Video

Travel cameras aren't just for shooting stills - you want it to be capable of capturing high quality video as well. Panasonic cameras released over the last few years support 4K capture, and the ZS200 produces results that most people will like.

Key takeaways:

  • The ZS200 can capture UHD 4K video at 24p and 30p
  • A substantial crop factor of 1.5x means that the widest focal length in 4K is 36mm equiv.
  • Slow-mo video can be recorded at 1920 x 1080 at 120 fps and is played back at 1080/30p.
  • The camera has a decent set of video controls, though you cannot adjust exposure compensation with Auto ISO
  • 4K video is a bit noisy compare to the best enthusiast compacts, but 1080p is a lot cleaner
  • Frustratingly, the Depth from Defocus system can 'hunt' in low light

Like the ZS100, the ZS200 can capture 4K video at 30p and 24p using the MP4 codec, with a maximum bitrate of 100Mbps. It does so with a crop factor of 1.5x, meaning that the equivalent focal range when capturing 4K is 36mm-540mm, regardless of the image stabilization setting. With that starting point of 36mm, wide-angle shooting is limited, which is worth keeping in mind.

If you drop down to 1080p (with 60 and 30 fps options; 24p is available if you switch to AVCHD), the camera uses much more of its sensor, so the focal range is 27-405mm equiv. with image stabilization and 25-375mm equiv. without it. At 1080p and below a 'Hybrid 5-Axis OIS' system is available.

We took the ZS200 for a walk to see how the IS system performed at both 4K and 1080p for a use case like vlogging. No one would expect an IS system (even 5-axis digital) to reduce the large amplitude of shake that occurs while walking, and that's the case here.

At full telephoto, the IS system does a very impressive at both 4K and 1080p, with just a little 'wobble' visible at times caused by rolling shutter, commonly called the 'Jello' effect.

The ZS200 is capable of capturing high-speed, 120 fps video at 1920 x 1080. The clips are played back at 30 fps, producing a slow-motion effect. Note that image stabilization and audio recording aren't available in high-speed mode.

Controls

The ZS200 offers several controls for making video capture easier. They include focus peaking, zebra pattern, auto ISO (for which you can select an upper value) and a wind filter. To our surprise you cannot adjust exposure compensation while using manual exposure and auto ISO.

There's also built-in zoom mic, though it's hard to tell that it has any effect. There are no mic or headphone ports on the ZS200, so getting higher quality sound requires off-camera recording.

Something we noticed while capturing video on the ZS200 is that the LCD/EVF resolution drops once recording starts. In addition to being distracting, this also makes focus peaking more difficult.

Video Quality

The ZS200 is surprisingly noisy when capturing 4K at its base ISO compared to the Sony RX100 IV, because it uses a much smaller area of the sensor, which gives the Sony around a 1.3EV advantage in noise. The ZS200 doesn't capture as much detail as the RX100 IV, because the Sony is capturing at higher resolution and downsizing.

Downshifting to 1080p, the ZS200's quality is on-par with the RX100 III, which we suspect uses the same sensor. If there's a difference in quality when using image stabilization on the ZS200, it's not obvious.

We don't have video stills for the original ZS100 or Canon's G7 X II so we're unable to compare the quality of those cameras in detail.

Below is a sample video that we compiled from a collection of 4K/24p clips.

YouTube compression is particularly unkind to some clips in this video, such as the field of yellow flowers. Download the original to see it without YouTube compression.

Some things to note from the video: details tend to get mushy at higher ISOs (that 1.5x crop being a big reason why), dynamic range is impressive and the camera captures a good amount of detail. The ZS200's Depth from Defocus system can hunt when shooting video, which you'll see near the end. In the video you also hear a lot of wind noise, which is typical for on-camera microphones in breezy conditions, though as we noted above there's no port for an accessory microphone.