PANASONIC LUMIX DMC-FZ1000 LENS
The lens is a beast of itself. 16x optical zoom (25-400mm in 35 equivalent) has aperture range from F/2.8-4 and covers quite large sensor. Let’s get straight to the point – it is superb; sharp, contrasty and without any significant flaws. It has some chromatic aberrations in the corners (easily removable) and some light fall-off when used on maximum zoom (also easily removed). And that’s it. Sharp form corner to corner and with very good maximum aperture this lens is one of the main reasons why FZ1000 might be better choice than a DSLR with a zoom lens with similar range (bad performing Nikon 18-135 and 18-140mm come to my mind first).
Macro goes up to 3cm and the lens has excellent built-in optical image stabilization. FZ1000 displays lens focal position in millimeters when you zoom it.
Zoom can be of the standard continuous kind or you can select step zoom. Zoom action can be controlled using the ring around the lens or with the zoom lever around the shutter button (you can assign normal or step zoom to any of them or both). The later one can be reassigned as direct exposure compensation control what I used regularly.
Personally, I would like if zoom action were mechanically linked, not motorised (no battery drain and faster zoom control).
PANASONIC FZ1000 AUTO FOCUS
Auto focus action is very fast. In daylight conditions it focuses instantly, so in this regard FZ1000 works equally good or better than DSLR cameras. In low light conditions, similar response can be expected while AF assist lamp operates but without it, FZ1000 will require around a second or maybe a bit more. If the light is really low, focus will not be able to work, but now I’m talking about near darkness; in similar conditions most DSLR cameras will also have problems or will not work at all.
As is expected from advanced camera like this, there are numerous AF point configuration options. You can choose between face detection, 49-area focus, custom multi-area, single-area and pinpoint (very small focus point size).
Single area focus point size can be customized – in no less than 15 sizes! The smallest is slightly bigger than pinpoint and the largest covers around 1/4 of entire frame. If you change auto focus position often, multi-way controller on the back of the camera can be assigned to directly control AF point position.
Just under the thumb where it’s easy to reach, there is a mechanical switch for focus mode – single, continuous or manual focus. Manual focus can be adjusted using multi-way controller on the back of the camera or by using the zoom ring around the lens – in that case you must flip the focus/zoom switch on the lens. For manual focus geeks, there is focus peaking option.
PANASONIC LUMIX DMC-FZ1000 SENSOR AND IMAGE QUALITY
Sensor has 13.2 x 8.8 mm dimensions, the same as Sony RX10 which is the only direct competitor to FZ1000. I’m not sure but I wouldn’t be surprised if the sensor in Panasonic FZ1000 isn’t the same one manufactured by Sony.
Image quality is excellent. I urge you to shoot in RAW and learn how to post process on PC (taking a shot is just half of photo creation process). Anyway, colors are great and there are no noise reduction artifacts (RAW is really RAW in Panasonic FZ1000). Due to the superb lens, detail rendition is excellent and images appear like they were shot with APS-C sized camera.
Low light performance is also very good, I managed to get some ISO 12,800 shots that are very much usable but you need properly set exposure (expose to the right) and good light distribution for that. For most situations, this camera feels comfortable up to ISO 1,600. Beyond that grain becomes more evident.
ISO series samples (ACR default conversion, no sharpening):