Panasonic Lumix FZ1000 vs Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark II Comparison

June 18, 2014

Panasonic Lumix FZ1000 and Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark II side by side

In this article I will compare the Panasonic Lumix FZ1000 vs Canon PowerShot G1 X II. Those two are quite different camera as you’ll soon see.  The Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark II has a larger sensor than the FZ1000, but that’s just one part of the equation, and you need to fully understand the differences before you’ll be able to make a smart buying decision. On paper, the FZ1000 looks like the ultimate camera for casual shooters and travelers, and indeed, the FZ1000 poses a threat to many zoom cameras, compact or not.

Before I start diving into the features and pour some insight about each one, let me first talk about that camera categories that those two cameras belong to.

Large sensor Bridge vs Large sensor Compact

On of the reasons both the FZ1000 and the G1 X Mark II has gotten lots of attention is due to their large sensors. We all remember the megapixels war where many consumers have been convinced that more pixels makes a better camera and that marketing worked pretty well for a long time, and it still do for some. Time went by and more people  have bought digital cameras and learn more about photography.  People start understanding that impact of the sensor size regarding image quality and especially for low-light performance. The demand for large-sensor cameras like DSLR and mirrorless have been increased.

I think that more people were more aware of this due to camera development in the smartphone industry, especially when phone manufactures like Nokia released its 808 PureView smartphone that featured a 1/1.2″ (10.67×8.00mm) sensor, which is slightly smaller than that of the 1″ (13.20×8.80mm), and its image quality amazed everyone. The 808 PureView all the other phones behind at that time in terms of IQ and low-light performance.

Time passed by and large-sensor start appearing in bridge cameras as the compact camera’s market continued to shrink in favor of smartphone cameras.  In the time present, large-sensor cameras even threat the interchangeable lens camera’s market in some degree. Both the Panasonic Lumix FZ1000 and CanonPowerShot G1 X II are two important and popular large-sensor cameras that are a direct result of the evolution in the digital camera’s market.

Large sensor cameras brought a few advantages, including better image quality and high ISO performance and the ability to achieve much more shallow depth of field (blurred background) effect, which is one of the reasons why professional choose to shoot APS-C of Full Frame interchangeable lens cameras (e.g. DSLRs). In fact, the thing that has a direct impact on image quality is not the actual sensor size, but the sensor’s pixel size.  There are some sensors that are smaller than others and have pixels that are very close in size to that of the larger ones. So the larger the pixels, the better. Larger pixels allows more light photons to be gathered at each light-sensitive photodiode, and therefore more data is collected for each pixel, promoting higher dynamic range and more accurate color reproduction. I will write more about the pixel size difference in the comparison section.

If this is the reason you have chosen to buy the FZ1000 or the G1X II, you made a smart choice, and if it’s not, it’s good that you are now aware of it.

In the next sections I will introduce the two cameras to you, and after that we’ll talk about the differences in-depth — Let’s begin.

Panasonic Lumix FZ1000

Panasonic Lumix FZ1000 cameraMany will disagree that the FZ1000 is the most exciting bridge camera on the market, and a direct competitor to the Sony RX10. At the heart of the camera lies a 1-inch 20.1-megapixel High Sensitivity MOS sensor and a newly developed Venus Engine. A 1-inch sensor is four times larger than a 1/2.3″ sensor found on many superzooms and compact cameras, but significantly small than Full Frame and APS-C as well.  Take a look at the sensor size comparison diagram below.

Sensor size comparison: APS-C, 1-inch and Micro Four Thirds

Sensor size comparison: APS-C, 1-inch and Micro Four Thirds (relative size comparison)

The 1″ sensor is called large because is significantly larger than sensors found on other consumer-level point-and-shoot cameras, and it create a new category. A category of large-sensor cameras that strengthens their base category and introduce higher-end models that should appeal to both novice and enthusiast photographer, that before that change, wouldn’t touch a camera with a small sensor. Image quality is a big part of it, and many photographers didn’t want to put out with the inferior image quality, and that’s changed with the introduction of large-sensor cameras.

Each pixel of the sensor measures approximately 2.41 µm (micrometer). Just for comparison, take a look at the following cameras/smartphones and their sensor sizes and pixel size.

  • Nikon D3300 (DSLR): APS-C (23.5×15.6mm) 24MP / 3.92 µm
  • Canon EOS 6D (DSLR): Full Frame (36x24mm) 20MP / 6.58 µm
  • Panasonic Lumix GX7 (CSC): Micro Four Thirds (17.3x13mm) 16MP / 3.78 µm
  • Canon PowerShot SX50 HS (superzoom): 1/2.3″ (6.17x.4.55mm) 12MP / 1.54 µm
  • iPhone 5S (smartphone): 1/3″ (4.89×3.67mm) 8MP / 1.5 µm
  • Nokia Lumia 1020 (smartphone): 1/1.5″ (or 2/3-inch, 8.8×6.6mm) 41MP / 1.12 µm
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 (smartphone): 1/2.6″ (5.08×3.81mm) / 1.12 µm

As you can see, that the FZ1000 sensor sits somewhere in the middle between that of a DSLR and a small-sensor camera.

The Panasonic Lumix FZ1000 features a Leica DC Vario-Elmarit 25-400mm F2.8-4.0 16x optical zoom lens with manual zoom/focus ring (switch on the lens is used to change between the two). This is lens with superb optical performance that was designed to deliver sharp results with less distortions and optical aberrations by utilizing aspherical lenses and surfaces and ED lenses. Indeed, the lens doesn’t have a huge zoom like the Panasonic FZ70, Canon SX50 HS, Nikon P520 or Sony HX300 superzooms, but the thing is that all those superzooms that I’ve mentioned have a 1/2.3″ BSI sensor. A sensor that as I mentioned, it’s 4 times smaller than the 1″ of the FZ1000. Canon played a smart move with the SX50 HS by going with only 12.1MP resolution instead of 16MP or above. That helped boost the high ISO performance and image quality of that camera.

A 25-400mm equivalent zoom is more than enough for most situations. I can tell you that I personally love shooting with large-sensor cameras because it allows me to throw the background out of focus in much greater degree than what I can achieve with a small-sensor camera, which is almost impossible to achieve this, unless you are very very close to the subject.

The FZ1000 lens is also very fast. Although it doesn’t have a constant aperture like the Panasonic Lumix FZ200 25-600mm F2.8 (1/2.3″ sensor), F2.8-4.0 aperture, larger pixels and good image stabilization mechanism will help you to shoot in low-light situations without worry. At the tele-end the FZ2000 features F4.0 aperture, that is one stop slower than F2.8. In terms of exposure, you will have no issue pushing up the ISO one stop without worrying of a noisy image, and that’s one of the advantages that a large sensor (with large pixels) bring to low-light photography.

The FZ1000 is the first compact camera to features 2160p30 4K video recording (100Mbps / MP4) and full HD video recording at 60p/30p/24p (progressive) and 60i (interlaced) with stereo sound.  The camera has a stereo mic input and support Clean HDMI output.  The effective video resolution of the 4K video (Ultra HD) is 3840×2160 pixels. This means four times more details than 1080p — great for video editing and playback on 4K computer screens, 4K projectors and 4K HDTVs.

Another great feature is the ability to extract a 8 megapixel image from the 4J video footage.  This is a superb feature in my opinion. You’ll be able to produce unique images from the video that in regular shooting you had probably missed it. You can do it with other cameras and extract the image using photo editing software on your computer, but the great thing is that we you get 8MP image. With Full HD you can only get 2MP stills, so it’s a big different in terms of resolution. So even people who don’t usually shoot video, can use the 4K video recording like a 30 fps (8MP) continuous shooting mode!

Among the other key features are  Light Speed AF with DFD technology for super fast (0.08 sec.) AF performance, with -4EV precision for low-light situations, pinpoint AF, in-camera RAW processing, Highlight Shadow,  2.359-dot OLED viewfinder, 3″ 921K-dot fully-articulated LCD, Wi-Fi/NFC wireless connectivity (remote control/view, geotagging, easy sharing) and many creative controls and effects.

All that beauty sells for around nine hundred US dollars, which not cheap, but not too high either. You get a lot in return for your money. The FZ1000 is the most interesting bridge camera this year. Panasonic made an excellent job with this one.

Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark II

Canon G1 X Mark II tilting display rotated 180 degreesThe Canon G1 X MKII costs around $100 less than the Panasonic FZ1000. Shouldn’t be a big difference for people planning to shed more than $800 for a digital camera. The question that I asked myself prior to writing this comparison, is if the size isn’t a factor, what the G1 X Mark II has besides its larger sensor that might make it better than the FZ1000?

The Canon G1X Mark II s a popular large-sensor compact that received lots positive reactions and high-rating in many popular camera review websites.  Many of them mentioned its good build quality, fast lens, high image quality, 180 degrees LCD for selfies and good AF performance. Certainly a very good choice for enthusiast looking for a compact camera that can perform great in low-light and allowing to shoot photos with prominent shallow depth of field (defocused background). The Canon G1 X II main competition comes not from the FZ1000, but from the Sony RX100 III.

The G1X Mark II is significantly smaller than the FZ1000, but it most probably wouldn’t fit into your pants’ pocket, unless you have very large pockets.  Keeping that in mind, I think that for many of you, the size shouldn’t be an issue, unless you are after pocket camera, and if that’s so, I recommend checking the RX100 III instead.

At the heart of the camera is a 1.5″-type 12.8MP (effective) CMOS sensor. 1.5″ sensor is larger than the 1″ type (see image below).

1.5 inch vs 1 inch sensor size comparison digram

1.5 inch vs 1 inch sensor size comparison diagram (relative size comparison)

What I like about Canon approach is that it didn’t go with 16M+ resolution, but rather stayed in the 12MP range, which helps when shooting in low-light due to its relatively large pixels. Each pixel in the G1 X Mark II measures approximately 4.5 µm. So its pixels are even bigger than that of the Nikon D3300 (DSLR) APS-C sensor.  So in general terms, you should expect image quality on par with that of an entry-level DSLR — but we’ll talk about the image quality in more depth in the comparison section.

The G1 X II is equipped with a 24-120mm (equiv.) f/2.0-3.9 IS lens with 5x optical zoom. This is a fast lens that is very fast at the wide-end and turns slower as you zoom in.  This means that if you want the best low-light settings of the lens, you should shoot at 24mm f/2.0, its widest angle. As you further zoom in, the maximum aperture gets smaller (higher f-number).

The Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark II lens has two rings on its barrel. The inner ring is a ‘step ring’ and can be used to set the settings for the aperture, shutter speed or exposure compensation.  The other ring which offers smoother motion, helps with settings that needs a fine adjustment, like manual focusing. Both rings are customizable, so you can choose the operation function of each one via the menu system.

Another good news for the shallow depth of field enthusiast out there. The G1 X Mark II features a 9-blade aperture that promotes smoother and more circular Bokeh effect and a built-in ND filter.

Among its other key features aer: Wi-Fi/NFC wireless connectivity, 5.2 fps burst, 3.0-inch tilting LCD display, 14-bit RAW + JPEG, 31 AF point system, 1080p30 video recording with stereo sound and more.

Here’s an informative video by Lighthaus Camera that demonstrates the Wireless connectivity of the camera using a smartphone and tablet devices.

The Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark II is a premium compact-camera. Although not as compact as one may like, it’s still very easy to carry around with a strap or in a bag, it offers a useful zoom range,a bright lens and large sensor that promote very good low-light performance and pleasing defocus background effect and useful wireless capability. The G1 X MKII lacks a built-in viewfinder, but you can buy the optional EVF-DC1 electronic viewfinder.

With the introduction of the Sony RX100 III with the same price as the G1 X Mark II and the introduction of the FZ1000 which costs only $100, the decision to buy the G1 X Mark II isn’t obvious as it was before these two cameras were announced. That being said, we need to make a closer inspection of the features before we can come to any conclusion — that’s we’ll do in the next section!

FZ1000 vs G1 X Mark II

Panasonic FZ1000 and Canon G1X Mark II size comparison

Now that you’ve become more familiar with each of the camera’s key features, let’s dig deeper into the specs and see how the two camera differ from each other. This will give you a good overview of the cons and pros of each camera, relative to its peer.

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Let’s take a look at two sample videos taken with each camera.

Panasonic Lumix FZ1000 sample video (official by Panasonic)

Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark II sample video (by dpreview)

Conclusion

No doubt that the Panasonic Lumix FZ1000 is much more capable than the G1 X Mark II. It doesn’t win in the high ISO performance (as expected) nor it’s as compact and lightweight, but it brings speedier AF system, sharper lens, closer macro range, better IS system, bigger zoom, more flexible LCD, built-in EVF, much faster shutter speed and burst speed, 4K video recording with lots of frame rate options and advanced features (inc. built-in mic), better battery life, panorama mode, built-in HDR and remote control port.  The FZ1000 also has more physical buttons that that offer fast access to frequently used camera settings, more than the G1 X Mark II offers.

The FZ1000 lacks a touchscreen display, it’s 1mm short and slower at the wide end compared to the G1 X Mark II, but as a whole, the Panasonic Lumix FZ1000 is certainly the better camera for many type of photography styles, and if you are carrying only one camera and search for a ILC alternative, you can’t go wrong with the FZ1000, as it’s the best bridge camera available on the market right now. I do wish that the FZ1000 had less resolution and better high ISO performance, having 24mm wide-angle and do wish that it was weather-sealed, but with its pros outweigh its cons by a large margin.

If the camera size and weight isn’t an issue and you are willing to invest an extra $100, the Panasonic Lumix FZ1000 certainly worth the take.  In favor of the G1 X Mark II is its compact size (not pocketable though, unless you have big pockets 🙂 ), better build quality, better high ISO performance, 24mm wide angle and faster lens at the wid-end, 9 diaphragm blades for smoother Bokeh effect, built-in ND filter, touchscreen and miniature effect and star tile-lapse movie recording function. The G1 X Mark II is an excellent premium compact camera, nothing will take it away from it, well… unless your compare it to the Sony RX100 III, which is a more direct competitor in one of the sbest, if not the best premium compact camera on the market at the moment.

So if you are turn between the two, you can see that the choice isn’t hard after all. In this comparison I might say that the size plays a significant role if it’s matters to you. I think that with the FZ1000 you’ll be able to get more creative as it covers more shooting scenarios than the G1 X MKII, but again, some of you might find this camera a bit too large and heavy, and if it’s stays at home most of the time, you’ll be shooting less. So it’s a delicate balance between portability and functionality, and I think that if you love photography, you wouldn’t have a problem carrying a camera like the FZ1000 with you — on the contrary, you’ll enjoy taking it with you and come home with amazing photos. If not, the Canon PowerShot G1X Mark II is an excellent choice and you’ll its image quality, customization options, low-light performance and beautiful defocus background effect (depends on aperture, focal length and distance from subject).

Which camera you prefer? — Do you agree with my conclusion or think differently?

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