Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100 digital camera is the latest in Panasonic's long line of super-zoom cameras. Building on the past success of the previous Lumix line of digital cameras, such as the DMC-FZ35, the new DMC-FZ100 features an extended zoom range as well as more megapixels.
The heart of the Lumix DMC-FZ100 is it's 14.1 MP CMOS image sensor and 24x zoom lens. The 24X optical zoom of the camera gives it a 25mm to 600mm equivalent focal range.
While this is certainly a respectable focal range the Lumix DMC-FZ100 falls short on the telephoto side of the focal range at 600mm when compared to the Nikon P500 or Sony HX-100V both of which have a 35mm equivalent of 810mm.
Overall the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100 has an impressive set of features including the ability to capture up to 11 frames per second for up to 15 images. This gives the Panasonic a slight edge over most other super zoom cameras including the Nikon Coolpix P500 (8 frames per second) and Sony DSC-HX-100V (10 frames per second).
Using Panasonics “Sonic Speed AF” system the FZ-100 is up to the task of focusing on fast moving subjects. One important note to consider is that continuous auto focus is not available in the high speed burst mode on the FZ100. This canmake it hard to keep fast moving subjects in focus when shooting in burst mode. However you can use continuous auto focus if you shoot at either 2or 5 frames per second.
The 14.1 megapixel sensor also allows the Panasonic DMC-FZ100 to record HD 1920x1080 video. It also features a special high speed movie mode that captures 220 fps of QVGA video allowing you to capture high speed motion that is otherwise undetectable to the human eye. Another nice video mode is the FZ100’s Creative Movie mode which allows the photographer to set both the shutter speed and aperture manually when shooting video. This allows the user to be more creative when taking video and even help with special effects.
Features of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100
Intelligent Zoom…is Panasonic’s version of digital zoom which further increases the zoom capability resulting in a 32X equivalent zoom lens when using digital zoom. While Panasonics Intelligent Resolution technology is supposed to maintain picture quality while using digital zoom, I still am not a fan of any type of digital zoom and feel that for most situations having the digital zoom turned off is the best. When using the Intelligent Zoom on the FZ100 and shooting in the 3 megapixel mode, Panasonic says the zoom factor is increased to a 52X equivalent lens. But again the digital zoom feature is simply magnifying a part of the image and the downside is that any motion blur or picture defect is also magnified. While digital zoom is typical on this type of camera, I do not recommend using them for most shooting situations.
Multiple automatic and semi automatic modes...The FZ100 has the typical camera modes found in this type of camera. It features Panasonics iA intelligent auto mode as well as their Motion Deblur mode 2 that combines Intelligent ISO Control and Intelligent Exposure to help the user get the highest shutter speed possible. The Intelligent Scene Selector mode of the FZ100 automatically switches between several different automatic modes including: portrait, macro, scenery, night portrait, night scenery and sunset modes to capture the best image possible in many different lighting conditions. With multiple different scene modes available the FZ100 gives the user a wide range of automatic modes suited for taking pictures in a variety of different settings and lighting conditions.
The 24X optical zoom lens on the Lumix DMC-FZ100 has built in optical image stabilization and a variable aperture of f2.8 to F5.2. In the macro mode you can focus on a subject as close as 1 cm away from the lens.
Featuring both an electronic viewfinder and a 3 inch, high resolution, articulated LCD display the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100 provides the photographer with two choices to use when composing and viewing pictures.
The user has several ISO settings available to them. The FZ100 has both an auto ISO mode as well as an intelligent ISO mode. Plus you can manually set your ISO from 100-1600. While the 1600 upper limit seems low the camera does also have a “high sensitivity mode” that will automatically adjust the ISO between 1600 and 6400. The drawback of the high sensitivity mode is that it also reduces the image quality to 3 megapixels at the lowest image quality. Because of these limitations the ISO range of the FZ100 is realistically limited to a range of 100-1600 which is much lower than the ISO ranges of competitive cameras. Digital noise also becomes an issue at higher ISO settings which limits the low light performance of this camera.
Shutter Speed is adjustable from 60 seconds to 1/2000 of a second and the camera has what is called “Starry Night Mode” with shutter speeds of 15, 30 and 60 seconds.
One nice feature of the FZ100 is the addition of a focus mode switch on the lens as well as a jog dial that allows easy manual control of the camera, a feature many smaller cameras lack. This allows you to quickly switch to manual focus mode when desired. To aid when manually focusing the center of the image is enlarged so that it is easier to get a more exact manual focus. There is also a dedicated focus button to allow the photographer to set the focal point anywhere in the frame. For more information on this great feature watch the manual focus video below.
Another similar feature is that the camera has a video button on top of the lens that allows the user to instantly start recording movies when desired. Being very easy to switch from taking still photos to high definition movies allows the user to quickly choose which format they want to capture their special memories in, video or still images.
The bottom line…
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100 is another great super zoom camera from Panasonic. Like its predecessors it has many things going for it and would make a compelling choice for photographers looking for this type of camera.
Using industry standard SD Memory Cards the Lumix DMC-FZ100 is a well-equipped, super-zoom camera and is well worth consideration. With the slight edge in frames per second and good battery life the camera has much to offer. While the optical zoom is somewhat limited at 600mm compared to 810mm for the competition it is nonetheless an attractive camera from a well-known camera company.
The cameras 14.1 megapixel, 1/2.33 CMOS image sensor does a great job at lower ISO settings producing high quality images. However at higher ISO’s of 800 and 1600 the camera begins to show visible digital noise including some smearing of fine details.
One other feature that sets the Lumix DMC-FZ100 apart from similar super-zoom cameras is the built in hot shoe. This allows you to attach different accessories such as an optional stereo microphone (DMW-MS1) or even an external flash (DMW-FL220, DMW-FL360 or DMW-FL500). You can even add a remote shutter control (DMW-RSL1) which many cameras of this type do not offer.
In fact the range of extra optional accessories available for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100 helps this camera stand out from some other super zoom cameras. Panasonic has available both a 1.7X conversion lens (DEMW-LT55) as well as a close-up lens (DMW-LC55). You can also add either a neutral density filter (DMW-LND52) or a polarizing filter (DMW-LND52) to the camera.
Another feature that sets the new Lumix model from Panasonic apart from other super zoom cameras is that it has the ability to take photos in RAW format.
All in all, the Lumix DMC-FZ100 has a lot to offer someone looking for this type of camera.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100 Videos