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First Look: $899 4K Panasonic FZ1000 - The RX10 finally has competition, and it looks serious.


 

It only shoots 30p in 4k mode, and its crop in 4k mode makes it about a 37mm Full Frame Equivalent.

OK, not the smoothest way to open this up, but those are the two biggest considerations i took away from this newly launched camera.

Backing up, this thing is an attractive beast. Everyone around the net is comparing it to the RX10, and rightly so: It's a bridge camera with the same size 1" sensor, and comes in at several hundred dollars LESS than the RX10 and gives you 4k recording to boot.

Let's list out the interesting details:

  • 20.1 megapixel 1" type MOS sensor
  • 25-400mm equivalent. F2.8-4 Leica lens
  • 5 axis 'Power OIS' stabilization (less in 4k mode it seems)
  • OLED EVF with 2.36M dots
  • 3-inch fully-articulated LCD w/ 920K dots
  • 4K video at 30p, 100Mbps MP4
  • 1080p at up to 60p, 28Mbps (& some other 120fps 1080 mode)
  • 240fps @ 720p
  • 3.5mm microphone port
  • Clean HDMI output
  • Zebra & focus peaking
  • Timelapse function
  • Wi-Fi with NFC

4K for under a K

Yes kids, we now have quality 4k at under a grand. But what's up with that 30p only? Here's what my brain thinks if i try to think like panasonic when making this camera: We don't want to de-value the gh4 even though it's distinctly a DSLR and this is a point and shoot, but we also want to kick the pants off the RX10, so what if we give them 4k, but limit it to 30p, because even then, it'll be a more attractive 1080p camera than the RX10 and 4k will be a huge selling bonus despite the fps limitation.

The question that seems to be hovering is whether the camera will be PAL/NTSC switchable, since they mention that in PAL land, it will do 25fps, which is close enough for a fairly painless conversion to 24. Another question arises: why the 28mbps bitrate limit in 1080? Really seems like they were struggling to walk that fine line of market separation. 

The other 4k limitations are the crop factor and stabilization. While it does the same full pixel binning like the RX10 to get great 1080, it uses a center crop to get 4K, resulting in a no quite so wide, wide angle. You could remedy this with an add-on 62mm wide angle adapter, but at the cost possible degradation. Additionally, it also has two stabilizers, one active and one optical, and in 4k mode only the optical is available. So, 4k mode is not perfect, but it's still there, and usable, and at a cheaper price.

The way i'm seeing this camera: if you forget the 4k aspect entirely, it's a solid value over the RX10 as a 1080 camera. So if you're looking at the RX10 and you compare it to the FZ1000, The RX10 doesn't have quite as many standout features. Having my finger hovering over the pre-order button, i can't help but think about that 30p limitation, but if you forget the 4k aspect and just look at it as a 1080 camera, it ticks a lot more boxes than the RX10 at a lower price point. Now, i love my RX10, and i would miss the built in ND filter and quality construction. But, what i wouldn't miss are the lack of: intervalometer, articulating LCD, better stabilization(TBD), that bit of extra reach, & better control/options over wifi/NFC(TBD)

Speculative performance

The performance of the FZ1000 has yet to be widely nailed down, but thus far it looks as good as you'd expect considering panasonic's other cameras. Every manufacturer's camera lines have a certain 'look' to them, so you may have preference to a sony, panasonic, canon, etc... 'look'. I'd have to hold judgement till an in depth review can be done. Pre-release footage is always a tricky thing, as you don't know the exact settings used, conditions, much about the shooter, etc... Once the camera is released, The masses will waste no time at all determining its abilities.


RX10 vs FZ1000

In considering both cameras, here's how i would stack them up:

RX10:

  • Weather sealing
  • ND filter
  • Constant f2.8 aperture
  • 60p is sufficient slow motion
  • Tilting screen

FZ1000

  • Longer zoom
  • Slower than f2.8 at medium-tele
  • intervalometer
  • 4k, despite limitations
  • Much higher framerate options
  • Fully articulating screen

The new king of cheap super slow motion?

Let's talk about slow motion, because this looks like it will be one of the cheapest decent super-slow motion cameras you can get. Yes the gopro does great slow motion, but with all those gopro limitations. The FZ1000 can do 240fps while still in the realm of HD at 1280x720. If you've ever handled 240fps, it's addictive fun. 

Things i'm interested in knowing

One of my main complaints about the RX10 is the wobble/poor stabilization. As solid as the camera feels, the one bit that doesn't is the extending lens, and it adds a jitter sometimes. Couple that with a mediocre optical stabilizer and just decent digital stabilizer; and there's plenty of room for panny to step the game up in those areas. That, and may are frustrated by the slow zoom while recording on the RX10, just having options for that speed would give the FZ1000 another edge. 

Low light? The ad claims high sensitivity, but until more people have their hands on it, its questionable just how capable this will be in limited lighting. This is an important area since you can't just swap in a faster lens.

How tune-able is the image? It does show some 'cine' settings, but just how 'flat' can we get that image for maximum post grade-ability?

Buy-able?

So, if you're in the market for such a bridge camera, it's a bit difficult not to see this as a serious RX10 competitor. Now, if Sony dropped the price to match, that would certainly be interesting and competitive, but even then there are several things that really keep me looking at the FZ1000. As always, buy based on your specific needs, and in this case my needs seem to have more boxes ticked by the FZ1000. I'm still on the fence as to whether i'd make the switch, as i'm overall very happy with the RX10, so we'll just have to see how well its overall performance compares once the camera is finalized.

Added on 2014-06-12 by
Darren Levine

Darren Levine

Stimulus Video

DP/Videographer, Video/Film Editor
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