Panasonic Lumix FZ1000 vs FZ200 vs FZ70 / FZ72 Comparison

July 7, 2014

 

Panasonic FZ1000, FZ200 and FZ70 superzoom cameras side by side

In this article I will compare the new Panasonic Lumix FZ1000 versus FZ200 and FZ70 / FZ72, all are superzoom/bridge cameras, but certainly have their differences. If you are looking to purchase a new superzoom and found Panasonic to offer the best options, you should certainly consider buying one of those two excellent and popular superzoom cameras.

Why a Superzoom Camera?

There are many types of digital cameras: mirrorless, DSLRs, smartphone cameras, compact cameras, superzooms, etc. Each has each its cons and pros. Superzoom cameras are popular among amateur and travelers for being fairly compact, yet they offer a large versatile zoom range. If you want to get the same equivalent zoom in an interchangeable lens camera, you’ll need to carry a bigger equipment and it, in most cases, cost you much more than a conventional superzoom camera.

Many people just don’t want to mass around changing lenses, nor they care about the flexibility of interchangeable lenses. Superzoom cameras also evolved in the past couple of years, and we see a new trend of large-sensor superzoom that join and probably replace some of the superzoom models in the lineup. The FZ200 and FZ70 boats a 1/2.3″ (6.17×4.55m) sensor, which is four times smaller than the 1″ (13.2×8.8mm) found on the FZ1000. The FZ1000 represents a new generation of premium superzoom cameras, with a large sensor that pushes the boundaries of what possible was possible to achieve with older Panasonic superzoom models.

1-inch vs 1/2.3-inch sensor size comparison

1-inch vs 1/2.3-inch sensor size comparison

A large sensor brings several advantages, including better blurry background effect (more shallow depth of field; also depends on the lens aperture and distance from the subject), and the most important aspect, a great improvement in image quality and low-light performance, something that most photographers care about. Especially true if you intend to spend more on a premium point-and-shoot camera.

Some of you are probably already sold to the Panasonic FZ1000 1″ sensor, but before you jump on the FZ1000 straight away, I recommend reading this comparison thoroughly to fully understand the differences between those two cameras.

We’ll start with a short introduction to each camera and continue to the comparison section later on.

Panasonic Lumix FZ1000

Panasonic Lumix FZ1000 cameraThe Panasonic FZ1000 was announced on June 12, 2014 and it’s the newest models of the three. Panasonic made this camera to compete against the Sony RX10, which is also a superzoom camera featuring a 1-inch type sensor. The FZ1000 features a 20.1MP 1-inch MOD sensor. The main benefits of having a large sensor in a fast superzoom-lens camera is the ability to have more control over the depth of field and produce much shallower depth of field effect, and it also promotes significantly better high ISO performance and improves image quality overall.

So it’s great that we have a large sensor, but Panasonic didn’t stop threre. The FZ1000 also feature a bright Leica DC Vario-Elmarit 25-400mm (equivalent) F2.8-4.0 16x optical zoom lens. A very high quality lens with a wide angle and a very versatile each and fast aperture on both the wide-angle all across the tele-end. If you want to get the most light possible, shoot at 25mm, but f/4 aperture is still a very fast considering the 400mm tele-end focal length. This will also allows photographer to shoot photos with very shallow depth of field effect, compared to what you get with a 1/2.3″ sensor. One of the problems that I had with my superzooms is that they were very slow, so when the sun start coming down and it was getting late, I wasn’t able to good shots. You could still shoot at relatively slow shutter speeds and the IS works well, but shooting at night was out of the questions in many situations, especially when shooting at the far tele-end.

The FZ1000 features both a lens-shift optical image stabilization mechanism to combat hand-shake camera movement, as well as a 5-axis electronic correction plus the optical IS when shooting videos.  This means stable videos, even while walking and shooting at the same time. The camera will compensates for horizontal and vertical axes movements, as well as vertical rotation and horizontal rotation and tilting of the camera.

Speaking about video recording. The Panasonic Lumix FZ1000 can capture 1080p60/24/30 (progressive frames) full HD videos, high speed videos (output from 100 fps) as well as 4K/30p (3840×2160 pixels) video recording. This is the first compact camera to feature 4K video recording.  4K brings higher quality videos that will look superb on your 4K HDTV or 4K computer displays. Panasonic also added a cool feature that allows you to extract a 8MP frame from the 4K video. This means that when you come home and playback your videos, you can extract a high-quality image from your favorite scene, a photos that you probably wouldn’t able to capture when shooting stills.  Keep in mind that in order to shoot in 4K, you’ll need a card rates as UHS Speed Class 3 or faster.

The FZ1000 can capture videos with the built-in stereo microphone or you can attach an external stereo microphone (e.g. DMW-MS2) for better audio fidelity.  Just imagine how amazing your vacation video clips will looks and sound on your 4K HDTV in your living room. It will brings up those memories live on your screen, and I’m sure that you’ll appreciate those high-quality saved memories later on in life, and not just you, your children too!

Among the other features are: Light Speed AF with Lumix DFD Focus technology for fast (0.09 sec. @ wide-end and 0.17 sec. @ tele-end)and accurate focusing,

The lens and the sensor both contribute to the high performance of the camera, resulting in very high quality images and videos that are superior to what you get Wi-Fi and NFC wireless connectivity (remote shooting, easy share, easy connection, geotagging), 3cm macro shooting, in-camera creative control and panorama shooting, hot-shoe connector, lots of camera settings and manual controls over the exposure, in-camera image editing, 3-inch 921K-dots AR-coated free-angle rear display, built-in Flash, 3.5mm mic connector and a 2359K-dots 0.7x OLED electronic viewfinder.

The Panasonic Lumix FZ1000 was designed to appeal to a wide audience, including amateurs, video enthusiasts, travelers, family photographers and those who prefer a versatile superzoom to an interchangeable lens camera. The combination of superb optics, a large sensor, 4K video recording and a wide-range of advanced features, in total, makes this camera The best superzoom on the market today.  For around $900 (as of the time of writing),  the FZ1000 doesn’t come cheap and it’s certainly more expensive than some of the body+lens ILC/DSLR combos out there, but you don’t need to buy anything else with it (optional accessories are available though), just go out and shoot and enjoy great stills and videos that will impress everyone who view them.

It’s hard to ignore this camera, and in fact, you shouldn’t. Even if they price might be a bit steep, it’s still worth every penny in my opinion.

Panasonic Lumix FZ200

Panasonic Lumix FZ200 was announced on July 18th 2012, so it’s not new in the scene. Yet, it still a very popular camera among the current superzooms, mainly for its f/2.8 constant aperture lens. It’s also a direct competitor to the Canon SX50 HS, which is still one of the most popular superzooms on the market, mainly to its big zoom and relatively high image quality.

At the heart of the FZ200 is a 12.1MP 1/2.3″ MOS sensor. It’s a small sensor, but it allowed Panasonic to make the camera very small, and you can clearly see it if you compare the FZ200 size against the DMC-FZ100 (See image below).

Panasonic FZ1000 vs FZ200 size comparison (via camerasize.com)

This becomes more obvious when you consider the FZ200 lens. the FZ200 features a Leica DC Vario-elmarit 25-600mm (35mm equivalent) F2.8 24x optical zoom lens. This is is different than the FZ1000 one in a way that it offers a bigger zoom (larger focal length range), as well as a constant-aperture lens, not a variable one. A constant-aperture lens means that that the aperture can stay in its maximum size (f/2.8) all across the focal length range (across the zoom) from the wide-end to the tele-end. With a variable aperture lens, the aperture gets slower as you zoom in. With the FZ200 you can shoot at 600mm f/2.8, which can be really useful when shooting at the tele-end in low-light and when you want to achieve the most shallow depth of field effect, although it’s quite limited due to the sensor size, compared to what you can get on an equivalent focal length/aperture on a larger sensor.

The FZ200 lens also incorporates a lens-shift based POWER O.I.S. optical image stabilization (three elements, 4th to the 7th). The lens also incorporates 3 ED lenses and 5 aspherical surfaces that allows Panasonic to make this lens very small and still keep its high optical performance. Furthermore, the lens uses Panasonic’s black box technology Nano surface coating to reduce flaring and ghosts that result in cleaner and clearer image.

Among its other features are: in-camera panorama shooting, lost of creative modes and special effects, 3D photo mode, Intelligent Night Shoot, 3-inch 460K-dots free-angle display, built-in flash, 12 fps burst, Light Speed AF, in-camera HDR 1080p60 (progressive scanning) Full HD video recording, digital stabilization (Active Mode) for video recording and much more.

The FZ200 received very high rating across many popular camera review websites, mentioning its very good image quality and sharp EVF, fast operation and burst shooting speed and grabbed dpreview’s Gold Award.  A highly-capable superzoom in a small compact camera with great build quality. It’s direct competitor is the SX50 HS, and I found the SX50 HS to have better image quality (due to its larger pixels), but the FZ200 was more feature reach and I loved its video quality as well.

But strictly in this comparison, the FZ200 will certainly have a tough time competing against the FZ1000 in almost all categories, but we also need to consider its much cheaper price tag (around $330 as of the time of writing). Not everyone is willing to shell around $900 for a camera, and that in mind, the FZ200 is certainly one of the best alternatives out there.

Panasonic Lumix FZ70/FZ72

The Panasonic FZ70 is a popular ultrazoom camera. Unlike the other FZ1000 and FZ200, the FZ70 features a much larger 60x optical zoom lens. To be more precise, a Panasonic 20-1200mm F2.8-5.9 60x optical zoom lens with Power O.I.S. optical image stabilization and Active Mode for movie recording.

As you can see from the lens specs, you get a much wider field of view at the wide-end and much longer reach at the tele-end. These type of cameras are referred to as ‘Ultrazooms’, as they offer telescopic zoom range, allowing photographer to zoom in much closer on the subject. This also makes those type of cameras the best choice for travelers. If you don’t mind giving up the advantages of that of a large sensor cameras and love the huge zoom, ultra-zoom cameras are a great choice.

In terms of size, the FZ70/FZ72 is significantly bigger than the FZ200 and even larger than the FZ1000.   Even in the ultrazoom category, the FZ70 is on the large size, significantly larger than the SX50 HS for example, which is also an ultrazoom camera with a huge zoom.

Before we continue, take a look at this FZ70 / FZ72 zoom test, shot handheld by catsclouds YouTube user

Panasonic designed this camera to appeal to amateurs searching for a fully features ultrazoom, with lots of multimedia features and a camera that offer advanced features for the enthusiast audience.  At the heart of this camera is a 16MP 1/2.3″ sensor. A small sensor compare to a 1-inch offering of the FZ1000, but in return, you get to enjoy a 60x optical zoom lens with 20mm ultra-wide angle lens. The 20mm gives much wider field of view compared to 24mm as you can see in the image below.

24mm vs 20mm field of view comparison

24mm vs 20mm field of view comparison

This means that the FZ70/FZ72 might  be more the preferred choice for landscape shooters, as you can get more of the scene into the frame. This also gives a unique perspective and look to various scenes, and you’ll come home with photos that look more interesting and unique to those who view it.

The Panasonic FZ70 can capture stunning full HD videos with Dolby Digital Stereo sound, and it uses a newly developed Wind Shield Zoom microphone that reduces the wind noise and result in clear and high quality audio recording.  The camera also features video creative control which allows you to edit your video in-camera and also the ability to control the shutter speed and changing the aperture while recording the video, giving more fluent control over the video recording and creation process.

The FZ70 isn’t the fastest camera, but with its 5 fps burst speed (2fps in AF tracking) is pretty efficient for more uses and for the average shooter. Among its other features are: 0.20″ 202K-dots EVF, RAW mode, DPOF / 3D image capture, iA (Intelligent Auto) and iA Plus mode, compatibility with Panasonic’s conversion lenses, filters and external flashes and more.

The FZ70 enjoys very good rating from the leading camera review’s websites and for the price of around $300 (as of the time of writing), it certainly a good price considering its advanced technologies, huge zoom range, and its 20mm ultra-wide angle shooting. It’s certainly an interesting camera in the ultrazoom’s landscape, and as I said earlier, for some of you it might be a better choice than the FZ1000 and FZ200.

One note for those of you who are afraid of touching a camera with a small sensor. Indeed, small sensor cameras will produce less impressive high ISO images, but there are cameras like the FZ200 that has a large constant aperture that will allow you to shoot at low ISO and still get a well exposed image in low-light. Furthermore, if you find yourself mainly using your photos in social networks like Facebook and sending them by email to friends and family, you shouldn’t be worried about too much about the high ISO performance. A re-scaled high ISO image can still look very good and noise will be much less visible in a lower scaled image.

If you love post processing your images in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom for example, you’ll love the output of the large-sensor cameras, as the high ISO performance and image quality attributes numbers are, in most part, better than that of the small sensor cameras.

OK, not that you’ve got a good understanding of the key features of each camera, it’s time to dig deeper into the specs and compare the three cameras side by side,

FZ1000 vs FZ200 vs FZ70

Now let’s dig deeper into the camera specs and see which camera is best at what. In the next side by side comparison table you’ll get an option to clearly see and comprehend the differences as well as the cons and pros of each camera versus the others. Pay attention to the features that are important the most to you, so will be able to make a smart buying decision based on those. Let’s begin…

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High ISO Performance Comparison

magnifying glass on imageThe image quality and high ISO performance plays a significant part in many photographer’s buying decision. Some people just hate seeing noise at low ISO and prefer the camera that has the cleanest image at a given ISO when comparing a few cameras one versus the other. Some photographer shoots lots of photos late in the day and at night. Sometimes even a faster aperture isn’t the perfect solution, and there are times that you must boost the ISO speed in order to get a well-exposed image.

What I am interested to see is how well the FZ70 and FZ200 1/2.3″ sensor are compared and see how good the 1″ sensor of the FZ1000 is compared to the best performing 1/2.3″ sensor. I use imaging resource comparometer tool to inspect and analyze the image quality and high ISO performance, so let’s see which camera has the best high ISO performance and image quality of the three digital cameras.

FZ70 vs FZ200:  at low-ISO, the FZ200 has cleaner image, and although both have a small amount of noise apparent in the photos, the FZ70/FZ72 is slightly noisier, which is quite disappointing, but expected due to its smaller pixels (1.34 vs 1.54 microns). The FZ70 has a slight resolution advantage and it’s also slightly sharper, but nothing significant.

ISO 400 still looks very usable, but when climbing to ISO 800 we can see a more drastic fall in both cameras, with the FZ70 being more noisy, but both cameras start losing many of the dine detail area of the image. In a scaled down image it’s much less visible, but when you view the image at 100% scale you can clearly see that the FZ200 clearly outperform the FZ70. FZ200 still looks very good at ISO 800.

At ISO 1600 things are getting much worse on both cameras, but the FZ200 still have a 1 to 1.5 EV stop advantage over the FZ70. I will probably shoot with those two cameras below ISO 1600 for the best results and only use ISO 1600 and above if there isn’t any other way to capture the image under the available lighting conditions.

FZ200 vs FZ1000: the FZ1000 lens produces significantly sharper image, and the fine details are better revealed not only due to the high-quality lens, but also due to the FZ1000 higher resolution sensor.  At low ISO we can see that the FZ1000 is very clean, no sign of image noise, whether with the FZ200 we can see a slight amount of noise in the dark areas of the image and in the mid-tones, nothing to be concerned about, but even at the base ISO we can start notice the difference between the 1″ sensor and the 1/2.3″ sensor.

At ISO 400 / ISO 800 we can see that the FZ1000 looks relatively very clean as expected, much better than the FZ200 that has a moderate amount of noise in the image

at ISO 1600 the FZ200 image looks very noisy, compared to the FZ1000 which still looks very clean, and that’s clearly shows the advantage of having a large sensor in your camera compared to a much smaller sensor. You can feel confident shooting at ISO 1600 with the FZ1000, and that brings many opportunities for low light shooters. This is around 2.5 stop advantage, which makes the FZ1000 a better camera for low-light photography, even considering the F2.8 constant aperture across the focal length range.

ISO 3200 looks a mass on the FZ200, but you still get a very usable image, although quite noisy, with the FZ1000.

So the winner is with no doubt the FZ1000, and it clearly shows the advantages of having a large sensor in a camera in terms of image noise. The FZ200 is in the second place with very good performance too, FZ70 in the last place with the least impressive high ISO performance.

Before we continue to the conclusion section, let’s take a look at some sample videos taken with each camera.

Panasonic Lumix FZ1000 4K sample video

Panasonic Lumix FZ200 sample video

Panasonic Lumix FZ70 sample video

Conclusion

We saw that the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ1000 clearly shows it’s strength in the image quality and low-light department, no other camera among the three came close to its high ISO performance. The FZ1000 has lots of features that makes it a better camera for enthusiast photographers and videographers, this includes among others: 4K video recording and a large selection of video frame rates to choose from, 5-axis stabilization,  best AF system among the three, best LCD, super fast shutter speed, wireless connectivity and the best eye-level viewfinder.

Yes, the FZ1000 is quite expensive, but you get a lot in return for your investment. Some of you might prefer the FZ70 for its much bigger optical zoom, weight much less, has closer macro and obviously its cheaper price. It’s less advanced photography tool as the FZ1000, and no doubt that video enthusiast will prefer the FZ1000 over the limited video features of the FZ70. The FZ70 main selling point is its big zoom and 20mm ultra wide-angle lens, which in some aspects, make this camera a better camera for travelers. If you are on a tight budget and search for a compact ultrazoom, you won’t go wrong going with the FZ70, it’s an amazing ultrazoom camera and one of the most impressive ones on the market right now. If you are willing to put off with its inferior high ISO performance and find yourself shooting below ISO 1600, I think that you find yourself a winner here.

The FZ200 doesn’t offer ta big zoom lens as the FZ70/FZ72, lacks a 20mm ultra-wide angle, but it offers a bigger zoom than the FZ1000. You might ask yourself whether the difference between 400mm and 600mm is significant. I think that for most people, 400mm will server you well in most scenarios, so I personally wouldn’t have chosen the FZ70 because of the 200mm focal length difference at the tele-end. The FZ200 performed very well in the high ISO performance considering its small sensor and I think Panasonic did a smart move staying with 12MP and not going with a higher resolution sensor that would cause the FZ200 to have less impressive low-light performance.

When compared to the FZ1000 , The FZ200 is behind in almost all categories, except the battery life which better, better built-in mic, it takes 3D photos, it’s significantly smaller, has in-camera HDR mode, can record high speed movies at both 120 fps and 240 fps, has bigger zoom, better macro capability and it’s much cheaper.  If you are on a tight budget, I think that you’ll find the FZ200 to be a very good choice.

Comparing the FZ70 / FZ72 vs the FZ200, the FZ200 has better high ISO performance, constant F2.8 aperture, has an articulating display, external mic jack to connect an external stereo microphone, longer battery life, faster burst and it’s much smaller in size. The FZ70 has much bigger zoom and 20mm FOV and it cheaper. I would go with the FZ200 if I prefer a camera that perform better in low-light and has more advanced video shooting capability (e.g. mic input, 60p), but went with the FZ70 mostly for its bigger zoom and 20mm equivalent field of view. The FZ70 lens is its main selling point, and for some people this is the reason to pick up this camera over many other superzoom. No every person is after the best image quality and advanced features. Some people just want a a camera that will allow them to take more unique photos and to have bigger zoom to be able to capture subjects that are far away from the camera, something that you wouldn’t be able to achieve with a 400mm-600mm equivalent focal length at the tele-end.

If I had to pick one and this were to be my only camera, I would have chosen the Panasonic Lumix FZ1000 without a doubt, a superb superzoom, the best superzoom on the market in my opinion hands down. You’ll love what this camera is capable of achieving. You’ll come home with very high quality images and videos, and for me it more important than having a larger zoom range. I also highly recommend the FZ1000 for those of you who are debating whether to buy an interchangeable lens camera or a bridge camera. You’ll love the viewfinder, the ergonomics and performance of the FZ1000, a camera that in many aspects is as close as you can get a to the experience of shooting with a DSLR or mirrorless camera.



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