Thursday, June 12, 2014

New 4K Panasonic FZ1000 - Sony RX10 Killer?

Last night, Panasonic announced the first UHD ("4K") camera below $1000 - the $897.99 Panasonic DMC-FZ1000 (available for pre-order at Amazon and Adorama). This camera has a list of great video features in addition to UHD - such as a 1" sensor, focus peaking and zebras, 5-axis stabilization and cine gammas. Here's a nicely shot UHD video from Panasonic (please watch at your monitor's highest resolution):

Aimed squarely at Sony's $1298 DSC-RX10, this camera has a very similar 1" 20MP sensor - but it tries to 'improve' on the RX10's terrific 8.3X constant aperture f2.8 lens by doubling the zoom range.  It's not much of an improvement, however, because the longer zoom range is offset by the loss of constant aperture (the new lens' aperture is a not very impressive f2.8-4.0).

It also fails to match the RX10 in other ways that matter to video shooters - it has no metal weather-sealed body, no ND filter, and no headphone jack.

In addition, when recording UHD, the US model is limited to 30fps and 30 minutes of recording time (25fps for the PAL model).  No 24fps.

Given the lack of serious video features, the addition of focus peaking, 5-axis stabilization, cine gammas, UHD "4K" and the 1" sensor may not be sufficient to compensate for this camera's shortcomings.

Bottom line - Reports of the RX10's demise are greatly exaggerated. At $897.99, the FZ1000 may sell well, but I don't recommend it for serious video shooters. If you want a compact superzoom with serious video chops, I recommend saving up an extra $400 for the RX10 - it's a great 1080p video camera with a headphone jack and a metal body that can stand up to a little weather.

If you want the flexibility and creativity of interchangeable lenses, you can get an all-metal GH3 body with a headphone jack for about $100 more than the FZ.

And for shooters who really want to upgrade to 4K - I recommend saving up for a camera that records to real 4K and 24fps - and without a 30 minute limit - the GH4.

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