What's new and how does it compare?

The 'big' difference between the DC-ZS200 and the DMC-ZS100 that came before it is the lens. The ZS100's lens topped out at 250mm equiv., while the ZS200's max focal length is 360mm equiv. You might think that this extra reach would add a lot of bulk to the ZS200, but by virtue of its slower lens Panasonic was able to keep it essentially the same size as the ZS100 - just slightly heavier.

Key takeaways:

  • The ZS200 uses the same 20.1MP BSI-CMOS sensor as its predecessor (and likely many other cameras with 1"-type sensors)
  • The camera's lens has an equivalent focal range of 24-360mm compared with 25-250mm on the ZS100. The tradeoff is that the new lens is 1/2-stop slower at wide-angle and a bit less than that at telephoto.
  • The electronic viewfinder is larger and higher resolution on the ZS200
  • The new Sequence Composition feature uses Panasonic's 4K Photo function to grab photos taken in a burst and combine them into a single image
  • Panasonic has boosted battery life by almost 35% compared to the ZS100, putting it at the top of its class

Since they're essentially the same size, the extra zoom of the ZS200 seem like the better choice of the two cameras. If you're a traveler who might be taking photos of whales, that extra reach is nice.

Wide-angle (24mm equiv.) Telephoto (360mm equiv.)

As mentioned above, that extra zoom comes at a cost. The ZS200's lens is slower which means that it takes in less light, which in turn increases noise.

The electronic viewfinder (EVF) on the ZS200 is about 15% larger than the one on the ZS100 and its resolution has twice the number of dots. Like the EVF on ZS100, the one here uses field sequential technology which unlike OLED and traditional LCDs, doesn't display all of its pixels on the display at the same time. Instead, it rapidly displays one color after another to give the impression of full color. This can result in color artifacts and 'tearing' when panning the camera or even blinking. Some people notice this more than others, so your mileage may vary.

Panasonic's 4K Photo feature takes a burst of images (pulled from 4K video) and lets you select stills that you want to keep. The new Sequence Composition feature, which is a bit buried in the playback menu, allows you to select a group of shots and combine them into a single image - kind of like a post-shot multiple exposure. Some examples of when you'd use this feature might be when a bird is taking flight or a gymnast is performing.

An example of Sequence Composition. You can see plenty of stitching errors if you look closely. The camera was not panned in this example.
ISO 125 | 1/640 sec | F4.7 | 105mm equiv.

This particular example (and a few others we tried) didn't turn out terribly well, with trees growing out of the runner's neck. We expect better results in situations where the background is consistent, such the aforementioned gymnastics and bird examples. You can see how to create these compositions in our Panasonic GX9 review.

Compared to its peers

The ZS100 (left) and ZS200.

There really aren't any true competitors to the ZS200 except the ZS100. The Sony RX100's and Canon G7 X II don't have nearly as much reach, but they're compact and also have 1"-type sensors.

Panasonic DC-ZS200 Panasonic DMC-ZS100 Sony DSC- RX100 V Sony DSC-RX100 IV Canon G7 X Mark II
MSRP $800 $700 $999 $899 $699
Lens range (equiv.) 24-360mm 25-250mm 24-70mm 24-70mm 24-100mm
Aperture range F3.3-6.4 F2.8-5.9 F1.8-2.8 F1.8-2.8 F1.8-2.8
Autofocus Contrast detection Contrast detection Phase detection Contrast detection Contrast detection
Viewfinder 2.3M-dot equiv (field sequential) 1.7M-dot equiv (field sequential) 2.36M-dot 2.36M-dot No
Rear screen Fixed Fixed Tilt up/down Tilt up/down Tilt up/down
Touch sensitive Yes Yes No No Yes
Video capability

4K/30p
1080/120p

4K/30p
1080/60p
4K/30p
1080/120p
4K/30p
1080/120p
1080/60p
Burst Shooting 10 fps 10 fps 24 fps 16 fps 8 fps
Wireless functions

Wi-Fi + BT

Wi-Fi Wi-Fi + NFC Wi-Fi + NFC Wi-Fi + NFC
Battery life (CIPA) 370 300 220 280 265
Dimensions 111 x 66 x 45mm 111 x 65 x 44mm 102 x 58 x 41mm 102 x 58 x 41mm 106 x 61 x 42mm
Weight 340 g 312 g 299 g 298 g 319 g

As you can see, the ZS200 matches up or beats its peers in some areas, like offering touch sensitivity and ample video capture options. But it also gets beat in others areas like maximum aperture range and burst speed. Though one thing worth calling out is the ZS200 easily has the best battery life of the bunch.

The above graph shows how the ZS200 compares to its peers in terms of equivalent aperture vs equivalent focal length. In short, the camera's reach comes at the price of having a comparably slower equivalent aperture than its peers at most focal lengths, and we mentioned the tradeoffs above. You can learn a lot more about equivalence here.