Review Panasonic FZ1000

Panasonic FZ1000 review, Panasonic camera review

A Panasonic FZ1000 review on CameraStuffreview may appear at first glance to be a bit strange. We primarily review lenses for system cameras, both SLR and mirrorless, while the Panasonic Lumix FZ1000 is not interchangeable.
Even so, it’s less strange than you might think. Not a week goes by that we don’t get a reader question about the best lens for an SLR camera, not too heavy, not too large, with which you won’t have to change lenses anymore. The first thought is a starter’s SLR camera, with an “all-in-one” or vacation zoom with a large zoom range.

Panasonic FZ1000 review, Panasonic camera review

Panasonic FZ1000 reviewWhy not buy a camera that feels like a small SLR, but has the lens permanently attached? 

The zoom range of 25 mm to 400 mm (converted to a camera with a full-frame sensor) is more than enough for most photographers not to have to change lenses anymore. The high (f/2.8-f/4) brightness exceeds that of all vacation zooms for SLR cameras. The tilting and swiveling screen, built-in image stabilization and 4K video—which isn’t yet to be found on a single affordable SLR camera—make the Panasonic FZ1000 more broadly usable and more user friendly. We reviewed the image quality of this camera and compare it with the image quality of an SLR with a much larger full-frame sensor. We were pleasantly surprised.

Panasonic FZ1000 versus FZ200

The Panasonic FZ1000 is the somewhat larger and heavier successor to the Panasonic FZ200. At first glance, they resemble each other. They are both “bridge cameras,” which look like a beginner’s SLR camera, but have a fixed zoom lens. Even so, there are many differences, such as:

  • The FZ1000 has a larger sensor, comparable with Nikon 1 and Sony RX cameras, with 21 megapixels (instead of 12) and a greater ISO range.
  • The screen on the back of the camera is the same size, but that of the FZ1000 has a higher resolution.
  • The FZ200 has a 24x zoom range with constant f/2.8 brightness (vs 16x zoom at f/2.8-4 for the FZ1000).
  • The FZ1000 has a faster shutter (1/16,000 s) than the FZ200 (1/4000), which is handy for action photos and bokeh fans.
  • The FZ1000 has Ultra HD/4K video (3840 x 2160 @ 25 fps); the FZ200 offers “only” full-HD (1920 x 1080 @ 60 p).
  • The Panasonic FZ200 is lower in price than the FZ1000. Click here for the current price of the FZ200 or click here for the store price of the Panasonic FZ1000.
DMC-FZ1000EG slant LCD

Panasonic FZ1000 versus SLR with vacation zoom

  • There are currently no SLR cameras that are able to “simply” save 4K video on an SD card in the camera. If your SD card is fast enough, the Panasonic FZ1000 has no problem with that. The Panasonic GH4 is currently the only system camera with which you can save 4K in the camera.
  • The Panasonic FZ1000 has an electronic viewfinder; an SLR camera, an optical viewfinder. Tastes differ, but an electronic viewfinder has many advantages. Accurate manual focusing, for example, is much more difficult with an optical viewfinder.
  • The screen of the Panasonic FZ1000 rotates and swivels. Most starter SLR cameras have a fixed or only tiltable screen.
  • A starter’s SLR camera with vacation zoom sits at the same price level as the Panasonic FZ1000.

14x zoom: from wide wide-angle to strong telephoto lens

The bright Leica zoom lens on the Panasonic FZ1000 is at home everywhere.

The shortest focal distance offers a field of view that corresponds with a 25-mm lens on a camera with a full-frame. That is really a wide-angle lens that offers a wide overview, with which the camera is suitable for landscape photography, city photography and indoor photography. The longest focal distance offers a field of view that corresponds with a 400 mm lens on a camera with a full-frame sensor. With that, this compact camera—in comparison with an SLR—offers the same image as a strong telephoto lens, with which you can happily go on safari. The interim focal distances are suited for various subjects, including portrait photography. The two practice shots below illustrate the enormous zoom range of the Panasonic Lumix FZ1000. There are bridge cameras with 60x zoom, but 14x seems to me to be more than enough for most photographers.
What appeals to be about the construction quality of this zoom lens was that only 1 part slides out, and that the total length remains limited to 400 mm. There was no play at all in this solid construction. Vacation zooms on SLR cameras sometimes become three times as long at the longest focal distance as at the shortest focal distance. Often, this will be made possible by using a design reminiscent of a telescoping rod. Sometimes, that results in a wobbly vacation zoom on an SLR camera.



Construction, screen and viewfinder

This camera, including lens, is smaller and lighter than an SLR camera with a vacation zoom and sits perhaps more nicely in the hand. The tilting and rotating LCD screen is very nice. It’s only unfortunate that it’s not a touchscreen. On that point, the ease of use of a Panasonic GH4 is even higher.
On the lens, there are two switches: image stabilization on/off and zoom/focus, with which you choose whether you want to use the ring on the lens for focusing or for zooming.


This ring works electronically. If you use the zoom ring in order to focus manually, then the arc is big, so that you can chose a focal distance precisely. Most people will use the electronic zoom lever that sits in front of the release button on top of the camera. Zooming in and out can be done with your index finger, with the help of a ring around the release button. With most cameras with electronic zoom, the zoom goes so fast that you can easily shoot past a desired focal distance. That is not the case here. But every advantage has its flipside, to misquote Johan Cruyff. If you want to zoom from 25 mm to 400 mm (or the other way around), that takes a long time.

Auto focus is not only fast, much faster than a compact camera, and even in the dark is faster than an SLR camera with a vacation zoom. The auto focus also works very accurately. The speed of the AF is partly thanks to the DFD technology that Panasonic also applies in the Panasonic GH4. Because focusing will be done on the sensor signal, there’s no sign of front or back focus.

The electronic viewfinder of the Panasonic Lumix DMZ-FZ1000 is the same as the viewfinder of the Panasonic GH4, and that’s outstanding. The viewfinder sticks out a little bit, so that you don’t immediately touch the screen with your nose. Below the viewfinder is a small sensor that you can set up so that the camera automatically switches from LCD screen to viewfinder as soon as you hold the camera up to your eye.


Even in comparison with the large viewfinders on full-frame SLR cameras, like the Canon 5D MK3, in a recent viewfinder review of 10 cameras from different brands with both optical and electronic viewfinders, the viewfinder of the Panasonic FZ1000 was the most highly rated, and that tells me a great deal. A beautifully bright and sharp viewfinder gives you a true-to-life look at your composition. Thanks to “focus peaking,” if you want to focus manually, you also focus extremely precisely with this electronic viewfinder.

Resolution and image quality

The Panasonic FZ1000 is equipped with a 20-megapixel sensor and a very good Leica zoom lens. Both in practice and in our Imatest measurements, we found little distortion, vignetting or chromatic aberration in the jpg files across the whole zoom range. Even at 25 mm, the vignetting almost never exceeds half a stop. Class!
The sharpness is the highest at the shortest focal distances and higher in the center than in the corners, as you expect from a zoom lens with a large zoom range.


At all focal distances, the Panasonic FZ1000 scores higher than an SLR with a vacation zoom

This Leica zoom surprised in a positive sense us not only with its extremely low distortion and vignetting, but also with the high resolution that is realized across the whole zoom range: at all focal distances, the Panasonic FZ1000 scored higher than the vacation zooms that we have reviewed on an SLR camera.
The biggest enemy of a sharp picture at 400 mm is motion blur caused by the photographer. If you work from a tripod or with a very fast shutter speed, then the center sharpness at 400 mm is definitely lower than at the shorter focal distances, but still always surprisingly good, although contrast and sharpness lag behind more specialized telephoto zoom lenses. Click on the picture above for a comparison of the sharpness at 400 mm with a shot made with the Olympus 40-150 mm f/2.8+ 1.4x converter on an OM-D E-M1. I adjusted the contrast and color reproduction of the FZ1000 shot so that the sharpness is easier to compare. The enlarged FZ1000 shot also shows an artifact that appears sporadically: it looks as though chromatic aberration is not completely corrected in this case, and you see blue edges on the windows. Two other shots of the same subject, made less than a second earlier and later than this shot, did not show any blue edges. Despite the fact that the FZ1000 has more megapixels than the OM-D E-M1, you can see on the blinds that the FZ1000 is a bit less sharp. On the other hand, we have to zoom in so far that the moiré is visible in the shot made with the OM-D E-M1. 

Click on the picture below for the other Imatest resolution measurements.

Rezz Distort
Vignet1 Vignet2

Dynamic range Panasonic FZ1000

Situations with a very high contrast, as in the practice shot here, are difficult for a sensor to record without clipping the highlights or shadows:

  • If you protect the highlights against over-exposure, as in the partial enlargement below left, then the shadows will become so dark that the photo looks unnatural. The ferns in the background have become so dark that you don’t see them anymore, while in reality, you could.
  • If you make the shadows lighter, the highlights become overexposed.

A camera with a big dynamic range is able to take a picture of a subject with high contrast, without clipping of highlights or shadows. And the Panasonic FZ1000 makes a good impression here, especially at low ISO values.



Up to 200 ISO, the dynamic range of the Panasonic FZ1000 is just as good as that of a Canon 5D MK3, with a much larger, full-frame sensor. At higher ISO values, the difference in the dynamic range increases, in favor of the Canon 5D MK3, but it remains limited to a difference of two stops: at 6400 ISO, the dynamic range of the FZ1000 is the same as the dynamic range of the 5D MK3 at 25,600 ISO.

Tip:Always use iDynamic Mode

What you run into with a camera with a high dynamic range—and that applies for all cameras—if you’re going to underexpose, is that the shadows will probably not be clipped, but will become so dark that you will have to edit the photo afterwards. Not everyone can/wants to do that. If you set a Panasonic camera on the “iDynamic mode” in the Auto setting, then the shadows of the jpg file that is saved in the camera will automatically be made lighter. The RAW file remains unchanged. As shown in the partial enlargement above right, more detail will be visible in the shadows in the jpg file than in the original (left), without getting an unnatural HDR effect. The same applies for the highlights: if you choose to overexpose a shot, then the iDynamic Mode protects the highlights very well against (excessive) overexposure. If it isn’t needed, the iDynamic Mode applies no editing. I see, in short, few reasons not to set the iDynamic Mode to Auto and to never turn it off.

Color reproduction Panasonic FZ1000

In terms of color reproduction, the Panasonic FZ1000 gives nothing up to an SLR camera, if you look at the saturation and accuracy of the colors in daylight and artificial light. In cloudy weather, the practice shots were too cool for my taste, as you can see in the example above. The white balance is of course simple to adjust afterwards in Lightroom or Photoshop, and it can probably also be solved (for those who photograph in jpg and avoid photo editing as much as possible) by using the “portrait” image style instead of “natural,” which we used in reviewing this camera.


A 1-inch sensor—the Panasonic FZ1000 has a sensor that is the same size as a Nikon 1 camera—is smaller than the sensor of a micro-43 camera or an SLR camera with an APS-C or full-frame sensor. In theory, that seems important; in practice it goes much better than expected. At the very highest ISO values, that difference can be seen in the signal-to-noise ratio, but if you stay under 1600 ISO, then this camera offers beautiful, noise-free images that you can’t easily distinguish from pictures made with larger sensors. If you compare the amount of noise from the Panasonic FZ1000 with a camera with a larger, full-frame sensor (Canon 6D/5D MK3), then it saves two stops. In other words: a picture made with the FZ1000 at 6400 ISO has as much noise as a 1600-ISO shot on a Canon 5D MK3. Compared to a micro-43 camera (Panasonic GH4), it saves 1 stop: a 200 ISO shot made with the GH4 has as much noise as a 100 ISO shot made with the FZ1000.
Not only in the studio, where the lighting conditions are often favorable for making noise-free pictures, but also in practice under low light, the Panasonic FZ1000 does well. The practice shot above was made at 1600 ISO. If you blow up the original to 100%, then the noise without any noise suppression in the RAW file is clearly visible, but in the jpg shot or the RAW file with noise suppression, it’s not disturbing at all.

Built-in image stabilization

If you want to be certain of a sharp picture on a modern camera when you’re not using a tripod or image stabilization, then choose a low ISO value and a shutter time of at least 1/(2*the focal distance). At a focal distance of 400 mm, you thus preferably choose a shutter time of 1/800 second or faster, if you’re shooting by hand. That is far from always possible. Fortunately, the Panasonic FX1000 has built-in image stabilization. Here, you see a shot made at 400 mm and a shutter time of 1/125 second with the image stabilization on. IS125at400
The same shot would be a bit sharper if it were made from a tripod, but without image stabilization it can’t really be made out at all because it’s so blurred. If you take a bit more time and take a couple of pictures of a static subject, then it works even at a focal distance of 400 mm to get a sharp picture at 1/25 second.
Click on the image here for a comparison of partial enlargements with and without image stabilization.

Bokehand flare

With bright backlight, flare can sometimes occur, and if you then choose a small aperture as well, you can even encounter ghosts as shown here. The size of the sensor is one of the factors that determines how even the background blur can be: the larger the sensor, the more butter-soft the bokeh. At the longest focal distance, it’s able to nicely isolate a subject from the background.

It will take some getting used to for those accustomed to a full-format SLR to go photographing/filming with a Panasonic FZ1000, but for those used to a compact camera or smartphone, the FZ1000 offers an attractive bokeh—more or less equivalent to the bokeh of a vacation zoom on an SLR with an APS-C sensor. 


Wifi and 4K Video

The Panasonic FZ1000 is a modern camera on which you have all the functionality that you find on a modern system camera with interchangeable lenses. The camera is thus equipped with WiFi, with which you can share photos via your smartphone on social media. With video, this camera with 4K/ultra-HD (8 megapixels) offers even higher resolution than any of the SLR cameras, which don’t go further than full-HD (2 megapixels). 4Kwifi
In comparison with the Panasonic flagship, the GH4, there was one feature that we did not find on this camera. The Panasonic GH4 has an Extra TeleConversion (ETC) option, with which you—without loss of resolution—double the longest focal distance when you film in full-HD. This handy option is not one I found on the FZ1000.
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Conclusion Panasonic FZ1000 review

ECWYSIWYG score: This table shows the performance of this lens when you save the files in the camera as jpg, including all in-camera lens corrections (distortion, chromatic aberration). This score gives you for this lens/test camera combination: “What you see is what you get”. {insertgrid ID = 308}


  • Fantastically good, bright lens with 25-400 mm zoom range
  • More compact and light than an SLR with super-zoom
  • Built-in image stabilization
  • Sharp, beautifully bright tilting and rotating screen
  • High-quality viewfinder
  • High-quality video, including 4K


  • No touchscreen
  • Zooming is slow
  • Heavier and more expensive than the Lumix FZ200
  • No ETC (in comparison with the GH4)
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The Panasonic FZ1000 is a surprisingly good camera in all respects.

This camera looks like a small SLR camera with standard zoom, but offers a higher brightness and the zoom range of a vacation zoom. The ergonomics of the camera are very good, the electronic viewfinder is high-quality and bright, and the tilting and rotating screen works beautifully. Auto focus is lightning-fast and accurate, and manual focusing with focus peaking is faster and more precise than manual focusing on an SLR camera.
The high construction quality, good placement of the buttons and the clear menus compare with earlier Panasonic system cameras that we have reviewed. What surprised us the most was the image quality of the Panasonic FZ1000. The 1-inch sensor delivers good performance if you look at resolution, dynamic range, color reproduction and signal-to-noise ratio. If you compare the zoom lens of the Panasonic FZ1000 with a vacation zoom on a small SLR camera, then the Leica zoom lens on the FZ1000 offers a higher image quality (resolution, vignetting, distortion) at all focal distances. Aperture f/4 at 400 mm is also very bright. Therefore, with an SLR camera, you have to pay a lot more. This fantastic Leica zoom lens is, in short, recommended for anyone who now asks us about the best lens for an SLR camera that’s not too heavy, not too large, and with which you don’t have to change lenses anymore. It’s firmly attached to a Panasonic FZ1000.


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