What now seems a really long time ago (~ 10 years) there was a type of digital cameras called “prosumer”. Models like Canon Pro1, Olympus C8080 or Sony F828 were typical representatives of this category. These were relatively big and expensive cameras packed with advanced features, excellent optics and above average image quality. But still all of them used really small 1/2.3 image sensors what was responsible for not-that-great image quality compared to DSLR cameras with APS-C sensors. As soon as affordable DSLR cameras ($1000 or less) appeared, prosumer cameras silently disappeared from the market. After all, who would want to buy a big camera with the small sensor when there are far better DSLR options for the same or even lower price?
Times change and Smartphone cameras gradually became better and better. For most people, image quality delivered by 8 megapixel Smartphone is more than enough and the whole digital cameras market rapidly decreased. Camera manufacturers found themselves in a problem; nobody was buying compacts anymore and they finally realized there is still a small but constant demand for prosumer cameras: the ones that deliver high image quality but can’t exchange lenses. A lot of amateurs are afraid of interchangeable lens cameras since they feel obligated to buy more and more gear they do not understand or want.
True prosumer revival started last year with the Sony DSC-RX10. But this time, small 1/2.3 sensor would not suffice and Sony used large 1″ (13.2 x 8.8 mm) sensor with 20 megapixels. Image quality delivered by this camera was comparable to DSLR for many amateur users and there was only one lens with perfect focal range (24-200) and constant aperture of F/2.8. RX10 can work in full AUTO mode, or you can take control over numerous advanced features. RX10 was an instant hit and was only the question of time someone would produce something similar or even better.
So now we have the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ1000. It uses the same 1″ 20 megapixels sensor, has even more optical zoom: 25-400mm F/2.8-4, 4K video and all the bells and whistles you can pack in a digital cameras these days. And oh yes; it is cheaper from the start so Sony had to reduce RX10 price to around $1000 to make them both cost around the same.
So if you are wondering is there a particular reason why I wrote the longest intro to a review on my blog… yes there is. FZ1000 deserves it since this is one of the best products this year. I’ve gone into details about FZ1000 on the next pages and even if you have no interest in reading all of it, skip to page 4 to see direct comparison and image samples from both FZ1000 and RX10.
- Announced: 2014.
- Type: advanced ultra zoom / bridge / prosumer camera
- Dimensions: 137 x 99 x 131 mm (5.39 x 3.9 x 5.16″)
- Weight: 831g (with battery)
- Sensor: 1″ (13.2 x 8.8 mm), 20 MP (48640 x 3648 pixels)
- ISO: 125-12,800
- Shutter speed: 60″ – 1/16,000
- Lens: 25-400mm (35mm eq.), F/2.8-4
- Image stabilization: Yes (in lens, 5-axis)
- Dust and moisture protection: No
- Flash: Built-in + wireless control (3 groups)
- Continuous shooting: 12 fps
- LCD screen: 3″, 921,000 dots
- EVF: 0.7 magnification, 100% coverage, 2,359,000 dots
- Memory card: SD, SDHC, SDXC
- Battery: Li-Ion DMW-BLC12
- Video: 3840×2160 (30p), 1920 x 1080 (60p, 60i, 30p, 24p) 1280×720 (30p), 640 x 480 (30p)
- Connectors: micro USB 2.0, micro HDMI, 3.5mm microphone input, Wi-Fi
PANASONIC LUMIX DMC-FZ1000 CONSTRUCTION AND HANDLING
FZ1000 has excellent build quality. Everything is precisely assembled. Grip is quite big and covered with soft rubber as is the case with thumb rest. I especially liked sculpted grip shape which allows natural hold on the camera. Some of the buttons do feel a bit cheaper but all of the dials rotate with good resistance and there is no fear of accidental rotation.
FZ1000 is somewhat heavy at 831g but I never felt fatigued with its size.
PANASONIC LUMIX DMC-FZ1000 MENUS AND OPTIONS
One thing you need to keep in mind about this camera; when you start to use it outside of automatic exposure mode and begin customizing it you will feel overwhelmed from the start. FZ1000 is absolutely packed with features and control layout customization options. I write camera reviews for 6 years now and have tried most of what’s available in the market and it took me a day or two to even grasp what is possible on FZ1000. This is not bad – FZ1000 can be tailored to anyone’s specific desires but you will need to play with it for days to try various layouts and find what works best for you.
Let’s mentions just a few of the details I liked best:
White balance has usual presets, Kelvin setting and even 4 manual presets. There is an in-camera curves diagram with which you can tailor specific contrast response (not sure I’ve seen that before in any other camera).
External button and dial functions can be separately set for recording and playback modes.
Shutter can operate in mechanical or electronic mode which is fully silent. FZ1000 also has a specific “Silent” shooting mode which when selected switches camera to electronic shutter and turns off all sounds, AF assist lamp and flash; basically everything what would make your camera obvious to someone else. Great for churches and low profile street shooting.
Thanks to electronic shutter it can go as high as 1/16000 of a second (professional DSLR’s go up to 1/8000).
Bracketing can shoot 3, 5, or 7 frames from 1/3 to 1EV steps.
ISO can be selected in 1/3 or in EV steps and you can select upper value in AUTO ISO mode.
Built-in flash can wirelessly control up to three groups of external flash units.
Anything that didn’t find its way to direct buttons can be set in quick menu.
FZ1000 has built-in RAW image processing.
You can choose between four image aspect ratios: 3:2, 16:9, 4:3 and 1:1. RAW and JPEG’s can be recorded simultaneously.
FZ1000 can be set to focus or release priority (camera can fire when you press the shutter even if not in focus). There is also zebra pattern (important for correct video exposure).