Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ1000 Review
Conclusion - Pros
- 1"-type sensor produces excellent image quality
- Bright F2.8-4 lens covers 25-400mm equiv. range
- Best-in-class autofocus performance
- Zoom/focus ring around lens
- Future-proof 4K video recording with 100Mbps bit rate
- High quality 8MP stills can be extracted from 4K video
- Large grip makes camera comfortable to hold
- Overall operation is very responsive
- 12fps continuous shooting
- High resolution XGA electronic viewfinder
- Electronic shutter allows for silent shooting
- In-camera Raw conversion
- Clean HDMI output
Conclusion - Cons
- Easy to accidentally rotate focus/zoom ring
- Single dial operation adds extra step when adjusting exposure
- Use of rear dial during video recording can be picked up by microphone
- No Auto ISO in movie mode
- Lacks built-in ND filter
- 1080/24p only available using AVCHD codec at 24Mbps bit rate
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ1000 is one of the most exciting 'compact' cameras to come along in some time. The combination of a 1"-type sensor and bright 25-400mm lens make the FZ1000 a compelling choice for both the traveler and someone who wants 'the best of both worlds' - a camera that does both stills and video very well. The FZ1000 has all of the manual controls one would expect from a premium compact, plus a 'by-wire' zoom/focus ring, handy drive mode dial, fully articulating LCD, and XGA electronic viewfinder.
Still shooting is only part of the story, though. The FZ1000 is the first compact camera to support 4K video recording (at an impressive 100Mbps bit rate), so it's ready for the next generation of televisions a few years before they (may) take off. The 4K footage can also be down-sampled to give what should be better quality 1080 video. The high resolution video also allows photographers to grab 8MP frames, compared to 2MP with Full HD, if shot at appropriate shutter speeds. Panasonic offers plenty of tools for recording video, so most enthusiasts won't be disappointed.
The FZ1000's most direct competitor is Sony's Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 - though some interchangeable lens camera combinations can compete if you're not wedded to the all-in-one solution. The Sony costs a bit more and offers a faster lens, albeit one with a shorter focal range. Meanwhile, interchangeable lens cameras tend to come with much less versatile lenses, meaning you need to factor-in at least $600 to add a lens such as the Tamron 16-300mm F3.5-6.3 and still risk missing out on some of the FZ's movie capabilities.
Image and Video Quality
It's hard not to like the FZ1000's photo quality. Exposure is generally accurate, with highlight clipping not being a huge issue. Colors have a nice vivid look to them, without being over-the-top like some other consumer-level cameras. While it's a bit soft at wide-angle (25mm equiv.), the FZ1000 gets sharper as you zoom in.
Panasonic has taken a relatively conservative approach to noise reduction, leaving more grain than the Sony RX10, which tends to brush away fine detail. The FZ1000 maintains fine detail until about ISO 3200 and you can comfortably shoot a stop higher, after which you'll want to downsize or switch to Raw. In low light you'll lose fine detail about a stop earlier than in daylight.
Shooting Raw gives you the usual benefits, which include adjusting things like white balance, noise reduction, and exposure without affecting image quality. As shown on the image quality page, you can also recover both fine detail at high ISO as well as revealing what's hidden in dark areas of a photo. The FZ1000 conveniently offers in-camera Raw conversion, which can save a trip to Photoshop.
While image quality is close to that of interchangeable lens cameras at their base ISOs, the FZ1000 falls behind relatively quickly due to its smaller sensor. That said, no ILC offers the same combination of size, video, and price as the FZ1000.
Video quality is excellent. As mentioned above, the FZ1000's 4K/100Mbps video is ready for the next generation of displays. 4K video also allows one to capture 8 megapixel stills, which look very good. The 1080p video is top-notch, rivaling that of the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10. The FZ1000 offers every resolution you might want, though we were disappointed that 24p video wasn't available at higher bit rates or 4K.
The Lumix DMC-FZ1000 is a chunky superzoom camera that is roughly the same size as a DSLR with a kit lens attached. While the camera doesn't have the solid feel of the Sony RX10, it doesn't feel cheap. One advantage that comes along with the larger body is a big right-hand grip, which makes the FZ1000 very comfortable to hold.
As one would expect on a premium superzoom, the FZ1000 has a ring around its lens that handles both zoom and manual focus. Something that bothered us is that the lack of hand room on the lens barrel makes it too easy to accidentally rotate the ring. The camera has a single dial on the rear plate which is responsible for adjusting exposure. To switch between, say, aperture and shutter speed, you must press the dial inward, which adds an extra step. We would've preferred twin dial control. This same dial can cause issues when recording video: its 'clicking' can be picked up by the microphone, and pressing it inward may shake the camera.
The FZ1000 is one of the most responsive compacts we've seen, whether it's startup speed, autofocus, or the user interface. The autofocus speed is what really stands out, regardless of the lighting condition. The FZ1000 has an available electronic shutter, which allows for silent shooting. You can compose your photos and movies on either a fully articulating 921k dot LCD with good outdoor visible or via a gorgeous XGA electronic viewfinder.
The DMC-FZ1000's video specs are impressive, though handling isn't quite as good. The zoom ring around the lens allows for precise adjustments to focus and zoom but, again, it's easy to bump if you're not careful. On a more positive note, Panasonic provides many tools for video recording, including manual exposure adjustment, focus peaking, zebra pattern, audio level adjustment, and clean HDMI output. One feature we would've liked to have seen is Auto ISO support, which would allow you to keep the shutter speed and aperture constant while recording (and minimize the need to click that rear dial).
The Final Word
For those looking for a superzoom camera that excels at both photo and video quality, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ1000 delivers. While it doesn't have a constant maximum aperture of its biggest competitor - the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 - the FZ1000's F2.8-4 lens covers a much greater 25-400mm equivalent range. The FZ1000 has an advantage over ILCs, as any lens you add to one of those cameras will be larger, heavier and pricier.
The FZ1000 is indeed a large camera, but is easy to hold and operate. It's incredibly responsive, especially when it comes to autofocus performance, and both its EVF and LCD are impressive.
Image quality is also impressive, allowing the FZ1000 to perform as well (and sometimes better) than the Sony RX10. The FZ1000 excels not only in still image quality, but also video. While other cameras are working their way up to 1080/60p, the FZ1000 has made the jump to 4K, which has four times the resolution. Even when viewed on traditional displays, movies look fantastic.
All things considered, the Lumix DMC-FZ1000 has a lot going for it, and little to complain about. It makes a compelling alternative to the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10, especially for those who want more zoom power and next generation video. With an MSRP of $899/£749/€850, the FZ1000 isn't cheap, but some things are worth the price.
Scoring is relative only to the other cameras in the same category.
Click here to learn about the changes to our scoring system and what these numbers mean.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ1000
Category: Enthusiast Large Sensor Compact Camera
Ergonomics & handling
Metering & focus accuracy
Image quality (raw)
Image quality (jpeg)
Low light / high ISO performance
Viewfinder / screen rating
Movie / video mode
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ1000 is a very impressive superzoom camera with an F2.8-4, 25-400mm lens and a one-inch sensor. Both photo and video quality are impressive, and support for 4K videos make the camera futureproof. The FZ1000 has a beautiful XGA EVF and a fully articulating LCD. Handling and build quality aren't perfect, but the camera's features make up for it.
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