Panasonic ZS100 Image Quality Comparison

The Panasonic ZS100 is currently in a class of its own offering a 10x zoom coupled to a 1"-type sensor in a compact "travel zoom" body. Below are crops from our laboratory Still Life target comparing its image quality to a range of point & shoot cameras with longer-than-average zoom lenses and a variety of different sensor sizes: the Canon G7X Mark II, Olympus Stylus 1, Panasonic FZ1000, Panasonic ZS60, and Sony RX10 II.

NOTE: These images are from best quality JPEGs straight out of the camera, at default settings including noise reduction and using the camera's actual base ISO (not extended ISO settings). Clicking any crop will take you to a carrier page where you can click once again to access the full resolution image as delivered straight from the camera. For those interested in working with the RAW files involved, click these links to visit each camera's respective sample image thumbnail page: Panasonic ZS100, Canon G7X II, Olympus Stylus 1, Panasonic FZ1000, Panasonic ZS60, and Sony RX10 II -- links to the RAW files appear beneath those for the JPEG images, wherever we have them. And remember, you can always go to our world-renowned Comparometer to compare the Panasonic ZS100 to any camera we've ever tested!

Panasonic ZS100 vs Canon G7X Mark II at Base ISO

100% crop from Panasonic ZS100 test image taken at ISO 125100% crop from Canon G7X Mark II test image taken at ISO 125
100% crop from Panasonic ZS100 test image taken at ISO 125100% crop from Canon G7X Mark II test image taken at ISO 125
100% crop from Panasonic ZS100 test image taken at ISO 125100% crop from Canon G7X Mark II test image taken at ISO 125
Panasonic ZS100 at ISO 125
Canon G7X Mark II at ISO 125

The Canon G7X II "only" offers a 4.2x zoom lens compared to the 10x zoom of the ZS100, but it's a much brighter f/1.8-2.8 vs f/2.8-5.9 optic, and both cameras use similar 1"-type 20-megapixel sensors and are currently priced the same as well. Image quality here at base ISO is fairly similar, with about the same amount of detail captured and similar noise levels, however there are some notable differences. First, the Panasonic's tone curve is such that its image looks a bit darker than the Canon when middle gray is the same brightness, giving the G7X II's image a brighter look overall. Colors from the Canon are also more neutral and pleasing. The ZS100 does however hold onto a little more detail in our red-leaf swatch, showing some of the fine thread pattern which the G7X II's default processing smooths over. Sharpening halos are also a little less noticeable from the Panasonic, though both produce visible haloing along high-contrast edges.

Panasonic ZS100 vs Olympus Stylus 1 at Base ISO

100% crop from Panasonic ZS100 test image taken at ISO 125100% crop from Olympus Stylus 1 test image taken at ISO 100
100% crop from Panasonic ZS100 test image taken at ISO 125100% crop from Olympus Stylus 1 test image taken at ISO 100
100% crop from Panasonic ZS100 test image taken at ISO 125100% crop from Olympus Stylus 1 test image taken at ISO 100
Panasonic ZS100 at ISO 125
Olympus Stylus 1 at ISO 100

The Olympus Stylus 1 features a 10.7x constant f/2.8 aperture lens, but its imager is a much smaller 12-megapixel 1/1.7"-type sensor. As you can see here at base ISO, the ZS100 easily resolves significantly more detail as well as produces lower noise, though stronger noise reduction from the Stylus 1 helps to compensate further reducing detail compared to the ZS100. Tone curve and colors are however more pleasing from the Olympus.

Panasonic ZS100 vs Panasonic FZ1000 at Base ISO

100% crop from Panasonic ZS100 test image taken at ISO 125100% crop from Panasonic FZ1000 test image taken at ISO 125
100% crop from Panasonic ZS100 test image taken at ISO 125100% crop from Panasonic FZ1000 test image taken at ISO 125
100% crop from Panasonic ZS100 test image taken at ISO 125100% crop from Panasonic FZ1000 test image taken at ISO 125
Panasonic ZS100 at ISO 125
Panasonic FZ1000 at ISO 125

Here, we compare the ZS100 to its bigger brother, the FZ1000, which likely shares the same or very similar sensor and processor, however the FZ1000 features a larger 16x f/2.8-4 lens. As you'd expect image quality is quite similar from these two siblings, however the FZ1000's image is a bit sharper with higher contrast and slightly better detail, thanks to a better performing lens.

Panasonic ZS100 vs Panasonic ZS60 at Base ISO

100% crop from Panasonic ZS100 test image taken at ISO 125100% crop from Panasonic ZS60 test image taken at ISO 80
100% crop from Panasonic ZS100 test image taken at ISO 125100% crop from Panasonic ZS60 test image taken at ISO 80
100% crop from Panasonic ZS100 test image taken at ISO 125100% crop from Panasonic ZS60 test image taken at ISO 80
Panasonic ZS100 at ISO 125
Panasonic ZS60 at ISO 80

Here we decided to compare the ZS100 to its little brother, the 18-megapixel ZS60, to show what advantages a 1"-type sensor has over a much smaller 1/2.3"-type sensor typically used in travel zoom cameras. The smaller sensor allows the ZS60 to offer a 30x optical zoom in roughly the same form factor as the 10x ZS100, however as you can see, the ZS100 offers much better image quality even here at base ISO. The ZS60 has to apply much stronger noise reduction to keep noise levels in check, which smears fine detail even here at ISO 80. Contrast and sharpness are lower as well, but that's likely due to the longer lens.

Panasonic ZS100 vs Sony RX10 II at Base ISO

100% crop from Panasonic ZS100 test image taken at ISO 125100% crop from Sony RX10 II test image taken at ISO 100
100% crop from Panasonic ZS100 test image taken at ISO 125100% crop from Sony RX10 II test image taken at ISO 100
100% crop from Panasonic ZS100 test image taken at ISO 125100% crop from Sony RX10 II test image taken at ISO 100
Panasonic ZS100 at ISO 125
Sony RX10 II at ISO 100

The much larger Sony RX10 II actually features a shorter 8.3x lens, but its constant f/2.8 lens is much faster (brighter) at the tele end. Here at base ISO, the Sony produces a brighter, more contrasty images with more pleasing colors and fewer sharpening artifacts. The Sony also produces a cleaner, smoother rendering of our difficult red-leaf fabric, however the Panasonic actually resolves some of the fine thread pattern which the Sony does not, but the ZS100 obscures some of the low-contrast detail.

Panasonic ZS100 vs Canon G7X Mark II at ISO 1600

100% crop from Panasonic ZS100 test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Canon G7X Mark II test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Panasonic ZS100 test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Canon G7X Mark II test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Panasonic ZS100 test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Canon G7X Mark II test image taken at ISO 1600
Panasonic ZS100 at ISO 1600
Canon G7X Mark II at ISO 1600

The ZS100 produces a cleaner looking image here at ISO 1600, however the G7X Mark II holds on to more detail and generates fewer noise reduction artifacts. Tone curve, contrast and colors are still more pleasing from the Canon.

Panasonic ZS100 vs Olympus Stylus 1 at ISO 1600

100% crop from Panasonic ZS100 test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Olympus Stylus 1 test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Panasonic ZS100 test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Olympus Stylus 1 test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Panasonic ZS100 test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Olympus Stylus 1 test image taken at ISO 1600
Panasonic ZS100 at ISO 1600
Olympus Stylus 1 at ISO 1600

The Stylus 1's image quality falls further behind the ZS100's here at ISO 1600, already pushing the limits of a 1/1.7" sensor. The Stylus 1 image is noisier despite suffering from stronger noise reduction artifacts which smears fine detail. Interestingly, the Stylus 1 does retain slightly more detail in the red-leaf swatch, though the higher noise makes it look more detailed than it really is. Color and brightness are still more pleasing from the Olympus, though.

Panasonic ZS100 vs Panasonic FZ1000 at ISO 1600

100% crop from Panasonic ZS100 test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Panasonic FZ1000 test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Panasonic ZS100 test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Panasonic FZ1000 test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Panasonic ZS100 test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Panasonic FZ1000 test image taken at ISO 1600
Panasonic ZS100 at ISO 1600
Panasonic FZ1000 at ISO 1600

Again, very similar image quality from these two 1"-type siblings, with just a slight edge going to the FZ1000 in terms of sharpness and contrast, but slightly lower noise from the ZS100.

Panasonic ZS100 vs Panasonic ZS60 at ISO 1600

100% crop from Panasonic ZS100 test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Panasonic ZS60 test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Panasonic ZS100 test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Panasonic ZS60 test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Panasonic ZS100 test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Panasonic ZS60 test image taken at ISO 1600
Panasonic ZS100 at ISO 1600
Panasonic ZS60 at ISO 1600

There's really no contest here at ISO 1600 between the ZS100 and ZS60, with the ZS100 producing a noticeably cleaner, more detailed image thanks to its much larger sensor.

Panasonic ZS100 vs Sony RX10 II at ISO 1600

100% crop from Panasonic ZS100 test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Sony RX10 II test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Panasonic ZS100 test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Sony RX10 II test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Panasonic ZS100 test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Sony RX10 II test image taken at ISO 1600
Panasonic ZS100 at ISO 1600
Sony RX10 II at ISO 1600

The Sony RX10 II continues to produce a brighter, more contrasty image than the Panasonic ZS100 at ISO 1600, but noise is coarser and more evident in flatter areas, and fine detail in the mosaic crop is more blotchy. The Sony does much better with our tricky red-leaf swatch while the Panasonic smears almost all fine detail away.

Panasonic ZS100 vs Canon G7X Mark II at ISO 3200

100% crop from Panasonic ZS100 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Canon G7X Mark II test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Panasonic ZS100 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Canon G7X Mark II test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Panasonic ZS100 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Canon G7X Mark II test image taken at ISO 3200
Panasonic ZS100 at ISO 3200
Canon G7X Mark II at ISO 3200

Here at ISO 3200, the Canon G7X II shows much higher luminance noise, but it arguably manages to reproduce fine detail in our mosaic crop a little better than the ZS100, however both show strong noise reduction artifacts and mottling. Both cameras really struggle to reproduce any detail in our red-leaf swatch, but the ZS100 does show a touch more. Once again, color and contrast are better from the Canon.

Panasonic ZS100 vs Olympus Stylus 1 at ISO 3200

100% crop from Panasonic ZS100 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Olympus Stylus 1 test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Panasonic ZS100 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Olympus Stylus 1 test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Panasonic ZS100 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Olympus Stylus 1 test image taken at ISO 3200
Panasonic ZS100 at ISO 3200
Olympus Stylus 1 at ISO 3200

There's really no contest here at ISO 3200 between these two cameras. The ZS100 produces much lower noise levels while retaining much better detail. Colors have started to fade from the Stylus 1, but are arguably still better overall than the ZS100.

Panasonic ZS100 vs Panasonic FZ1000 at ISO 3200

100% crop from Panasonic ZS100 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Panasonic FZ1000 test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Panasonic ZS100 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Panasonic FZ1000 test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Panasonic ZS100 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Panasonic FZ1000 test image taken at ISO 3200
Panasonic ZS100 at ISO 3200
Panasonic FZ1000 at ISO 3200

Once again, very similar image quality from these two 1"-sensored siblings at ISO 3200, with only minor differences in noise, sharpness and contrast.

Panasonic ZS100 vs Panasonic ZS60 at ISO 3200

100% crop from Panasonic ZS100 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Panasonic ZS60 test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Panasonic ZS100 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Panasonic ZS60 test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Panasonic ZS100 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Panasonic ZS60 test image taken at ISO 3200
Panasonic ZS100 at ISO 3200
Panasonic ZS60 at ISO 3200

As expected, the much larger sensor in the ZS100 is able to produce a much better, cleaner image at ISO 3200 than the tiny one in the ZS60.

Panasonic ZS100 vs Sony RX10 II at ISO 3200

100% crop from Panasonic ZS100 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Sony RX10 II test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Panasonic ZS100 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Sony RX10 II test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Panasonic ZS100 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Sony RX10 II test image taken at ISO 3200
Panasonic ZS100 at ISO 3200
Sony RX10 II at ISO 3200

The Panasonic ZS100 continues to produce lower noise levels than the Sony RX10 II, and it manages to hold on to slightly more detail. Interestingly, it's now the Sony which is showing more obvious sharpening artifacts along high-contrast edges, but it still produces more pleasing color and contrast.

Panasonic ZS100 vs. Canon G7X Mark II, Olympus Stylus 1, Panasonic FZ1000, Panasonic ZS60, Sony RX10 II

100% crop from Panasonic ZS100 test image taken at ISO 125100% crop from Canon G7X Mark II test image taken at ISO 125100% crop from Olympus Stylus 1 test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Panasonic FZ1000 test image taken at ISO 125100% crop from Panasonic ZS60 test image taken at ISO 80100% crop from Sony RX10 II test image taken at ISO 100
100% crop from Panasonic ZS100 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Canon G7X Mark II test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Olympus Stylus 1 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Panasonic FZ1000 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Panasonic ZS60 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Sony RX10 II test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Panasonic ZS100 test image taken at ISO 6400100% crop from Canon G7X Mark II test image taken at ISO 6400100% crop from Olympus Stylus 1 test image taken at ISO 6400100% crop from Panasonic FZ1000 test image taken at ISO 6400100% crop from Panasonic ZS60 test image taken at ISO 6400100% crop from Sony RX10 II test image taken at ISO 6400
Panasonic
ZS100
ISO 125
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Canon
G7X Mark II
ISO 125
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Olympus
Stylus 1
ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Panasonic
FZ1000
ISO 125
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Panasonic
ZS60
ISO 80
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Sony
RX10 II
ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Detail comparison. High-contrast detail is also important, pushing the camera in different ways, so we like to look at it, too. Of the 1"-sensored models, the ZS100 produces the lowest contrast, due to a slightly soft lens combines with a tone curve which tends to make our white bottle label look a little darker than other makes. At base ISO, the G7X II, FZ1000 and RX10 II all perform better, and this trend continues at higher ISOs. As expected, all the 1"-type models do noticeably better than the smaller sensors, especially as ISO increases.

 

Panasonic ZS100 Print Quality Analysis

A good 20 x 30 inch print up to ISO 200; a good 8 x 10 inch print at ISO 1600 and a nice 4 x 6 at ISO 6400.

Canon PRO-1000 Printer ImageISO 80/125/200 prints look good at 20 x 30 inches. An increase in size to 24 x 36 inches is fine for wall display purposes and less critical applications, but for important prints we advise remaining at 20 x 30 inches and below.

ISO 400 requires a reduction in size to 16 x 20 inches. Contrast detail is now somewhat low in our tricky Still Life target red-leaf swatch, a common phenomenon at slightly higher ISOs, but generally not so low at this sensitivity. But otherwise this size print looks good at this ISO.

ISO 800 shots almost pass our "good" seal of approval at 13 x 19 inches, and are fine for less critical purposes. In order to pass our good grade you'll need to stick with 11 x 14 inches and smaller at this gain setting.

ISO 1600 images look good at 8 x 10 inches. All contrast detail is now lost in our red-leaf swatch, and there's a trace of mild noise apparent in a few flatter areas of our target such as in the shadows, but saturation, fine detail and contrast are still fairly good at this size.

ISO 3200 yields a good 5 x 7 inch print, suffering only similar minor issues such as the ones seen in the 8 x 10 inch print at ISO 1600, but otherwise produces a usable print. Anything larger simply looks too muted and lacks "pop" here.

ISO 6400 delivers a good 4 x 6 inch print. Larger prints are a bit too flat and muted to be usable for anything but less critical applications.

ISO 12,800/25,600 produce prints that are simply too flat and scorched looking to pass our good grade, and these gain settings are not recommended for printing purposes.

The Panasonic ZS100 does a fair job in the print quality department, but it's not quite in the same league as some of the other popular 1-inch sensored cameras. The Panasonic FZ1000 performs better at base ISO up to ISO 400, and both the Sony RX10 II and the RX100 IV perform better by roughly a print size across most of the available ISO spectrum. It appears that in order to achieve a 10x lens in such a small package, some optical performance was sacrificed in the trade-off. But with all that said, if you keep the gain setting to ISO 1600 and below you'll still be assured of good 8 x 10 inch prints across the board. Like most smaller cameras that can grant so much zoom range, compromises are inevitable, so it's up to your own needs to determine if zoom range is more important than the ability to print larger prints.

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.)

 



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