First Impressions: Panasonic FZ1000

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Panasonic’s new FZ1000 camera is not a replacement of anything previous, but instead something totally new to the line. Think of it as a Sony RX10 competitor, and with that said also be sure to consider the fact that at its heart is a 1 inch MOS sensor right behind a very long 25-400mm equivalent zoom lens. This camera is meant to be a top end bridge camera for Panasonic–and this fact is clearly evident with the addition of 4k video recording capabilities.

Tech Specs

From Panasonic

  • Dimensions (W x H x D) 136.8 x 98.5 x 130.7 mm(5.39 x 3.88 x 5.15 inch)
  • Weight Approx. 780 g without Battery and SD Memory Card (1.72 lb) Approx. 831 g with Battery and SD Memory Card (1.83 lb)
  • Camera Effective Pixels 20.1 Megapixels
  • Sensor Size / Total Pixels / Filter 1-inch High Sensitivity MOS Sensor / Total Pixel Number 20.9 Megapixels / Primary Color Filter
  • Aperture F2.8 – 4.0 / Multistage Iris Diaphragm (Still Image: F2.8 – 8.0 (W), F4.0 – 8.0 (T), Motion Picture: F2.8 – 11.0 (W), F4.0 – 11.0 (T))
  • Focal Length (25 – 400mm in 35mm equiv. in 3:2)
  • Extra Optical Zoom (EZ) 22.4x (3:2 / 10M (M)), 32x (3:2 / 5M (S))
  • Lens LEICA DC VARIO-ELMARIT 15 elements in 11 groups (5 Aspherical Lenses / 8 Aspherical Surfaces / 4 ED Lenses)
  • Focus AFS (Single) / AFF (Flexible) / AFC (Continuous) / MF Normal / AF Macro / Macro Zoom, Quick AF On / Off (on in Intelligent Auto), Low LightAF, AF/AE Lock Button, AF Area Select, AF Tracking, Eye Sensor AF, Focus Peaking, One Shot AF (Set the Fn button in custom menu to AF-ON)
  • AF Metering Face/Eye Detection / Tracking / 49-area / Custom Multi / 1-area (flexible / scalable) / Pinpoint
  • Shutter Speed Still Image: Approx. 60 – 1/4,000 sec (Mechanical Shutter) Approx. 1 – 1/16,000 sec (Electronic Shutter) Bulb (Approx. 120 sec) Motion Picture: Approx. 1/30 – 1/16,000 sec  Approx. 1/2 – 1/16,000 sec (Creative Video Mode / MF Mode)
  • 4K video recording capability (QFHD 4K: 3840×2160, up to 30 fps (NTSC) / in MP4*1 video in ultra high definition and even grab an 8-megapixel frame as still image.  After recording video of subjects in 4K, users can cut out a single frame to  choose the best still image in rich resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels. The FZ1000 should be used with UHS Speed Class 3 (U3). The UHS Speed Class 3 (U3) guarantees a constant minimum write speed of 30MB/s

Ergonomics

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When you first look at the Panasonic FZ1000, what you notice initially is the lens–which Panasonic states was made with the glass being melted instead of cut. Its big and clear and with the lens hood it’s a bit intimidating. The camera has a popup flash that gets a good distance above the lens–which means that it may actually be useful.

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The lens is long when extended. There is a scale to let you know whet focal length you are at. On the top of the camera there are microphones in front of the hot shoe with other additions like a mode selector switch, record button, shutter release with zoom functionality around it, etc. The mode select switch is a decent size and share space with the on off button. The shutter button is okay–but a tad too plasticy for us. Then again, this was a pre-production version that we handled. The video record button is next to the Fn1 button. There is also a Fn2 button right behind that.

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When the lens is at its wides angle the lens and camera combo is less intimidating. There is only one ring on the lens for controls. Behind it is a button to toggle it between the zoom and focus–which could be a bit hairy when it comes to real life use. The image stabilization is right under there. What you’ll also notice is the dial for drive mode on top of the camera and at the left side.

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The buttons on the back of the camera are spaced decently apart from one another for folks with bigger paws. Here you’ll find loads of controls like white balance, playback, more function buttons, focusing selection, etc. The viewfinder has an eye-sensor like many of Panasonic’s other options.

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The screen is can articulate into many different positions you choose. This is great for video. The screen moves enough to give you great angles while shooting.

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On the bottom is where you’ll find the camera’s battery which the memory card shares space with it. A latch and cover lock it securely.

Build Quality

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The camera is built out of plastic and has a light feel to it. It also had a bulky feel though. The lens size is reminiscent to a Nikon 85mm lens. I tallest feel like carrying a camera like the Nikon D90 with a fat lens. It feels a little big, even in my large hands.This was seemly done to accommodate the he huge zoom.

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The Panasonic is bigger than the Sony RX10 but does have more range. The camera has no weather sealing  So it will need protection  in bad weather.

Autofocus

From what I could tell the autofocus is fairly good. It locked onto subjects in the room quickly. The FZ1000 has pinpoint autoFocus, Lowlight Autofocus and focus peaking available. I really did not get a change to give the AF a serious test but initially it does not seem half bad. This was a preproduction unit. To get a real feel for the AF some real world testing is needed.

 Ease of Use

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Within a few minutes, I was able to figure out the FZ1000. The controls are not difficult to learn and they are very intuitive. This camera has a lot of functions. With time this camera could be nicely customized to fit a person needs. The Menus are pretty easy to use. The are also easy to maneuver.

Image Quality

I could not put a memory card in the camera but the were printed images from the camera. Interestingly the images was saw though were really nice. There is a lot built into the firmware and processor keeping the image sharp in this camera. There is a Hybrid 5axis OIS image stabilizer built into the FZ1000. The FZ1000 has the same processing engine as the Panasonic GH4l. Another interesting thing with the FZ1000 is that you could pull 8MB Stills from the 4 K video. The images were good as well. The Test images I saw were from Panasonic. We will have to take this camera out to give a proper test and really see what it can do.

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The camera produced good bokeh. It was purposely engineered into the camera. There is a lens bokeh profile programmed into the body. For a small sensor it did not seem bad at all.

Video

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The FZ1000 is a 4k video cable camera. We got to see a sample on a 4k tablet and it was impressive. The colors were crisp and everything as sharp. The camera can only record at 30 minutes at a time.The are legal reasons for this. In parts of Europe if a camera record video more that 30 minutes at a time, the camera is considered a camcorder and taxed differently.

First Impressions

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Panasonic is one of those companies that are taking chances. Yes the FZ1000 is a bridge camera but everything about the camera feels like a good risk. If a photography student is looking at learning how to work with high-end video this just may be the camera for them. Yes, it’s a little bit big , but everything is contained in it. On paper this camera is fantastic I would like to get my hands on the camera to see what it can do. At the moment we don’t have pricing or availability information, but as soon as we get this info we will share.

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Gevon Servo

Gevon Servo aka @GServo is an eclectic, NJ/NY Photographer. He’s a Nikon shooter, by choice nevertheless, will always test any piece of photography equipment. He believes that like ‘Photography’, ‘Coffee’,’Beer’ and ‘Comics Books’ and other things ‘Geek’ “You must try everything once to discover what you want to try again.