Panasonic FZ1000 vs Sony a6000 vs Sony RX100 III Comparison

June 15, 2014

Panasonic FZ1000, Sony RX100 III and Sony a6000 side by side banner

In this article I will compare the Panasonic Lumix FZ1000 vs Sony Alpha a6000 and Sony Cyber-shot RX100 III. These are three different types of cameras, the FZ1000 is a large sensor superzoom, a6000 is a compact system camera and the RX100 III is a large sensor compact camera.

The thing is that each camera has its unique appeal and features that differentiate itself in a positive manner from the other cameras. Some people might considered buying a mirrorless camera, but seeing the FZ1000 features might make you think twice before opening your wallet — that’s true for the other cameras as well. So in this article I will give you a good understanding of the cons and pros of each camera, so you can decide which camera it the right for you.

CSC vs Large-sensor Superzoom vs Large-sensor Compact

Before we dive into talking about the cameras and comparing them, let’s first talk about the benefits of each camera type in general. The Panasonic FZ1000  is Panasonic’s latest superzoom camera, and like the RX100, it features a 1 relatively large 1-inch sensor. It’s large if you compare it to a 1/2.3″ sensor that found on many other superzooms. The FZ1000 also boasts a fast lens that all in all, solves one of the problems with superzooms, and that’s their inferior low-light performance and also improves upon image quality.

The RX100 III also has a 1″ sensor and a fast fixed-lens. However, the RX100 III is a pocket camera, and unlike the FZ1000, you can take this camera everywhere you go, without the burden of an extra weight and size and without needing a camera bag. For many people that’s a big advantage, others might prefer the FZ1000 for its longer optical zoom reach, like travelers for example. Furthermore, the RX100 features a smaller optical zoom, which in general, you can expect a better optical performance from such a lens compared to a longer zoom lens.

The Sony a6000 is completely different in its concept. It’s a compact system camera, which means that instead of having a fixed-lens, it has a lens mount which you can use to mount a lens of your choice. Unlike the RX100 and the FZ1000, the a6000 gives photographers new creative freedom, by allowing them to use not just walkaround lenses (like the RX100) or a superzoom lens (like the FZ1000), but also 1:1 macro lens, ultra-wide angle lens, super fast prime lenses, fisheye lens, etc. Those lenses open a new world of artistic capabilities compared to what you can achieve with a fixed lens.

The a6000 CSC also uses an APS-C sensor, which is much larger than the 1″ one found on the FZ1000 and RX100 III. In general, this means a few things: better high ISO performance and the ability to achieve much more shallower depth of field (depends also on the lens used, and Sony has some very fast lenses to take advantage of this) in most part. The downside of the a6000 offering is that you can find an equivalent lens to the FZ1000, which is very versatile in its own write. Second, bigger sensor yield bigger lenses, and although some of the Sony E lenses are very slim and compact in size (e.g. E 20mm F2.8 wide-angle lens, E PZ 16-50mm F3.5-5.6 OSS Power), their telephoto zoom lenses, and some of their normal zoom lenses are relatively very large. If you are buying a single pancake lens like the E 16mm F2.8, you’ll be carrying a small package no doubt, but most people that buy such a camera will, most probably, buying a second lens, either a telephoto-zoom or normal zoom / walkaround lens.

So in general, you should prefer the RX100 III if you want a compact camera that its easy to carry around and one that take high quality images and videos. You’ll buy the FZ1000 if you want and need the zoom range and don’t like changing lenses, or the camera/lens combination of the FZ1000 is not available, affordable or too big for you to prefer that other bundle. The A6000 should appeal to you if you don’t want to give up on versatility, and there are special lenses that you must use to get the job done.

As you can see, each camera as its own unique cons and pros. There are different cameras for different type of shooting styles. Yet, there is a large audience of those who might still debate between those three types of cameras and don’t have a problem choosing either. They know that they must make a compromise with each one (or if not, now you do), and they want to make sure they are picking the best camera for their specific shooting style and personal preferences.

OK, now that you know in general what each camera type is about, let’s meet the three in more details.

Panasonic Lumix FZ1000

Panasonic Lumix FZ1000The Panasonic FZ1000 direct competitor is the Sony Cyber-shot RX10. If you are looking for a large-sensor superzoom camera, should probably also read my FZ1000 vs RX10 comparison review.

The FZ1000 is a camera aimed towards for photographers who prefer having a camera has a large sensor and offers plenty of versatility with great image quality and 4K video capability. For those who are not sure about buying into an interchangeable lens system, but don’t want to give up some of the advanced features that CSC cameras offer.

The camera features a large 1-inch 20.1MP CMOS sensor (not back-illuminated / BSI). If you opt out from buying a superzoom due its inferior high ISO performance and lack of prominent shallow depth of field effect, you might reconsider a superzoom when you look at the FZ1000 specs. With a 1″ sensor and the bright Leica DC Vario-Elmarit 25-400mm (35mm equivalent, 16x optical zoom) F2.8-4.0, you are sure to get  better low-light performance and better control over the depth of field compared to a conventional superzoom camera. The lens is a fixed lens, so unlike the Sony a6000, you won’t be able to mount other type of lenses, like a fisheye or 1:1 macro lens, and you need to be satisfied with what you get. That can be advantage or disadvantage, depends on your personal preferences.

The DMC-FZ1000 is the first compact camera (well, kind of compact) that feature 4K video recording at 30 fps and the ability to easily extract 8MP frame from the 4K video. It can also record 1080p60/30/24 and 1080i60 full HD videos. I really love the 8MP frame capture, because it gives you much more chances to extract unique moments from a 30fps footage that you could easily missed with a one-shot snap or even when shooting with the FZ1000 12fps burst mode. The FZ1000 is also capable of capturing 120 fps slow motion video in Full HD. Furthermore, the FZ1000 features a Hybrid O.I.S. optical image stabilization with 5-axis correction that greatly reduce blurring in videos, but the Hybrid O.I.S is not available in 4K video recording, as the camera needs extra pixels in order to use the digital stabilization. The FZ1000 records video with Dolby® Digital stereo sound using the built-in microphone, and you also have the option to use an external stereo microphone using the 3.5mm mic input.

The camera features a 10-bit Clean HDMI output like the Panasonic GH4, but unfortunately, the FZ1000 lacks a headphone jack for audio monitoring, which is useful for many videographers.

I know that many of you are already very excited with those features already, but this is just the base component, although the most important ones.

The Panasonic Lumix FZ1000 was designed to satisfy experience photographers. You get plenty of physical buttons and dials and 5 Fn buttons (can be customized by the user). At the back you have a 3.0″ 921K-dots fully articulated LCD and a 2359K-dots OELD 0.7x electronic viewfinder. It’s great that Panasonic didn’t skip on the quality of those two features, as they are important for those who leaning to buy this type of camera, and considering that this camera is very video-oriented as well, so the rear LCD plays a significant part for many videographers.

Among it other features are super-fast Lumix DFD focusing technology (same as the GH4) for more accurate autofocusing, integrated Wi-Fi/NFC connectivity, lots of in-camera creative controls (e.g. miniature effect, creative panorama) and 2.5mm remote control connector.

For $900 initial price (as of June 14th ,2014), the FZ1000 beats Sony in its own game. It offers a tremendous amount of features that will certainly make you think twice before jumping into an ILC.  Many photographers can easily live without special lenses, and for many photographers, the FZ1000 is the dream camera they’ve been waiting for a long time. It’s not pocketable, but this is one price you have to pay in order to enjoy this beauty.

What is 4K video recording?

You probably heard the term 4K being mentioned in some mobile phones (LG G3, Samsung Galaxy Note 3, Sony Xperia Z2), Handycams (Sony PXW-Z100 Pro, Blackmagic Production Camera 4K), Mirrorless cameras (Panasonic Lumix GH4) and professional video cameras (Canon EOS C500, Red One, Sony NEX-FS700RH). In fact, 4K video recording is with us for quite some time. 4K, also referred to as Ultra High Definition (UHD), defines a digital video format that was proposed by NHK Science and Technology Research Laboratories and approved by the ITU.

4K Ultra HD vs Full HD comparison

4K Ultra HD vs Full HD - relative size comparison

4K videos are 2160p (3840 x 2160 pixels, 8.3MP) in resolution, and has four times the pixels than Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels, 2.1MP) and are designed to playback on Ultra HD displays (UHDTV) to benefit the high-resolution visuals.  Some new 4K HDTV displays include the Samsung UE65HU8500 65-inch curved TV, Toshiba 58L9364 58-inch TV, LF 55LA970W 55-inch TV and others. Those HDTVs designs to be mounted in the living room, but there are also 4K computer displays that connect to your PC via HDMI port like the Samsung UD590 28-inch desktop monitor or the Asus PB287Q 28-inch 4K display.

The price of those displays continues to drop, but it’s still cost at least twice the price of a 1080p display (there are some bargains of course).

Even if you are not a hardcore gamer or professional videographer, having a higher resolution display allows you to enjoy much crisper videos. 4K Ultra HD is coming to Blu-ray to improve home entertainment, many movies and TV shows are being filmed in 4K resolution, and 4K streaming is being used by many streaming content providers like Netflix for example.

So having a camera like the Panasonic Lumix FZ1000 allows you to record video in this high resolution, and those videos will look super crisp and clear on your 4K display. This also opens a new world for enthusiast videographers who want to show their creativity in its full glory. So yes, 4K is the future, and the FZ1000 has it built-in, so now the only thing that you need is a 4K display.

Check out Amazon.com 4K Ultra HDTV Store to find out more about 4K displays and browser the amazing available displays. OK, let’s continue on…

Sony Cyber-shot RX100 III

Sony RX100 III selfie tilting display

Sony RX100 III with its selfie-ready tilting display lifted

The Sony RX100 III (also dubbed RX100 M3) is replacing the RX100 II, that was crowned as the best compact camera on the market by many leading camera review websites. The RX100 III brings enhancements and new features that really make it a better camera from its predecessor, and one of the best, if not The best compact camera on the market today.

The RX100 III features the same sensor size as the FZ1000, a 1-inch 20.1MP Exmor R (back-illuminated) sensor, coupled with a high-quality Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* 24-70mm (equivalent) F1.8-2.8 lens with SteadyShot image stabilization and 5-axis electronic stabilization for videos.

Sony did made a change to the lens though, cutting on the 100mm tele-end, but used improved optical design and adding 3 step ND filter. So we get 2.9x optical zoom instead of 3.6x one, wider angle and fast aperture at both the wide and tele end focal lengths.  Sony probably needed to cut on the zoom to make this type of  lens compact in size and also affordable, as a 24-100mm F1.8-2.8 lens would had been bigger and also more expensive to make.

The RX100 III was designed with simplicity in mind. It doesn’t have lots of controls, but Sony did make the best out of the available space, while maintaining the pop-up flash, and also adding one of the most surprising features, a built-in 144K-dots electronic viewfinder. The best thing about this EVF is that it use a pop-up mechanism instead of being in a fixed place that might added to the overall size of the camera. The camera still maintains the exact same size when the viewfinder is retracted, so it’s not less portable than RX100 / RX100II. The EVF also utilizes Zeiss T* coating that minimize flare and reflections and promote better visibility and viewing experience.

At the back of the camera you have a 3″ multi-angle 1229K-dots Xtra Fine LCD display that can also rotate upwards 180°, allowing you to easily take selfie photos.

The RX100 III is also the first in the series to feature Sony’s XAVC S video format with improved video quality (higher bitrate). The camera also capable of 1080p60/30/24, 1080i60 and 720p120 (slow-motion) video recording. The RX100 II has already proven its excellency in movie recording, and that was just improved with the introduction of the XAVC S video format, so you can expect even better video quality from the RX100M3.

Among its other features: built-in 3 stops ND filter, Sony latest Bionz X processor, Auto HDR, Sweep Panorama, Smile shutter, Wi-Fi + NFC wireless connectivity, 10 fps burst, lots of picture effects, scene modes, 25 point contrast-detect AF system, PlayMemories camera apps and more.

The Sony Cyber-shot RX100 III will appeal to people looking for a high-end compact camera with a large sensor, and for them, the portability plays a significant role in the buying decision. Let’s admit it, it’s better having less versatile camera but one that is there with you most of the time, than an advanced camera that you most likely to leave at home most of the time. Just drop it into your pocket or bag and it’s ready to shoot great photos when a situation invites.

video by TheCameraStoreTV

The RX100 III isn’t cheap, and costs more than an entry-level DSLR with lens or even two, but not everyone wants the burden of carrying a DSLR and lenses. so for those of you who feel solidarity with what I’ve said, the RX100 III might be the perfect camera for you. A great camera for the family, for travelers, street photographers and as a walkaround camera.

Sony Alpha a6000

Sony a6000The Sony a6000 a Compact System Camera, a camera that accepts Sony E interchangeable lenses. It’s positioned in the #1 place in Amazon.com top selling CSC list as of the time of writing. A CSC that has gotten many positive feedback and editor’s choice awards from leading camera review websites and independent reviewers. The combination of a small size, large sensor, EVF, Hybrid AF system — this is just a part of what makes the a6000 appeal to many advanced photographers.

It costs about the same as the RX100 III with the E PZ 16-50mm F3.5-5.6 OSS lens, which is equivalent to 24-75mm on a 35mm camera. Of course you don’t have to buy it with the Kit lens. You can but the body and choose a different lens from one of Sony’s E-mount lenses. The ability to change lenses opens up a whole new world of creative possibilities and allowing you to compose your shots, and you’ll be able to come home with unique photos that doesn’t look different than those you get with a normal zoom or telephoto zoom lens. You can use s 1:1 macro lens, a very fast prime lens and get splendid defocused backgrounds or use an ultra-wide angle lens that are great for landscape and interiors.

The Sony A6000 features a 24.3 megapixels (effective resolution) Exmor APS HD CMOS sensor (23.5×15.6mm). APS-C sensor is significantly larger than the 1″-type that comes in the FZ1000 and the RX100 III (see the illustration below).

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

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

The a6000 is a great choice for photographers who search for a fast and responsive camera. The camera features a fast Hybrid auto focus system, utilizing 179 phase-detection AF points and 25 contrast-detection AF points that brings super fast AF performance, and especially useful when shooting fast moving subjects. The a6000 uses Sony’s latest Bionz X image processor that was designed with advanced noise-reduction algorithms to deliver better high ISO images than cameras utilizes the older generation processor.

*video by MobileTechReview

At the back of the camera you have a 1.4M dot Tru-Finder OLED EVF and a 3.0″ 921.6K-dots tiltable (up 90 degrees, down 45 degrees) LCD display. The eye-level viewfinder is protruding at the back, unlike the RX100 III viewfinder which is embedded inside the body and popped-out when the user wants to use it.  The good news is that protrusion is very small, not like the FZ1000 one which is much more protrusive.

The camera itself has a large amount of buttons and dials that allow fast access to frequently used camera settings, and well-sized grip with textured rubber coating that gives a secure feel when you hold the camera in your hands.

Among its other features: 1080p60/24 and 1080i60 video recording with stereo sound, PlayMemories camera apps compatibility,  Wi-Fi and NFC wireless connectivity for image sharing and remote controlling your camera, 4K still image output by HDMI or Wi-Fi for viewing on 4K TVs. This is not 4K video recording, but having the option to output images at a 4K resolution that optimized for displaying on 4K TVs.

Will talk about more about the a6000 in more depth in the comparison section below. The Sony alpha a6000 is an excellent and well-tested camera, aimed towards expert photographers looking for one of the most highly-capable yet affordable compact system cameras on the market. One that offer excellent all-around performance and with little negative impact on the features that actually matter for expert photographers. The a6000 should be at the top of your list if you are considering buying a mirrorless camera. This camera is also a good choice for those coming from point-and-shoot and those who have decided to switch from a DSLR to a CSC.

FZ1000 vs a6000 vs RX100 III

I know that some of you are still quite confused when reading about the key features of each camera. I know that it’s hard to decide between those three types. In general terms, I think that you should first ask yourself whether the RX100 III appeals to you due to its compact size. For some people that’s the thing that matter most, portability. Keep in mind that the a6000 is indeed small, but it only be pocketable if uses with a pancake lens (although I didn’t make an actual testing yet), but if you buy the a6000, you should consider the fact that you’ll probably buy a second lens or the Kit lens, and therefore you’ll need to carry the camera in a small camera bag.

If size is not an issue, both the a6000 and the FZ1000 are a very good option and a good alternative to a mirrorless camera.  With the FZ1000 you don’t need to invest in lenses nor burden yourself changing them. You get a very high-quality fast superzoom lens that might cover all your photography needs, and the 4K is FZ1000 exclusive, something to consider as well.

In this section I will compare those three cameras head-to-head and add my side notes when appropriate. It will give you a better understanding of the differences, as well as cons and pros of each camera versus the other. Pay attention to the features that are most important to you. At the end, mark the camera that offer the most to your type of shooting habits, so you can be sure that you made the right choice, and don’t regret it after your purchase the camera.

Panasonic FZ1000 vs Sony a6000 vs Sony RX100 III side by side comparison

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

Panasonic Lumix FZ1000 sample video

I’m really amazed, Superb video quality, just wow. Make sure you watch it in 4K on a 4K-compatible monitor/HDTV if possible. What a brilliant footage that really shows the FZ1000 4K superiority.

Sony Alpha a6000 sample video

Sony Cyber-shot RX1000 III sample video

Conclusion

There you have it, three camera that will probably be the most popular, each one in its own category. The decision shouldn’t be so hard in my opinion when you have cameras that are so different from one another. I have no doubt in my mind that the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ1000 will be one of the most popular superzooms and it’s certainly one of the most attractive cameras for travelers and casual shooters.  It’s 4K video recording and features, superb low ISO performance and versatile optical zoom, all make this camera a great DSLR/Mirrorless alternative.

If you are debating between the Panasonic FZ1000 and Sony a6000, I personally would pick up the a6000 if you need the versatility of interchangeable lenses, intend to shoot lots of low-light images, need a very fast and accurate autofocus system when shooting fast moving subjects, plan to upgrade to a full frame camera in the future (A7 / A7R), need the fast continuous shooting and good video capabilities with manual exposure control. I think that the best feature of the a6000 is being able to change lenses, and that’s something that can open a whole new world of creative possibilities to both expert and novice photographers alike. I’ve chosen to buy a DSLR a few years ago because I wanted to be able to shoot with an ultra-wide angle lens and also have my 50mm f/1.4 which is one of my most used ones. The a6000 is also around $90 cheaper than the FZ1000 with the 16-50mm lens kit.

The FZ1000 offers several advantages over the a6000, that included a fixed very high quality Lecia superzoom lens. If you have to buy this type of lens for the a6000, it would have cost you a fortune. It’s a superb lens for those who intend to shoot with only one lens, and don’t like or prefer not changing lenses.  The FZ1000 has the most flexible LCD, best EVF in the group, the only one to offer 4K video recording with lots of advanced features, including 3.5mm mic input, lots of frame rate options, slow-motion videos and all in all and it’s the best video camera of the three. The FZ1000K is an all-around performer, and the price is not too high, which is always a plus.  If I had to pick the best Interchangeable lens camera alternative, I would have picked the FZ1000 without hesitations.

The Sony RX100 III shouldn’t make you think too much. It’s main selling point is its pocket size.  Many people who bought one of the RX100 cameras, most probably did it because they prefer a camera which they can take everywhere they go, instead of one that is larger and will mostly spend most of its life on the shelf than outdoors. This is true to all compact cameras, but the RX100 III is better than any conventional point-and-shoot due to its larger sensor, high quality EVF, excellent image and video quality — it just can’t better than that for a compact camera.

I would pick the RX100 III over the FZ1000 if portability is the main concern, because other than that, for me, the FZ1000 is an all-around better camera. It offers 4K video recording, better IQ at low ISO, bigger zoom lens, more advanced AF system, more flexible LCD, higher-res EVF,  much faster shutter speed, fastest burst in the group and 3.5mm mic input — so hard to skip the FZ1000 isn’t it?

Which camera you prefer, have any questions and still confused? — Share your opinions and questions in the comment section below, and don’t forget to share and LIKE if you enjoy reading this comparison. You can LIKE our Facebook page in order to be among the first to be notified when a new article is published. Thanks!

 



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