this forum reports the lens on his copy is as good as that on his FZ1000 but others have an experience more like yours. My copy was just not quite sharp at any focal length or aperture and in addition had some odd characteristics. In particular at some focal lengths (but not others) sharpness would decrease as the lens was stopped down from wide open. The lack of a proper handle and thumb sup[port did not help.

I suspect the lens issues may be due to the very ambitious design making it highly susceptible to the inevitable imperfections which creep in during manufacture and assembly. That's my guess anyway.

Been several posts on this forum on ZS100/TZ100/TZ110 lens IQ, as well quite a few posts on the Canon PowerShot Talk forum as to G7 X, G5 X and G9 X cameras lens IQ.

Following from DPR's ZS100 Review's "Lens Performance" section:
"If there's one thing we've seen in the 1"-type camera market, it's that lens quality has been hit-or-miss. The DMC-FZ1000 has a really nice lens, while the Canon G5 X and G7 X's lenses are disappointing. We've had a lot of sample variation with the Sony RX100 III and IV, but when you get a good sample, the lens is great."

Following from DPR's PowerShot G7 X II Review's "Image Quality" section:
A Note on Lens Quality

Something we've noticed while testing all of the 1"-type enthusiast compacts is a large amount of variation in lens quality.

In this case, we have one G7 X II that's soft in the corners but great in the center and another that's just the opposite. The lenses on our original G7 Xs as well as a pair of G5 Xs weren't great, either. But this isn't a Canon problem alone. Of our four Sony RX100 IV cameras, three have so-so lenses and one is stellar. But then three of our four RX100 III copies have very good lenses. In other words, your mileage may vary.

Given the ambitious nature of the lenses on these cameras it's not surprising that there's a lot of variation. While you might find a copy that's sharp corner-to-corner, odds are that you won't, but that's the nature of the beast.

Hence be wise if one buys a 1"-Type compact (especially a "Open Box" or used) to be sure to by from a reputable reseller that has a good return policy.

Not to uncommon at B&H Used Point & Shoot cameras to find one or more used ZS100 with a "10" rating. Only seen two "Open Box" ZS100 since available from B&H.

Cheers,
Jon

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Lobalobo
Lobalobo Senior Member • Posts: 2,458
Re: ZS100: My Take

axlotl wrote:

I suspect the lens issues may be due to the very ambitious design making it highly susceptible to the inevitable imperfections which creep in during manufacture and assembly. That's my guess anyway.

There is a reason, I suspect, that Sony has not attempted the longer zoom range (which would undoubtedly be popular) in principle through four versions of the RX100. Large sensor, small, long zoom lens are a challenging combination.

photo perzon Veteran Member • Posts: 4,653
ZS100: My Take
1

I also found the ZS100 would take pictures where one struggles to find the focus point. And moving children or animals were always OOF. My Olympus Stylus 1 is sharp and children and animals are sharp also. I sold the ZS100.

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MarioV Veteran Member • Posts: 6,785
Re: ZS100: My Take

photo perzon wrote:

I also found the ZS100 would take pictures where one struggles to find the focus point. And moving children or animals were always OOF. My Olympus Stylus 1 is sharp and children and animals are sharp also. I sold the ZS100.

On the ZS100, for moving subjects you should use Continuous AF.

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Mike Wrob Regular Member • Posts: 396
Re: ZS100: My Take

I'll be the first to admit that I'm far from an expert, but I've been happy with my ZS100.  I just took it on a 2 week trip to Alaska.  I wanted something unobtrusive and easy to carry.  More than half the pictures were taken in iA mode.  I don't think I had a single picture that I was unhappy with the IQ.  I had a couple of indoor pictures taken of musicians that had some motion blur.  I should have selected a shutter speed rather than letting the camera choose.   Most of my photos are taken hiking or doing other outdoor activities and the ZS100 works great for those types of pictures.

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Grumpyrocker
Grumpyrocker Contributing Member • Posts: 872
Re: ZS100: My Take
1

I received a TZ100 today. It's already on the way back to the online store.

The functionality is amazing, so many features. And I dearly wanted to keep the camera. But even on my monitor without zooming the images were very soft.

I even went as far as to set it against my Powershot S120 with some shots at various focal lengths - on a tripod, same scenes. In many cases there was more detail in the images from the smaller sensor camera.

I'm sure the TZ100's sensor is fantastic. But I think the lens is very poor. I'm not even a pixel peeper but the images just look too soft to me. And my camera was particularly soft in the top right corner. I could even see it on the rear LCD.

So sadly I've sent the camera back. It's a real shame as I want all those functions, but not with image quality poorer than the camera I bought it to replace.

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PC Wheeler
PC Wheeler Forum Pro • Posts: 17,902
Re: ZS100: My Take

Yes, there are some bad copies of the ZS100 out there -- and I've shot with three of them. The lenses seem very inconsistent.

Fortunately, I managed to get a good one and am very pleased with it at all focal lengths.

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Phil

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Grumpyrocker
Grumpyrocker Contributing Member • Posts: 872
Re: ZS100: My Take

PC Wheeler wrote:

Yes, there are some bad copies of the ZS100 out there -- and I've shot with three of them. The lenses seem very inconsistent.

Fortunately, I managed to get a good one and am very pleased with it at all focal lengths.

Well that's good there are some good ones out there.

Alas there are no camera stores near where I live so I shopped online. Having returned one camera I don't feel like ordering more until I get a good one.

It's such a shame because I love everything else about the camera.

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PC Wheeler
PC Wheeler Forum Pro • Posts: 17,902
Re: ZS100: My Take

Grumpyrocker wrote:

PC Wheeler wrote:

Yes, there are some bad copies of the ZS100 out there -- and I've shot with three of them. The lenses seem very inconsistent.

Fortunately, I managed to get a good one and am very pleased with it at all focal lengths.

Well that's good there are some good ones out there.

Alas there are no camera stores near where I live so I shopped online. Having returned one camera I don't feel like ordering more until I get a good one.

It's such a shame because I love everything else about the camera.

I understand your decision! And I really like the rest of the ZS100; hope they release an FZ1000 replacement with similar usability.

Weird how the variability or Q/A issues exist with some cameras and lenses, and not with others (e.g., the FZ200 and FZ1000 optics seem consistently good). My most-used lens for my Sony A6300 is the 16-70 f/4 ZA and it has a similar reputation for Q/A problems -- some good ones and some bad; fortunately, I was able to buy a used one from a friend and new it was good because I'd shot with it.

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Phil

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Mike Wrob Regular Member • Posts: 396
Re: ZS100: My Take

I realize the camera is being manufactured in China, but where is the lens being made?  Shouldn't we be able to expect consistent quality from Leica?

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PC Wheeler
PC Wheeler Forum Pro • Posts: 17,902
Re: ZS100: My Take

My understanding is that Leica designs it. Manufacture is done by "Panasonic" whoever that might be in this case.

Similarly, some Sony lenses are designed by Zeiss but not likely fabricated by Zeiss.

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Phil

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Jon_T
Jon_T Veteran Member • Posts: 5,123
Re: ZS100: Telescoping Sections Lens Design

PC Wheeler wrote:

My understanding is that Leica designs it. Manufacture is done by "Panasonic" whoever that might be in this case....

Read the same thing on different online sites.

The item to keep in mind a lens with 3 telescoping sections that extends as far as the ZS100 does going to require a very good/ rigid design, good mfg standards/ QC to keep all the elements align during the zoom travel, and samples variations to a minimum.

Much easier to keep lens elements aligned with the lens design as with the various FZ cameras and especially the FZ30 and FZ50 that cameras' exterior lens barrel was long enough that lens assembly did not extend extend on power up or zooming to max tele.

FZ30

This design allowed to have zoom and focus (fly-by-wire) rings on the lens barrel.

In the DPR's iFixit "Panasonic FZ1000 disassembled" article had a picture of the FZ1000's one-piece lens barrel.

In a following picture shows that the sensor is attached to the end of the lens barrel; hence any movement (play) of lens barrel within camera housing/ outer lens barrel has no impact on IQ.

Cheers,
Jon

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Lobalobo
Lobalobo Senior Member • Posts: 2,458
Re: ZS100: My Take

PC Wheeler wrote:

Weird how the variability or Q/A issues exist with some cameras and lenses, and not with others (e.g., the FZ200 and FZ1000 optics seem consistently good).

Not so weird in this case; seems Panasonic tried for too much with the ZS100: small size; long zoom; reasonable price. Hard to achieve all three.

Ed B
Ed B Forum Pro • Posts: 11,155
Re: ZS100: My Take

PC Wheeler wrote:

My understanding is that Leica designs it. Manufacture is done by "Panasonic" whoever that might be in this case.

Similarly, some Sony lenses are designed by Zeiss but not likely fabricated by Zeiss.

I don't want to start controversy but you're 100% correct.

These are not Leica or Zeiss (Sony) lenses.

Panasonic's and Sony's partnership with Leica and Zeiss is primarily a marketing tool.

I'm sure Leica and Zeiss do ask that certain standards be implemented (minimum build/glass quality, glass coating quality) but these minimums aren't what you'd find on an actual Zeiss or Leica lens.

If they were, most of us couldn't afford the cameras we own.

That's not to say Panasonic and Sony don't do a good job with these lenses but they are simply not what many people believe them to be and let's face it, when you can buy a camera like the FZ200 with a 25-600 2.8 Leica lens for about $300.00, that ain't no Leica!

Baba Ganoush Contributing Member • Posts: 566
Re: ZS100: My Take

When DPR's review of the ZS/TZ100 came out, here is what I wrote:

"I was seriously considering the TZ100 as a (near) pocketable replacement of my bulky Sony RX10, and had almost put in a pre-order for it, but after looking at the TZ photo gallery and doing a comparison using the studio scene, I am disappointed in the IQ of the TZ and glad I did not complete my order. The IQ of the TZ is inferior to that of both the RX10 and the RX100. Unless it turns out DPR got a poor copy of the camera to review, it's no sale for me. IMO, the TZ100 is a 1" sensor camera with a MFT camera price and 1/2.3" camera performance. Too bad. I was really hoping it would match the IQ of the RX10."

That prompted quite a few rebuttals from other commenters.  I spent a little more money and bought the GX85 instead, which I thought was better value for the price.  I'm really glad I did because the GX85 is a superb camera.  I'll just wait patiently for the LX200 and keep my fingers crossed that it has a bit longer zoom range than the LX100.

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Grumpyrocker
Grumpyrocker Contributing Member • Posts: 872
Re: ZS100: My Take

Baba Ganoush wrote:

That prompted quite a few rebuttals from other commenters. I spent a little more money and bought the GX85 instead, which I thought was better value for the price. I'm really glad I did because the GX85 is a superb camera. I'll just wait patiently for the LX200 and keep my fingers crossed that it has a bit longer zoom range than the LX100.

Funnily enough after my experience with the TZ100 last week I am also now thinking about getting a GX80 (as the GX85 is known here).

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PC Wheeler
PC Wheeler Forum Pro • Posts: 17,902
Re: ZS100: My Take

Baba Ganoush wrote:

When DPR's review of the ZS/TZ100 came out, here is what I wrote:

"I was seriously considering the TZ100 as a (near) pocketable replacement of my bulky Sony RX10, and had almost put in a pre-order for it, but after looking at the TZ photo gallery and doing a comparison using the studio scene, I am disappointed in the IQ of the TZ and glad I did not complete my order. The IQ of the TZ is inferior to that of both the RX10 and the RX100. Unless it turns out DPR got a poor copy of the camera to review, it's no sale for me. IMO, the TZ100 is a 1" sensor camera with a MFT camera price and 1/2.3" camera performance. Too bad. I was really hoping it would match the IQ of the RX10."

That prompted quite a few rebuttals from other commenters.

Not from me. The ZS100 DPR tested was not a great copy -- and they said as much re the optics here https://www.dpreview.com/reviews/power-zoom-panasonic-lumix-dmc-zs100-tz100-review/7 -- starting with "If there's one thing we've seen in the 1"-type camera market, it's that lens quality has been hit-or-miss."

Fortunately, the ZS100 I purchased locally is an excellent copy. It's as good from 25-250 mm as my FZ1000 is over that range My friend took several tries to get a good copy, but there are fine copies out there.

M4/3 was not an option for me; I had a GH4 and excellent lenses but sold it after I found my FZ1000 did 95% of what I wanted. My current mirrorless ILC is a Sony A6300 and I'm very happy with it -- image-wise and performance-wise. But my ZS100 is my go-everywhere camera and has done an excellent job for me.

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Phil

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Grumpyrocker
Grumpyrocker Contributing Member • Posts: 872
Re: ZS100: My Take

An X-T1 is my main camera. But I wanted something smaller and with good video. I didn't really want to pay £1500 for an X-T2 for video.

But the TZ100 didn't work out for me.

I've just ordered a GX80 with 12-32mm and 35-100mm kit. I've a small photo bag I take everywhere - normally with just a Canon Powershot S120 - but now it can have the little GX80.

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