Compared to Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10

As mentioned on previous pages, the only real competitor to the Lumix DMC-FZ1000 is Sony's Cyber-shot DSC-RX10. The RX10 was the first big zoom camera to feature a fast lens and 1"-type sensor, and comes at a premium price: $999 (down from $1299 when it was introduced last year).

Panasonic's entry also has a 1" sensor but offers a more powerful lens, though the maximum aperture range isn't constant like on the Sony. The RX10's movie mode is very impressive, but Panasonic goes above and beyond with 4K video support and a host of recording tools. One might expect the DMC-FZ1000 to cost as much as the RX10, but it's actually $100 cheaper (as of July 1).

Below we'll take an in-depth look at how the two cameras compare in terms of specs, handling, image quality, and video features.

Specs

There are more differences between the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ1000 and Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 than just lens and price. The table below - expanded from the one on the introduction page - goes into more detail.

 
Panasonic DMC-FZ1000
Sony DSC-RX10
Sensor
20.1MP MOS
20.2MP BSI-CMOS
Sensor Size (mm2)
116
116
ISO range (expanded)
125 - 12800 (80 - 25600)
125 - 12800 (80 - 25600*)
Equivalent zoom range
25-400mm
24-200mm
Max aperture range
F2.8-4.0
F2.8
Equivalent aperture range
F7.6-10.8
F7.6
Minimum focus distance
3cm (W) / 1m (T)
3cm (W) / 30cm (T)
Built-in ND filter?
No
Yes
Shutter speed range
60 - 1/4000 sec **
30 - 1/3200 sec
Max burst rate (AF-S/AF-C) ***
12fps / 7fps
10fps
Display size / type
3" LCD / Articulated
3" LCD / Tilting
Display resolution (pixel layout)
640 x 480 (RGB)
640 x 480 (RGBW)
EVF resolution / tech
1024 x 768 (XGA) / OLED
800 x 600 (SVGA) / OLED
Flash range (Auto ISO)
13.5m
7.2m
Battery life (CIPA standard)
360 shots
420 shots
Dimensions (W x H x D)
137 x 99 x 131mm
129 x 89 x 120mm
Weight (loaded)
831g
813g
* ISO 25600 uses Multi-shot NR feature
** Up to 1/16000 sec with electronic shutter
*** With mechanical shutter

That table's pretty overwhelming, so let's break it down a little.

Sensor and Lens

Both cameras have 1"-type CMOS sensors (Panasonic drops the 'C') with 20.9 million total pixels. The FZ1000 uses 20.1 million of them, the RX10 20.2 million. Sony brands their sensor 'Exmor R', which is marketing-speak for a backside-illuminated CMOS. Panasonic just calls it a high sensitivity MOS sensor. With such similar specs, the two sensors are almost certainly one and the same.

There's no question that the lenses on these two cameras are very different. The DMC-FZ1000 features an F2.8-4.0, 25-400mm (16X) equivalent lens, while the Sony RX10 has a constant aperture F2.8, 24-200mm (8.3X) equiv. lens. Below you can see the subtle difference between 24 and 25mm and the not-so-subtle difference between 200 and 400mm.

25mm (FZ1000) 24mm (RX10)
400mm (FZ1000) 200mm (both)

On the next page we'll have a more detailed analysis of the scene above, and also a look at the digital zoom modes on each camera.

Both cameras have the ability to produce shallow depth-of-field - especially the Sony with its fast continuous maximum aperture - and both companies have touted their camera's bokeh. Check out the portrait on the next page to see how it looks. There are differences in minimum aperture, as well. The FZ1000 can stop down to F8, while the RX10 goes all the way to F16, which also makes a significant difference when you want to keep the shutter speed down in bright light.

One important lens-related difference between the two cameras relates to neutral density filters. The Sony has one built-in, while the Panasonic doesn't. This ND filter cuts down the amount of light coming through the lens by three stops. On these video-centric cameras, the big benefit of an ND filter is the ability to use slow shutter speeds, which you need in order to prevent overexposure.

In bright light, with its aperture stopped all the way down (to F8 in the case of the FZ1000), the camera cannot reach the slow shutter speeds needed for video (1/50 - 1/125 sec, generally) without overexposing. On the other hand, the RX10 and its ND filter makes these shutter speeds accessible, so you can get accurate exposure when outdoors or in a brightly lit studio. The FZ1000 is perfectly capable of using an ND filter, as its lens is threaded for 62mm filters. The Sony just makes it easier to use, as it can be enabled with the push of a button.

The shutter speed ranges are a bit different as well. The slowest shutter speeds are 60 secs for the FZ1000 and 30 secs for the RX10, but both camera support bulb modes. On the other end, the Panasonic tops out at 1/4000 sec with its mechanical shutter and 1/16000 sec with the electronic shutter. The Sony stops at 1/3200 sec and can't go any faster, as it lacks an e-shutter. While the RX10's leaf shutter is pretty quiet, the FZ1000's e-shutter is completely silent, allowing for 'stealthy' photography, though the trade-off is rolling shutter when panning the camera.

Video

Video is a very significant feature on both cameras, with each having their own pluses and minuses. The big deal about the DMC-FZ1000 is its ability to record 4K video at 30fps with a bitrate of 100Mbps. Not only does this produce video for viewing on the latest and greatest televisions (or for more professional work) - it also lets you grab 8MP stills from the clip (though there is some tension between the 1/60th sec shutter speed you'd want to use for video shooting and the faster speeds you'll often need for taking sharp stills). The FZ1000 can also record at 1080/60p, 60i, and 24p (or their PAL counterparts). The camera uses MP4 for some resolutions and AVCHD for others. Strangely enough, the 1080/24p is only available when using AVCHD.

Video Spec Comparison
 
Panasonic FZ1000
Sony RX10
4K support Yes (100Mbps, MP4) No
AVCHD options • 1080/60p (28Mbps)
• 60i (24Mbps/17Mbps)
• 30p (24Mbps)
• 24p (Mbps)
• 1080/60p (28Mbps)
• 60i (24Mbps/17Mbps)
• 24p (24Mbps/17Mbps)
MP4 options • 4K (100Mbps)
• 1080/60p (28Mbps)
• 30p (20Mbps)
• 720/30p (10Mbps)
• VGA (4Mbps)
• 1440 x 1080/30p (12Mbps)
• VGA (3Mbps)
High speed video Yes (1080/120p) No
Zoom mic Yes No
Auto ISO in manual mode No Yes
5-axis image stabilization Yes No
Clean HDMI output Yes Yes
Mic/headphone ports Yes / No Yes / Yes
Audio out timing No Live, lip-sync

The RX10 doesn't shoot 4K, but it does have full sensor readout, which means that no lines are skipped. This results in much higher video quality than your typical compact camera. The RX10 can capture 1080/60p, 60i, and 24p video, at bit rates up to 28Mbps, all using AVCHD. Unlike on the FZ1000, only low resolutions are available using MP4. One advantage the RX10 has over the FZ100 is the ability to use Auto ISO when recording videos, which keeps shutter speed and aperture locked while still allowing for accurate exposure.