Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100 Review - Digital Photography School
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Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100 Review

Straight up this camera ticks most of my boxes!

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100.jpg

A swinging LCD screen IMHO is a must and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100 has a beauty: 7.6cm, with a high res count of 460,000 pixels; it rotates 180 degrees horizontally and 270 vertically.

The MOS sensor has 14.1 megapixels and maximum image size of 4320×3240 pixels, leading to a 37x27cm print.

A razz of a continuous shooting speed: how about eleven pics per second at full resolution? If you want continuous auto focus, you can still run a burst at five fps.

Harbor Bridge 3 wide.JPG

Harbor Bridge 2 tele.JPG

These shots show how a 24x optical zoom, equivalent to 25-600mm on a 35 SLR, can perform. Super sharp at both ends of the zoom; shots were taken tripod-mounted.

Dinghies 2.JPG

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100 Features

It just gets better! Thanks to a prominent speed grip, holding the camera is no challenge and one-handed operation is definitely on the menu.

Although I’ve spent half a lifetime working with film and video cameras, these days I like to shoot home movies on my still cameras. This one is a winner in that department: Full HD res of 1920×1080, captured in AVCHD, then in AVHCD Lite or Motion JPEG for lower res movies.

Girl.JPG

You can shoot movies and still use the zoom control. Auto focus is still in play while shooting but, with the lens out to full tele, it is a little tardy. The camera records stereo audio from the tiny onboard mic; there is also an optional, outboard stereo mic available.

You can save still images as JPEGs or RAW files or RAW+JPEG.

Exposure options include auto, Program AE, aperture and shutter priority as well as manual. Added to this are some scene modes directly accessible from the mode dial plus 17 scene modes accessed through the screen menu.

ISO Speeds

Panasonic DMC-FZ100 ISO 100 f3.2 1.30 sec.JPG

Panasonic DMC-FZ100 ISO 400 f3.6 1.100 sec.JPG

Panasonic DMC-FZ100 ISO 1600 f4.0 1.320 sec.JPG

Top to bottom, shots taken at ISO 100, 400, 1600. The ISO 100 and 400 settings were fine but the ISO 1600 point showed noise and lowered definition.

Startup Time

With power turned on, I could shoot my first shot in about two seconds; follow-ons came in at about a second a pic.

Distortion

The amount of distortion at either end of the zoom was negligible; for such a wide ranging optic, this is an excellent performance.

Comment

Quality: the test shots showed that this camera is well above average in image resolution and colour rendition.

The FZ100 committed very few sins in my book: however, I do think the power switch and the button that swings you from single frame to burst shooting should be highlighted in white. Black buttons on a black background? Nah!

Why you would buy it: you want a long zoom and a camera that shoots Full High Def video; you like Leica lenses.

Why you wouldn’t: can’t think of any reason.

At this price level you’re head on with many budget DSLRs. For my money, the long zoom is a swinger … provided you understand its limitations and special requirements when capturing extreme tele shots.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100 Specifications

Image Sensor: 14.1 million effective pixels.
Metering: Multi zone, centre-weighted average, spot.
Sensor Size: 11mm MOS.
Lens: Leica DC Vario-Elmarit f2.8-5.2/4.5-108mm (25-600mm as 35 SLR equivalent).
Shutter Speed: 60 to 1/2000 second.
Continuous Shooting: 11 images/second.
Memory: SD, SDHC, SDXC cards plus 40MB internal memory.
Image Sizes (pixels): 4320×3240 to 640×480. Movies: 1920×1080, 1280×720, 848×480, 640×480, 320×240 at 30 fps.
Turret LCD finder: 5mm (201,600 pixels).
LCD Screen: 7.6cm LCD (461,000 pixels).
File Formats: RAW, JPEG, RAW+JPEG, AVCHD, Motion JPEG.
ISO Sensitivity: Auto, 100 to 6400.
Interface: USB 2.0, HDMI mini, AV.
Power: Rechargeable lithium ion battery, DC input.
Dimensions: 124.3×81.2×95.2 WHDmm.
Weight: Approx. 540 g (inc battery and card).
Price: Get a price on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100 at Amazon.

Summary
Reviewer
Barrie Smith
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100
Author Rating
3

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Read more from our Cameras & Equipment category.

Barrie Smith is an experienced writer/photographer currently published in Australian Macworld, Auscam and other magazines in Australia and overseas.

  • Jose

    just got mine yesterday… on the process of playing with it after reading all the reviews. First impression… like it!

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/adam_t4/ AdamT4

    I’m happy I chose the Panasonic FZ50 a few years back as my first digital camera. It really helped me develop a creative approach to finding the POV. Live view and a tilt and swivel LCD really free up many more unusual perspectives. And the super zoom Leica lens has great sharpness and reach. The FZ100 looks like a worthy successor. These super zoom “bridge” cameras do just that – bridging the gap between point-and-shoots and DSLRs. Not everyone needs more than this beauty to be honest. I moved on to a Pentax K20D last year after I felt I reached the limits of the Panasonic. See my early flickr page for the fantastic FZ output. Thanks – Adam_T4

  • http://www.hot.com.au/ Luis Garcia

    The spec sheet is pretty impressive, though I’d prefer a lower megapixel count (8 to 10MP, perhaps) and better noise control. Still, you’re right about the 24x zoom lens possibly being the decider for those on the fence on a DSLR or a compact camera. I have to say I’m tempted to get on of these.

  • Peggy

    I got mine about three weeks ago. It’s a refurb, but you can’t tell. It’s a great camera, whether you’re shooting using Program mode or manual. The macro setting is great too! I’m very happy with my FZ100!!

  • Joseph

    I’m very happy with the FZ-100. Good all around camera, light in weight, and has great lens range.

    One negative: camera is very sensitive to anything jarring the lens. For example, if I inadvertently bump the front of the lens or lens hood against the window, an error message usually appears telling me to restart the camera.

  • http://www.panasonicgf2.net/ Panasonic GF2

    Panasonic provides announced the Lumix DMC-GF2 Mini 4 Thirds camera. Any simplified model with the corporation’s GF1, Panasonic GF2 inherits the same flat-body layout but with revised handle layout and touch-screen manage.
    You got a really useful blog I have been here reading for about an hour. I am a newbie and your success is very much an inspiration for me.

  • http://www.willheyphotography.com Adrian Spencer

    Nice bit of kit but not enough to tempt me away from Nikon.

  • HMW12

    Have seen other reviews where its suggested that the FZ40/45 which has the same zoom has better image quality (but is not as good on the video end) and of course a lower price. Still I’m very tempted by this one. I can live without the video but really want the articulated LCD

  • Wm Conley

    I just send a FZ-100 back to Newegg.com (thanks Newegg) and replaced it with a Pentax K-7.
    The FZ-100 did OK in bright light but when the light went down, so did the image quality. At 400 iso, the picture was worse than a camera phone. The sensor is just too small and over populated; too much noise for me. I was sadly disappointed with the Panasonic but I love my K-7 so it turned out OK.

  • Fidibiri

    I own a DMC-FZ18 with 2 years of use and abuse, and it’s a great camera. Not as hard to set as a DSLR but with all the important modes (P, A, S, M + 2custom). The lens is great on good light but is not too fast for low light even in the short range, so you must bump the ISO and the major flaw appears. But, if you want a camera not as complicated as a DSRL and a lot better than mos P&S, thats the camera to buy. And for work photography, in things like registering events on plants, documents, installations its lens is great, I use it for checking structures and hard to reach equipment in industrial plants without climbing. Why the FZ is better? more tele-zoom, full HD video w/ zoom & focus control, best burst rate and tilt screen. You don’n need the 5 extra megapixels.

  • http://passionnature78.canalblog.com/ PassionNature78

    All information on FZ100 and firmware 1.1 & 1.2
    Preview of my FZ100 => http://previewofmyfz100.canalblog.com/

  • Eliza

    Articulated screen and HD video with up to 220 fps really convinced me on this one. Panasonic describe these cameras as “prosumer” models and so far I think this camera really exemplifies this category. It’s not a perfect photographer’s camera, but it will take a damn nice photo. It’s not a professional video camera either, but used creatively can give you some nice quality footage. I am so happy to see an Australian review! It’s hard to gauge performance until you see how well it takes photos of really familiar landmarks. So thanks heaps for this review! If you bought this because you wanted to take a great photo without extra bits and pieces and having to learn a whole lot about professional-quality photography, you could do a lot worse than the fz100.

  • http://www.eyalg.com Eyal Gurevitch

    It’s surprising to read reviews about the FZ100 which indirectly mean it has no better image quality than the camera it replaces – the legendary FZ35. In those low light situations, I expected the new CMOS sensor to provide better performance, but now I am not sure that is the case.

  • Manny of Vancouver

    I am now 60 years old and have been doing photography since I was 10. I have taken thousands of shots, many of them, I would be very proud to exhibit. I have even gone through the process of “developing” and printing my own pictures during those days. I have owned film and digital cameras throughout these years, but I am still not one you would consider a professional, although I have done many weddings and got paid for that. Now, under that perspective, I would like to say that the superzooms or bridge cameras have gone a long way. Along with this Panasonic, I have also looked at the Fujifilm HS20-EXR and the Sony HX100V. I believe that with my lengthy background in photography, I can safely say that probably, about 80%, if not higher, of my requirements as an avid and advanced amateur photographer, are met by these recent crop of cameras. Although the sensors are small, the technology and innovations used, for example, by the Fujifilm EXR system, make many of the shots that were formerly not acceptable now even seem to to be very admirable. I agree with one of the writers that these cameras have narrowed the gap between the small sensors and the DSLRs and at a much lower cost. For one to get the zoom range in these cameras on a DSLR would just be far too expensive for an old man like me, not to mention the bulk, the weight, and because of the fixed lens, the need for a dust removal system on these DSLRs. Now, as in the Canon 60D DSLR, the fully articulating display on the Panasonic, Canon, Fuji and Sony super zooms just add that much more flexibility and possibilities to picture taking.

    As I have mentioned in the past, it is very rare that I take pictures of black cats inside unlit coal bins in the middle of a moonless night and blow the pictures up the size of a billboard. So most of my requirements can be met by the recent crop of cameras. If the camera manufactures come up the same kind of cameras with an APS-sized sensors priced at maybe a few dollars more, then that would really make a huge dent in the market for DSLRs. I was going to wait for a possible future version of the Pentax K5 with a fully articulating (rotating and swiveling) display, however, the built-in 24-700 mm lens and advanced imaging technologies might convince me to just wait for the next generation of these bridge cameras – assuming they would replace the tiny sensors with an APS unit.

  • Moshe Markewitz

    The lightening at my LCD does not stop to save battery power, it is supose to stop after 1/2 and or 1 second. There is some way to stop and or close the camera temporarily
    Please advise !!
    Moshe markewitz

  • Cindy Allison

    One thing I have loved about my Panasonic FZ 30 is being able to zoom by turning the lens instead of messing with a button. It’s about time to upgrade and I have been seriously thinking about this camera with the long zoom. Does this also zoom manually by turning the lens or is it a button or lever? I can’t seem to tell from any reviews I’ve read. Thanks.

  • John

    Hello,
    After reading many reviews, including yours, I am now the proud owner of a FZ100.
    240 pages of instructions are daunting and after 3 days I’m at P 29!
    I have a few years of 35mm photography behind me, including taking the subject in yrs 11 & 12 @ high school.
    I worked as an inquiry agent for many years and have a perfectly good Nikon (worth zip) in a cupboard somewhere.
    Now the FZ100 enters my life and it’s back to scratch. I know the mechanics of how to achieve the results I want, I just don’t know how to operate the camera to achieve this.

    HELP?!?!? Pleeeeeze?

    Cheers, John.

  • scott

    Still getting used to my new fz100. I like most pics so far, but getting a good shot of a football game under the lights still evades me. Any suggestions?

  • Cindy

    Scott, check out the first (most helpful) review under this camera on Amazon.com… ‘Rolla’ has provided extensive – and I do mean EXTENSIVE – documentation of how to get the best out of this camera. Because of his coverage, I just ordered an FZ100 myself and eagerly look forward to applying all of his great advice!

  • http://blog.salientshop.com/2013/06/lens-cloth-should-be-used-with-the-air-blowing/ digiphone

    Batteries, random model is BL-5J, capacity up to 1320mAh, in my daily 30 SMS, 10 minutes call, two hours the case of music, still insist on the two days time, endurance strength is very good. And the top still retains direct charge of 2mm thin mouth, commendable.

Some older comments

  • digiphone

    June 13, 2013 04:51 pm

    Batteries, random model is BL-5J, capacity up to 1320mAh, in my daily 30 SMS, 10 minutes call, two hours the case of music, still insist on the two days time, endurance strength is very good. And the top still retains direct charge of 2mm thin mouth, commendable.

  • Cindy

    September 11, 2011 04:27 am

    Scott, check out the first (most helpful) review under this camera on Amazon.com... 'Rolla' has provided extensive - and I do mean EXTENSIVE - documentation of how to get the best out of this camera. Because of his coverage, I just ordered an FZ100 myself and eagerly look forward to applying all of his great advice!

  • scott

    September 9, 2011 01:16 pm

    Still getting used to my new fz100. I like most pics so far, but getting a good shot of a football game under the lights still evades me. Any suggestions?

  • John

    July 6, 2011 01:41 am

    Hello,
    After reading many reviews, including yours, I am now the proud owner of a FZ100.
    240 pages of instructions are daunting and after 3 days I'm at P 29!
    I have a few years of 35mm photography behind me, including taking the subject in yrs 11 & 12 @ high school.
    I worked as an inquiry agent for many years and have a perfectly good Nikon (worth zip) in a cupboard somewhere.
    Now the FZ100 enters my life and it's back to scratch. I know the mechanics of how to achieve the results I want, I just don't know how to operate the camera to achieve this.

    HELP?!?!? Pleeeeeze?

    Cheers, John.

  • Cindy Allison

    July 2, 2011 07:47 am

    One thing I have loved about my Panasonic FZ 30 is being able to zoom by turning the lens instead of messing with a button. It's about time to upgrade and I have been seriously thinking about this camera with the long zoom. Does this also zoom manually by turning the lens or is it a button or lever? I can't seem to tell from any reviews I've read. Thanks.

  • Moshe Markewitz

    June 14, 2011 10:03 am

    The lightening at my LCD does not stop to save battery power, it is supose to stop after 1/2 and or 1 second. There is some way to stop and or close the camera temporarily
    Please advise !!
    Moshe markewitz

  • Manny of Vancouver

    February 11, 2011 07:57 am

    I am now 60 years old and have been doing photography since I was 10. I have taken thousands of shots, many of them, I would be very proud to exhibit. I have even gone through the process of "developing" and printing my own pictures during those days. I have owned film and digital cameras throughout these years, but I am still not one you would consider a professional, although I have done many weddings and got paid for that. Now, under that perspective, I would like to say that the superzooms or bridge cameras have gone a long way. Along with this Panasonic, I have also looked at the Fujifilm HS20-EXR and the Sony HX100V. I believe that with my lengthy background in photography, I can safely say that probably, about 80%, if not higher, of my requirements as an avid and advanced amateur photographer, are met by these recent crop of cameras. Although the sensors are small, the technology and innovations used, for example, by the Fujifilm EXR system, make many of the shots that were formerly not acceptable now even seem to to be very admirable. I agree with one of the writers that these cameras have narrowed the gap between the small sensors and the DSLRs and at a much lower cost. For one to get the zoom range in these cameras on a DSLR would just be far too expensive for an old man like me, not to mention the bulk, the weight, and because of the fixed lens, the need for a dust removal system on these DSLRs. Now, as in the Canon 60D DSLR, the fully articulating display on the Panasonic, Canon, Fuji and Sony super zooms just add that much more flexibility and possibilities to picture taking.

    As I have mentioned in the past, it is very rare that I take pictures of black cats inside unlit coal bins in the middle of a moonless night and blow the pictures up the size of a billboard. So most of my requirements can be met by the recent crop of cameras. If the camera manufactures come up the same kind of cameras with an APS-sized sensors priced at maybe a few dollars more, then that would really make a huge dent in the market for DSLRs. I was going to wait for a possible future version of the Pentax K5 with a fully articulating (rotating and swiveling) display, however, the built-in 24-700 mm lens and advanced imaging technologies might convince me to just wait for the next generation of these bridge cameras - assuming they would replace the tiny sensors with an APS unit.

  • Eyal Gurevitch

    December 19, 2010 05:58 pm

    It's surprising to read reviews about the FZ100 which indirectly mean it has no better image quality than the camera it replaces - the legendary FZ35. In those low light situations, I expected the new CMOS sensor to provide better performance, but now I am not sure that is the case.

  • Eliza

    December 15, 2010 04:33 pm

    Articulated screen and HD video with up to 220 fps really convinced me on this one. Panasonic describe these cameras as "prosumer" models and so far I think this camera really exemplifies this category. It's not a perfect photographer's camera, but it will take a damn nice photo. It's not a professional video camera either, but used creatively can give you some nice quality footage. I am so happy to see an Australian review! It's hard to gauge performance until you see how well it takes photos of really familiar landmarks. So thanks heaps for this review! If you bought this because you wanted to take a great photo without extra bits and pieces and having to learn a whole lot about professional-quality photography, you could do a lot worse than the fz100.

  • PassionNature78

    December 6, 2010 04:22 pm

    All information on FZ100 and firmware 1.1 & 1.2
    Preview of my FZ100 => http://previewofmyfz100.canalblog.com/

  • Fidibiri

    December 3, 2010 07:35 am

    I own a DMC-FZ18 with 2 years of use and abuse, and it's a great camera. Not as hard to set as a DSLR but with all the important modes (P, A, S, M + 2custom). The lens is great on good light but is not too fast for low light even in the short range, so you must bump the ISO and the major flaw appears. But, if you want a camera not as complicated as a DSRL and a lot better than mos P&S, thats the camera to buy. And for work photography, in things like registering events on plants, documents, installations its lens is great, I use it for checking structures and hard to reach equipment in industrial plants without climbing. Why the FZ is better? more tele-zoom, full HD video w/ zoom & focus control, best burst rate and tilt screen. You don'n need the 5 extra megapixels.

  • Wm Conley

    December 3, 2010 06:48 am

    I just send a FZ-100 back to Newegg.com (thanks Newegg) and replaced it with a Pentax K-7.
    The FZ-100 did OK in bright light but when the light went down, so did the image quality. At 400 iso, the picture was worse than a camera phone. The sensor is just too small and over populated; too much noise for me. I was sadly disappointed with the Panasonic but I love my K-7 so it turned out OK.

  • HMW12

    December 2, 2010 08:51 am

    Have seen other reviews where its suggested that the FZ40/45 which has the same zoom has better image quality (but is not as good on the video end) and of course a lower price. Still I'm very tempted by this one. I can live without the video but really want the articulated LCD

  • Adrian Spencer

    December 2, 2010 01:33 am

    Nice bit of kit but not enough to tempt me away from Nikon.

  • Panasonic GF2

    December 1, 2010 11:55 pm

    Panasonic provides announced the Lumix DMC-GF2 Mini 4 Thirds camera. Any simplified model with the corporation's GF1, Panasonic GF2 inherits the same flat-body layout but with revised handle layout and touch-screen manage.
    You got a really useful blog I have been here reading for about an hour. I am a newbie and your success is very much an inspiration for me.

  • Joseph

    December 1, 2010 05:32 pm

    I'm very happy with the FZ-100. Good all around camera, light in weight, and has great lens range.

    One negative: camera is very sensitive to anything jarring the lens. For example, if I inadvertently bump the front of the lens or lens hood against the window, an error message usually appears telling me to restart the camera.

  • Peggy

    December 1, 2010 01:10 pm

    I got mine about three weeks ago. It's a refurb, but you can't tell. It's a great camera, whether you're shooting using Program mode or manual. The macro setting is great too! I'm very happy with my FZ100!!

  • Luis Garcia

    December 1, 2010 11:29 am

    The spec sheet is pretty impressive, though I'd prefer a lower megapixel count (8 to 10MP, perhaps) and better noise control. Still, you're right about the 24x zoom lens possibly being the decider for those on the fence on a DSLR or a compact camera. I have to say I'm tempted to get on of these.

  • AdamT4

    December 1, 2010 10:10 am

    I’m happy I chose the Panasonic FZ50 a few years back as my first digital camera. It really helped me develop a creative approach to finding the POV. Live view and a tilt and swivel LCD really free up many more unusual perspectives. And the super zoom Leica lens has great sharpness and reach. The FZ100 looks like a worthy successor. These super zoom “bridge” cameras do just that - bridging the gap between point-and-shoots and DSLRs. Not everyone needs more than this beauty to be honest. I moved on to a Pentax K20D last year after I felt I reached the limits of the Panasonic. See my early flickr page for the fantastic FZ output. Thanks – Adam_T4

  • Jose

    December 1, 2010 07:47 am

    just got mine yesterday... on the process of playing with it after reading all the reviews. First impression... like it!

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