Eklektikos – choosing the best. Indeed, when you immerse yourself in everything that defines this camera more closely, you’ll see that it’s in fact a compound of solutions that turned out to be very good. Let’s remember the story about the Panasonic LX100 and re-branding as a phenomenon. Namely, the cooperation between Panasonic and Leica led to the fact that some models have clones under different names. So the LX100 got its clone under the name of Leica D-Lux, and the model I’m talking about now, the Panasonic DMC-FZ1000, in a parallel universe carries the name Leica V-Lux (Typ 114). In short, like in the case of the LX100, re-branding brought tiny cosmetic differences... And when I say the parallel universe, I actually mean the “crucial differences” between these two models. Leica has a longer guarantee, issues a license with Adobe Lightroom, has got the red dot, and of course – it’s price is higher by 400 dollars. However, this isn’t as important as the fact that this cooperation with Leica brought a really sophisticated camera design (and what’s more, a very classy package), and what’s the most important – the camera is characterized by a Leica DC Vario-Elmarit f/2.8-4.0 ASPH lens. If we get back to the very beginning of this text, the word eklektikos starts to make sense when we realize that the FZ1000 features a Sony 13.2 x 8.8 mm sensor (the so-called 1”-type sensor), which we saw in the Sony DSC-RX100 III. It somehow seems that the cooperation between brands has never been as frequent and constructive.
DESIGN AND ERGONOMICS
We’re here talking about a pretty massive camera, which weighs 831 grams, with a body that’s been defined very carefully in ergonomical terms, and whose design is really top-notch. The dimensions of the body are 137 x 99 x 131 mm. What strikes you immediately is a pretty large lens, so the overall impression is that, in terms of dimensions, the camera can be compared with DSLR cameras of the middle class in combination with a more serious lens. The front grip makes the camera very stable and comfortable in one’s hand, which, frankly, with these dimensions shouldn’t be a knotty problem for development teams that seriously deal with this topic. The middle of the upper surface is dominated by a hot shoe, a stereo mic, and a pop-up flash. Two control dials and a significant number of buttons make this camera adjustable to the habits of the most selective users. The left control dial provides control over the following choice: single-shot, continuous, bracketing, self-timer and interval, while the right one consists of the basic and standard options that are characteristic of serious cameras. Since the camera features a 3.5 mm port, a flashgun can be mounted on the hot shoe.
UNDER THE ‘HOOD’
We already had the chance to see the said 13.2 x 8.8 mm sensor, better known as the 1”-type sensor, in the Sony RX100 III. Moreover, this sensor appears in the direct rival Sony DSC-RX10. The Venus processor is the one that enabled 4K video to operate, thus providing the FZ1000 with an opportunity to be one of the first cameras featuring that option, with the price less than $1000. The stabilization is 5-axis Power OIS, and it does its job exceptionally, which is very important on cameras with extreme focal lengths. The autofocus is CDAF with 49 AD points, the continuous shooting rate is up to 12 fps, while the ISO range is 125-12800 (can be expanded to 80-25600). The maximum shutter speed is 1/4000 s, or bulb up to 2 minutes, and if we select the electronic shutter, we’ll get 1/16000, which will activate automatically if we select the Silent mode, which will also toggle off all the sounds, the AF assist lamp, and the flash.
The Leica DC Vario-Elmarit f/2.8-4.0 ASPH is the one that gives this camera its handsome looks, if I may say so. Even though the filter is 62mm, it actually doesn’t portray the real dimensions of the lens. The focal length of the lens is quite good, 25-400mm, while its aperture is f/2.8-4. Let me just mention that the previous model, DMC-FZ200, featured a 25-600mm lens with fixed aperture of f/2.8. The lens construction is such that it comprises 15 elements in 11 groups, with 4 ED and 5 aspherical glass elements. There are two sliders on the lens – one is used to switch on/off the stabilization, whereas the other is used to switch to the manual focus, i.e. to zooming. Of course, the last two options have to do with the ring around the lens, which can’t be defined for some other purpose, aside from the two mentioned.
There’s a pop-up flash, activated manually. If the lens is set at the wide end of the zoom range, the flash covers 13.5 meters, while at the longest end of the range, the flash coverage is 9.5m. The flash offers advanced capabilities, such wireless control of three groups of flashguns – a thing definitely worth praising.
The viewfinder is electronic, a 2,359,000-dot one, and it’s one of those that make my attitude towards this type of viewfinder grow more favorable. We’ve got a chance to see the identical viewfinder in a more serious camera, the Panasonic DMC-GH4. It’s quite protruding, but since the whole camera is massive, that detail perfectly fits the overall design. To the left from the viewfinder are a diopter and the slider for activating the pop-up flash.
It’s my favorite articulating screen – a 3” 921,000-dot TFT LCD. The view is exceptional, and with this fully articulated screen, it’s usable even in extreme sunlight.
Bearing in mind the camera dimensions, and the fact that the grip is proportionally massive, it’s logical to assume that the battery is large, too. To tell the truth, it is large indeed, and according to the CIPA standards, the battery life is 360 shots. The Lithium-ion battery is labeled DMW-BLC12PP, and it comes combined with the corresponding charger, which fully charges the battery for a little more than two hours. Honestly, I expected the battery life was more than 400 shots, but what the heck! The replacement battery is always an available and desirable option.
Despite everything, the video mode is definitely one of the trump cards of this camera. Today, we can count on the fingers of one hand the cameras that feature the 4K video mode. As far as Panasonic cameras are concerned, in this category we’ve got the GH4 and the LX100, which clearly distinguishes this brand from the rest of the supply in the market. The following resolutions are available: 3840 x 2160 (30p), 1920 x 1080 (60p, 60i, 30p, 24p), 1280 x 720 (30p), and 640 x 480 (30p). I’ve already mentioned that the camera features a 3.5mm port, which is ideal for those who want an external mic. The option of extracting an image from a video is another option that’s more than useful, and which results in an 8MP image of high quality. Let’s mention after all that for producing 4K video material you need a 4K HDTV television.
The market of cameras that physically resemble DSLR models with wide-angle lenses sometimes seems to be on steroids. The Panasonic DMC-FZ1000 stands out from this group on the following grounds. First, it didn’t barge in the crackbrained race with millimeters at the final end, but it kept the modest 400mm. For instance, the Nikon Coolpix P600 offers as many as 1440mm, whereas the Canon PowerShot SX60 HS offers only a couple of millimeters less – 1365mm. As a matter of fact, a 20MP sensor with the dimensions 13.2 x 8.8 mm to a certain extent determines its direct rival – the Sony DSC-RX10. Contrary to the FZ1000, the said Sony model reaches only 200mm, but with fixed f/2.8 aperture. However, the RX10 lack 4K video, which some users find crucial. On the whole, the FZ1000 really looks like an average and moderate solution in the ultra zoom supply. It offers an excellent lens, sensor, ergonomics, and a large number of details that can tip the scales. The said 4K video mode, the possibility to attach an external mic, the wireless control of external flashes, a time-lapse option, improved smartphone control… make this camera visible in a sea of competition. If I wanted to find a flaw on this camera, that would probably be a lack of touch screen abilities and, let’s say, a lack of the ND filter, which is, generally, easy to solve.
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