Panasonic FZ1000 Image Quality


Color

Saturation & Hue Accuracy
About average saturation levels, with slightly below average hue accuracy.

In the diagram above, the squares show the original color, and the circles show the color that the camera captured. More saturated colors are located toward the periphery of the graph. Hue changes as you travel around the center. Thus, hue-accurate, highly saturated colors appear as lines radiating from the center. Click for a larger image.

Saturation. Overall, mean saturations levels are about average from the Panasonic FZ1000 using default settings, at 9.7% oversaturated. The FZ1000 pushes dark blues and greens quite a bit, but only oversaturates red and orange by small amounts, and it undersaturates yellow and aqua tones moderately. Most consumer digital cameras produce color that's more highly saturated (more intense) than found in the original subjects. This is simply because most people like their color a bit brighter than life.

Skin tones. Here, the Panasonic FZ1000 did fairly well, producing reasonably natural-looking Caucasian skin tones that were a bit on the warm side, though they can sometimes appear overly pink or a bit yellow depending on the ambient lighting. Where oversaturation is most problematic is on Caucasian skin tones, as it's very easy for these "memory colors" to be seen as too bright, too pink, too yellow, etc.

Hue. The Panasonic FZ1000 shifts cyan toward blue by quite a bit, but most other shifts like red toward orange, orange toward yellow, and yellow toward green are by small amounts. The cyan to blue shift is very common among the digital cameras we test; we think it's a deliberate choice by camera engineers to produce better-looking sky colors. The FZ1000's handling of yellows is one of its weaknesses: Yellows are undersaturated, and shifted slightly toward green. With a mean "delta-C" color error of 5.87 after correction for saturation, hue accuracy is slightly below average, but still pretty good overall since there are no major shifts in one particular color except for cyan (quite common). Hue is "what color" the color is.

Sensor

Exposure and White Balance

Indoors, incandescent lighting
The Auto setting produced cool results and Incandescent was quite warm. Manual was pretty accurate, just slightly cool. No exposure compensation required.

Auto White Balance
0 EV
Incandescent White Balance
0 EV
Manual White Balance
0 EV

Indoors, under normal incandescent lighting, color balance was cool and magenta with the Auto white balance setting, while results with the Incandescent setting were very warm and orange. The Manual setting was by far the most accurate, just slightly on the cool side with a very minor cyan shift. (Note: The FZ1000 also has a Kelvin Temperature White Balance option, however we did not test that mode.) The Panasonic FZ1000 required no exposure compensation while most cameras require about +0.3 EV for this scene, so the camera performed better than average in terms of exposure here. (Our test lighting for this shot is a mixture of 60 and 100 watt household incandescent bulbs, a pretty yellow light source, but a very common one in typical home settings here in the U.S.)

See thumbnails of all test images

Resolution
Very high resolution, ~2,500 to ~2,600 lines of strong detail from JPEGs, a little higher from RAW.

In-camera JPEG:
Strong detail to
~2,600 lines horizontal
In-camera JPEG:
Strong detail to
~2,500 lines vertical
ACR converted RAW:
Strong detail to
~2,700 lines horizontal
ACR converted RAW:
Strong detail to
~2,600 lines vertical

In-camera JPEGs of our laboratory resolution chart revealed sharp, distinct line patterns down to about 2,600 lines per picture height in the horizontal direction, and about 2,500 lines per picture height in the vertical direction. Some may argue for more, but aliasing artifacts start to interfere at that point. Complete extinction of the pattern didn't occur until about 3,200 to 3,400 lines. Adobe Camera Raw produced slightly better results, about 100 lines more in both directions, and complete extinction of the pattern didn't occur before the limits of our chart, but color moiré was more visible. Use these numbers to compare with other cameras of similar resolution, or use them to see just what higher resolution can mean in terms of potential detail.

See thumbnails of all test images

Sharpness & Detail
Crisp images with very good detail, but some sharpening artifacts are visible. Moderate noise reduction at base ISO.

Good definition of high-contrast
elements here with moderate
sharpening haloes.
Subtle detail: Hair
Noise suppression tends to blur
detail in areas of subtle contrast.

Sharpness. The FZ1000 produces very crisp, sharp looking images but with some obvious sharpening haloes around high contrast transitions, as can be seen around the lines and text in the crop above left. Edge enhancement creates the illusion of sharpness by enhancing colors and tones right at the edge of a rapid transition in color or tone.

Detail. The crop above right shows good detail for the class of camera, with moderate levels noise suppression in the darkest areas of the mannequins's hair, and almost no chroma noise. A few individual strands are smudged together in areas of low contrast at base ISO, but performance here is actually quite good considering the size and resolution of the sensor. Noise-suppression systems in digital cameras tend to flatten-out detail in areas of subtle contrast. The effects can often be seen in shots of human hair, where the individual strands are lost and an almost "watercolor" look appears.

RAW vs In-Camera JPEGs
As noted above the Panasonic FZ1000 produces sharp, crisp and clean images. Let's see how an Adobe Camera Raw conversion at base ISO compares.

Base ISO (125)
Camera JPEG, defaults
RAW via Adobe Camera Raw

In the table above, we compare an in-camera JPEG taken at base ISO using default noise reduction and sharpening (on the left) to a matching RAW file converted with Adobe Camera Raw 8.6 using default noise reduction with strong but tight unsharp masking applied in Photoshop (in this case 300% USM with a radius of 0.5 pixels and a threshold of 0).

As you can see, ACR produced additional detail that isn't present in the JPEG from the camera, though the FZ1000's JPEG rendering is pretty good here at base ISO. The biggest increase in detail is in the fabric crop, where ACR was able to resolve much of the thread pattern in the red-leaf swatch which the camera's JPEG engine presumably treats as noise, and ACR also did a bit better reproducing fine detail in the pink fabric, as well as more accurate color. But as is usually the case, more noise can be seen in the RAW conversion particularly in flat areas as shown in the bottle crop, thanks to ACR's light default noise reduction and the relatively strong sharpening required to keep RAW images crisp-looking. You can of course apply stronger noise reduction (default ACR NR used here) to arrive at your ideal noise versus detail tradeoff. Bottom line: As is almost always the case, you can do noticeably better than the camera with a good RAW converter, provided you're willing to apply your own noise reduction and sharpening to taste.

ISO & Noise Performance
Very good high ISO performance for its class.

Default High ISO Noise Reduction
ISO 80 ISO 125 ISO 200
ISO 400 ISO 800 ISO 1600
ISO 3200 ISO 6400 ISO 12,800
ISO 25,600

ISO 80s through 200 produce similar results, with detailed, crisp images containing low levels of fine-grained luma noise and almost no chroma noise. ISO 400 shows a very minor drop in image quality as noise reduction ramps, but fine detail is still quite good. ISO 800 shows another small step down in detail but still very good overall image quality, though fine-grained luminance noise is more visible in some flatter areas. ISO 1600 is noticeably softer thanks to stronger noise reduction and more visible luma noise, but chroma noise is still fairly low. At ISO 3200, image quality takes a larger hit with higher noise, both luma and chroma, and the camera's aggressive sharpening produces images with a somewhat crystalline look. Image quality drops off very quickly from here, with ISOs 6400 through 25,600 being quite noisy with strong luma noise and chroma blotching.

Overall, though, high ISO performance is much better than average for a long zoom. We're of course pixel-peeping to an extraordinary extent here, since 1:1 images on an LCD screen often have little to do with how those same images will appear when printed. See the Print Quality section below for our evaluation of maximum print sizes at each ISO setting.

Dynamic Range Analysis (RAW mode)
While we once performed our own dynamic range measurements based on in-camera JPEGs as well as converted RAW images (when the camera was supported by Adobe Camera Raw), we've switched to using DxO Labs' results from their DxOMark website. As technology advanced, the dynamic range of modern high-end cameras in some cases exceeded the range of the Stouffer T4110 density scale that we used for our own measurements. DxO's approach based on RAW data before demosaicing is also more revealing, because it measures the fundamental dynamic range of the sensor, irrespective of whatever processing is applied to JPEGs, or to RAW data by off-the-shelf conversion software.

In the following, we use DxO's "Print" dynamic range results, which are scaled based on camera resolution. As the name suggests, this scaling corresponds to the situation in which you print at a given size, regardless of how many megapixels the camera might have. (In other words, if you've decided to make a 13x19 inch print, that's the size you're printing, whether the camera's resolution is 16 or 300 megapixels.) For the technically-minded, you can find a discussion of the reasoning behind this here on the DxOMark website. Also note that DxO Labs uses a signal-to-noise (SNR) threshold of 1 when defining the lower boundary of acceptable luminance noise in their dynamic range measurements, which corresponds to the "Low Quality" threshold of the Imatest software we used to use for this measurement.

Here, we compare the FZ1000's dynamic range (in orange) to its closest rival, the Sony RX10 (red) which features a similar if not the same sensor, and to the Panasonic FZ200 (yellow), an older superzoom based on a much smaller and more common 1/2.3" sensor size. You can always compare other models on DxOMark.com.

As you can see from the above graph (click for a larger image), the Panasonic FZ1000's dynamic range isn't quite as good as the Sony RX10's at low or high ISOs, ranging from about 11.7 EV at the lowest ISO, to just over 5 EV at the highest (and oddly, the highest ISO setting of 25,600 measured less sensitive than the 12,800 setting). The Sony RX10 which uses a similar sensor managed 12.6 EV at its lowest ISO, and 6.85 at its highest, though the two 1-inch sensors are fairly evenly matched between ISO 400 and 1600 in terms of dynamic range.

Not surprisingly, compared to the Panasonic FZ200 the FZ1000 offers significantly better dynamic range across all ISOs they have in common, with up to about a 1-2/3 EV advantage, but keep in mind the FZ200's significantly lower 12-megapixel resolution also puts it at a disadvantage when comparing "printed" results like these to the two 20-megapixel models.

Click here to visit the DxOMark page for the Panasonic FZ1000 for more of their test results and additional comparisons.

Built-in Flash Test Results

Coverage, Exposure and Range
Good flash performance overall.

Click to see FZ1000FLWC.JPG
Coverage, Wide Angle (ISO 200, f/2.8)

Coverage. Flash coverage was a little narrow at wide angle, leaving dim corners and vertical edges in our flash coverage test image, but not as bad as some cameras we've tested. We no longer test flash coverage at telephoto, as it is invariably better, making wide angle the worst case scenario.

Click to see FZ1000INB_AUTOFL.JPG
Full Auto (ISO 125, f/3.8)

Exposure. Our Indoor Portrait test scene came out quite bright in auto mode, and the camera didn't have to boost ISO from the base of 125. It also used a decently quick shutter speed of 1/60s. (Some cameras reduce shutter speed to 1/40s or below when using the flash, which can be problematic and lead to subject motion blur.)

Manufacturer-Specified Flash Range
Telephoto
Click to see FZ1000FL_MFR322TA1000.JPG
~32 feet
ISO 1000, f/4

Manufacturer Specified Flash Range Test. The Panasonic FZ1000's flash range is rated at 13.5m or 44 feet at wide angle, and 9.5m or 31 feet at telephoto, with ISO sensitivity set to Auto. As you can see from the test shot at full telephoto above, the Panasonic FZ1000 produced a well-exposed flash target at about 32 feet, though it boosted ISO to 1000 to achieve that result. We shoot this test shot using the manufacturer-specified camera settings, at the range the company claims for the camera, to assess the validity of the specific claims.

Output Quality

Print Quality

Good 24 x 36 inch prints at ISO 80/125/200; a fairly good 11 x 14 at ISO 1600 and a good 4 x 6 at ISO 6400.

Canon PRO-1000 Printer ImageISO 80/125 prints are nice and sharp at 24 x 36 inches, with good color reproduction and general detail. 30 x 40 inch prints are certainly fine for wall display purposes as well.

ISO 200 images are also quite good at 24 x 36 inches, an impressive sized print for ISO 200 in this class.

ISO 400 delivers a very good 20 x 30 inch print. There is mild softening that occurs in our test target red swatch and a mild trace of noise in a few shadow areas, but still a really good print.

ISO 800 yields a solid 13 x 19 inch print. There is a fairly substantial loss of contrast detail in our red swatch, but that's common for most cameras at this ISO and higher for this class of camera.

ISO 1600 produces an 11 x 14 inch print similar to the 13 x 19 at ISO 800. Noise is actually well-controlled in flatter areas, a nice sized print here all things considered.

ISO 3200 is notoriously difficult for cameras with relatively small sensors (compared to APS-C and full-frame), and the FZ1000 succumbs to the difficulties like so many others. 8 x 10's here are simply too lacking in fine detail to make our "good" grade, likely the result of fairly high noise and aggressive noise reduction processing, but we can rate the 5 x 7 inch print good here.

ISO 6400 prints a 5 x 7 that almost passes our good grade, but it's a bit drab and undersaturated to officially call good, so we'll rate the 4 x 6 inch print good here.

ISO 12,800/25,600 settings do not yield good prints and are best avoided.

The Panasonic FZ1000 delivers solidly in the print quality department up to ISO 1600, which is the highest ISO we recommend for this sensor size. It slightly outperforms its biggest competition, the Sony RX10, at ISO 200 and 400 by one print size. Looking side-by-side, Sony's default JPEG processing generates too much in the way of unwanted artifacts, and thus the print size difference. At higher ISOs, however, the RX10 pulls slightly ahead, allowing for one print size larger at ISO 6400 and 12,800. A fairly close race, but if you remain at ISO 1600 and below the FZ1000 is the better choice for JPEGs at default settings in print.

About our print-quality testing: Our "Reference Printer"

Canon PRO-1000 Printer ImageTesting hundreds of digital cameras, we've found that you can only tell so much about a camera's image quality by viewing its images on-screen. Ultimately, there's no substitute for printing a lot of images and examining them closely. For this reason, we routinely print sample images from the cameras we test on our Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 printer, which we named our "Printer of the Year" in our 2015 COTY awards.

The Canon PRO-1000 has a lot of characteristics that make it a natural to use for our "reference printer." When it comes to judging how well a camera's photos print, resolution and precise rendering are paramount. The PRO-1000's more than 18,000 individual nozzles combine with an air feeding system that provides exceptional droplet-placement accuracy. Its 11-color LUCIA PRO ink system delivers a wide color gamut and dense blacks, giving us a true sense of the cameras' image quality. To best see fine details, we've always printed on glossy paper, so the PRO-1000's "Chroma Optimizer" overcoat that minimizes "bronzing" or gloss differential is important to us. (Prior to the PRO-1000, we've always used dye-based printers, in part to avoid the bronzing problems with pigment-based inks.) Finally, we just don't have time to deal with clogged inkjet heads, and the PRO-1000 does better in that respect than any printer we've ever used. If you don't run them every day or two, inkjet printers tend to clog. Canon's thermal-inkjet technology is inherently less clog-prone than other approaches, but the PRO-1000 takes this a step further, with sensors that monitor every inkjet nozzle. If one clogs, it will assign another to take over its duties. In exchange for a tiny amount of print speed, this lets you defer cleaning cycles, which translates into significant ink savings. In our normal workflow, we'll often crank out a hundred or more letter-size prints in a session, but then leave the printer to sit for anywhere from days to weeks before the next camera comes along. In over a year of use, we've never had to run a nozzle-cleaning cycle on our PRO-1000.

See our Canon PRO-1000 review for a full overview of the printer from the viewpoint of a fine-art photographer.

*Disclosure: Canon provided us with the PRO-1000 and a supply of ink to use in our testing, and we receive advertising consideration for including this mention when we talk about camera print quality. Our decision to use the PRO-1000 was driven by the printer itself, though, prior to any discussion with Canon on the topic. (We'd actually been using an old Pixma PRO 9500II dye-based printer for years previously, and paying for our own ink, until we decided that the PRO-1000 was the next-generation printer we'd been waiting for.)

 

The images above were taken from our standardized test shots. For a collection of more pictorial photos, see our Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ1000 Photo Gallery .

Not sure which camera to buy? Let your eyes be the ultimate judge! Visit our Comparometer(tm) to compare images from the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ1000 with those from other cameras you may be considering. The proof is in the pictures, so let your own eyes decide which you like best!



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