Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100 Review
The DMC-FZ100 was just recently released by Panasonic, and it's one of the most unique super-zoom digital cameras we've seen so far. Sporting a wide angle 24X zoom lens, a 14 mp sensor, and a continuous shooting speed of 11 frames per second, the Panasonic DMC-FZ100 offers a bunch of features for users who want to move up from a regular point and shoot camera.
Let's get down to the nitty gritty. First, the design of the DMC-FZ100 is pretty similar to its predecessor, the DMC-FZ35 with a few differences. When you first look at it, it'll look like a regular digital SLR (with a fixed lens instead of interchangeable). The lens features a 24X zoom, and an excellent range of 25-600mm, making it versatile enough for most people's needs. The maximum aperture of this camera is F/2.8 at 25mm and F/5.2 at the other end.
The DMC-FZ100 also features optical image stabilization to compensate for any shaking. You can turn it on using the stabilizer option in the menu system. There are 3 modes you can choose from. Mode 1 is the default mode that is always on. Mode 2 is on when you press the shutter release. Mode 3 is the auto mode. You probably won't notice much when turning on IS, except that you'll be able to take shots in slower shutter speeds without sacrificing sharpness. The OIS also doesn't affect the battery life.
We love the electronic viewfinder in this camera. It's big compared to other cameras in this class, at .20 inches. It offers 100% field coverage, and 201K dots.
The DMC-FZ100 is not a slim compact camera by any stretch of the imagination. But it won't burden you down either. It feels very solid, and looks like something that can take the occasional beating.
There's a fair share of controls in this camera, but it's not cluttered by any means. On the top panel, we have a black mode wheel that gives you 14 shooting options. We have your usual program, aperture priority, shutter priority, as well as scene modes, movie mode, sport, landscape, portrait, and an intelligent auto mode.
If you're a beginner, you'll love the intelligent auto mode. You just handle the camera like a regular point & shoot, and don't have to fret about choosing the best settings. The camera will choose the best scene mode, ISO, and determine whether or not to use face detection and image stabilization. It'll also determine the best exposure level to use. When we tried the intelligent auto mode, it seemed to work very well. So if you have no clue how to handle a camera, the DMC-FZ100 will still allow you to take fantastic photos without technical expertise.
If you're a more serious enthusiast, the DMC-FZ100 offers a wealth of options and features to play with. One of the new features in this camera is Intelligent Resolution (which was introduced this year by Panasonic). This feature is responsible for 2 things: it can make a standard photo look like a high resolution image, or it can increase the zoom magnification to 32X with very little loss in image quality. It's a neat feature, although it's pretty easy to tell when you've used it when you compare the 2 photos if you view them both in 100% magnification.
Panasonic also added something useful to the white balance options. You can now set the DMC-FZ100 to use 2 measured white balance settings. So now if you shoot in conditions not covered by the presets, you can switch to one of the shortcuts you created.
Of course, you can record movies using the DMC-FZ100. The button for doing so is also at the top of the camera. Just press the button and it'll start recording. Press it again to stop. The DMC-FZ100 can record HD movies at 30 fps at either 17 mbps or 13 mps using the AVCHD format. Alternatively, you can record using the Motion JPEG format at a resolution of 320 X 240 at 30 frames per second. Which format should you use? If you're going to watch your movies in a HDTV, we suggest using AVCHD. If you're planning to just play them on a computer, stick to Motion JPEG.
That same Intelligent Auto mode can also be used for movie recording as well, which is pretty cool. Just choose the iA mode, and start recording. The camera will determine the best scene mode to use (from normal, macro, portrait, low light, scenery). It'll also detect any faes to focus on. It'll also tweak the exposure depending on how dark/light the room is.
Another plus is that you can zoom while video recording as well. The only negative is that the zoom speed is very slow (slower than if you're shooting photos), and it's pretty noisy as well. You can choose continuous auto-focus while recording, but we highly recommend not doing so that much. Why? Because some parts of your movie will be blurred before they become sharp, as a result of the refocusing. We also suggest using a tripod when recording, as you undoubtably will be shaking a lot.
The performance of the DMC-FZ100 is improved from its predecessor. Burst mode is clocked at 11 fps for up to 15 photos. If you want continuous autofocusing, you have to go down to 5 frames per second.
If you find yourself shooting in a lot of low light situations, we recommend using the high sensitivity mode (one of the scene modes). In this mode, the max ISO is increased from 1600 to 6400, and you can shoot with a much faster shutter speed. It's highly useful, although there are some negatives. For starters, the resolution is dramatically decreased, and the quality is at its lowest setting. If you're planning to make prints, you probably won't be able to get good prints bigger than 4 X 6 inches.
Overall, the DMC-FZ100 has a ton of features for the enthusiast, as well as the ability to act as a point & shoot. But the unique feature is by far its versatile lens, with its huge zoom range.
- 14.1 megapixels
- 3 inch LCD screen
- 24X optical zoom
- 25mm wide-angle Leica lens
- HD movie recording
- Intelligent Auto mode
- Versatile zoom lens
- Good performance
- Good design and user interface
- Great video quality
- Not a huge improvement over the FZ35
If you already own the FZ35, we recommend sticking with it. There's really no need for an upgrade unless you really want the vastly improved video quality.
If you don't own it though, and are in a market for a micro four thirds camera, we think the FZ100 is a fantastic super-zoom camera with good performance, image quality and video quality. The focal range (24-600mm) of the lens is something you won't find in a camera of this price range. In fact, this is the biggest selling point of the FZ100: the huge zoom. If this is important to you, we can't think of a better camera to buy, especially one that has a reasonable price range of $499 in Amazon.
Rating: 4.3 out of 5
Where to Buy It:
Lowest Price: Amazon for $499.95
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|Amazon||$499.95 (Cheapest Price)|
Prices last updated on: Sat, 24 Feb 2018 17:34:04 PST