Panasonic FZ1000 Conclusion

Pros: Cons:
  • Extremely compact compared to an interchangeable-lens camera and lenses to provide the same coverage
  • Almost the same weight as the Sony RX10 despite a much more powerful lens
  • More confortable body and grip than the Sony RX10, and better balanced to boot
  • Plenty of dedicated, customizable controls keep you out of the menu system
  • Bright, versatile 25-400mm eq. f/2.8-4 lens with very good optical performance is incredibly fun to shoot with
  • Bright, roomy electronic viewfinder
  • Tilt/swivel LCD is more versatile than Sony's tilt-only design
  • Generally excellent image quality and high ISO performance for its class; much better than typical long-zooms
  • Fast power-up for a long-zoom
  • Very fast autofocus speeds
  • Very low shutter lag
  • Excellent single-shot cycle times
  • Fast full-res burst mode (9+fps) with generous JPEG buffer
  • Good flash performance
  • Able to autofocus in very low light
  • Much better Wi-Fi feature set than the Sony RX10
  • 4K video capture provides a degree of future-proofing, even if you don't yet have a 4K display
  • Body materials feel a little plasticky compared to the Sony RX10
  • Connector compartment door is fiddly to open and close
  • Zoom can't be adjusted while shutter button is half-pressed (but that's true of the Sony RX10, too)
  • Maximum aperture falls off quickly to f/4 by about 170mm eq.
  • Moderately high uncorrected chromatic aberration (not uncommon, though)
  • Very high uncorrected distortion at wide angle (again, not uncommon)
  • Our copy was soft on the left-hand-side at full telephoto when wide open, but sharpened up nicely when stopped down a bit
  • No built-in ND filter
  • Buffer depth limited to about 12 frames in RAW mode
  • Below average battery life for its class
  • Smartphone app used with built-in WiFi is a bit clunky and unituitive

The Panasonic FZ1000 is an extremely interesting camera, and one built with a very clear rival in mind. Like the Sony RX10 before it, the FZ1000 offers SLR-like styling, yet promises to free you from the hassle of choosing, buying, and carrying a plethora of lenses to cover every possible shooting situation.

Unlike an interchangeable-lens camera, the FZ1000 provides a single built-in lens that covers all the bases, and does so with a bright f/2.8-4.0 maximum aperture which ensures you capture as much light as possible. And like the RX10, the Panasonic FZ1000 provides a roomy 1"-type image sensor that offers much greater sensitivity and noise characteristics than typical of long-zoom, fixed-lens cameras.

We were fortunate in our review to be able to compare the Panasonic FZ1000 side-by-side against what is, essentially, its sole rival, and it made for a very interesting comparison indeed. Sony set an extremely high standard with the RX10, and when we reviewed that camera last year, we found a whole lot to like. Panasonic has clearly risen to that challenge, though, because in quite short order we found ourselves liking the Panasonic FZ1000 even more than its Sony rival.

Clearly, the most exciting feature for us was the Panasonic FZ1000's lens. It might not have the fixed aperture of the RX10's optic, nor quite the same wide-angle possibilities, but with twice as much telephoto reach that is very easy to forgive. Shooting with such a powerful zoom and yet having access to the possibilities provided by a 1"-type sensor makes for a whole lot of fun, and we shot some really great photos with the FZ1000.

That's not to say that it's perfect, but then no camera is. In particular, we found ourselves wishing for greater battery life, and a more generous buffer depth in raw shooting. And as we've noted, the build of the Panasonic FZ1000 does feel just a bit on the plasticky side, although that pays dividends in keeping body weight down -- and it really is remarkable that there is so little difference in weight and size between the FZ1000 and its Sony rival, despite the much more powerful zoom of the Panasonic.

But at the end of the day, we just found ourselves wanting to reach for the Panasonic FZ1000 more often when a photo opportunity presented itself. Its body was more comfortable in hand, its performance was excellent all around, and it could deliver much more tightly-framed shots of distant subjects than could the Sony RX10. And if you want to pack light for travel, the advantage over a mirrorless or DSLR camera kit is very clear, as well. You'd need a bag full of lenses just to match the built-in optic of the Panasonic FZ1000, and you'd spend half your time switching between them -- and likely missing some of those unanticipated photo opportunities in the process.

Really, either of these two cameras makes an excellent choice, and your decision between the pair may come down to a handful of specific features that you need, such as the built-in neutral density filter that's only provided by Sony, or the 4K movie capture of the Panasonic. At the end of the day, though, we'd choose to spend our hard-earned cash on the Panasonic FZ1000, and we think you'd do well to make the same choice unless there's a feature of the RX10 that you plan to use regularly.

We really can't say enough to recommend the Panasonic FZ1000. It's an exceptionally fun camera to shoot with, and its far-reaching lens presents photo opportunities that you'd simply have missed with a lesser camera. There's no question about it -- this is a very clear Dave's Pick, and a clear contender for our annual Camera of the Year awards as well. If you like to travel light and want to keep your photographic opportunities open, we highly recommend adding the Panasonic FZ1000 to your camera bag!

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