Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ1000 Review
Despite having a lot of glass to move around, the Lumix DMC-FZ1000 impressed with both startup and focus speeds. As mentioned earlier, the FZ1000 is noticeably faster than its closest competitor (the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10), as well as compact cameras as a whole.
The FZ1000's performance goes beyond just startup and focus speeds. The interface is very responsive, allowing you to quickly find the menu option you're looking for. Refresh rates on the LCD and EVF are 60 fps (though you can switch to 30 fps to reduce battery consumption), though they'll drop off in low light. Battery life is reasonable, though not as good as on Sony's RX10.
Considering all the glass it has to move, the FZ1000 is able to start up in well under a second. As mentioned above, the interface is blazing fast, whether you're navigating through menus, switching shooting modes, or flipping through photos in playback mode. There's almost no delay between shots either, regardless of the image quality setting.
AF System & Performance
The FZ1000 has very impressive autofocus performance in all lightning conditions. One reason for that may be its 'Depth from Defocus' technology. The moment that you halfway-press the shutter release the FZ1000 quickly takes two exposures and determines the distance to the subject by comparing sharpness. That leads to less of the 'hunting' that can be an issue with contrast detect AF systems, according to Panasonic.
|While the AF tracking feature doesn't work well, the FZ1000 is still able to re-focus on moving subjects using the AF-C or AF-F focus modes. ISO 250, 1/800 sec, f/3.8, 94mm equiv.|
With a fast AF system and burst rate, one would expect the camera to be able to keep subjects in-focus as they move toward the camera. While the FZ1000 can do that, it works best when using AF-C or AF-F focus modes. The AF Tracking feature seemed useless, as it rarely locked onto a subject to track, instead giving the red box of failure.
There are a whopping four different burst modes on the FZ1000: super high, high, middle, and low speeds.
The super high option can shoot at 50fps (according to Panasonic) but with restrictions. The resolution is fixed at 5MP, you must use the electronic suhtter (which can cause issues with fast-moving subjects due to rolling shutter), Raw is not available, and there's no live view during shooting.
The high speed setting uses the mechanical shutter and supports Raw, and can fire away at 12 fps with single AF, and 7 fps with continuous AF. As with the SH mode, what you're seeing on the LCD or EVF is not real-time.
For live view during continuous shooting you need to use the middle speed setting, which fires away at 7 fps, regardless of the focus mode. The low speed mode does the same, but at 2 fps.
Now let's look at the high and middle speeds to see if the FZ1000 performs as well as Panasonic claims. These tests were conducted using a Transcent UHS-I Speed Class 3 card, which offers write speeds of 85MB/sec. The focus mode was set to AF-S for these tests.
|Frame rate||12.1 fps||11.8 fps||11.8 fps|
|Number of frames||41 shots||12 shots||12 shots|
|Buffer full rate||4.8 fps||1.6 fps||0.7 fps|
|Write complete||~ 1 sec||~ 11 secs||~ 13 secs|
The FZ1000 hit its advertised burst rate at high speed, and shoot for a decent amount of time before slowing down. When using Raw the camera will fire bursts of two shots once the buffer is full. There's a bit of a delay before you can enter the menu or playback mode, but you can still take photos as the buffer is cleared, albeit at a slower frame rate.
|Frame rate||7.5 fps||5.6 fps||5.8 fps|
|Number of frames||9 shots||14 shots||13 shots|
|Buffer full rate||4.4 fps||1.2 fps||0.5 fps|
|Write complete||None||~ 10 secs||~ 13 secs|
At middle speed - at which point live view becomes available - results start to get a bit funny. The camera hits exceeds the 7fps number advertised by Panasonic, yet only lasts for 9 shots before slowing down. When using Raw, the FZ1000 can take more shots, but at a lower frame rate. The camera tends to shoot in a 'staccato' pattern in middle speed mode.
The Lumix DMC-FZ1000 uses the DMW-BLC12 lithium-ion battery, which contains 8.6Wh of energy. This translates to 360 shots per charge using the CIPA standard. That's lower than the Sony RX10, but still respectable.
The battery is charged using an included external charger. It takes approximately 140 minutes for a full charge.
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