Body and Design

The Lumix ZS100 is surprisingly compact given its 1" sensor and long zoom range, and should fit into most pockets. It's not a whole lot bigger than Panasonic's ZS60, which has a longer zoom but smaller sensor. Unlike its big brother, the FZ1000, the ZS100 has a premium feel, with an all-metal body and stiffer dials.

The ZS100 (left) isn't much larger than the ZS60, which offers three times the zoom but uses a much smaller sensor.

Ergonomics are good overall, there is room for improvement. The control dials are easy to reach, though buttons are cluttered, especially on the back, where there's little room for your thumb. The ZS100's grip is adequate for the size of the camera, but whatever material Panasonic is using is very slippery and quite the fingerprint magnet. The lens dial on our sample ZS100 was difficult to the turn, as well.

Your thumb covers the majority of the buttons on the rear of the camera. There's not a huge grip, but it works. Unfortunately the body material is quite slippery: so hold on tight.

Photos can be composed on the electronic viewfinder described below or on a 3" touchscreen LCD with 1.04 million dots. The usual touch features are all here, including tap-to-focus/shoot, menu navigation, and image playback. It also has a handy Touchpad AF feature, which we'll touch on in the Features section. One thing that bummed us out a bit is that the LCD is fixed, rather than tilting, like on the Sony RX100 III/IV and Canon PowerShot G7 X I/II. Something else that's common but still frustrating is the LCD's poor outdoor visibility, but that's where having an EVF comes in handy.

Top of Camera

There isn't too much to see on the top of the camera. In the center is the pop-up flash (closed here), which has a range of 8m at the wide end of the lens, with the ISO set to Auto.

One nice thing about the flash is that you can tilt it back with your finger for bounce effects.

Straddling the flash are the ZS100's stereo microphones. At right you'll find the mode and top control dials, zoom controller and shutter release, as well as the dedicated movie recording button.

Electronic Viewfinder

Its electronic viewfinder is easily the most disappointing feature on the ZS100. It's small (almost half the size of what's on the Sony RX100 III/IV) and the 1.17 million dot-equivalent resolution is quite low. Since this is a field sequential display, meaning that the screen rapidly cycles between red, green and blue, you're only seeing about 307,000 dots at any one time, meaning that the effective resolution of the screen is only a bit above 640 x 480. By comparison, the Sony RX100 III displays 1.44M-dots (800 x 600) at all times, and the RX100 IV is even higher, showing 2.36M-dots (1024 x 768).

Something else that field sequential displays bring is 'color tearing', which appears when you blink or pan the camera. Some people are simply not susceptible to this, but others can't ignore it. It may be worth trying out the ZS100 in person to see how you react.

To the immediate right of the EVF is the diopter correction knob, with an eye sensor just beyond that.

Customization

Here you can assign functions to the four physical and five virtual buttons on the ZS100.

The ZS100 is highly customizable, with four physical and five 'virtual' buttons to which you can assign functions. There's a large selection of options available - pretty much anything you can find in the menu.

Here you can customize the two dials... ...with options like these.

Both the top and front (lens) dials can be customized, as well. Again, most camera settings can be assigned to each dial, with the front having the added options of zoom and step zoom.

By default, the items on the four-way controller have fixed functions, such as exposure compensation and drive mode. You can, in theory, turn on 'Direct Focus Area' in the menu and use those buttons for moving the focus point instead. We didn't find this necessary however, since the camera's touchscreen is so good for setting AF point.

The Q.Menu can be customized by dragging the little icons to or from the bottom of the screen.

The camera's Quick (shortcut) Menu has a 'Custom' mode that allows it to be set up to your taste. There are a total of fifteen spots in the quick menu, and adding a new function is as simple as dragging your finger.

Two other nice things that many people won't even notice are the ability to place the histogram wherever in the frame you like as well as set up custom gridlines.