Panasonic DMC-FZ1000 review

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.

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