Last month we reviewed the new Panasonic Lumix FZ45, and like its predecessor the FZ38 before it, it has proved to be one of the most popular reviews on the site, demonstrating that there's a lot of interest in these powerful feature-packed cameras. However the FZ45 isn't the only new Panasonic superzoom. To replace the FZ38 the company has also launched the FZ100, a higher-specification premium model featuring full 1080i HD video with stereo audio.
Despite the interest in the reviews super-zoom cameras aren't as popular as they once were, thanks mainly to the relatively low cost of entry-level digital SLRs and the growth of long-zoom compacts. Nonetheless the FZ45 and FZ100 do have some fairly serious competition from other brands. Cameras such as the Pentax X90 (£214), the Nikon P100 (£277), the Samsung WB5000 (£280) and the Fujifilm HS10 (£290), not to mention the newly announced Canon SX30 IS (£399) with its huge 35x zoom all offer at least some of the same features. The FZ100 is certainly one of the better equipped of the breed, but with a high-street price of nearly £450 it is also the most expensive.
The FZ100 shares some of its main features with the FZ45, including its impressive Leica-branded f/2.8 – f/5.2 24x zoom lens (equivalent to 25-600mm). It also shares the same well-tested SLR-style body design, although the body is not in fact identical. The FZ100 is a few millimetres larger in every direction and around 50g heavier than the FZ45, mainly on account of the larger camera's 7.5cm (3.0in) 460k fully-articulated monitor. As usual Panasonic's build quality is second to none, and the camera handles extremely well. The textured handgrip is large and comfortable, and the control layout, identical to that of the FZ45, is comprehensive and well though-out.