Panasonic Canada was nice enough to send me a Lumix FZ1000 for two weeks. As you should know, I don't do formal reviews. I use the camera exclusively for the time it is being lend to me, then I talk about my impressions.
What is the Panasonic Lumix FZ1000
The FZ1000 is a super zoom bridge camera. You can't change the lens, but it has a big range from 25mm to 400mm (in full frame equivalence). The sensor is smaller than most interchangeable lens cameras but still bigger than usual compacts. It has a very nice f/2.8 to f/4 aperture. It also has good video capabilities, being able to capture 4K video and 120fps in full HD. Here are some specs to get that out of the way.
- 20.1MP 1 inch sensor
- 25-400mm f/2.8-4 equivalent lens
- 1/16000s shutter speed
- ISO 80-12800
- 4K video in 24 or 30 fps and 4K Photo mode
- FHD in 24, 30 and 60 fps
- High speed 120 fps mode in FHD
- WiFi with NFC
- Optical Image Stabilisation except in 4K video recording
- Silent Mode with electronic shutter
- Burst mode at 12fps (7fps with continuous autofocus)
The first thing that struck me when I picked the FZ1000 in my hand was how light it is. With that zoom lens, I was sure it would be a lot heavier than it is. The ergonomics are great too. The grip fits perfectly in my hand and the shutter button is at the right place. There are 5 customizable buttons that you can assign to many different functions, like all Lumix cameras.
The EVF is a bit lower resolution than the one on the LX100, but the screens seem to be the same. On the FZ1000, it is fully articulated. The zoom is motorized, and it takes about 3 secs to get from 25mm to 400mm. I prefer a manual zoom, but it does have the advantage of being controllable by WiFi from your smartphone.
The lens surprised me, especially considering the zoom range. It is very sharp. I mean very, very sharp even wide open at 400mm. Here are some pictures of Roxy and Mya to show you how sharp this lens is. Look at all the details in the fur.
Like other Lumix cameras, the auto-focus is almost instant. The continuous AF is able to keep up with moving subjects too, thanks to the DFD technology introduced with the GH4.
The biggest advantage is probably the versatility you get from the zoom range. 25-400mm is quite a big range. You don't need to think about which lens you want to bring with you. Just take the DMC-FZ1000 and you will be able to shoot almost anything. Here are some photos of a fun breakfast we had together.
The FZ1000 can record 4k video on a SD card like the LX100 and the GH4. The video quality is quite good. It could be used for run and gun video, but they omitted a headphone jack. There is a microphone input but why no headphones Panasonic? I don't understand. It is a mistake. It could have been a really nice camera if it was not for that omission. Instead, it's a B-Cam. I know they want to protect the GH4 market but for me, it is two different beasts. The GH4 offers a lot more, but the FZ1000 could have been enough for many people who want to start in video production, or have to record some things for their company. You can still do it but you won't be able to monitor your recorded sound with headphones, just with the mic levels on screen.
The camera has a high speed mode that allows you to shoot at 120fps. The problem is that you can't set anything in this mode besides exposure compensation. The results is still interesting, but I hate not having controls over the aperture.
The things I like less
The buffer is limited in continuous shooting. It could be a nice camera for wildlife, with the range and the AF performance, but the buffer is too small for that.
The tripod socket... Come on... For one thing, it is not centered with the lens. Worse, if you have a tripod plate installed, you can't open the battery/card door. I could excuse that on a small body like the LX100, but it is unacceptable on a camera the size of the FZ1000. It is such a bad design.
No touch screen. Panasonic have very nice touch screen on their micro 4/3 cameras. Selecting the focus point on a touch screen is so useful and such a second nature by now. I simply cannot understand why they did not put a touch screen on the FZ1000.
No headphones jack. Once again, I don't know why. The FZ1000 could be the perfect run and gun camera, but Panasonic forgot to put a headphones jack. That means you have to either hope the sound will be ok or you need an external sound recorder like a Zoom H5. Bad decision from Panasonic.
The sensor size shows its limitations in dynamic range. The image quality is good but the DR is limited, even in RAW files. If you blow the highlights, there's not much there to salvaged, even from a RAW file.
A nice addition would be an internal ND filter. It would be especially great for film makers.
Overall, the Panasonic FZ1000 is a good camera. It is VERY versatile with a wide aperture, a sharp zoom lens with a great range, fast autofocus and very nice 4K video. It is a camera that is light and feels very nicely in hands. It has some design flaws that are more annoying than deal breakers. I think it is a great choice for film students on a budget, for a B-Cam or for an amateur photographer who wants to carry just one camera and does not want to bother with changing lenses.