At first glance, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ1000 looks a lot like Sony's Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 large sensor, long zoom camera, but there's a precedent within the company's own range. It's been eight years since the FZ50 was introduced, so we can't imagine too many people are still waiting, but in some respects it appears Panasonic has finally created a replacement for that much-missed model. Taken as a whole, the FZ1000 can almost be seen as a synthesis between the two cameras.

Like the RX10, the FZ1000 features a 20MP 1"-type MOS sensor (and the suspicion has to be that it's a Sony chip), but, rather than the Sony's 24-200mm equivalent zoom range, the Panasonic reaches from 25 to 400mm equivalent. To stop the whole thing becoming enormous, the FZ1000's lens is slower than the Sony's: its maximum aperture rapidly drops from F2.8 towards F4.0 as you zoom in, but there are plenty of people who'll accept that decrease in return for the additional range.

In spirit, though, the large sensor, long zoom and articulated screen can't help but recall the FZ50, which offered a similar zoom and aperture range, despite featuring a much smaller 1/1.8"-type sensor. The FZ1000 is a similarly sized camera but the eight years of technological development that underpin it mean it's able to offer significantly higher resolution in terms of its viewfinder, rear screen, pixel count and video output. Panasonic has recently been pushing the superzoom sector with the likes of its constant F2.8 DMC-FZ200, but the return to a larger sensor format and a relatively bright lens is exciting.

When the RX10 was launched, it stood alone as a costly but hugely flexible camera that seemed equally intended for stills and video shooting: the ultimate travel camera, perhaps. The launch of the FZ1000 brings both cameras into focus, making clear that camera makers believe there is a niche for cameras that do a bit of everything in a single (albeit sizable) package. The big difference between the two cameras, though, is price: the FZ1000's $899.99 / £749.99 launch price is around a third lower than the Sony's was.

Since the FZ1000's launch, Sony US has reduced the list price of the RX10 to $999 and, because it's been on the market for a while, it's available a long way below list price in Europe. This reduces but doesn't abolish the gap in price between the two cameras, and it'll be interesting to see what street price the Panasonic settles to, after a few months.

Its use of a fast readout sensor and the four-core Venus processor means the FZ1000 becomes one of the first sub-$1000 cameras to capture 4K video. Anyone wanting footage they can show immediately will have the choice of shooting 1080p movies at 60, 30 or 24 fps (50, 25 and 24 in PAL countries). The video capability is supported by the inclusion of focus peaking, zebra exposure warnings, center point marker and 'Cinema-like' gamma profiles.

Key Features:

  • 20.1 megapixel 1"-type MOS sensor
  • 25-400mm equiv. F2.8-4 Leica lens
  • 5-axis 'Power OIS' stabilization
  • XGA OLED electronic viewfinder with 2.36M dots
  • 3-inch fully-articulated LCD with 920K dots
  • 4K (3840x2160) video at 30p, 100Mbps MP4
  • 1080p at up to 60p, 28Mbps (MP4 or AVCHD)
  • 120fps quarter-speed 1080p
  • 3.5mm microphone socket
  • Clean HDMI output
  • Zebra pattern and focus peaking
  • Wi-Fi with NFC
  • 360 shots per charge (CIPA standard)

It's not only the Venus processor that the FZ1000 shares with the GH4, it also features many of its customizable control points. These aren't quite so numerous as on its interchangeable lens cousin, due to the lack of touchscreen, but they're still pretty welcome on a 'compact' camera. The FZ1000 also offers the kind of hard-point controls, such as an AF drive mode switch and AEL button, that rarely make an appearance below the enthusiast interchangeable lens camera level.

The FZ1000 also gains the GH4's 'DFD focusing' - a means of determining roughly how far it needs to refocus, based on an understanding of the characteristics of the lens in out-of-focus regions. This aims to play the same basic role of on-sensor phase detection: a way of assessing the distance the camera needs to focus on, so that it can rush the lens to near that point before using contrast-detection to establish perfect focus.

The camera also features an in-camera Raw conversion option, which is a very welcome addition, letting you tweak a range of image parameters after you've taken a shot, applying different noise reduction and Photo Styles or making adjustments to brightness or the highlight and shadow response.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ1000 Comparison

The FZ1000's only real competitor is Sony's RX10, which also tries to offer a flexible zoom range plus high quality stills and video in a single package. We're also including the current breadwinner in Panasonic's superzoom lineup, the DMC-FZ200.

Panasonic DMC-FZ1000
Sony DSC-RX10
Panasonic DMC-FZ200
20.1MP MOS
12.1MP MOS
Sensor Size (mm2)
Equivalent zoom range
Aperture range
Equivalent aperture range
Video recording formats
Maximum video resolution
Highest bitrate (for 1080p footage)
28Mbps (1080p60)
28Mbps (1080p60)
28Mbps (1080p60)
Battery life (Shots-per-charge, CIPA)
Built-in ND filter?
Dimensions (WxHxD)
137 x 99 x 131mm
129 x 89 x 120mm
125 x 87 x 107mm

The lens

What does this mean in the real world, though? Have a look at the equivalent aperture comparison chart below:

Just like 'equivalent focal length,' equivalent apertures allow you to compare lens behavior side-by-side across cameras with different sensor sizes, by taking sensor size into account. The equivalent aperture figure gives a clear idea of how two lenses compare in terms of depth-of-field. It also gives an idea of low-light performance, since it also describes how much light is available across the sensor's area. However, differences in sensor performance mean this can only be used as a guide, rather than an absolute measure.

The FZ1000's maximum aperture drops off very quickly, as soon as you start to zoom, and by around 150mm equivalent, it's a whole stop slower than the Sony RX10. However, this still leaves it half a stop faster than the likes of the Olympus Stylus 1. On top of this, the FZ1000's lens then continues on to a very impressive 400mm equivalent focal length.

The only other way of achieving this level of reach with an effectively brighter aperture would be an APS-C DSLR with a superzoom like the Sigma 18-250mm f/3.5-6.3 DC Macro OS HSM or Tamron 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD Macro (most closely represented by the Nikon 18-200mm shown here) - a combination that will be considerably larger, though can be had for similar amounts of money.