Compared to Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 (con't)

Video Tools

Both the FZ1000 and RX10 have a ton of movie-related features, as you'd expect given their credentials. The FZ1000 records 4K video with a 100Mbps bit rate, while the RX10 tops out at 28Mbps at its highest resolution, 1080/60p. Both of them have focus peaking, magnification, zebra pattern, audio level adjustment, and manual exposure control (read more about the RX10's movie mode). The two cameras also support 'clean' HDMI output to an external recorder.

Something the RX10 can do that the FZ1000 cannot is use Auto ISO while recording video in manual exposure mode. A real-world difference we discovered relates to focus peaking. On the RX10, peaking is very strong, almost too much so, making it hard to discern what's in focus and what isn't. The opposite is true on the FZ1000 where, even at the 'high' setting, the peaking is very subtle while you're composing. However, once you hit 'record', the peaking becomes more prominent. Speaking of magnified view, you can use this feature while recording, on both cameras.

If you plan on adjusting exposure while recording video, then here's another important video. The RX10 has two 'clickless' dials which allow you to adjust the aperture and zoom/focus silently. The FZ1000, on the other hand, lets you quietly adjust the zoom or focus, but you must use the clicky dial on the rear to change exposure, which will be picked up by the microphone (and may cause camera shake, as well).

Video Quality

As mentioned earlier, video is a big part on both of these cameras, and we have a few comparisons to share. First is our video resolution test, which is taken in our studio using the familiar image comparison scene. Both cameras were set to 1080/24p, which should show off the best the cameras can do in Full HD.

The two cameras generally perform at about the same level (which is very good), though the Sony has a bit more moiré and interference patterns than the Panasonic. Given the fact that the FZ1000 shares the same sensor size and resolution as the RX10, perhaps it too is reading the full sensor area?

Daylight - 1080/24p

This first example shows how the two cameras compare recording the exact same scene (at the same time) at their 1080/24p setting, with a shutter speed of 1/50 sec. While you can make a video quality assessment when viewing these at 100%, downloading the originals may be your best bet.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ1000

1920x1080 24p 24Mbps, AVCHD, 13 sec, 39.2 MB Click here to download original file

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10

1920x1080 24p 24Mbps, AVCHD, 10 sec, 37.9 MB Click here to download original file

Aside from slight exposure differences, the two videos are very close in terms of quality.

Moderate light, racking focus

In this example we attempted to use focus peaking to rack focus, which is to shift focus from one subject to another. This turned out to be quite difficult, as the Sony RX10's peaking is too strong, while the Panasonic FZ1000's is too weak.

Below are examples from each camera. Seeing the focus changes isn't easy on YouTube, so you'll want to download the original MTS files to get a better look. And please excuse the shake at the end of the RX10 video, which was caused by pressing the record button again.

These examples also show the cameras' performance in moderate, indoor lighting. Both were shot at ISO 800.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ1000

1920x1080 24p 24Mbps, AVCHD, 16 sec, 46.9 MB Click here to download original file

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10

1920x1080 24p 24Mbps, AVCHD, 19 sec, 52.6 MB Click here to download original file

Which to buy?

After spending a great deal of time first with the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 and the the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ1000, I've come to love (and un-love) features on both cameras. The RX10 impressed me with its fast and sharp lens, build quality, AF performance, customizability, and video quality/features. That said, the high price and mediocre JPEGs were off-putting, and I've never found Sony RX-series cameras to be fun to shoot with, either.

The FZ1000 gives you the zoom power that the RX10 lacks, though you lose a full stop at the telephoto end and corners aren't as sharp. Performance is blazing fast, for both autofocus and overall operation. The FZ1000 feels a lot cheaper than the RX10 - as you'd expect given the price differential - but it's more comfortable in the hand. Photo quality is comparable to the RX10, as is video quality. The FZ1000 one-ups the Sony by offering 4K video, so it's ready for the next generation of televisions.

Ultimately, if I was in the market for a premium travel zoom, I'd go with the FZ1000. I prefer the extra zoom power, snappier performance, better ergonomics, and 'enjoyment factor'. At time of publication, Sony US has dropped the price of the RX10 to $999, which has changed the value proposition of that camera, though the FZ1000's price will drop over time, as well. For the reasons listed in the previous paragraph (and the way I like to shoot), the FZ1000 remains my choice - and the money I've saved could instead go toward a nice dinner or two.