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.
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.
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.
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.