Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100

The do-it-all mentality of the FZ100 will suit plenty of photographers to a tee, especially those who value the 24x optical zoom lens.


8.4
CNET Rating
8.3
User Rating

About The Author

CNET Editor

Lexy spent her formative years taking a lot of photos and dreaming in technicolour. Nothing much has changed now she's covering all things photography related for CNET.


Isn't it always the way when a manufacturer whets your appetite with one camera, they come blazing out of the blocks with a bigger, bolder and better camera to increase your drool-factor?

That's exactly what's happened with the FZ100, the successor to one of the best superzoom cameras we've seen here at CNET Australia, the FZ35. Characterised by its whopping 24x optical zoom lens (admittedly not the biggest on the market, but a step-up for Panasonic), the FZ100 takes all the best bits from its predecessor and adds pretty much every feature we could want in a camera of this class.

Design and features

The FZ100 definitely improves on the older camera in the looks department, with its smooth finish, slightly heavier feel and new buttons that borrow more from the G-series of Panasonic Lumix cameras than any of the superzooms. Indeed, the mode dial is almost a direct lift of that found on the G2.

So too is the 3-inch rotating, flip-out LCD screen that's packed with 460,000 dots. There's an electronic viewfinder up top as well.

FZ100

The rear of the FZ100 shares a lot in common with the G-series cameras. (Credit: Panasonic)

For all the exterior developments, it's inside where some of the biggest changes have been made. There's a new 14.1-megapixel MOS sensor, like those used on the G-series. Without getting too technical, the new sensor has a micro-light tube structure that helps it pick up light more effectively. It is, however, the same physical size as the traditional CCD sensors usually put into these sorts of cameras.

On top is the addition of a hotshoe, a stereo microphone and a 2.5mm jack to allow an external microphone to be fitted to the camera. All very good things considering the FZ100 can now shoot in full 1080i HD video in AVCHD. Rather curiously, the FZ100 can only take its full 14-megapixel images when in intelligent auto mode — not in any of the other scene or manual exposure modes.

Different continuous shooting modes are accessible from the button at the top of the camera. These allow the FZ100 to shoot at 2 or 5 frames per second (12.5-megapixel resolution with single autofocus or continuous autofocus), 11fps (12.5-megapixel resolution with single autofocus), 40fps (4.5-megapixel resolution with single autofocus and electronic shutter) or 60fps (3-megapixel resolution with single autofocus and electronic shutter).

Lens specifications are a Leica-branded DC Vario-Elmarit lens, with an aperture range of f/2.8-5.2 depending on focal length. It's also equipped with Panasonic's Power OIS (optical image stabiliser) technology. On the side is HDMI and digital output for connecting to a TV or computer.

Compared to

SX30 comparison

Canon PowerShot SX30 IS Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100 Nikon Coolpix P100
14.1-megapixel CCD sensor 14.1-megapixel MOS sensor 10.3-megapixel CMOS sensor
2.7-inch, 230,000-dot articulating LCD 3-inch, 460,000-dot articulating LCD 3-inch, 460,000-dot fixed LCD
35x optical zoom, 24mm wide-angle 24x optical zoom, 25mm wide-angle 26x optical zoom, 26mm wide-angle
HD video (H.264, 720p, 30fps) HD video (AVCHD, 1080i, 30fps) HD video (MPEG-4, 1080p, 30fps)
Pop-up flash, hotshoe Pop-up flash, hotshoe Pop-up flash

Performance

General shooting metrics (in seconds)

  • Time to first shot
  • Shot-to-shot time
  • Shutter lag
  • Panasonic Lumix FZ1002.30.80.4
  • Canon PowerShot SX302.33.50.5
  • Nikon P1001.81.40.4
  • Olympus SP-590 UZ1.620.6

Continuous shooting speed (longer bars indicate better performance)

  • Panasonic Lumix FZ1005
  • Canon PowerShot SX301.2
  • Nikon P10011.3
  • Olympus SP-590 UZ1

Image quality

While the FZ100 offers plenty of improvements on paper, everyone knows that it's the image quality that really makes or breaks a camera of this class. A similar superzoom, the Nikon Coolpix P100 faltered on this mark, so does the FZ100 come up to scratch?

Fortunately, for the most part it does. There are issues with higher ISO levels, indeed anything over ISO 400 shows a high level of digital artefacts. Colours though are very nice and punchy without being oversaturated in JPEG compression.

There's a fair amount of lens distortion at the wide end and naturally, given the focal length of the lens, if you are shooting at the full 24x extension handheld, then images aren't all that sharp. All the image stabilisation in the world can't make up for magnified shaky hands. Fringing is again an issue at full magnification, like it was on the FZ35, but that is to be expected from any superzoom camera.

Below is a comparison of RAW and JPEG processing. RAW images were taken on the FZ100 and converted to DNG files using Adobe DNG Converter.

RAW vs. JPEG image FZ100

(Credit: CBSi)

Video quality is reasonably good in terms of colour reproduction and sound captured via the built-in microphone, but there is some obvious interlacing when watching moving subjects pan across the plane.

Panasonic has also provided a number of tools for in-camera editing, including video divide, extracting a still image from footage and full manual controls during filming. You can also use the full 24x optical zoom when recording.

Image samples

Click each image below for JPEGs straight from the FT10. No post-processing has been done to alter these photos.

Exposure: 1/100, f/4.2, ISO 250, black-and-white filter

Exposure: 1/13, f/3.2, ISO 400, macro mode

Exposure: 1/250, f/2.8, ISO 100

Exposure: 1/50, f/3.2, ISO 400

(Credit: CBSi)

Conclusion

It may be edging into the price range of beginner digital-SLR territory, but the FZ100 presents a good value-for-money proposition for photographers who don't need the ability to change lenses. As with all superzooms, image quality does degrade at ISO levels over 400 and video rendition is still not as good as a dedicated camcorder. Still, the do-it-all mentality of the FZ100 will suit plenty of photographers to a tee.

Previous Story

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT10

Digital Cameras
Next Story

Fujifilm FinePix X100



Add Your Review 16


* Below fields optional


Post comment as
geoff
10
Rating
 

geoff posted a review   

The Good:hmm

The Bad:ahh

good camera

Doug Sinnott
9
Rating
 

Doug Sinnott posted a review   

The Good:Nearly Everything!

The Bad:Images at higher ISOs

Having owned the FZ45 previously,I have found the FZ100 worth the extra,it has a better LCD,is quicker to use,is better featured,and you can fit a stand alone flash on the hot shoe,if required.
At lower ISOs the images are hard to tell apart,although above 400 ISO,at 100% on screen,there is a slight difference in favour of the earlier model,but I would not go back to the FZ45,as overall,the FZ100 is a much better camera,with some great features,and well worth the money.

Doug Sinnott
9
Rating
 

Doug Sinnott posted a review   

The Good:Lens,Flexible Screen,Fully featured,Solid Build

The Bad:Like most Superzooms,lower ISOs are best.

This is a great all-in one,and can tackle almost anything you're likely to want to photograph.
It's solidly built,stuffed with features,has a great Leica lens,and,most importantly,is quick to use,unlike some of its rival Superzooms.
Like most compacts fitted with smaller sensors,as long as you keep below 400 ISO for bigger prints,you can produce some great images,without too much effort.
This camera is light enough to go anywhere,unlike a comparable DSLR with an equivalent selection of lenses.
This would be at least three times the weight,and cost you well over a £1000,to cover the range this camera can.
No camera's perfect,but the FZ100 comes close!

 

Tester posted a comment   

How come at ISO 400 and higher the FZ 40 out-performs its more expensive counter-part the FZ 100?
The FZ 100 has some desirable extra funcions but it is unusable at ISO 400 or higher

gaza
8
Rating
 

gaza posted a review   

when choosing between ther super zooms have a look at what accessories are availiable, this camera has a gazillion accesories that are applicable, in my opinion the bestest are, remote shutter operator and many lens filters, Good luck and great snappy days ahead ..

loves the fz100
10
Rating
 

loves the fz100 posted a review   

this is my best camera yet, taken the best shots in conditions including the snow, rain and even getting great shots of animals at the zoo... it takes beautiful pics and even a photographer was impressed by the pics i got, i am no camera expert and i just use what the camera came with and i cant complain.

it should come with a replacement battery, i am still waiting for them to be released.

other then that a camera is what you make it and being able to take the pictures at the right angles, right light settings and having your camera set to what you are wanting to take pics of, thats what makes any camera a great camera.

on that note, the FZ-100 you cant go wrong.


Sponsored Links
CNET's latest

User Reviews / Comments  Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100

  • geoff

    geoff

    Rating10

    "good camera"

  • Doug Sinnott

    Doug Sinnott

    Rating9

    "Having owned the FZ45 previously,I have found the FZ100 worth the extra,it has a better LCD,is quicker to use,is better featured,and you can fit a stand alone flash on the hot shoe,if required.

  • Doug Sinnott

    Doug Sinnott

    Rating9

    "This is a great all-in one,and can tackle almost anything you're likely to want to photograph.
    It's solidly built,stuffed with features,has a great Leica lens,and,most importantly,is quick t..."

CNET Speedtest

Recently Viewed Products