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Panasonic FZ1000 review - the bargain 4K super-zoom


Andrew Reid
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It's a pretty sweet camera if it hits your needs just right.  I have a client that sends me overseas a few times a year for tourism run 'n gun work --and this gear is ideal for that sort of job.

 

I handled it in Japan recently for awhile and found the stabilization to be better than anticipated.

 

I wouldn't get it for an everything sort of camera (not that there is one anyway), but if it fits for your purposes, it's impressive as heck at that price point.

 

...I'm I'm not even going to be using it @4k...client demands 60fps on their footage, so I'll have it on 1080.  I'll probably go the "buy it, use it, and sell it" route as her jobs come up.  Or, if I'm feeling a little more adventurous I might get my hands on a hc-x1000, but I don't really like traveling developing countries with bigger gear that looks a bit more "pro."  I've had enough of that hassle (shakedowns/permits/entrance denials) in the past.

 

Anyway, thanks again for the camera review.

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I am a stills shooter. I use cameras for documenting work, not as a pro photo/videographer. I am looking for an updated system to replace my older DSLR. Frankly I am confused about much of the video part of the equation - codecs, workflow, settings.

 

I was leaning toward the Samsung NX-1, but fear it may be too much (both technically and expense if the wrong fit) right now. As I will buy something else when I find the right system camera, the FZ1000 may be a excellent camera to learn with. And use as a second camera later. Anyone have thoughts?

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About "“4K, so what, it isn’t all about resolutionâ€.  I'd extend your answer to point out that most 1080 is not really 1080 in actual resolution because of the space between pixels on a sensor and the resolution problems they create.  This is obvious to anyone who pulls their hair out trying to eliminate moire!  4K, downscaled to 1080 virtually eliminates morie in most circumstances.  More importantly, a pixel in any Bayer camera (which is all of them in video) only captures 30% of color information (red, green or blue) and borrows the rest from neighboring pixels.  When you downsample 4K to 1080 you are getting 4 original color values into that pixel (averaged from the 4 in the 4K image).  

 

Hats off that you reviewed this camera!  If I was shooting,say concerts in good light, this would be a hard camera to dismiss for the reasons you point out.

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As I will buy something else when I find the right system camera, the FZ1000 may be a excellent camera to learn with. And use as a second camera later. Anyone have thoughts?

 

Yes, why not. I've been using something very similar, the RX10, as a backup and travel camera for almost a year now, and you can indeed handle both video and stills with one. The video side is easy enough to work with even if you're just learning, and the video quality is enough for some more advanced needs, too. The stills side is good enough for most web based needs, or even decent sized prints. Sure, it's 'only' a 1-inch sensor, so it's no low light monster, but it can be surprisingly versatile. The leaf shutter is a bliss when shooting among people, for example, because it's very silent.

 

What I said here applies to the FZ1000, too. But before you decide to buy one, I recommend going somewhere where you can try it in your own hands first. It's not too bad ergonomically but still, as with any camera, if it's possible, go and try one first.

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This review is timely. I've been looking for a second GH4 but don't feel like spending the money on more adaptors and lenses. I tried the FZ1000 out at a local shop and the lens was amazing and truthfully it felt and functioned like a GH4. I could find no faults with it. It had everything my GH4 has. I was unable to shoot any video and I need to sell some canon gear before I can pick this up. There was a good deal on one over at FredMiranda buy and sell, it's damn tempting but I need to move this canon gear first.

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Yeah, it's kept just under 30 mins, that has to do with this broadcast-tax thingamajig in the EU I believe.

 

There are two cons of the FZ1000 and LX100 that kinda bug me... the SD-slot is co-located at the battery compartment and there's the lack of touchscreen.

If they just would've included a touchscreen and put the SD-slot on the side, these cameras would've been much nicer than they already are. But I do love both of 'em for what they offer.

 

What they offer is mobility and easiness. The LX100 won't take up any space in a bag or coat pocket and it does sport that 43rds sensor (although partly left unused) and lovely sharp and sensitive lens. You do kinda miss range with the LX100 (and a tiltable screen would've been nice too, there's no audio interface either, but I can live with that, either record externally or with your A-cam, or just put some music underneath), but again: mobility.

 

The FZ1000 on the other hand has a really flexible range, but does have a bit less dynamic range (and you can dial everything to minus maximus and it's still nowhere near flat) and it's a bit harder to get a shallow dept of field. Of course you can step back and zoom in, still getting some creamy bokeh going on... but it will go back to f/4 pretty quickly and lowlight performance is not exactly worldclass. I do have to give props for upping the megapixel count. I know we tend to hate high megaxpixel count, because of the degradation in lowlight performance, but to be honest when I had it with me on vacation I used it mostly during daylight anyways. And as a hybrid shooter then the extra pixels do give you more detail and more real estate to work with. Handlingwise the FZ1000 is more like the GH4 than anything else. Except for the fact it has that 1" sensor and fixed zoomlens. It also is just as big as the GH4 with the Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 mounted. So it doesn't quite offer the mobility of the LX100. But although the size is comparable to the GH4 with lens, you're not stuck with a 12-40mm, so: 24-80mm range (versus 26-416mm of the FZ1000 in 1080p), or roughly 28-92mm 4K crop (versus 37-592mm of the FZ1000 in 4K). That means, you get full flexibility without having to carry around and swap out lenses. That makes it the ideal camera for vacation. Just put it in your bag or carry it around on a strap and when you need it, don't worry about picking a lens, just pick it up and shoot away, it's everything you need, hardly any setup required. That's what I like. Especially on vacation, I don't want to be taken out of the experience too much, but I do want those nice memories, and preferably something nicer than a smartphone selfie.

 

To me, the LX100 is a nice everyday use camera that lets you take great stills and videos where your smartphone would've let you down. It also has a killer 4K mode with great looking video, so you can either use it as a great hybrid camera or for nice B-roll in addition to your GH4. If you want more flexibility, a nice all-in-one solution, really value mic-input and a flippy tilty screen... the FZ1000 is the camera of your choice. You're kind of a dedicated video shooter and rather shoot in a controlled environment, dim conditions at times? Like to handpick lenses, do a bit more rigorous editing? You might benefit from the features in a GH4 or BMPCC. If you don't mind spending the money, these cameras combined make a very interesting set, peaking in different situations individually and can be great when used together as well. If one had to be the best... well truelly though, different needs will result in different winners, so it's really up to you to decide.

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Andrew, having most of these cameras, you could do the community a big favour. I know we live in a two-minute-video-is-too-long world, but sometimes I use my Nex5r/RX100 as a camcorder and I always find that they can't always record straight for 30 minutes. The Nex stops at the 15-25 minutes depending on ambient temperature. 

 

It would be nice if you could line all your cameras and show how much time they can record straight!

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I'm getting conflicting information here. On DPR, someone said the GH4's crop factor in 4K UHD (3840x2160p) is 2.6x relative to full frame. Andrew is saying that the GH4's crop factor is 2.3x relative to full frame. What's with the discrepancy here? Btw, I'm referring to the GH4 using native micro 4/3 lenses.

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GH3/4 can record 4hr continuously on a single charge, I think some record 6hr using external battery, no over heating whatsoever

 

Andrew, having most of these cameras, you could do the community a big favour. I know we live in a two-minute-video-is-too-long world, but sometimes I use my Nex5r/RX100 as a camcorder and I always find that they can't always record straight for 30 minutes. The Nex stops at the 15-25 minutes depending on ambient temperature. 

 

It would be nice if you could line all your cameras and show how much time they can record straight!

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