Following in the footsteps of the Sony RX10, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ1000 is another DSLR-style bridge camera featuring a large one-inch-type 20-megapixel sensor. But this model has a few extra tricks up its sleeve, including a lens which can zoom to an impressive 400-mm equivalent, the ability to record 4K video, and a lower price tag.
One of the main features which differentiates the FZ1000 from traditional bridge superzoom cameras is that it uses a much larger one-inch-type MOS sensor. This should enable it to produce images of much higher quality than those which have previously made "bridge-camera" a dirty phrase in some photographic circles. And with a 20.1 effective megapixel count, those images should also be suitably detailed.
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Paired with the sensor is a Leica DC Vario-Elmarit zoom lens, which offers a 16x optical zoom. With a 25-400-mm 35-mm-format equivalent focal range – and a variable maximum aperture of F2.8-F4 – it should be quick and versatile enough for most enthusiast shooting situations. This is a good thing, because being a bridge camera there's obviously no option to switch lenses. A built-in Hybrid optical image stabilization system with five axis correction is on hand to help steady wobbly shots.
Using a redesigned Venus Engine image processor, Panasonic has been able to give the FZ1000 a high-speed burst shooting rate of 12 fps. There's also a wide ISO range of 125-12,800 (extendable to 80-25,600). This should ensure the camera is capable of performing admirably in a variety of lighting conditions … something that could not be said of previous generations of bridge camera with much smaller sensors.
Autofocus is said to be suitably snappy for the enthusiast wildlife and sports shooters that the camera is sure to appeal to, as is the top shutter speed of 1/4000 sec. An integrated liner motor, and Depth from Defocus technology – which evaluates two images with different sharpness levels to shorten focus times – mean the FZ1000 can achieve focus times of 0.08 sec. In good news for macro fans, the camera also has minimum focusing distance of 3 cm (1.18 in).
However, while the FZ1000 has some pretty solid photographic credentials, it's the video options which will undoubtedly be the main attraction for some. That's because the camera can record 4K video (3840 x 2160 pixels) at 30/25 fps, 100Mbps. Other video modes include Full HD 1080p footage at 60/50 fps, and a Full HD 1080p high-speed 120/100 fps mode, which is ideal for producing slow motion footage. Videographers will also be pleased with the addition of an external microphone input, and smooth electronic zooming at five speed steps.
Because of the large sensor, and the lens needed to cover it while still offering a wide focal range, the FZ1000 was never going to be a small camera. In fact, it's comparable to an entry-level DSLR with a kit lens attached, and on first glance most people would probably think that's what it was. It measures 136.8 x 98.5 x 130.7 mm (5.39 x 3.88 x 5.15 in) and weighs 831 g (1.83 lb).
On the rear is an OLED electronic viewfinder with 2,359K dots and a three-inch fully-articulated LCD monitor with 921K dots. The camera also boasts physical DSLR-like controls, including mode and command dials. There are five customizable Fn buttons which can be set to suit your shooting needs, and a large ring around the lens barrel can also be set to control either zoom or focus. It takes SD cards and can shoot JPEG and RAW image files.
Built-in Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity make it easy to wirelessly connect the FZ1000 to other devices for the sharing of images and video, or remote shooting. Using tablet and smartphone apps, users can remotely shoot stills or video while retaining control over zoom, exposure and focus, and can see information such as the camera's focus peaking.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ1000 will be available at the end of July for a price of US$900.
Check out the FZ1000 in the Panasonic promotional video below.
Product page: Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ1000