Panasonic Lumix DMZ-FZ1000 review

panasonic-lumix-dmz-fx1000It shoots very nice UHD (not truly 4k) video. There is some noise in the image but that’s to be expected for this price point.

For the body size and handling, it’s really a nice camera for the right person. I can’t use it for my general shooting for several reasons but if I want a stealthy UHD camera, this one just might fit the bill. At a price below $900, I was stunned just how good it actually was.

Image quality

Photo courtesy of Sava Malachowski

Photo courtesy of Sava Malachowski, © Sava Malachowski

The IQ (image quality) of the camera for a still is pretty good, though it’s not a higher end Nikon or Canon. Don’t be fooled. In dark areas at low ISO it’s easy to see the noise. A huge zoom lens just won’t have the resolution for stills. For most, they’ll be amazed. But if you’re discerning, you’ll be only “okay” with the shadow performance.

If you click on the image on the right, you can see a small sized sample of the full image. The red box shows the 1:1 sample area of the image on the moose hide. For as good as the image looks in full screen, when you get down to the nitty gritty, you’ll see it’s “okay”. I didn’t have time to do a MTR test or anything, but those don’t translate well into “what does it actually look like” terms.

1:1 quality of moose hide, you can see noise in the image, 1/160, f/5, ISO 125, 63mm

1:1 quality of moose hide, you can see noise in the image, 1/160, f/5, ISO 125, 63mm

But for video quality you get a very nice image. I was pretty amazed to see it on an iMac display, even though the image was interpolated. It was just clearer than I’ve seen HD. Really, it looked like HD played on a 120Hz TV display. That was the look. The video samples were shot at 60FPS, so perhaps that helped. It really looked like the real thing. I didn’t expect it to be that much better than HD. But if you stack up a 3-chip HD camera with better dynamic range against a limited range, small sensor like this, you might be pressed to tell the difference. Again in the shadows there will be noise. The again, what do you expect for a small form factor single chip camera?

Lens

The aperture goes from about f/3 to ONLY f/8. That’s really miserable for photography. Nature of small sensor cameras. Even though the specs claim f/2.8 to f/11, in the shooting I was testing it with, it only really gave me f/3 to f/8 to work with. That’s a tough one, especially in full daylight shooting.

That zoom and optical stabilizer is awesome. I’d love to have something that goes from 25mm to 400mm and does a real good job on my D800. If I did, I could dump a bunch of other lenses. But I’d need it to be f/2.8 and have it go to f/22. Oh well, I can dream.

Dynamic Range

We had a snow shot with moose and it worked pretty well. But the snow on the mountains was blown out in the video with zebras set to 95%. Again, it’s not a D800 but it’ll blow away your little basic point and shoot. But I think my Sony RX-100 probably still beats it for dynamic range.

View finder

The electronic viewfinder – not bad for a video camera, okay for landscape shooting but poor for sports/action/moving things. When you pan/tilt, you get an image jitter. The swim is very small but the smearing in the image will irritate you if you shoot an optical DSLR. EVF (electronic view finders) aren’t there yet. I worked at a digital night vision company where we went to great efforts to have zero swim, jitter or anything else and this isn’t even close. Then again, those systems were $60,000 and this is $900. You get what you pay for.

The info in the viewfinder for a video camera is very nice. It fits the bill of shooting things where a video camera would get you into trouble. For the price, the image quality is pretty amazing. Is there better dynamic range and such out there? Yes, The GH4 and upwards. But for what this is going for, it really makes UHD accessible.

Controls

The switch to go from zoom to MF – not a fan. 2 rings are more expensive, though. There’s the zoom rocker on the shutter release. Eh, it’s under a finger, so it feels like a little point and shoot zoom for the video camera it’s designed for.

The fully manual video camera mode – thank goodness! Not allowing me to control Auto-ISO ruins other camcorders/DSLRs. Locking down exposure is critical if you want professional-looking images.

The different programmable function buttons are nice for getting what you want. Some of the switch modes like focus control are appreciated. They’re not in ergonomic places like my D800 at all. There are buttons which are appreciated on a video camera but the layout leaves lots to be desired. Like all things, it’s something you get used to.

Autofocus

The autofocus – amazingly fast. I’m not sure what they put in there but it must be a hybrid phase/contrast focus system because it matches my Nikon D800 focus speed quite easily. However, when you need to control focus points, that’s where it falls apart.

Storage

You’ll need lots more storage to use UHD on this camera. Your puny little 320GB drive will be gone in no time shooting with this. Think 2TB drives minimum. Why do I say this? I’m editing my film, Antarctic Tears, which is a feature length film. And it eats up 228GB of my SSD drive. And that’s shot in HD. This camera has almost 4x the resolution. Even a 500GB SSD won’t even come close to supporting a feature length film. 4k/UHD video is what HD was to our computers 10 years ago. Be ready to spend a LOT of money if you want to really work with this.

Other items

Major video shooting issue: This thing has no earphone out. That is one major failing. Why in the world they left this out is beyond me. Perhaps Panasonic is trying to push you into a higher end camera. You might be able to use the AV out and cobble something together. Who knows w/o that cable.

If you don’t have ears on your video camera, you’ll realize only after the shot is over what went wrong. I can pipe audio through my ZoomH4n and listen there, as I can use that as my XLR input, but still. No, this doesn’t have XLR. Of course not.

ND filters for video – buy one. You’ll need one. Or two. For a 3-stop ND, I use this Hoya filter.

The batteries seem to konk out pretty quick, but we were shooting at 10 degrees F with wind chill. Buy more batteries.

You’ll need an UHS-1 SD card for it. UHD video eats up a LOT of card space. I hope you bought a spare hard disk or three. Editing this video – get Rocketstore Thunderbolt enclosure with a SSD drive with a fast computer.

Buy your Panasonic Lumix DMZ-FX1000 here at B&H Photo.

Thank you to Sava Malachowski of Sava Film and Open Range Films for the sample images and video. He had excellent footage to sample and work with in tough conditions, shooting in a Wyoming winter with dark animals and bright snow. There’s not much tougher.

12 thoughts on “Panasonic Lumix DMZ-FZ1000 review”

  1. Skip Hunt says:

    Hi,

    Did you end up seeing this camera? I’m thinking of picking it up as an all-in-one for travel/backpacking/motorcycle touring. Only need 4k for short micro-stock clips.

    1. Aaron says:

      Yes, I actually used, touched and played with the camera. The footage was pretty amazing and the dark shooting was excellent considering what it is. The image stabilization was stunning, too. With the 4k imagery, you can see every hair on everything, for good and bad. For microstock clips, I’ll bet it’s a great thing. Just watch out, if you need broadcast level, you’ll be out of luck. But for basic stock stuff, it’s an attractive investment.

      1. Skip Hunt says:

        Glad you like it. Decided to take the plunge and ordered one last night. Going to take it with me to the Yucatan in January for a month and play.

        I’m somewhat of a “pro” shooter, but leaning more toward marginal fine art these days. I also still make a little from old stock footage. Actually, some clips that were shot 10 years ago on DV palmcorders are still earning me some money and they aren’t even HD, i.e. Getty and iStock.

        Figure since I’m out there shooting anyway, if I see a good stock clip, I might as well get a 4k one. There are clips that I had no idea would sell, ie. like stirring some cream into a vintage coffee cup, catching some horses running while visiting a friends ranch, etc. clips that were handheld and made on barely prosumer gear… that actually sell. And some of the locked down, more “Pro” gear stuff… if it does’t strike a cord, doesn’t do anything. Most of the stuff I’ve shot that actually made any decent money, was pure luck being at the right spot and being able to get it quickly.

        It sounds like this camera would be perfect for that. And with regard to not being up to “broadcast” standards, I’ve sold lots of time-lapse that was shot on a little Panasonic LX-3 compact, that I used for primitive time-lapse where I just counted out 7 secs for 45mins, and sold to the SciFy and History channels. I’m surprised sometimes what will qualify as “broadcast” if it’s the shot they want and it’s cheap enough. 😉

        I ordered a fast 64GB UHS-1 card, a neutral density filter, will pick up a couple spare batteries based on your recommendation. Thanks! I’ve got several fast 32GB cards that should be fast enough for 4k, but if not, I’ll have the 64GB just in case, and if the 32GB cards I have aren’t fast enough I’ll have enough time to pick up a couple more fast ones before I leave.

        1. Aaron says:

          Nice work! How long have you had a Getty account? They seem to be difficult to come by. Have you sold directly to them or through an aggregator? That’s always a question people have.
          The camera I tested was used with an UHS-2 with the extra pins on the SD card. It was horribly expensive but it was amazingly fast. Too bad we didn’t have a reader to take advantage of it.
          True, broadcast is relative. If they want it, they’ll figure it out. How many iPhone shots taken in vertical have you seen in newscasts? Not on a show but it’s pretty amazing.

          1. Skip Hunt says:

            I’m not completely sure this is the camera for me, but for years I’ve been looking for something that did a wide variety of stuff decent, all in one package. I’m not sure I’m all that keen about the 1inch sensor, but I’ve actually sold large prints in the $1k+ range that were shot with a little compact… so I know and live the mantra that it’s about the content and not the “pixel peeping” all the time.

            I looked at the more expensive cards, but that’s too rich for my blood, considering I’m not even sure if I’ll keep it. I may even just use my standard 32GB cards for stills, and keep the 64GB UHS-1 on hand for just when I want to grab some short 4k clips. The compact travel pod I bought last year is sturdy enough, folds down really small (under 12in) and I think the base plate is small enough that I can mount it on the FZ1000 while still being able to open the battery door. Fingers crossed: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00BFDBO2E/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o05_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

            The Getty account is basically… they bought out iStock a few years ago, but still function as separate companies. Until now, I think they’re merging the libraries and accounts more now.

            What they’ve done in the past, is they’ll take clips from my iStock video account that perform well, or that they feel will preform well, and they’ll move them over to the Getty side. That meant I’d get paid separately from the iStock account and a separate invoice from the Getty side that went straight into my bank. The iStock stuff went into my PayPal account. But now I think they are at least merging the banking stuff right now.

            I’m an “exclusive” contributor to iStock, but since they don’t offer 4k res… that means I can sell 4k elsewhere without violating the agreement. That’s also where the FZ comes in. 😉

            If you think of anything else, or any tips… would sure appreciate it! Did you figure out an audio work-around? I’ve got a little iRig Pre amp that I can run an XLR into and get fairly clean sound connected to the little stereo mini jack, but monitoring it isn’t happening since it needs a headphone jack coming off the camera. Audio isn’t important for the stock stuff though. Just curious if you found a creative field work-around.

          2. Aaron says:

            Nice work on the stock footage. That’s something I didn’t pursue but now wish I had. I was doing quite a bit of time lapse when there wasn’t the easy capability like there is today. With the right lenses and such, I don’t have flicker problems or any of that other expensive/time consuming post work. I’ll have to look into it again.
            The audio work around – run the XLR audio through a Zoom, Tascam or the like and then pipe the earphone out into the camera for sync. You can split the earphone so you can listen in the field. It’s not too bad. We suspected Panasonic didn’t put earphones on there because the camera on-board with zoom and such is pretty noisy. There’s no way a video camera company “forgot” a ear out.

  2. Skip Hunt says:

    To be honest… the stock video market has almost become as saturated as the still market has. I’m guessing 4k hasn’t quite yet. And then there’s the fact that you never really know if you’re getting paid for actual sales. You just have to “trust” big companies like Getty. Yeah… right. 😉

    That’s a good idea with the audio. I’ve got a portable sony device that’s pretty clean. It’s got a line out AND a headphone out. I’m assuming I’d want to use the line-out into the FZ?

    1. Aaron says:

      I’ll have to come up with some 4k time lapses and see. Market saturation is death, although I’ve seen a few guys who actually make a living off stock but they’ve set themselves up to crank that work out. Even though inexpensive digital is great, it’s blown out the market on so many things. It’s good to hear you’re able to get money for prints like that.
      Yes, take the line out, make the adjustment to the levels so it doesn’t torch the FZ. It’s not a problem.

      1. Skip Hunt says:

        “get money for prints like that.” What do you mean exactly? From my website? And what do you mean “prints like that”?

        Yeah, cheap digital has taken away a lot of work, but it seems like a few companies who were just trying to do it themselves are starting to hire professionals again. Only trouble is that anyone can buy decent gear, a a stack of biz cards, and call themselves a “pro”. And truth be told, with a lot of the gear… they’ll get lucky and at least produce a few nice images even if they don’t have any experience or talent.

        The time-lapse stuff is pretty saturated now. Lots of decent GoPro stuff, etc. being sold cheap. Most is of decent quality too. Best bet is Sports stuff, or people stuff…. but the sports stuff is a nightmare because it’s hard to get any shots without a dozen logos in the shot, releases, etc. But “lifestyle” is a solid bet and you only need the release from your models.

        It’s a huge pain and you have to have A LOT of clips online to even see any return. I’ve got about 1600 clips and don’t really make enough to live off of.

        Releases are getting to be even more of a pain. Had one shot rejected because you could see the top of one building in the background and they said I’d need a release from the architect of that building. Another shot of some children playing at the beach at sunset in silhouette got rejected because even though you can’t see their faces… a mother could identify the children from their mannerisms and thus you need a release from the parents.

        Money to be made, but it definitely ain’t easy. 😉

        1. Aaron says:

          Prints like that – the cool stuff on your website. You’ve got some real artist work. They’re much more interesting and artsy. I love them. Most of my work is docu/magazine style, so they’re never wall art & won’t make it in a gallery. I’ve always been a little jealous about you guys who succeed at wall art.
          Wow, that’s miserable. Get a release from the architect of a building? Who thinks this stuff up? So the theory is if I have a skyline shot of NY, San Diego or otherwise, I’d have to get every building owners, architects and janitor staff’s permission?
          Are they crazy? I can identify my child by mannerisms. I guess the thinking that my child is a hollywood star and you’d better pay has gone off the charts. So the theory is it’s a blitzkrieg effort if you want to make any return off of it.
          Bummer on the wrong size filter. I’ve always been buying 77mm filters and using step up rings so I don’t need a mass of filters in different sizes.
          I’ll be interested to see what you come up with!

          1. Skip Hunt says:

            Hey,

            The building was the only one popping up in the background and it’s a well known building here in Austin, so that was likely the main issue. A whole cityscape would likely not be an issue.

            Thanks for the compliments!

            Quick question:

            Ordered an ND8 Neutral density filter off Amazon, but the vendor sent me an ND4 instead. Looks like the sticker on the back says ND8 but the filter and card in the plastic box say it’s an ND4.

            Before I go through the hassle of trying to exchange this… if I’m also taking with me to Mexico a circular polarizer with me that will likely cut light by a stop or 2, and this ND4 is 2 stops cut… would I actually be better off keeping the ND4 that was sent by mistake if I don’t want to spend the dough on a vari-ND? Or, will I regret not swapping out this ND4 for the ND8 that I originally ordered?

  3. Skip Hunt says:

    Oops…. I used your link to the Hoya 77mm ND filter in your post.. that’s shipped now… but it looks like the FZ takes a 62mm. Dang it.

    Should be easy to return but hoping I can get another one before I leave. My own fault. Should have verified thread size.

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