PANASONIC LUMIX DMC-FZ1000 vs. SONY DSC-RX10
There is only one camera comparable to Panasonic DMC-FZ1000, and that’s Sony DSC-RX10. It uses (probably) the same sensor, has similar price and equally overwhelming set of advanced options. Let’s take a closer look.
Sony measures light more on the bright side but never overexposes; (everyday street/landscape/people photos). Panasonic is more conservative and the difference is evident – images are around 1 EV darker than the ones from Sony. LCD on Panasonic is brighter with stronger colors. That’s why you might think your images are properly exposed but they are to dark (simply check histogram). Because of that, I regularly used positive exposure compensation during my review time and this is something less experienced users will forget during use, so Sony RX10 might be a better choice if you do not have years long photo experience.
Below: RX10 on the left, FZ1000 on the right:
When in AUTO mode, Panasonic chooses larger aperture and faster shutter and Sony uses smaller aperture and slower shutter speed so you might end up with blurry images with Sony if you shoot at moving objects.
Auto focus speed is a bit on the Panasonic side – it simply flies in daylight, but Sony is not slow either.
Sony has built-in ND filter, Panasonic has not (good for long exposures in dusk).
Panasonic feels better when held; at least for me (handling is subjective). It has bigger and better sculpted grip and better weight distribution since Sony has a very heavy lens.
Tripod mount has better placement on Sony DSC-RX10; it is further away from the battery compartment and that makes changing batteries when on tripod much easier.
Sony has dedicated aperture ring around the lens which can be “declicked” for video and you get silent linear aperture control during video recording – this can be used very creatively. Sadly, that ring (lens alltogether) is very close to the grip so the fingers from your right hand will interfere to the ones from the left when you rotate it (users with smaller hands will never have this problem probably).
During video recording, Sony focuses very slowly, Panasonic FZ1000 is very snappy.
Sony has constant F/2.8 aperture through the entire zoom range, but has less zoom (24-200mm). Panasonic FZ1000 offers 25-400mm but at F/2.8-4.
Below you can see samples from both cameras at wide angle, 200mm (Sony max) and 400mm (Panasonic max). Left column is Panasonic, right is Sony.
Panasonic DMC-FZ1000 allows auto focus point size selection, Sony does not; this is handy for portraits when you want to focus on a person’s eye and need a smaller AF point size for that.
Electronic viewfinders are of identical size but Panasonic has higher dot count 2,359,000 vs. 1,440,000 on Sony. Both look good though in real life use.
Video quality is similar on both cameras, but Panasonic offers more due to the 4k video recording, higher bitrates, stop motion and time lapse animation and high speed recording. Sony has silent aperure control though.
Sony RX10 uses standard micro USB connector for charging and file transfer; Panasonic has non-standard kind which could be a problem to buy it in a hurry (hard to find in most regular local photo stores stock).
Finally, let’s take a look at image quality. Below you can see samples from both cameras. They were taken with identical exposure and ISO value, at the same focal length and in RAW format. I touched nothing in conversion to JPEG except pulling overexposed clouds in one image and then I pulled them by the same amount on both cameras. This way, you can see default sensor output. Left column is Panasonic, right is Sony, click for full resolution image.
Beats me if I see any difference…
So to round things up, there is no clear winner between these two cameras. Both are great and it is a personal preference what features are more important to you. As a general guide, Sony DSC-RX10 might be a better choice for less experienced users due to the more correct light metering and more realistic LCD screen. If you really know what you are doing, Panasonic DMC-FZ1000 is the one to buy; it feels better in hand and is more responsive in overall operation speed. Keep in mind, it will take some time to master all the options offered.
PANASONIC LUMIX DMC-FZ1000 vs. SOMETHING ELSE IN THIS PRICE RANGE
Let’s say you have $900-1000 at hand want the best camera for your money. At the time I’m writing this review (October 2014.) both FZ1000 and RX10 cost almost the same – around $900. These are some of your options:
- Canon 700D (T5i) + 18-135 STM lens: It costs at around $800. You get larger sensor and better low light capability compared to FZ1000 and RX10 but loose large aperture, high amount of external controls and 4k video. T5i also doesn’t balance in hand very well with a lens this large.
- Nikon D5300 + 18-140mm lens cost $1000 and has similar lack of external controls like Canon and the 18-140mm is nowhere near the quality of Canon 18-135 STM, let alone Leica and Zeiss lenses on FZ1000 and RX10.
- Canon EOS 60D with 18-135 IS (old non-STM version): it dropped to affordable $1000 lately but is bundled only with older 18-135 IS lens which I do not consider worthy comparison to the ones in FZ1000 and RX10.
- Canon EOS 70D + 18-135 STM (new lens) at $1350: Now we’re talking… new STM lens and a body with a lot of external controls but you need extra $400 over FZ1000 and RX10. You do get higher battery life and better sensor though. I would go for Canon but the price and body size and weight (1255g with this lens) could be a problem for some.
- Nikon D7100 + 18-140mm: also at $1350, D7100 body is superb, but that 18-140 sucks… this lens will not let D7100 show its maximum.
- Sony A6000 + 18-200mm lens: At $1450 this is seriously expensive. If you shoot mostly in day there is no need for extra low light capability offered by Sony’s larger sensor, so might as well stick to RX10 or FZ1000 at more affordable price.
And this is basically it. It is impossible to find a camera at his price that has similarly good and bright lens like Sony RX10 and Panasonic FZ1000. There are a lot of DSLR cameras, but they either lack the range of options and external controls offered by FZ1000, are often bundled with a less than optimal lens which also has slower aperture or simply are significantly more expensive. They are bigger and heavier and many will be confused with this “removable-lens” concept as they feel that would oblige them to buy more lenses. Macro is almost non-existent on DSLR or mirrorless kit lenses; you need dedicated macro lens. FZ1000 and RX10 both offer usable macro out of the box.
If you will not change lenses or want a second camera for the trips you do not want to burden yourself with DSLR and lenses, FZ1000 is an excellent option. It can do almost anything, has high image quality for the most part comparable to APS-C cameras and comes with perfect lens out of the box. Let’s not forget 4k video which is still extremely rare on the market.