Image Quality

One of the main selling points of the Lumix DMC-FZ1000 is its 1"-type, 20MP MOS sensor. Its sensor has an area three times as large as your typical premium superzoom, with the exception of its arch rival, the Sony RX10. Larger sensors capture more light which, in theory, reduces the amount of noise in photos (especially in low light).

JPEG image quality

Image quality at lower ISOs is impressive, which is illustrated both in real-world photos and our studio test scene. While our dynamic range graph shows that highlights clip abruptly, that was normally not a problem in the real world. Colors are vivid, without being over-the-top.

This shot illustrates the saturated colors produced by the FZ1000, as well as pleasing skin tones and good detail.

ISO 125, 1/640 sec, f5.6, 250mm equiv.

Sharpness-wise, the FZ1000 is a tad soft at wide-angle, but improves as you zoom in. See the example below or check out the Space Needle comparison photo for examples. Corner sharpness is good even at the wide end of the lens.

The FZ1000's lens remains sharp at its full telephoto end (400mm equiv.)
ISO 125, 1/2000 sec, f/5.6

In terms of noise, the FZ1000 produces clean images up to ISO 800. You start to see some detail loss at ISO 1600 and 3200, but you'll only notice when viewing photos at or near 100% magnification.

Here at ISO 3200 you can see fine detail loss when viewing at 100%. When downsized, odds are that you won't notice.

ISO 3200, 1/80 sec, f/3.5, 57mm equiv.

As you hit the top end of the sensitivity range (ISO 12800 and 25600) JPEGs really go downhill, to the point where switching to Raw is a smart idea.

As you might imagine, photo quality on interchangeable lens cameras will be superior to that of the FZ1000 - have a play with our image comparison widget to see for yourself. That said, no ILC will offer the combination of (relative) compactness, video, and price of the FZ1000.

Raw advantages

There are several potential advantages to shooting Raw: access to more dynamic range than is included in the JPEG, greater control over color, retrospective control over white balance and the ability to fine-tune noise reduction and sharpening to suit the individual image.

First, let's see how much of an improvement in fine detail can be obtained in the sample image by converting the Raw image using of Adobe Camera Raw 8.6 RC. Again, this photo was taken at ISO 3200.

JPEG
Raw
100% crops 100% crops

As you can see, we've managed to get rid of some of the 'mush' and bring back some fine detail. The catch is that noise is more visible. This nice thing about Raw is that you can tweak the noise reduction settings to your liking.

Another thing Raw allows is pulling up detail in the shadows. For example, a photographer may 'expose for the highlights' to prevent clipping. On some cameras there's enough information left in the Raw file to return detail in the dark areas of the scene, which you can get back by editing the Raw file. Here's an example:

Original JPEG 100% crop
Raw conversion, +1.2EV 100% crop

In the above example we were able to pull over a stop's worth of tonal information, bringing out the forest in front of Mt. Rainier. You can brighten the shadows by another 2/3 stop or so, at which point you're only increasing noise. If you'd like to try adjusting this image to your liking, it's available for download here.

Raw Files for Download

We don't expect you to just take our word for it - take a look at the Raw files for yourself, and run them through your preferred software and conversion settings. Here, we provide you with a selection of raw files of 'real world' scenes, and if you want to take a closer look at the studio scene shots you can download original raw files from our 'Studio Comparison page.