» » Panasonic Lumix FZ1000 MkII review: Putting the super in superzoom?

Panasonic Lumix FZ1000 MkII review: Putting the super in superzoom?

 
The landscape for cameras has changed dramatically over the last few years. With budget compacts all but dead and buried given the take-over of phone cameras, the last bastion for this section of the standalone market is the bridge or superzoom camera. Which is where the Panasonic Lumix FZ1000 II comes into play.

The follow-up model to the 2014 original - which was Panasonic's first foray into the larger 1-inch sensor size - the Mark 2 model doesn't reinvent the wheel, rather polish up some elements of the original model, for a more refined superzoom.

Thing is, with phone cameras beginning to encroach on zoom territory too - the Huawei P30 Pro with its (admittedly lesser) 5x optical zoom being one such example; and the first of its kind which will no doubt spawn more similar competitors - does a nip and tuck superzoom still hold a relevant place in the market?

What's new for round two?
New body design with dual dials and programmable buttons
Higher-resolution LCD screen, now with touchscreen
Marginally greater magnification in viewfinder
Longer buffer for burst mode shooting
Unlimited video recording, incl. 4K
In-camera USB charging
Adds 4K Photo modes
As we said up top, the differences between first- and second-gen FZ1000 models are fairly marginal. The biggest change with the sequel is the body has been reformed, adding dual dial controls and programmable buttons into the mix. If you have specific adjustments to make then this makes a welcome difference - but if you're used to the original model then it's unlikely to be a reason to dive in and buy.

Panasonic Lumix FZ1000 2 review image 5
Elsewhere the FZ1000 II ups the LCD screen resolution, adds touchscreen controls - very welcome on our account, that's for sure - and marginally magnifies the electronic viewfinder. In-camera charging - which we don't like as much as a simple charger cradle solution, given its slowness; however it's good for on-the-go charging with a power bank - also features, alongside Panasonic's staple 4K Photo modes.

What is 4K Photo? Panasonic's mode explained
And that's your lot. There's no new lens (the existing one can go down to f/11 now, though, not just f/8 - but there's sill no neutral density (ND) filter) and no new sensor on board. That's arguably fitting, given that image sensors haven't moved forward a huge deal in the last five years - unless we're talking about considerable leaps in lens mount, such as in the new Nikon Z6 (but that's a whole other kettle of fish).

Design and Performance
0.39-inch, 2360k-dot OLED electronic viewfinder, 0.74x magnification
3-inch, 1240k-dot touchscreen LCD on vari-angle bracket
16x optical zoom lens (25mm-400mm f/2.8-4 equivalent)
5-axis hybrid optical image stabilisation (OIS)
12fps burst shooting, 30fps with 4K Photo
The main reason to buy the Panasonic FZ1000 Mark II is its big zoom lens. Not only can this large-scale bridge camera capture fairly wide-angle shots (at a 25mm equivalent), it can zoom right through to capture far-away subjects as if they're up-close too (at a 400mm equivalent, hence 16x optical).

Panasonic Lumix FZ1000 2 review image 4
It does so with a relatively fast aperture, at f/2.8 when shooting at the widest angles, which not only lets a lot of light in, it helps blur the background for those more pro-looking shots. However, that maximum aperture isn't sustainable throughout the zoom range - by 170mm it's restricted to f/4.0, which will have some impact on creative control at longer zoom selections (less light entering means you'll likely need to shoot at higher ISO sensitivities, which has a knock-on affect on quality). Still, it's a pretty impressive figure set from a lens of this scale.

We used the FZ1000 II when on a visit to Beijing, China, where its long zoom was useful to capture close-up shots of local cuisine, in-action shots of locals cycling through the city, and long-zoom shots of ornamental statues from afar. In terms of versatility this camera certainly puts a big tick in the box - if you're happy carrying around such a large chunk of kit anyway.

Panasonic Lumix FZ1000 2 review images image 9
We've found the touchscreen controls particularly useful, while the option to jump between screen work and viewfinder is handy when sunlight glare causes issues with exposing on the rear screen. Given Beijing's general smog, however, we've typically shot with bracketing active to gather wider exposure possibilities in such an unpredictable climate.

At longer focal lengths the FZ1000 2's built-in 5-axis stabilisation system is an absolute essential, helping to keep composition that much smoother and 'held'. And there's a temporary focus retraction button to the side of the lens, which we've found useful when shooting at 400mm and finding composition too tricky - a quick tap-and-hold of that button draws the focal length back, marking out the in-shot area as an overlay on screen, making it easy to quickly recompose.

Not that the FZ1000 Mark II is an especially super-fast camera. When shooting cyclists through Beijing's streets, we've found the continuous autofocus to fare fairly well - but results have been hit and miss, even when upping the shutter speed. Better than you'll get with a phone, no doubt, but no pro DSLR by any measure - even with Tracking AF selected. It does have a significant burst mode, though, at up to 12 frames per second (12fps) at full resolution.

Panasonic Lumix FZ1000 2 review images image 17
In single autofocus the camera is far more adept, offering a variety of focus modes, including Face/Eye Detection, 49-Area auto, Custom Multi area, 1-Area AF, and Pinpoint mode. The last of these is our favourite, offering a cross-hair 'pinpoint' that zooms into 100 per cent to acquire and confirm focus before shooting - a mode that other manufacturers have struggled to offer in the same fashion as Panasonic.

Where the FZ1000 2 succeeds, then, is with its versatility and variety. If you're comfortable commited to carrying a fairly large camera around then its variety of focus modes, burst speed, flexible autofocus and considerable controls give it an enthusiasts edge way beyond what a phone camera can offer.

Panasonic Lumix FZ1000 2 review image 3
Battery life has been quite decent too - we've been able to shoot around 300 shots, including additional on-screen time between shooting, which seems within the right bounds of the claimed 400 shots per charge life.
 
source : pocket-lint.com
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