Panasonic FZ1000 vs Sony RX10 Comparison

June 12, 2014

Panasonic FZ1000 and Sony RX10 side by side, 4K logo

The Panasonic Lumix FZ1000 is here, and finally the Sony Cyber-shot RX10 get some real competition as the demand for 1″ sensor based camera’s popularity continues to grow.  This will be a very interesting comparison, and I am sure the some of you really want to know if the FZ1000 is the better camera of the two, and if so, in what aspects. In this FZ1000 vs RX10 you’ll get familiar with those two attractive large-sensor superzooms and learn the differences between them.

1″ Superzooms For The Win!

As conventional compacts already lost a significant market share in favor of mobile phone cameras, superzoom cameras still offer that high optical zoom functionality that still lack in phone/tablet cameras.  People love high-zoom cameras, and we’ve seen some great cameras in the past couple of years, like the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS and Panasonic Lumix FZ200. The problem with most of those cameras is that they employ relatively very small sensor, and have a slow lens (large f-number aperture).

In parallel to that demand for more advanced superzooms, came some cameras like the Sony RX100 III, that features a relatively large 1-inch sensor that is four times larger than the 1/2.3-inch found on many superzooms. The RX100 III also features a 24-70mm (equiva.) f/1.8-2.8 fast lens, and all together, but its zoom range is limited, but that a compromise you need to make in order to have a pocketable camera with those attractive features.

1-inch superzooms like the Panasonic FZ1000 and Sony RX10 are not compact at all and for many photographers they actually serve as a DSLR replacement. Some people don’t like changing lenses, and they prefer having one camera that offers lots of versatility, better image quality (compared to compacts and small-sensor superzooms), better low-light performance and lots of manual controls to explore to enhance their creativity.

Those type cameras like the FZ100 and RX10 don’t offer a huge zoom range like Canon SX50 HS with its 24-1200mm (50x optical zoom) or like the Panasonic FZ70 with its 20-1200mm (60x optical zoom). Those cameras are relatively cheap, have small sensor (e.g. FZ70: 1/2.3″ 6.17×4.55mm) and slow lens (e.g. Canon SX50 HS: f/3.4-6.5). We’ve seen some improvements in next generation cameras. For example, the FZ70 has a 20-1200mm f/2.8-5.9 lens, which is certainly fast at the wide-end, but gets slower towards the tele-end. Furthermore, people like the RX10 because it gave them more control over the depth of field, and they were able to achieve more prominent defocus background effect (shallow depth of field).

 

Olympus Stylus 1 vs Sony RX10 top view size comparison

Olympus Stylus 1 vs Sony RX10 top view size comparison (via camerasize.com)

We’ve also seen cameras like the Olympus Stylus 1, that came with a 1/1.7″ sensor (7.44 x 5.58 mm) which is larger than the 1/2.3″ (6.17×4.55mm) and smaller than the 1″ (13.2×8.8mm) — but in return we can enjoy a 28-300 mm (10.7x optical zoom) F2.8 fixed-aperture lens. A fixed-aperture lens means that the photographer can shoot at the maximum aperture f-number in the entire focal length range of the lens. So you can shoot at 300mm with the aperture wide open at F2.8. Some people prefer that and sacrifice image quality in favor of a fast lens.

So in general, large-sensor are the latest evolution the superzoom business, and the FZ1000 and Sony RX10 are among those cameras that enjoy big zoom, large sensor and a fast lens. The RX10 has a fixed f/2.8 aperture 24-200mm lens and the FZ200 has a large 25-400mm zoom lens (almost twice the optical zoom of the RX10) and a variable f/2.8-4.0 aperture, which is not constant, but fast nevertheless. I will of course extend my explanation as we start talking about the two cameras in more depth in the next section.

Panasonic Lumix FZ1000

The FZ1000 is the latest superzoom from Fujifilm as of the time of writing (June 12th, 2014). This camera it a direct competitor to the Sony RX10.  The FZ1000  utilizes a large 1″ 20.1-megapixel MOS sensor and Panasonic’s new Venus engine. The FZ1000 with lots of advanced features to offer a well deserved alternative for a DSLR camera, and aimed for both still and video enthusiasts, looking enjoy both worlds without hurting compromises.

The first thing you’ll notice is how big this camera is. It’s noticeably larger even than the RX10 and from Canon’s smallest DSLR, the Rebel SL1 (see image below).

Sony RX10 (left) vs Panasonic FZ1000 (center) vs Canon Rebel SL1 (right) - Size comparison (via camerasize.com, click to enlarge)

In my opinion, when you buy a camera like the FZ1000, you shouldn’t worry about the size difference. You’ll be carrying this camera in a small camera bag anyways, whether it’s the RX10, SL1 or RX10. If the features of this camera allows you to enjoy photography better, it certainly worthy compromise. If you are looking for a pocketable and highly portable camera, you probably should look elsewhere, and take a look at the Sony RX100 III (1-inch sensor too) compact large sensor zoom camera.

The sensor is a newly developed one with highly improved S/N (signal to noise) ratio, allowing photographer to shoot at high ISO while maintaining a relatively cleaner image with less visible image noise. The camera also has a Multi Process NR that further helps to promote low-noise high ISO image in available light.

Panasonic Lumix FZ1000 superzoom camera, top view

Panasonic Lumix FZ1000 superzoom camera, top view

One of the most interesting features of this camera apart from the large sensor is the lens. The Panasonic Lumiz DMC-FZ1000 features a Leica DC Vario-Elmarit 25-400mm F2.8-4.0 16x optical zoom lens with optical image stabilization and Hybrid O.I.S.5-axis correction, except for the 4K video recording that I’ll talk about shortly.

The lens has a 3cm minimum focusing distance at the widest angle in macro Mode. The lens, like the sensor, was specially developed for this camera. It employs 5 aspherical lenses, 8 asphetical surfaces and 4ED lenses for super sharp and clear image with minimum distortions, as expected from such a HQ Leica optics.

This lens features a variable aperture, starting from F2.8 at the widest angle, and still maintains a relatively fast F4.0 aperture at the tele-end.  The lens has a ring that can be used to either change the focus manually or to zoom in and out. There isn’t a ring for changing the aperture tough. In the package you can also find, among others, a lens hood that can be attached to the lens to reduce lens flare from light coming from the sides.

The Panasonic FZ1000 features lots of buttons and dials that give you fast access to frequently used camera settings, so you won’t need to change them through the menu system via the rear LCD.  Speaking about the LCD, the FZ1000 has a 3.0″ 921K-dots articulating LCD display with anti-reflection (AR) coating, which is useful when shooting outdoors in bright daylight.

Like many other bridge cameras, the FZ1000 features a eye-level viewfinder. However, this is a 2359K-dot high-res large (0.7x 35mm equivalent) OLED Electronic viewfinder, not those cheap ones (I almost wanted to say unusable) that you find on many bridge cameras. Panasonic really paid attention to the details that enthusiasts that buy those type of cameras care about most.

One of the unique features of the FZ1000 is its 4K video recording capability (World’s First according to Panasonic). For those of you who are unfamiliar with this term, 4K (or QFHD, 2160p or UHD / Ultra HD)  is a term that defines a resolution that is at least 3840 by 2160 pixels resolution, whether for stills or videos.  The terms “Ultra High HD”  is well known in the video/TV business.  This open the market to a new range of 4K / Ultra HD TVs that will eventually replace the 1080p ones in our living room. For example, LG has its 77-inch flexible/curbed UHD OLED TV. Just imagine how good a 4K video taken with the FZ1000 will look on this TV…mmm. Keep in mind that you’ll need to use a UHS Speed Class 3 (U3) card to shoot in 4K. You can also extract a 8MP image from the 4K video, and take advantage of the 5-axis stabilization.

The FZ1000 records those 4K (100Mbps/MP4) videos at 30 frames per second with video sound. You can also attach an external mic to the 3.5mm mic jack to improve the audio quality. The FZ1000 can also record 1080/60p/60i/30p/24p videos, 720p30 and also 100fps slow motion videos (playback in 30p).

Other features include 12 fps burst,, 1/4000 sec shutter speed, 0.66 sec quick start, Light Speed AF with DFD (depth from defocus like the GH4) technology to improve focus accuracy (0.09 sec), Wi-Fi with NFC (remote control, image sharing), in-camera RAW processing, level gauge, iA intelligent Auto Plus mode and a hot-shoe connector to connect an external flash.

Some people will find the Panasonic Lumix FZ1000 too large and heavy for their taste, but if you don’t mind that, the FZ1000 has a lot to offer for the enthusiast photographer. The $900 initial price might sway some from this camera, but it is significantly cheaper than the RX10 that costs ~$1300 as of the time of writing, that’s something to, or is it?

Sony Cyber-shot RX10

The Sony Cyber-shot RX10 is a unique camera that initiated a new category of 1″ superzooms with a fast lens. Sony enjoyed this standing fully, well.. until the FZ1000 came along. The first camera to offer real competition to the RX10. The RX10 already won various awards, including Dpreview’s Gold Award and acquired high-ratings in most leading camera review websites. A great camera for travelers and people who don’t want to mass with interchangeable lenses and prefer one camera that does it all, almost. The main problem with this camera for many people wasn’t in the specs, but rather its hefty price. It was criticized for somewhat average AF performance, , relatively slow zoom and over-processed JPEGs. Having said that, if you look at this camera overall, it’s one of the most attractive superzooms if you don’t mind the limited zoom and can afford buying it, and it’s weather-sealed too!

Sony RX10 superzoom camera

The RX10 featuers a  1″ 20.2MP Exmor R sensor. This sensor is significantly smaller than APS-C and also from Micro Four Thirds, which is found on most of the mid-range DSLRs and Compact System Cameras.

A large sensor is great, that’s an excellent start, but the RX10 doesn’t stop here and spoils you with tons of useful features. The most interesting one is the lens of course. The RX10 uses a Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* 24-200mm F2.8 8.3x optical zoom lens. Unlike the FZ1000 that has a variable aperture, the RX10 lens has a constant aperture. This means that you have the option to shoot at f/2.8 (which is very fast) at any given focal length that the lens offer, even at 200mm f/2.8. This will allow you to achieve that beautiful shallow depth of field effect, which helps separate the background from the subject and give the photo a unique “professional” look.  The DOF is equivalent to 200mm f/7.6 in full frame camera, but the f/2.8 is equivalent to that of the 35mm in terms of exposure. The RX10 lens has two rings, a manual focus ring that also acts as a zoom in/out ring (depends what mode you are on) and an aperture ring.

The RX10 is made of magnesium alloy front and top casings and it’s dust and moisture resistant, so it’s the perfect superzoom for the outdoor photographer and travelers.  By the way, the Fujifilm FinePix S1 was the world’st first weather-resistant superzoom, but this camera has a 1/2.33″ sensor and a 24mm-1200 mm F2.8-5.6 50x optical zoom lens. So it’s great to finally see a weather-sealed camera with a large sensor.

At the back the RX10 has a 1229K-dot 3.0 inch White Magic tiltable LCD display (84 degrees upward / 45 degree downward). This display also optimized for better outdoor visibility with increase brightness by adding white pixels to the RGB and boost the screen visiblity in bright sunlight. This is the same technology Sony uses in some of its Xperia smartphones, like the Xperia P smartphone.

Other features include, Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity, top monochromatic LCD, 1080p60/24 video recording, multi-interface shoe, 1.44M dot OLED viewfinder, sweep panorama feature, auto HDR, anti-rolling compensation for video recording (Active Mode), built-in 3EV ND filter and 10 fps burst (AF fixed in first frame at Speed Priority mode).

The RX10 was rated high for its excellent video quality and clean HDMI output (4:2:2), as well as both mic and headphone portsm, weather-sealed body, silent shutter option, very first burst and very good battery life (420 shots, CIPA). So it’s easy to see what made this camera so favorable by many. Indeed, 1″ sensor is not as large as MFT or APS-C, the camera doesn’t accept interchangeable lenses, but that’s the thing that you need to give up in order to enjoy this type of camera.

FZ1000 vs RX10 – Feature Comparison

In this section I’ll compare the FZ1000 vs RX10 key features/specs side by side. This will give you a good indication of the differences/cons and pros of each camera. Pay a close attention to the features that are most important to you as a photographer. I will also add my high ISO sample image comparison impressions, to let you know which camera has the better image quality and perform better at high ISO speeds. OK, let’s begin!

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Conclusion

The Panasonic Lumix FZ1000 can easily WOW any enthusiast photographer that love shooting with superzoom lenses, but wasn’t fully satisfied with what the market had to offer, until now. So many great features and for a price that is much cheaper than the RX10 — no wonder why so many people are so excited with this new release, that actually put the RX10 in an uncomfortable position. In some aspect, the RX10 is better, it does have a better built, is weather-sealed, has a constant aperture lens and 24mm wide-angle, it has a built-in ND filter, headphone jack and very good battery life.

That being said, the FZ1000 is overall a more impressive camera, and I’m sure many photographers will be convinced by what the FZ1000 has to offer. It offers more physical controls, has better high ISO performance and in my observation, even better image quality. It has 5-axis stabilization, bigger zoom range, more advanced AF system, better viewfinder, fully articulated LCD,  faster shutter speed, 4K video recording and lots of frame rates to choose from, Clean HDMI output, faster burst speed, remote control port — this makes the RX10 appear much less attractive, especially if you consider the RX10 higher price.

Other superzooms do offer even higher focal length with a f/2.8 aperture (like the FZ200), but this comes at the price of IQ. The 1″ sensor makes a big difference both in terms of high ISO performance and depth of field, and for many photographers this is a no brainer. F4 is just one stop slower than F2.8 (less twice the amount of light), but it’s more than enough for most low light situations (when shooting at the tele-end), especially considering the fact that you get a shallower depth of field at the tele-end with the FZ1000 with the aperture wide open and it has better high ISO performance and better IS to allow you to do well in low-light situations.

For videographers this is not even a question. Although the RX10 video quality is excellent, the FZ1000 I’m sure will not fall behind, and it give photographers 4K video recording and lots of other versatility which will make you fall in love with video recording all over again, if you weren’t excited about it until now.

Panasonic put some fierce competition to the RX10, I’m sure that many of you are already sold, I know I am.

What do you think about the FZ1000 vs RX10, share your opinion in the comment section below. Thanks for reading and please share this article and LIKE it if you liked it 🙂
Get the Panasonic LUMIX DMC-FZ1000 Digital Camera from B&H

Get the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 Digital Camera from B&H



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