Image Quality

Our latest test scene simulates both daylight and low-light shooting. Pressing the 'lighting' buttons at the top of the widget switches between the two. The daylight scene is manually white balanced to give neutral grays, but the camera is left in its Auto setting for the low-light tests. Raw files are manually corrected. We offer three different viewing sizes: 'Full', 'Print', and 'Comp', with the latter two offering 'normalized' comparisons by using matched viewing sizes. The 'Comp' option chooses the largest-available resolution common to the cameras being compared.

Raw

Looking at the center of the frame you'll notice that the FZ2500's lens is softer than the one on the RX10 II and pretty close to the FZ1000's. While the Sony shows some aliasing in the text, it's slightly more legible than the FZ2500. While much better than the first FZ2500 we tested, the corners of the frame aren't as sharp as the RX10 III, Panasonic FZ1000 or the Canon PowerShot G3 X. We have more on lens quality below.

There's little noise to speak of at the base ISO of 125 in Raw. In daylight at ISO 6400 the images is about as noisy as its peers, though it retains more detail in low light, despite having a lot of chroma noise. FZ2500 offers ISO 12800 and 25600 options, but even at print sizes they're best avoided.

JPEG

The Panasonic FZ2500 produces JPEGs with generally pleasant colors that are saturated, but not over the top. Colors aren't nearly as muted as on the FZ1000, which is for the better. One negative regarding color is a continuing problem with Panasonic cameras: their yellows are too green, which has a detrimental effect on skin tones.

Given its soft lens, the FZ2500 has its work cut out for it when it comes to sharpening. Panasonic's done a pretty good job working around that issue wherever possible, with the text looking a bit better on the FZ2500 than the RX10 III. As you wander away from the center of the frame you'll see where the FZ's lens falls behind that of the RX10 III, G3 X and FZ1000.

Noise reduction is strong, smearing away fine detail, even at base ISO. At middle sensitivities (ISO 1600 in this case) things get even worse, though no more so than the other cameras in the FZ2500's class. At ISO 6400 you have what looks like a watercolor painting. It's worth pointing out that Panasonic is using a context-sensitive noise reduction system, so the solid black background has more NR applied to it than the more detailed feather.

Lens Comparison

The Lumix FZ2500's lens is all new, so we wanted to see how it compares to that of its closest peer, the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 III. The RX10 III's lens is stunning – and is reflected in the high price of the camera – so the Panasonic has its work cut out for it. We tested two FZ2500's, with the second one being significantly better than the first, so if yours seems worse than what you see below, it's worth exchanging it.

We started with the lenses wide open on both cameras at 24mm. The RX10 III has a 1/3-stop advantage at this point: F2.4 compared to F2.8 on the FZ2500. Looking at the center of the frame, the Sony has a very clear advantage, and it's even more obvious in the corners. The FZ2500's lens has quite a bit of chromatic aberration, as well, and stopping down doesn't help a whole lot. Speaking of stopping down, the RX10 III retains its sharpness advantage with both lenses at F5.6 at the wide end of the lens.

While it has caught up a bit at 50mm, the RX10 III still bests the FZ2500 in both the center and edges of the frame. The same as true at 135mm - have a look at the center and corners for yourself. Despite the threat of diffraction, the FZ2500 is actually at its best at F8 at 200mm, compared to both wide open (F4.3) and F5.6 That said the Sony produces more pleasing results. The same is true at 400mm, even with the FZ2500 at its 'happy place' - F8.

While we can't directly compare the two cameras, you can check out how the Panasonic FZ2500 performs at 480mm and how the Sony RX10 III fares at 600mm.