The Panasonic Lumix DMC FZ100 has a wide array of features and controls. In fact you will be hard pressed to find a compact digital camera offering more shooting options. Apart from the impressive set of features I found picture quality to be very impressive. Shutter response and turn on times are good too.
With the Lumix DMC FZ100 you get plenty of megapixels and 24x zoom. Throw in the manual exposure options available and you have most options covered.
Why Buy The Panasonic DMC FZ100
The combination of features and picture quality offered by the Lumix DMC FZ100 is hard to beat. Based on my tests this is one of the best cameras of its type available.
124.3 x 81.2 x 95.2mm
SD / SDHC / SDXC
Where to Buy - Panasonic DMC FZ100
Where to start! Standard features include 14 megapixels and a 24x zoom lens. The lens has wide angle capabilities for squeezing in wider scenes. Coupled with the obvious telephoto qualities this gives you plenty of flexibility.
Flexibility can be boosted even further. If you decide you do not need to shoot at the full 14 megapixels more zoom can be made available. The amount of zoom you can use increases on a sliding scale as you decrease the number of megapixels. A maximum 50.6x zoom is available to you at 3 megapixels. The Lumix DMC FZ100 is also compatible with conversion lenses to further enhance your options.
You can choose between a viewfinder and a 3 inch LCD screen when taking photos. Close up photography is taken care of by a 1cm macro mode. Be aware though that getting in that close can block out light and produce darker shots.
Panasonic's introduction of a more advanced sensor increases the speed of the camera. This means that you can take up to 11 shots per second at full resolution. .
For someone who is more advanced at photography and likes to take more control over the way their photos look there is a fully manual exposure mode. Aperture priority and shutter priority are available too. If you prefer there are also a number of automatic settings to help you take the best possible photos.
As you might expect with a camera with this length of lens you have access to image stabilisation. There is also a hot shoe for adding an external flash unit.
If you like to use a digital camera to record video clips then the Lumix DMC FZ100 offers you a number of advanced options. To start with it offers the current maximum resolution for High Definition movies on a compact digital camera (1920 x 1080 pixels). Stereo sound can be recorded and zoom can be used whilst recording. There is a further option for recording high speed movie footage at lower resolutions. The advantage of this is that the movies can be played back in slow motion.
Delving into the menu system there are plenty of features for you to fine tune your photos. The menu runs to five pages with seven pages of set up options. There is also a single page dedicated to movie options.
Menu options include fine tuning white balance. Here you can set up two custom white balance settings as well as being able to set your preferred colour temperature for individual shots. There are also extensive options to set colour, sharpness, contrast and saturation levels. These are accessed through various film modes (standard, dynamic, nature, smooth, vibrant, nostalgic, standard black and white, dynamic black and white and smooth black and white). You can also create two custom colour settings or opt to use a multi film option.
Aspect ratios are available for optimising photos for computer review, printing, widescreen review and there is also a square photo option.
The first point to mention is the LCD screen. The fact that it pulls out away from the body and twists round 180 degrees gives great flexibility and freedom for when you are composing photos. It is a big plus point when you are at an awkward shooting angle.
If you prefer there is also a viewfinder for lining up a shot. There is a small dial next to the viewfinder that lets you adjust focusing so that the viewfinder suits your own eyesight.
The design of the camera is along the lines of a smaller Digital SLR camera. This gives you a good sized grip on the front of the Lumix DMC FZ100 to hold it steady. The sturdy lens unit is also useful when it comes to taking a firm grip.
On the top of the camera is an on / off switch. There are further buttons for placing the camera in continuous shooting mode, shooting a movie and the shutter button for taking a picture. Zoom is controlled by a ring around the shutter button. Also on the top are a control dial, stereo microphones and a hot shoe for attaching an external flash unit. The control gives you easy access to various shooting modes.
On the back of the Lumix DMC FZ100 there are three buttons running along the top. The first one pops up the flash unit when it is required. Next along is a button to toggle between using the LCD screen and the viewfinder. The third button controls AF/AE lock. Next comes a jog dial. This is used to select settings. I find the inclusion of this little wheel makes a big difference to the speed at which you can change a setting.
Underneath the dial is space to rest your thumb. Moving down from there are two further buttons. The first changes information shown on the LCD screen. The next places the camera in review mode.
Below this are controls for exposure compensation, ISO, self timer, functions, accessing the menu and confirming settings. Finally there is a button for accessing an abbreviated menu containing the key settings.
Focus options are selected from a slide on the side of the lens unit.
Image Quality - See Sample Images Below
Outdoor Scenic Shot 1
I tested this camera along side the Canon Powershot SX30 IS. The Lumix DMC FZ1000 had the edge when it came to sharpness and showing detail in darker areas of the shot. In truth the differences were marginal, but this camera had the edge none the less. Although the low angle of the sun offers mitigating circumstances I was still surprised to see the level of purple fringing that shows in the shot.
Outdoor Scenic Shot 2
This is another pleasing result. Sharpness is impressive, especially for a wide angle lens. Purple fringing is controlled well in this instance. Even as you move out towards the edges of the shot focusing remains impressively sharp.
Outdoor Scenic Shot 3
The clarity of this shot is outstanding. I am used to seeing sharp shots from digital cameras with this length of lens, but the Lumix DMC FZ100 excels and is hard to beat when it comes to pin sharp images. Even when you blow up the photo to large size the detail and clarity remain top drawer.
Physically larger lenses like this one normally have the edge when it comes to producing sharp images. The Lumix DMC FZ100 performs well again. The shot is sharp and there is little evidence of focusing falling away as you move out towards the edges of the shot.
Compared to other brands I like the colours available from Panasonic digital cameras for my outdoor portrait shots. I use a white balance setting of cloudy and this helps to increase the warmth of the colours in the shot. Focusing is pin sharp too.
Indoor Portrait With Flash
In terms of lighting this photo is hard to beat for a compact digital camera with a built in flash unit. The lighting is bright enough to light the picture from corner to corner, but is subtle enough not to wash out colour from the shot. Focusing is spot on too.
Indoor Portrait Without Flash
Perhaps this shot is not quite to the standard of the portrait shot taken with flash, but it is still a good effort. Detail levels are impressive and the Lumix DMC FZ100 controls noise well.
Sharpness is excellent. The level of detail showing is very good indeed, but I found it difficult to get a lot of brightness into the shot. Theoretically you can get in closer than my test shot shows, but you may find that the large camera body and lens cuts out even more light and castes a shadow over the subject.
As with other Panasonic digital cameras the Lumix DMC FX100 is capable of producing big, powerful colours. Blue skies can look very blue indeed.
In my view this camera controls noise well in most situations. Detail levels in areas of light shade are very good and skies show very little evidence of grain.
Picture Quality Summary
This camera can be relied upon to take good quality photos in most situations. Comparing this camera to the Canon Powershot SX30 IS that I tested at the same time, this model has the edge in most areas.
Shutter Lag Times
Single Shot With Flash
Five Shots With Flash
Turn on Time
Ease of Use
With this number of features on offer it is bound to take time to get to know the camera. The Lumix DMC FZ100 handles about as well as it can and you can always fall back on the automatic mode if the controls on offer feel a little daunting.
Points I Like
Features - Movie Mode -Picture Quality - Handling - Turn on and Shutter Response Times
Where it Could Improve
Purple fringing in difficult shooting conditions
The Panasonic Lumix DMC FZ100 offers just about everything I would expect from this type of camera. It has a slight edge over its rivals at the time of writing this review. If you are in the market for an advanced and powerful compact digital camera then buy this camera. Recommended.
Where to Buy - Panasonic DMC FZ100
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