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Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100 - Performance and Results

By Cliff Smith



Our Score:


The new faster MOS processor is supposed to give the FZ100 faster performance, but it's still a bit slow to start up, taking approximately three and a half seconds to start up and take a picture. In single shot mode at JPEG quality it has a shot-to-shot time of approximately 0.8 seconds, which is exceptionally fast, especially for such as complex and powerful camera. It is a little slower in Raw + JPEG mode, at around 1.0 second, but this is still very fast performance. In continuous shooting mode it lives up to its 11fps full-resolution claim, although only for 15 frames and only focusing on the first shot, however it will perform this well in both JPEG and Raw + JPEG modes. It can shoot at 5fps with continuous AF. Other high speed shooting options include 40fps at 5MP and 60fps at 2.5MP, as well as a high-speed movie mode which can shoot at 220fps in QVGA image size.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100 top

The autofocus system is the same as the FZ45. It is extremely fast and reliable, with very good low light performance, focusing just as quickly in twilight as in full daylight. It has a very bright and well-focused AF assist lamp with a range of about four metres, and focuses with this very quickly even in total darkness.

One cause for concern is battery duration. The FZ100 is a big complex camera with a lot of power-hungry features, and yet it is powered by a relatively puny 895mAh li-ion battery. Panasonic claims 410 shots on a single charge, but I found that the battery meter was down to two out of three bars after only a couple of days taking about 100 shots and a few short video clips, without using the monitor for playback very much.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100 back

The main selling point of the FZ series so far has been its excellent image quality, and the FZ100 I'm sure will be no exception, however it does have a couple of flaws. The lens quality is of course excellent, with minimal optical distortion and good corner-to-corner sharpness, but it does seem to be more prone to chromatic aberration at the corners of the frame than the FZ45, odd since they both have the same lens.

The level of detail is extremely high, but again there is a problem. Examining the results closely shows some fairly obvious artefacts caused by a combination of file compression and noise reduction, and this robs JPEG images of much of their potential quality. It is possible to avoid this by shooting only in Raw mode and applying lighter noise reduction, but this is probably a longer and more painstaking process than most users will be prepared to go though.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100 battery

Other aspects of image quality are more encouraging, Colour rendition is excellent, and dynamic range is also better than expected from a small 14MP 1/2.3-inch sensor. Image noise is not so good though, with some colour mottling even at the lowest 100 ISO setting, and significant loss of detail at 400 ISO.


The Panasonic FZ100 is an impressive camera, with superior build quality, excellent handling, fast performance and a range of features better than almost anything else on the market. If you're looking for an all-purpose camera with high-quality full HD video it's worth considering, but less-than-stellar still image quality and limited battery duration are causes for concern.


October 9, 2010, 1:09 am

Can't help but think they've missed a trick here: flash hotshoe - tick, 1080i recording - tick, same old sensor and iffy low light performance - fail. I can understand why Canon and Nikon don't want their ultrazooms to impinge on DSLR sales but why the hell doesn't Panasonic add a bigger sensor to provide DSLR-like low light performance - after all it's the same premium pricing.

Elie Boujaoude

October 9, 2010, 11:38 am

We understand that using such a small sensor is a must for those superzoom cameras in order to keep the bulk down, but we don't understand why most of the manufacturers insist on packing more & more megapixels on such a small sensor!!! I think 10MP is the acceptable limit for this size of sensor.

Elliot S

October 9, 2010, 12:54 pm

Would I be right in saying that with a larger sensor it would have to be physically larger to have the same effective zoom?


October 9, 2010, 1:26 pm

Epic: But a bigger sensor would cost more, plus it would also require a larger lens (pushing up the cost even higher) and also increase the size of the camera. I doubt they could get both 24x zoom and DSLR-like low light performance near this price. And aside from the technical difficulties, just as Canon and Nikon don't want to impinge on their dSLR sales, Panasonic don't want the ultrazooms to interfere with sales of their micro-Four Thirds "G" series.

Elie Boujaoude

October 9, 2010, 7:18 pm

This table shows how a lens is related to the sensor size.

Sensor Size 1/2.3" 1/2" 1/1.8" 1/1.7"

Diagonal (mm) 7.70 8.00 8.94 9.50

Crop factor 5.62 5.41 4.84 4.55

This means that a 100mm lens, for example, renders the equvalent of 562mm on a 1/2.3" sensor while it renders the equivalent of 455mm on a 1/1.7" sensor. In short, you can reach more with the same lens on a smaller sensor.


October 9, 2010, 10:27 pm

I just don't get why more manufacturers are not moving over to manual zooming like the HS10.

Watching the video it tooks weeks to zoom in and out not to mention the added power drain and noise.

Unless the image quality is head and shoulders above the HS10 then its manual zoom every time for me.

You can just instantly go from a nice wide angle to a super tight zoom so not to miss a jet screaming across the sky or a bird suddenly appearing, possibly not wearing much :)


October 10, 2010, 6:15 pm

I agree with Elie Boujaoude. The sensor size isn't such a big problem, but the amount of pixels is. Both Canon and Panasonic know this, which is evident by the fact that their premium compacts (Canon's S95 and G12, and Panasonic's LX5) all have only 10 Mpix each. And on top of that, they even have bigger sensors (1/1.7" and 1/1.63"), so it's completely unnecessary to have more than 10 Mpix on a camera with a 1/2.3" sensor.

Why Canon and Panasonic aren't limiting their superzooms to 10 Mpix is beyond me. I still don't think that the image quality would be high enough to win over people who want real DSLR image quality. And superzooms are way too big to hurt the real compact high ends (S95 and LX5) as well. So I don't see any downside to giving these superzooms a little higher image quality by limiting them to 10 Mpix. The upside would obviously be happier owners of superzoom cameras.

I own a Canon Powershot S3 IS myself, which I bought almost 4 years ago. And even though it's a great camera, I've wanted to upgrade it for a while now. I thought about getting a Canon SX1 IS, then an SX20 IS, then a Fujifilm HS10, then this Panasonic FZ100 or a Canon SX30 IS. But I'm still sticking with my old S3 IS because I'm disappointed in the image quality of all these other models. I don't think that image quality has improved as much as the other features have. I've started thinking about getting a Panasonic GH1/GH2 in order to get similar features and higher image quality, but I'm not sure I want to pay SO much more money for a camera with a significantly shorter zoom (GH1/GH2 are equivalent to 280mm, while my S3 IS is equivalent to 432mm and the newest superzooms are equivalent to 600-840mm). I'm not saying I need an 840mm equivalent zoom, I'd be happy with what I have right now (432mm). I'm just not sure I want to go all the way down to 280mm, and pay £1k in the process, despite getting much higher image quality.

AAAARRGH!!!! *Frustrated*


October 11, 2010, 8:38 pm

I've used a Sony H2, Canon S3, S5 then a Fuji S100, and finally a Panny FZ38. I loved the FZ 38's responsiveness, fast AF, incredible IS... However, I do make large prints,(60X80cm),and its IQ just wasn't in the same league as the others (except for the S5,which was one noisy-sensored camera).It's a wonderful camera, but all the others I had gave me better prints due to lower pixel density and greater photodiode size. People shots in sunlight would show unsightly noise in shadow areas of faces (fill flash notwithstanding), and full-zoom shots would show very digital-looking artifacts (even keeping ISO low and shooting RAW) when seen in large prints.I ended up selling the FZ38 and re-adquiring an S100, which is the best IQ I've found so far in superzooms. Obviously there is a price to be paid...it is a large, heavy, bulky camera limited to 400mm(eq)in zoom range due to its extra-large sensor.

Still, I prefer that to a very-long zoom lightweight camera with an excess of pixel density and so-so IQ.Increasing resolution in the FZ38's descendants was making an already existing problem worse.


October 12, 2010, 8:22 pm


Have you not considered a cheap SLR with 18-200 or 28-300 lens?

For years i had a Sony H9 and was pretty pleased with it tbh. The i moved on to a Sony A200 with a 28-300mm Lens. Now looking back at my H9 photos it looks like i took them with a cheap camera-photo in comparision and that SLR set up was by no means 'good'.

I now have a Canon 7D 15-85mm and 70-300mm and yes it takes some amazing photos and 8fps to sweet for HDR but its a small step up from cheap SLR and cheap lens compared to the massive leap from bridge camera to SLR.


October 12, 2010, 11:43 pm


As a matter of fact, I was using a D5000 with a 18-200 VRII.

Now I know what I'm about to write may seem strange, but at full zoom and compared side by side (I actually did this repeatedly), the S100's lens/sensor combination gave sharper,more detailed results (up to ISO 400). CA is a poblem at full zoom, but stopping down and/or shooting RAW takes care of that.

Obviously, as light levels fall, IQ from a bridgecam goes down the drain, but my particular long-zoom use is mostly in good light, so that becomes a non-issue. However, what seems to happen is that optical compromises for super-zooms will happen whether manufacturers make them for large or small sensors.

When comparing lenses only, the FZ38 comes out on top (to my eyes, of course;matter of opinion). However, sensor/processing issues make IQ way too inconstant.

One thing I really should emphasize is the fact that none of this really matters if one doesen't print posters, like I do.


October 13, 2010, 7:22 pm

You all seem to be professionals, so i hardly dare to ask a (stupid) question. Am I right that the Mpix do matter if you are e.g. in a game park taking pics of wild animals far away? That way you can crop to the size you want. Another question is do you really use a lens that is bigger than 500mm? Is it not so that it becomes increasinly difficult to get enough light? If I look at sample pictures on Flickr they all seem to be at around 500MM. And most of those photo's are close ups of insects etc. My camera (an old Canon Powershot) takes beautiful portrets and close ups but I am very disappointed at landscapes.

Yes, I also can't make up my mind if I need the FZ 45 or the FZ 100. So any help is appreciated.


October 13, 2010, 9:24 pm


MP certainly matter for blowups or agressive cropping.However, per-pixel sharpness is also vital.I still use a Finepix F31 which is "limited" to "only" 6MP, but which prints as well as lots of 10MP cams.This happens because when seen full size its images capture as much detail with 6 million large, high-quality photodiodes as some 10MP cams with smaller sensors. When you look at these full-size, they seem fuzzy and indistinct, and have noise even at base ISO which impedes one from printing at large sizes or cropping too much.

So MP do matter, but MP quality matters more.That is usually related to MP density, which is number of megapixels by a certain area (usualy square centimeters)- the less, the better (this is a general guideline, not a rule carved in stone, so beware).

The FZ38 has a noticeably better IQ than the FZ45, which would make cropping more of a possibility in the former, less MP notwithstanding - as a matter of fact, probably BECAUSE of less MP (FZ38: 43MP/Sq.Cm ; FZ45: 50MP/Sq.Cm).

As for actually needing more than 500mm,only you can say what your needs are.I have rarely needed more than that, but it has happened - especially with animals which are none too friendly, like jaguars, or way too wary, ike some birds.If you're really into wildlife, then get as much zoom as you can.

The light-gathering isuue will depend on the lens' maximum aperture at telephoto, not really on its reach.Longer zooms do tend to end up with smaller maximum apertures, but camera models vary widely. The FZ 35 has is max. ap. at 4.4 at maximum zoom, while the FZ 45 is liomited to 5.2. The Fuji HS10, which goes to 720mm(eq), has a max.ap. of 5.6, while Canon's SX30 with its monster zoom of 840mm(eq) is limited to 5.8.

In the end, it's all about checks and balances (or swings and roundabouts). Basically you have to asses your needs and find something which will cover most of them.Covering all would be great, but difficult and costly.

Keep foremost on your mind exactly how large you intend to print/crop, and whether you intend to post-process or not. That will set the bar for what compromises are acceptable or not in a camera.


October 13, 2010, 9:28 pm


PS, there is no such thing as a stupid question.Any professional who actually thinks he/she knows a lot and need not ask questions any more is the one being stupid. All of us are in constant learning, and that's one of the fun things about photography! Enjoy!


October 14, 2010, 1:02 am

Not sure if you are allowed to put links in or not but i took this with my HS10, it does make me wonder why most of the time a carry around a massive heavy SLR with a bunch of lenses!


John Cranwell-Ward

October 15, 2010, 9:21 pm

I pondered for a long time...my wife has a Canon Powershot A650IS, my son has Panasonic FZ38, both take superb pictures with ultra fast focus..finally I acquired an FZ100, ...so far it's taken really superb pictures, that long zoom from 25mm-600mm and beyond give great flexibility...amazing wide angle and super telephoto...esp. for sport shots and wildlife but also for every day and holiday shots. It has a stunning macro and encourages you to be more creative with your shots. Shots are bright and clear, colour and definition are top notch, it has full manual control.. you can select your own colour and resolution preferances.... ...I just took 700 shots of a National Championship Yacht Race and the results are as good as with a mid range DSLR. The battery is still going strong after two weeks of continuous shooting and is very quick to recharge..the FZ100 is great to handle, feels like a DSLR but SO much lighter. The flexible rotating LCD screen is extremely useful, and its much improved over previous models, it's the only LCD I have been able to use in very bright sunlight, it has adjustable brightness levels. The sensor, in camera processing and the EVF are also much improved, indeed the EVF is improved over the FZ38 despite apparently having the same spec, the EVF is now very bright and clear and totally useful in all light conditions...the price came down from £449 as tested here to £353 or less so pushing the test value rating up, where else can you get so much quality and flexibility in one camera.. it's one of the very best. If you have a need for a camera to use in very low light or for big poster prints then buy a very goood DSLR,starting with a Pentax KX... which takes std K mount lenses...if you don't need all that zoom, opt for the Samsung NX10, it has a full size sensor in a small interchangeable lens camera with an amazing AMOLED 3" screen and a 1.4MP EVF viewfinder, and the results are as good as a top end DSLR and at least as good as the Panasonic G1/G2 but a lot better value, otherwise the panasonic FZ100 will not dissapoint.

John Shewsbury

October 16, 2010, 7:52 am

For a superzoom, I don't mind a slightly bigger body (even at the size of entry level DSLR) but if it has a bigger sensor size like those in Panasonic LX3 (is it 1/1.7"?) which theoretically will give better image quality, then why not?

Talking about size, the new Sony NEX-5 is using the big DSLR APS-C sensor in such a small body - so why can't Panasonic and other maker of this bridge/superzoom camera start using this 1/1.7" and make it as a standard - in a way it will then defined itself accordingly and it will be slightly different from the normal compact camera with standard 4x to 6x zoom.

Oh yeah, they don't want the bridge/superzoom camera to steal the market share from their mirror-less camera division - the Micro 4/3 and the rest of them.

By the way, Fujifilm did made the S100FS with the 1/1.7" sensor and from what I heard it is indeed a rare species of an excellent bridge/superzoom camera but no longer available now.

Bigger Mega Pixels of more than 10MP is not really needed and rather useless for majority of the amateur consumer. I believe 10MP is already good enough. The problem is, the marketing people from the camera maker always want to create an illusion to their new products - marketing verbs like "more powerful and more mega pixels" is just an gimmick really.

Nowadays, majority of the so call "normal consumer" who bought simple P&S digicam or this bridge digicam don't even print their photos - some still do, but not many I guess. They snapped 100 to 200 photos where it will eventually end up in Facebook or online album like Picasa, Flickr, Photobucket and so on for them to share with their friends and family.

So the question to Panasonic and all the other camera makers - is it necessary for them to increase more MP and on that small 1/2.3" sensor?

I wonder why the LX5 and Canon G11 only have 10MP? Sure we can guess the answer right?

Will this means that next year all these bridge/superzoom camera will end up with 15MP to 18MP and still with the "not so great" same image quality that we have today?

I am user of Fujifilm HS10 by the way....


October 16, 2010, 12:27 pm

An interesting debate on resolution.

I wonder how many people using digital cameras actually make large size prints? Most people will just view their pictures on a computer screen or television with a likely maximum resolution of 1920 x 1080 which is just over 2 mega-pixel. It can be useful to take picture with slightly greater resolution because this gives the opportunity to straighten and crop the photo but in my opinion 14mp or even 10mp just captures a lot of detail that is thrown away. This extra detail is often with poor quality, especially at low light levels and generates large files which take longer to save, fill up memory cards and take longer to email or upload.

Am I missing something somewhere?

For us non-professionals, a high quality 4 to 6 mega-pixel sensor with low compression is surely going to provide the best quality pictures for viewing electronically.


November 12, 2010, 5:13 pm

I like this camera because it has a HUGE zoom (50.6x Extra optical Zoom with 3 Megapixel quality) and POWER O.I.S is very stable to support its huge zoom.

....SPYING is my hoby ...

Doug Sinnott

December 31, 2010, 10:18 pm


Spying may be your HOBBY but you can't spell!


Dave R

January 14, 2011, 1:44 am

It is a pleasure to finally find comments from experts who have actually used various generations of this equipment, apparently in a professional capacity, and understand the technical aspects of the hardware. I confess technical ignorance but am slowly learning and have picked up a few points from your discourse.

Being retired, my wife and I are now able to travel which is where 90% of our photography takes place on the run. Thus, portability is important to us as we are not interested in carrying around a bag full of lenses, etc. A superzoom seems to be the answer except for all the flags I see raised regarding image quality. Image quality is important to us because we often present local travelogues of our trips using digital projectors on large wall screens.

My first digital camera was a 4MP Sony Mavica with 3X optical zoom. It actually recorded on a mini CD. Its many limitations are obvious by today's standards but it was a good introduction to the world of digital photography. Eventually, I graduated to a Canon Power Shot S5IS (8MP, 12X optical zoom). I have been reasonably satisfied with the overall performance of that cameraeven though I don't know the performance difference between various sensors or why lower MP in some cameras produces better image quality than some cameras with higher MP.

The concern is because my wife is ready to give up her digital point & shoot (she is a former SLR user) for a decent superzoom. She simply wants the best image quality and more zoom without having to go to a DSLR. She may not need 24X (we seldom use a tripod) but will go for it if there is no sacrifice in IQ. Does anyone have a recommendation?


January 21, 2011, 12:11 am

@Dave R

IQ considerations will depend on what lighting you expect to shoot in, how large you intend to print, and whether you intend to shoot RAW/post-process your jpegs or use out-of-camera jpegs.

For good lighting and modest printing/viewing sizes, the FZ-100 will do fine. It gives you nice colors and vivid pictures, has an amazingly fast AF and IS, and is ridiculously lightweight (when compared to the stuff I lug around, at least).

If your interest is stills and not HD, the FZ 45 has a significantly better IQ (and is cheaper to boot, albeit without the tilting screen).

However, the S200 (Fuji) might still be found out there,and despite less zoom (14X) and greater weight, it wipes the floor with the Pannys (and Canon superzooms) when it comes to image quality, especially at higher ISO's.

As for Olympus,Nikon, and others in the superzoom fray...I wouldn't touch them with a ten-foot pole,unless no other option were available.

One thing to keep in mind is that Pannys,Canons and Fujis generally get the basics right (focus,color and metering), so small size images are ok in most of their superzoom models (emphasis on "most".Check out sample pics before you commit.).

Lastly, I believe in hands-on tryouts. No matter how great the images, if a camera is a pain for you to handle (and everyone is unique in this), it will sit idle until it is auctioned off.

Hope to have helped!


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