Conclusion

Pros Cons
  • Good image quality, especially in Raw
  • Very well-built body with large grip
  • Impressive continuous AF and subject tracking performance
  • Internal zoom lens allows for smooth and quiet focusing
  • Excellent 4K video quality
  • Numerous video capture controls
  • Built-in variable ND filter
  • Large electronic viewfinder
  • Numerous customizable controls, both physical and on-screen
  • Well-implemented touch functionality
  • Support for V-Log L gamma
  • 10-bit 4:2:2 output over HDMI
  • Handy Focus Stacking and Post Focus features
  • External battery charger included
  • Image quality hampered by mediocre lens
  • Heavy noise reduction in JPEGs
  • Yellows have greenish tint which affects skin tones
  • Substantial 1.4x crop in 4K eliminates wide-angle capability and affects low light performance
  • Basic Auto ISO functionality
  • On the bulky side
  • LCD cannot fully rotate when left-side I/O ports are in use
  • Battery life could be better
  • No support for USB charging

Overall Conclusion

The Lumix DMC-FZ2500/FZ2000 is Panasonic's top-end enthusiast bridge camera that can handle both still and video shooting, though it's clearly focused on the latter, with its 4K capability and numerous capture tools. At this point in time there's really only one enthusiast superzoom camera in this class: the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 Mark III. That camera offers a longer, faster lens, though its lacking many of the video-related features of the FZ2500, and it's even more expensive ($1599 vs $1199). Is the FZ2500 an RX10-beater? Yes, and no.

Converted to taste using ACR beta. ISO 640, 1/2320 sec, F4.3, 48mm equiv. Photo by Carey Rose.

Body and Handling

The FZ2500 is an exceptionally well-built camera and is just as solid as the more pricey Sony model. Its chassis is made of a magnesium alloy and feels great in the hand thanks to a large grip. Most of the dial are well-made, though the rear control dial feels plasticky. Controls are well-placed and the FZ2500 is exceedingly customizable, from buttons (physical and on-screen) to dials.

The camera offers a fully articulating 3" LCD with an easy to use touch interface, including a useful (and surprisingly customizable) AF Touchpad feature, as well as a large, high resolution EVF. One thing to watch out for with the LCD is that any cables you have attached to the left-side ports (such as HDMI) will prevent the display from fully rotating.

ISO 125, 1/160 sec, F4, 70mm equiv. Photo by Jeff Keller.

The FZ2500's lens is a good illustration of why it is a video-centric camera. Unlike the Panasonic FZ1000 and Sony RX10 III, once the lens is extended, it stays there, as zooming is internal. This allows for smooth and remarkably quiet lens movement, which is exactly what you want from a video camera. One really big deal for still and specially video shooting is the camera's built-in variable ND filter, which is accessed via a switch on its left side. You don't have just on or off options with the filter: 1/64, 1/16 and 1/4 are also available. As one would expect, the lens is optically stabilized and, for Full HD shooting, a 'Hybrid' 5-axis anti-shake mode is available.

Something worth pointing out is the camera's rudimentary Auto ISO system. You can select the top ISO value but that's it (there's no way to select the minimum shutter speed or bias when the system increases the sensitivity). While Auto ISO is available in 'M' mode for stills, that's not the case for video.

Autofocus and Performance

The DMC-FZ2500/FZ2000 uses Panasonic's Depth from Defocus AF system, which continues to impress. Focus acquisition speeds are very good, but what really made the FZ2500 stand out was when shooting with continuous autofocus at 7 fps. When depth tracking the camera acheived nearly a 100% 'hit rate' as the subject approached the camera. Even when the subject was weaving side to side, the FZ2500 produced nearly the same results. The camera offers five AF sensitivity options but we got these results at the default setting.

ISO 125, 1/1000 sec, F4.5, 480mm equiv. Photo by Carey Rose.

The FZ2500 is responsive in areas besides focusing, as well. It starts up quickly and menus and image playback are responsive. After shooting a burst of photos (which tops out at 12 fps in AF-S mode, by the way), you can enter the menus without delay. However, you will have to wait several seconds for the buffer to flush before you can review photos you've taken.

The official CIPA battery rating for the FZ2500 is 350 shots, which is about 15% lower than Sony's RX10 III.

Video

The FZ2500's focus (no pun intended) is video and the camera delivers in spades. It can capture both UHD (30p and 24p) and DCI 4K (24p) video at bit rates of 100Mbps. Dropping down to Full HD increases the max frame rate to 60 fps and the bit rate to 200Mbps. A variable frame rate mode lets you select a shutter speed between 2 and 120 fps, though it's only available at certain settings and the option is usually grayed-out in the menu without any explanation.

ISO 500, 1/125 sec, F2.8, 24mm equiv. Photo by Carey Rose.

An important issue with 4K video capture is the hefty 1.4x crop factor, which turns that lens from a 25-500mm (16:9 ratio) equivalent to 36-720mm, so goodbye wide-angle. Since only a portion of the sensor area is used (rather than sampling the whole thing, like the RX10 III), low light performance is is impacted. If you're shooting Full HD video (or below) there's a 5-axis 'hybrid' OIS system to reduce shake though, like most cameras, there's also a slight crop (under 1.1x) if you use it.

When it comes to capture and video output tools, the FZ2500 can do just about everything. Expected tools like focus peaking and zebra patterns are available, and you can also adjust luminance, pedestal and mic levels, time code, and gain operation. If you want color bars, they're available too. The FZ2500 comes with Cinelike Gamma D and V and for $99 you can add V-Log L, too.

ISO 125, 1/160 sec, F4.2, 135mm equiv. Photo by Jeff Keller.

The FZ2500 has mic and headphone jacks, as you'd expect. Over its HDMI cable you can output 10-bit 4:2:2 4K video to an external recorder, compared to 8-bit on the Sony RX10 III. You can also record internally at 8-bit 4:2:0 while simultaneously outputting 4:2:2 to an external recorder.

Image and Video Quality

Evaluating the FZ2500's image quality was a bit challenging due to the quality of its lens. Our first FZ2500's lens was so soft that we asked for a second copy. That camera was substantially sharper in the center, though it still gets soft in the corners, and is just not competitive with the Sony RX10 III (though you do pay a premium for that lens).

ISO 2500, 1/200 sec, F4.5, 480mm equiv. Photo by Wenmei Hill.

The FZ2500 takes photos with saturated colors and a respectable amount of detail capture, and the JPEG engine does the best it can at compensating for the soft lens. JPEGs do suffer from heavy noise reduction, which smears fine detail away (and makes water look awfully strange), and highlights are frequently clipped. In addition, yellows have a greenish tint, which has a negative effect on skin tones. There isn't a ton of noise in JPEGs due to strong noise reduction, and results are about the same as the FZ's peers. As for Raw, noise levels are low at base ISO and better-than-average at higher sensitivities (like ISO 6400).

The DMC-FZ2500's video quality is excellent, despite the fact that it's not oversampling like the Sony RX10 III. Whether you're shooting at 4K or 1080/60p, there's really nothing negative to say about what the camera is capable of. The image stabilization options vary depending on the resolution. For 4K it's optical-only, which is fairly good. For 1080p you get the 5-axis Hybrid mode which does a much better job or reducing shake. Audio quality is also very good, and the manual audio level controls and wind filter allow for more flexibility than automatic-everything.

Converted from Raw using ACR 9.8. ISO 125, 1/80 sec, F4.5, 400mm equiv. Photo by Jeff Keller.

The Final Word

The Panasonic DMC-FZ2500/FZ2000 is a well-designed, full-featured enthusiast bridge camera that's hard to ignore. While it's clearly targeted toward video shooting, at which it's excellent, it is also a very good (but not best-in-class) stills camera. Indeed, it's the video features that earn this camera a Silver award, with the not-so-great lens and JPEG engine keeping it from a Gold.

Whether the FZ2500 is the right camera for you comes down to how you're planning to use the camera and what your budget is. For serious video-shooters the FZ2500 is the way to go. If you want a better (and longer) lens with a slightly smaller set of video capture tools and less of a 4K crop – and have extra cash laying around – then look to the Sony RX10 III.

The dark horse in the race may be Panasonic's own FZ1000. Its lens is faster and sharper than that of the FZ2500, image quality is nearly identical and the feature set is very similar, at least for stills. It's also $400 less than its big brother and $800 less than the RX10 III. What you're giving up is the weather-sealed body (compared to the RX10 III), more room at the telephoto end of its lens, many video capture tools (plus 10-bit output over HDMI) and the larger EVF.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ2500 (Lumix DMC-FZ2000)
Category: Enthusiast Large Sensor Compact Camera
Build quality
Ergonomics & handling
Features
Metering & focus accuracy
Image quality (raw)
Image quality (jpeg)
Low light / high ISO performance
Viewfinder / screen rating
Optics
Performance
Movie / video mode
Connectivity
Value
PoorExcellent
Conclusion
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ2500/FZ2000 is a well-designed enthusiast bridge camera focused on video, and it offers capture tools that you won't find on any other camera in its class. 4K video quality is excellent, though there's a substantial crop factor, essentially knocking out the wide end of the lens. Still image quality is decent, though it's hampered by a so-so lens and JPEG engine that could use a tune-up. If you're a videophile then it's a top choice. If not, there are cheaper options out there.
Good for
Video enthusiasts who want extensive controls, inputs, and outputs.
Not so good for
Those 'focused' mainly on still photography. There are better choices in this class for less money.
82%
Overall score

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