Panasonic FZ1000 Field Test Part II
Panasonic FZ1000 Field Test Part II
It's time for a large-sensor, long-zoom head-to-head!
By Michael Tomkins | Posted: 11/11/2014
Shortly before the biennial Photokina tradeshow, we kicked off our review of the Panasonic FZ1000 with a real-world shoot at a nearby tomato festival. We'd planned on this second part of the report following rather sooner, but the flood of tradeshow work -- among other things -- threw a spanner in the works.
Still, the delay meant that we had another chance for a splash of vibrance, as I recently went shooting the fall colors in downtown Knoxville, Tennessee. And for this second and final Field Test, I had the Panasonic FZ1000's main rival -- the Sony RX10 -- along for a side-by-side comparison in the real world. It was interesting, to say the least!
Getting to grips with the FZ1000 -- and its main rival
Until I shot with them side by side, I must admit that I was expecting to favor the handling of the Sony RX10 over its longer-zoomed rival. I was absolutely taken by the RX10 when I first shot with it last year, and as I said in my Sony RX10 review, it was a very well-built, comfortable camera with a lot to recommend it. And in terms of materials, fit and finish, it certainly has more of a premium feel than does the Panasonic FZ1000.
But with that said, I very quickly found myself preferring to shoot with the FZ1000, and not just because of its significantly greater zoom reach. In quite a few ways, shooting with the Panasonic was a nicer experience than the already-enjoyable RX10. And the Sony's size advantage -- while certainly noticeable side-by-side with the Panasonic -- is nowhere near as significant in the real world as it seems on paper.
Full wide and telephoto images from the Panasonic FZ1000 (left) and Sony RX10 (right). Both shots taken moments apart from the same location. It's amazing how much more reach the FZ1000 has.
For one thing, I found the Panasonic FZ1000 significantly more comfortable to hold for long periods, and so did friends who I asked to compare both cameras side-by-side. Partly, that was thanks to a more generous, more deeply-sculpted handgrip. Partly, it was down to the fact that the FZ1000 feels better-balanced.
Both cameras weigh exactly the same as each other, but with the Sony RX10, more of that weight seems to be concentrated around the optical path of the lens -- and well away from the handgrip -- making it more comfortable with a two-handed grip than as a single-handed shooter. The Panasonic FZ1000, by contrast, is very comfortable when shooting single-handed.
Both cameras have good controls, but Panasonic has more of them
The external controls of each camera struck me as better in different ways. Really, a hybrid of the two would have been ideal, but on balance I think I prefer the FZ1000's control scheme.
Sony gives better emphasis to the main exposure controls, with a dedicated lens ring for aperture control, a dedicated dial for exposure compensation, and a rear dial for shutter speed. And it's a nice touch that you can disable the click detents on the aperture dial in movie shooting, but enable them for stills.
However, the presence of this switch to control on-demand aperture clicks is far too easy to forget, although its somewhat awkward position does fall nicely under a fingertip with a two-handed grip, and probably makes it less likely to be accidentally bumped. Still, for these main exposure controls, the design is definitely preferable to the single clickable rear-dial of the FZ1000, which is pressed in to switch between different control of the applicable variables, depending on the exposure mode.
I also preferred the Sony RX10's power switch, which sits behind the shutter button, making it easy to flick without adjusting your grip as you walk around shooting photos. (I like to turn the camera off to conserve power while I walk, then flick it back on as an opportunity presents itself.) Panasonic's switch is just a little further away, requiring my grip to be adjusted or the use of both hands to turn the power on.
Both cameras have an equal number of customizable controls, although I found it interesting that the FZ1000's zoom rocker can be reassigned to provide dedicated exposure compensation control, if you prefer to stick to the lens ring for zoom control. And speaking of zoom control, both cameras also provide stepped or stepless zoom, but Panasonic provides more steps even just within the range covered by the Sony RX10's lens, which makes it more likely you'll find one of the steps to your liking.
(1/80th sec. @ ISO 500, 38mm equiv., f/3.1)
And it's worth noting that the Panasonic FZ1000 provides more external controls in the first place. Features that the RX10 either hides in the menu, or which caused me to use up one of the customizable buttons, had their own dedicated control on the FZ1000. There's a dedicated drive mode control, for example, and both zoom/focus selection for the lens ring plus an image stabilizer control on the lens barrel. And focus mode, focus area, ISO sensitity and white balance have dedicated controls, as does AF/AE lock -- the last of which is a default control on the RX10, but actually one among its allotment of programmable buttons. Oh, and I preferred the location of Panasonic's focus mode selection switch, which works better for single-handed shooting, too.
The greater number of controls made the Panasonic the more enjoyable camera to shoot with, in my book. Sure, it was more complex initially, but it allowed me to do more without needing to resort to the menu system, and once I got used to my setup, operation became second nature. Time spent hunting for menu options is time in which you're potentially losing a photo, so while both cameras have worthwhile control advantages over their rival, I have to give this one to Panasonic.
Panasonic has the better viewfinder and display
Another win for the Panasonic FZ1000 over its Sony rival can be found in the image framing and review department. The FZ1000's built-in electronic viewfinder is both larger and brighter than that of the Sony, and subjectively speaking, I thought its color was better. Both finders seemed to have similar lag and good refresh rates, but that in the FZ1000 was significantly easier on the eye overall. It also has a more generous eyecup, although I think both cameras could benefit from a softer, deeper cup.
Both LCD monitors on the Panasonic FZ1000 and Sony RX10 are of the same size and resolution, but Sony has a higher dot count and improved brightness / power consumption, thanks to its WhiteMagic-branded, four-dot-per-pixel design.
However, arguably the Panasonic FZ1000's display is more versatile regardless, for two reasons. One, it has a side-mounted tilt/swivel mechanism that allows viewing from a much greater range of angles than Sony's vertical-tilt-only display. It can also be closed inwards, helping to keep it clean and provide a degree of protection against minor knocks and scuffs, where the RX10's display always faces outwards. Both displays are, however, fairly resistant to smudging from touches, which somewhat offsets this latter point.
But Sony provides a quick reference to basic settings
However, Sony chalks up a win in a different respect, providing a small top-mounted LCD info display, a feature the Panasonic FZ1000 completely lacks. Sure, only relatively basic info is provided here, and only when the camera is switched on, but particularly if you're an EVF shooter it lets you save power from the main LCD panel, while being able to quickly confirm setup without raising the camera to your eye.
It's a nice touch from Sony, and a shame that the FZ1000 lacks an equivalent display. (But there's really no room to have included one without removing some of its excellent array of external controls.)
(1/400th sec. @ ISO 125, 122mm equiv., f/3.9)
And the RX10 also wins on battery life
Battery life is a point that's rather harder to judge, as it depends on your shooting style. CIPA testing involves a scenario of zoom racking and flash usage that's perhaps a bit unrealistically harsh for this style of camera. In real-world usage, I thought both cameras fairly reasonable, easily getting enough for a good few hours of very regular shooting spread across several days without needing to recharge. (In fact, as I write this, both cameras report a significant amount of battery life remaining).
However, I have to give this one to Sony for two reasons. One, the RX10 wins the CIPA battery life tests, whether using the LCD monitor or electronic viewfinder. (As usual, and somewhat counterintuitively, the EVF actually uses more power than the LCD.) It's not a huge win, but the 13-18% margin is certainly worthwhile.
(1/200th sec. @ ISO 800, 135mm equiv., f/3.9)
Second, and perhaps more importantly, Sony provides an actual percentage figure for remaining battery life, where Panasonic offers up just a segmented battery icon that gives much less information as to how long you can expect the battery to last.
Different lenses; different purposes.
And so, we come to the lens. It's actually the most obvious difference between these two cameras, but I've saved it almost to last simply because the decision as to which is better is largely one of personal taste and shooting style.
Both of these cameras sport seriously impressive optics, unrivaled by anything else on the market. Given that they're near-identical in size, we think the FZ1000 is perhaps the more technically impressive though -- and here's why.
(1/160th sec. @ ISO 125, 135mm equiv., f/4.0)
In Sony's case, the key feature is a constant f/2.8 aperture across the entire zoom range, complemented by the availability of a built-in, on-demand neutral density filter. And Sony's lens also has just slightly better wide-angle coverage, as well as a more powerful macro capability.
Panasonic's lens, though, provides significantly more zoom range, and it's all at the telephoto end of the scale, where you're most likely to want it. Sure, you don't get a constant aperture, but all things considered, with an f/4.0 aperture at telephoto it doesn't really fall that far from the f/2.8 wide-angle (matching the Sony's constant f/2.8), either. And for that somewhat-smaller aperture, you get close to double the zoom range of the Sony: A 16x optical zoom for the Panasonic FZ1000, compared to just 8.3x on the Sony RX10.
(1/250th sec. @ ISO 125, 100mm equiv., f/4.0)
That is not a minor difference, and it completely changes the possibilities when shooting with this camera. Personally, I found myself strongly preferring the much greater telephoto reach of the FZ1000, rather than the maximum aperture of the RX10. However, I did miss the competing model's built-in neutral-density filter when shooting long-exposures with both cameras.
At base sensitivity and with the aperture set as I wanted it, the RX10 could give me a far longer exposure, helped just a little more by the fact that base sensitivity is ISO 80 for Sony, as compared to ISO 125 for Panasonic.
(1/200th sec. @ ISO 125, 107mm equiv., f/3.9)
But on balance, I found myself shooting towards the tele end of the range much more frequently than using that ND filter, and both cameras offer up filter threads for external accessory filters anyway.
So in my book, this one too has to be called for the Panasonic FZ1000 -- but if you value a constant, bright aperture and better macro shooting capability, you may prefer the Sony RX10.
(1/320th sec. @ ISO 125, 200mm equiv., f/4.0)
The Panasonic FZ1000 is incredibly responsive
Before I come to the most important feature of any enthusiast-friendly camera, its image quality, there's just one more point to touch on from my real-world experience of both cameras side by side.
In almost every respect, performance of the Panasonic FZ1000 simply blows the Sony RX10 out of the water. There are a couple of small chinks in its armor -- raw+JPEG buffer clearing is surprisingly slow, and the Sony RX10 will also shoot just a bit quicker when prefocused, as well as charging its flash faster. The FZ1000 just slightly trails the RX10 in burst rate if the latter is shooting JPEG-only with AF locked from the first frame, too.
(1/1,000th sec. @ ISO 125, 200mm equiv., f/4.0)
However, where it really counts -- autofocus performance and burst rate with AF enabled -- the difference is simply night and day. The Panasonic FZ1000 consistently focuses in around half the time of the Sony according to our lab testing, and my real-world experience agrees. And where burst performance of the Sony RX10 with AF enabled is pedestrian, the Panasonic FZ1000 feels like a high-end professional DSLR, rattling off incredibly quick bursts.
Add in that the RX10 will punish you with a longer delay if you press the shutter button before it is ready when in single-shot mode while the FZ1000 doesn't, and that startup / shutdown times of the Sony are around double those of the Panasonic, and this is an impressively clear win for the Panasonic FZ1000. And I have to say, it makes it a much, much more pleasurable camera to shoot with, especially when shooting bracketed series of exposures as I routinely do for review shooting.
And so, we come to image quality...
As I've mentioned, I shot quite a bit with both cameras side by side, and spent a fair while comparing their image quality with identical scenes, many of them shot with as close as possible to identical settings on each.
The result of all that shooting and image reviewing was, perhaps, not surprising. Both of these cameras yield great image quality compared to the small-sensor long-zoom camera competition, but both lag larger-sensored interchangeable-lens cameras, especially at higher sensitivities.
ISO series shot with the Panasonic FZ1000. ISO 200 is just slightly soft; likely I bumped the tripod, but can still be used to judge noise levels. All shots had focus locked and a fixed f/4 aperture.
Both are good enough, though, that when one takes into account the selection of lenses you'd need to replicate their zoom range with your DSLR or mirrorless camera, it's pretty easy to see the value in switching to a smaller 1"-type sensor, as these use.
Choosing between them, though, is much, much harder.
For my money, Panasonic wins in the daytime...
For my money, the Panasonic FZ1000 has a slight edge when shooting in the daytime. With that said, its images are perhaps a touch less vibrant by default, and that coupled with occasionally lower contrast than the Sony sometimes made them seem just a little flat, but it was only a subtle difference. (And one you can tweak to your tastes using the Panasonic's Photo Style settings.)
Top: Panasonic FZ1000. Bottom: Sony RX10. Both shots taken moments apart from the same location with program autoexposure and a focal length around 200-220mm equivalent.
The FZ1000's lens is also just slightly softer in the corners, with slightly more noticeable vignetting. But then, these are both very subtle differences, and truth be told, out-of-camera JPEGs from both cameras will have been heavily corrected -- that's just the compromise you have to make for lenses like these that still have relatively compact proportions.
So why do I say the FZ1000 is the better camera in terms of daytime image quality, even if it perhaps lags its rival slightly in these ways? Well, it does have a slight but noticeable advantage in terms of very fine detail. Again, it's not going to make a huge difference to your shooting, but it's there and might be handy, particularly if you need to crop significantly.
Top: Golden hour image shot with the Panasonic FZ1000. Both shots taken moments apart from the same location. Beneath are crops from near the center and lower-right corner. Panasonic FZ1000 crops are at left, and Sony RX10 crops at right. Both cameras were shot around f/4 and 130mm-equivalent at base ISO sensitivity.
But that's not the answer, really. In my quest to choose a champ, I actually tried giving myself a blind test. (Or at least as blind as is possible when I shot the images -- I just focused on an aspect of each image, control-tabbed back and forth in Photoshop until I forgot which camera was which, then called a winner.) It was often very difficult to guess which camera a given shot was made with, until I checked the filename.
And that, for me, is key. None of these differences are actually noticeable enough for me to call either camera the winner in the IQ department at lower sensitivities. The real differentiator, then, is the optic used to capture each camera's photos. The lens provided by the Panasonic FZ1000 simply provides greater possibilities, thanks to the fact that it has double the zoom range.
Top: Panasonic FZ1000. Bottom: Sony RX10. Both shots taken moments apart from the same location with aperture-priority autoexposure set to f/8, 200mm-equivalent focal length, and ISO 200. (Note that autofocus didn't land in quite in the same location for each image, though.)
I'm relying on a technicality to call the winner, certainly, but I think it's a valid one. When both cameras have near-identical image quality, the one that provides the better image is the one that's more likely to be able to compose the image you want!
(Want more daytime and nighttime comparisons? As well as our dozens of pre-existing shots, I captured almost 30 images with the FZ1000 and RX10 side-by-side, to compare various aspects of their image quality. Look in our Panasonic FZ1000 gallery and our updated Sony RX10 gallery for the shots, but remember to pay attention to aperture, shutter speed and sensitivity before drawing conclusions in either direction!)
...but at night, Sony has the edge
But that's all low-sensitivity shooting in the daytime. What about in low light, shooting at night, or perhaps some long exposures? I gave that a try too, and again, compared the results from both cameras side by side, trying to keep from myself the identity of the winner until I'd made the call.
Interestingly, the result showed something of a reversal of fortune. At higher sensitivities, the effects of noise reduction seemed a bit stronger from the FZ1000 than the RX10. And yet noise remaining in the FZ1000's images was a bit blotchier and less film-like) and there was just a little less detail than offered up by the Sony.
Top: Panasonic FZ1000. Bottom: Sony RX10. Both shots taken moments apart from the same location. Neither camera nailed the auto white balance, but the FZ1000's result is more pleasing, while the RX10 has a slight green cast. Shots taken moments apart from the same location with program autoexposure, 135mm-equivalent focal length, and ISO 6400.
However, where Sony had led the way with its color in the daytime, its night shots under artificial lighting -- especially at higher sensitivities -- sometimes took on a somewhat sickly green cast. The Panasonic FZ1000 seemed to handle these difficult lighting situations with more aplomb, yielding white balance that was a tad warm, but without that green cast of the RX10, much more natural-looking.
On balance, though, as a JPEG shooter I'd probably still slightly prefer the FZ1000's results purely in terms of image quality. The occasional color casts of the RX10 were more objectionable to me than the slightly lesser detail / higher noise, because let's face it, I don't really expect to pixel-peep my high ISO shots. The overall look of the image is more important than the finest details for low-light photography.
Top: Night image shot with the Panasonic FZ1000. Both shots taken moments apart from the same location. Beneath are crops from each camera: Panasonic FZ1000 crops at left, and Sony RX10 at right. Both cameras were shot at ISO 12,800.
But once again, as for daytime shooting, this low-light difference was really quite modest. Far more important to me are the Sony's brighter maximum aperture across much of the zoom range, which increases the chances of a sharp handheld exposure, or potentially allows you to drop the sensitivity and reduce noise for the same given shutter speed. And the presence of a built-in ND filter in the Sony also saves you from needing to buy (and carry) an extra ND filter, making long-exposure photography more fun. (So, too, does the RX10's lower minimum sensitivity.)
I think together, these conspire to make the Sony RX10 a better night and low-light shooter than the FZ1000 -- at least, unless you have to shoot at a significant distance from your subject, and so need the FZ1000's longer zoom.
Top: Panasonic FZ1000. Bottom: Sony RX10. Both shots taken moments apart from the same location with aperture-priority autoexposure at f/8 and ISO 125. The Panasonic shot is 2/3 stop under the metered exposure, and the Sony shot with 2/3 stop over the metered exposure. The FZ1000 had just 1.3 seconds to get the shot, while the Sony RX10 got longer light trails with an eight second exposure, thanks to its built-in ND filter. (And it could have gone even longer at ISO 80, and arriving at the same scene brightness as that provided by the FZ1000.)
The Panasonic FZ1000 makes much better use of Wi-Fi
Both the Panasonic FZ1000 and Sony RX10 provide Wi-Fi connectivity with easy NFC setup for Android users. (iOS users, even though the latest devices for their operating system now support NFC, are still left out in the cold, but that's a result of Apple's decision.)
It takes a little while to notice the non-standard NFC logo on the base of the FZ1000, against which you must tap your phone to pair if you choose this route, as it is tiny and merely imprinted without any silk-screening or painted lines. It works nicely though, directing you first to Google Play for app install, and then pairing on a subsequent tap post-installation. If your phone doesn't support NFC, the FZ1000 also provides for connection via QR code. This again works well, but requires the company's Image App be installed manually first, or you'll just be shown the contents of the code, which aren't a whole lot of help to you in pairing manually.
My first thought on using remote control via Wi-Fi was that it's a bit of a shame that the live view feed occupies only a very small portion of phone screen, with no way to hide most overlays and maximize the live view. Even with my Sony Xperia Z2 smartphone's very large 5.2-inch screen, the actual on-screen area of the live view was almost exactly the same as that on the camera's smaller three-inch screen.
On a more typical smartphone screen, you'll actually be doing your image framing on a smaller live view than that provided by the camera itself! And too many settings are hidden behind a slightly unintuitive pullout menu that sits beside the live view feed, and whose presence it took me a while even to notice. Still, it's nice that the Image App interface works in either landscape or portrait orientation -- so many apps force a choice on you, which is a pet peeve of mine.
I found there to be about a half-second lag on the live view feed when set to its higher VGA resolution, but when near the camera, it provided a nice steady frame rate that made this feel quite reasonable. Range was quite good, too, at perhaps 30 feet or so without walls or floors in between phone and camera. And you can shoot both still or video footage, although remote 4K capture isn't possible.
The Panasonic FZ1000 offers up a reasonably comprehensive Wi-Fi remote control feature set, although some things like exposure mode do require that you make a change on-camera. (I rather liked that the on-camera controls remained active even when the Wi-Fi session was live, though; too many cameras -- including the RX10 -- disable controls as soon as Wi-Fi is active.)
You can alter all the main exposure variables, but I find it a little odd that aperture and shutter speed are referred to as F and SS in Image App, respectively. Why not just use A and S, as on the camera's Mode dial? I was also somewhat befuddled that I couldn't find any way to focus in live view without also capturing a picture. Tapping on the screen selects a focus point, but the camera never tried to focus until a photo is captured. Because of this, I had to shoot plenty of throwaway images just to set focus and confirm I was happy with everything before making my final exposure.
(1/8th sec. @ ISO 800, 25mm equiv., f/2.8)
The great news is that image review can be accessed directly without having to disconnect, and it transfers full-resolution images quickly and easily in just a few seconds. You also have a choice of two lower-res sizes, as well as options for web use. And as well as my phone, I tested with my Google Nexus 10 tablet, which also worked nicely. I don't have an iPhone or iPad, so unfortunately couldn't test with iOS devices, but we've found similarly decent functionality from Image App on iOS in the past.
Overall, I found the Panasonic FZ1000's Wi-Fi functionality much more useful than that of the Sony RX10. For one thing, the RX10 is much more limited when under Wi-Fi remote control. Its physical buttons and dials cease to function, and from the remote app, very few features are available for control.
(1/30th sec. @ ISO 3200, 68mm equiv., f/3.6)
Basically, you're limited to zoom, shutter, self-timer, flash, and movie capture -- all using completely automatic exposure. You can't even select a subject for focus, as you can with the FZ1000. And it's frustrating that with the Sony, you have to keep disconnecting and reconnecting the Wi-Fi to jump between remote capture and review / image transfer, where the Panasonic allows the connection to remain established as you switch modes.
So although the result is a much cleaner screen display than that provided by Panasonic -- and indeed, a much larger one, because it almost fills your phone's screen -- the Sony RX10 provides almost none of its newer rival's versatility. And I have to say, if I had to choose between a more complicated screen and smaller viewfinder image, or very limited functionality as provided by Sony, I'd choose Panasonic's approach every time.
(1/60th sec. @ ISO 1600, 37mm equiv., f/3.1)
Panasonic provides 4K future-proofing
NOTE: We're having some problems getting our Panasonic FZ1000 videos uploaded to YouTube at the moment. In the meantime, you can grab three night videos at 4K and 1080p resolution directly from our server at the links below:
And finally, for this second Field Test, we come to video. Here, the Panasonic FZ1000 offers a compelling advantage over its Sony rival, if you live on the cutting edge or favor a future-proof camera. Where the RX10 is limited to Full HD movie capture, the FZ1000 can shoot 4K video at 30 frames per second.
Even if you don't have a 4K monitor now, if you can justify the storage space and have a sufficiently powerful computer to reencode 4K video -- and bear in mind, a 4K 30p clip takes about 3.6 times as much storage space as an equivalent 1080p60 clip -- then you may still find a benefit in shooting with the FZ1000. Simply shooting at 4K and then downsampling to 1080p with a good algorithm yields a significantly crisper, more detail-rich image than either camera provides when shooting at 1080p.
(And that despite the fact that the RX10 and FZ1000 both use full-sensor readout at 1080p, which rather surprised me -- I'd have expected them to attain close to the maximum possible from 1080 pixel video, but it seems their downsampling algorithms -- which must operate in real time -- aren't nearly the match of a 4K downsample on a powerful PC.)
Nor is that all. There's also Panasonic's 4K Photo mode, which was introduced via a firmware update in early October 2014. This allows one to shoot 4K videos with the intent of extracting still frames at 8-megapixel resolution. And the frames you extract even include EXIF data, unlike those pulled directly from a standard 4K video.
There is, however, a catch which for my money makes the function rather less useful: You'll want to choose ahead of time whether you're going to use the camera for 4K video or stills, because while a shutter speed that matches the frame rate is desirable for video (providing a degree of motion blur that makes the final video seem less stuttery), the last thing you want in your 8-megapixel stills is motion blur. Hence, 4K Photo mode aims for a high shutter speed that gives better photos, but jerky, unnatural looking video.
Still, it's cool that you can access shutter speeds as fast as 1/16,000 second and then choose stills you want to keep from what are, effectively, truly epic bursts of 30 fps, 8-megapixel stills. Just bear in mind that with an electronic shutter, your stills will be subject to rolling shutter effects, much the same as are your videos...
In most other respects, the FZ1000's video feature set is quite similar to that of the RX10. Both cameras allow for uncompressed HDMI video output that can be captured on an external recorder, and feature manual or automatic exposure control, built-in and external stereo mic support, manually-adjustable audio levels, and enthusiast / pro-friendly features like zebra striping and focus peaking.
The Sony RX10 does win in one area, though, with a truly silent, almost shake-free aperture control during video capture if the click detents on the aperture ring are disabled. However, this isn't quite as useful as it might seem, given that the aperture still moves in discreet steps during video capture. This results in slight but noticeable changes in brightness as the video is recording.
Final thoughts on the Panasonic FZ1000 vs. Sony RX10
It's often the case that with two competing cameras that share similar designs -- but with a few key differences -- there's no clear winner or loser. Typically, each camera ends up being better for a different kind of photography.
To an extent, that's true here as well, but I have to say that I ended up very surprised by my side-by-side comparison of the Panasonic FZ1000 and Sony RX10. I loved Sony's camera so much when I reviewed it last year that I fully expected it to still hold my affections in many areas, even despite the clear advantages of its new rival. Doubly so when I noticed the somewhat plasticky build of the Panasonic FZ1000.
But once I shot them head-to-head with the same subjects, time and again I came away favoring the FZ1000, far more often than I felt the same towards the Sony. Its greater performance and more attractive viewfinder make it a pleasure to shoot with, and I think its ergonomics work better as well.
Add in a more versatile LCD monitor and a much more useful zoom range in a body that really isn't very much larger than that of the Sony RX10, and bear in mind that image quality is near-indistinguishable between the two unless you really concentrate and start pixel-peeping, and I think there's a pretty clear winner here.
The Panasonic FZ1000 just gives you more camera for the money, and it's worth bearing in mind that it's actually the less expensive of the pair, as well. Not to mention the fact that I really loved -- and still love -- the Sony RX10, which is also an astoundingly impressive camera. It's just not quite as impressive to me as is the Panasonic FZ1000.
Panasonic has really hit the ball out of the park here, and I've been truly thrilled to shoot with the FZ1000!