Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100 Review
The popular FZ38 camera is a hard act to follow, but the new Lumix DMC-FZ100 propels Panasonic back to the super-zoom leading pack, with a host of new features and usability enhancements that add up to one very capable do-it-all camera. The FZ100 only narrowly misses out on our highest award thanks to poor image quality at higher ISO speeds and the rather eye-watering price tag.
With the addition of a 24x zoom lens, 11fps burst shooting for JPEG and RAW files, large free-angle LCD screen, full HD 1080p movie mode recording, rear control dial and external hotshoe, the DMC-FZ100 is a far more capable and also more intuitive camera than its predecessor. It may not be able to match the 30x zoom or DSLR-like manual zoom and focus ring controls of its main rival, the Fujifilm HS10, but importantly it's much faster to use when shooting RAW files, something that drove us mad when reviewing the HS10.
There is one key area where the Panasonic DMC-FZ100 doesn't improve on its rivals or its predecessor, though, namely the poorer image quality once you get above ISO 400. Noise is apparent at ISO 400 but becomes much more obvious at ISO 800 along with smearing of fine details, with the fastest speed of ISO 1600 being something of a last resort. Although this is a similar performance to the year-old FZ38, we'd hoped for some improvements in this area. The merely average quality electronic viewfinder is also disappointingly the same as the one on the FZ38.
In these tough economic times, price is also a big concern. £449.99 / $499.95 is a lot to ask though for what is still essentially a fixed lens camera with a comparatively tiny image sensor, and is certainly a lot more than the £329.99 / $399.95 launch price of the FZ38. That said, there's no denying that the FZ100 is a more fully-featured, easier to use and faster camera than its predecessor, and with full HD movie recording on-board, it could replace your video camcorder. Just like the Fujifilm HS10, it also makes less or more sense depending on what you're comparing it to. Taken as a super-zoom, it's one of the most expensive models on the market, but also one of the most capable in terms of features. As a DSLR alternative, the FZ100 clearly makes a lot of economic sense if you want a similar handling experience but don't mind a drop in image quality.
If you can stomach the price, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100 is certainly a lot of still and video camera for the money, offering a relatively compact all-in-one solution that will more than satisfy most photographer's needs.
|Ratings (out of 5)|
|Value for money||4|