Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100

      Photo Review 8.5
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      leadpic_DMC-FZ100

      In summary

      A capable advanced digicam with a 24x zoom lens and support for Full HD video recording with stereo soundtracks.The Lumix DMC-FZ100 takes its place at the top of Panasonic’s FZ series of digicams, which are designed for photo enthusiasts and support raw file capture. Slotting in above the FZ35 (which we reviewed in November, 2009), it extends the zoom range and adds Full HD recording with stereophonic soundtracks. . . [more]

      Full review

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      leadpic_DMC-FZ100

      The Lumix DMC-FZ100 takes its place at the top of Panasonic’s FZ series of digicams, which are designed for photo enthusiasts and support raw file capture. Slotting in above the FZ35 (which we reviewed in November, 2009), it extends the zoom range and adds Full HD recording with stereophonic soundtracks.

      As in the previous model, the key features that define an Advanced camera – P, A, S and M shooting modes plus support for raw file capture – are augmented by a suite of Scene pre-sets. The most commonly-used of these (Portrait, Landscape, Sports, Close-up and Night Portrait modes) have their own settings on the rotating mode dial that sits prominently on the top panel.

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      FZ100-%26-FZ35_front
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      FZ100-%26-FZ35_back
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      FZ100-%26-FZ35_top

      Comparison photographs showing the physical differences between the FZ100 and its predecessor, the FZ35. (Source: Panasonic.)

      Superficially, the new model looks a lot like the FZ35, although closer examination reveals some subtle external changes, which are evident in the comparison photographs above. Some internal components have also been updated, making the FZ100 quite different from its predecessor. The table below outlines the main differences.

       

      FZ100

      FZ35

      Image sensor

      6.13 x 4.60 mm MOS

      6.13 x 4.60 mm CCD

      Effective resolution

      14.1 megapixels

      12.1 megapixels

      Zoom range (35mm equiv.)

      25-600mm

      27-486mm

      Max. image size

      4:3

      4320 x 3240 pixels

      4000 x 3000 pixels

      3:2

      4320 x 2880 pixels

      4000 x 2672 pixels

      16:9

      4320 x 2432 pixels

      4000 x 2248 pixels

      1:1

      3232 x 3232 pixels

      n.a.

      Max. burst shooting speed

      11 fps at full resolution

      2.3 fps at full resolution

      Video

      1920 x 1080 pixels

      1280 x 720 pixels at 30 fps

      Flash range

      0.3 to 9.5 metres

      0.3 to 8.5 metres

      Flash hot-shoe

      Yes

      No

      Memory cards

      SD/SDHC/SDXC

      SD/SDHC

      LCD monitor

      3-inch Free-Angle TFT LCD with 460,000 dots

      2.7-inch TFT LCD with 230,000 dots

      Dimensions (wxhxd)

      124.3 x 81.2 x 95.2 mm

      117.6 x 75.8 x 88.9 mm

      Weight (camera only)

      496 grams

      367 grams

      Build and Ergonomics
      The SLR-like styling that characterises Panasonic’s FZ series remains and the front panel of the FZ100 is still dominated by the large Leica DC Vario-Elmarit 1:2.8-5.2/4.5-108 ASPH. zoom lens. Panasonic has extended the zoom range from 27mm to 25mm (35mm equivalent) at wide end and magnification from 18x to 24x, which gives the full tele zoom setting the equivalent of a 600mm lens on a 35mm camera.

      -
      DMC-FZ100-K-Front-Pop-Up

      Front view of the Panasonic Lumix FZ100 with the pop-up flash raised. (Source: Panasonic.)

      The grip has been subtly modified and now carries a 2 mm wide vertical strip of shiny black on the plastic moulding. The self-timer/AF assist LED is slightly higher than on the FZ35 and the left hand side of the lens barrel carries a new focus mode slider and focus button, which focuses the lens quickly on the subject in the centre of the frame.

      The most dramatic change on the rear panel is the replacement of the fixed LCD monitor with a larger, higher-resolution TFT LCD. The screen is attached to the left side of the rear panel and swings out level with the camera body. In this position it rotates through almost 180 degrees horizontally and 270 degrees vertically, providing excellent viewing flexibility.

      Above the monitor is a 0.2-inch 201,600-dot electronic viewfinder with dioptre adjustment (-4 to +4 dpt). Both the EVF and LCD provide 100% coverage of the sensor’s field of view. The hard plastic surround on the EVF isn’t particularly kind to glasses so we suspect most users will rely on the monitor for shot composition and playback.

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      DMC-FZ100-K-Back-LCD

      Rear view of the Panasonic Lumix FZ100 with the monitor extended. (Source: Panasonic.)

      The larger monitor has required some shuffling of buttons so the Q.Menu now shares duties with the delete function and is located below the arrow pad. The Display and Play buttons sit above the arrow pad and the EVF/LCD button is relocated next to the AF/AE Lock button above the monitor.

      A new rotating/press-in dial replaces the joystick and the Movie button has been shifted to the top panel, just behind the shutter button. A new continuous shooting button sits just behind it. The flash open button remains in the same place near the top left corner of the rear panel.

      Aside from the new button controls, the most dramatic change to the top panel is the addition of a flash hot-shoe to the top of the viewfinder housing. It is designed to accept Panasonic’s DMW-FL220 (GN22), DMW-FL360 (GN36) and DMW-FL500 (GN50) or the DMW-MS1 stereo microphone.

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      DMC-FZ100-K-Top-Hood

      Top view of the Panasonic Lumix FZ100 with the lens in the wide-angle position and lens hood attached. (Source: Panasonic.)

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      DMC-FZ100-K-Mode-Dial-1

      Close-up of the top panel showing the mode dial and relocated Movie and Burst mode buttons. (Source: Panasonic.)

      The microphone plugs into a 2.5mm socket on the left side of the camera, which also accepts the DMW-RSL1 remote shutter controller. A separate compartment further down on this panel houses the combined AV-out/USB port and mini-HDMI (Type C) socket.

      The battery and card compartment is located in the grip side of the base plate. A metal-lined tripod socket sits beside it but is not aligned with the optical axis of the lens. The DMW-BMB9PP rechargeable lithium-ion battery is CIPA rated for 410 shots/charge.

      Sensor and Image Processing
      Once again, Panasonic has increased the resolution of its flagship FZ-series model, this time from 12.1 to 14.1 megapixels (effective). The new sensor features MOS (metal oxide semiconductor) technology plus what Panasonic describes as ‘microfabrication technology to achieve even higher sensitivity’ (by which we assume improvements to the structure of the microlenses covering the photosites.

      The sensor is coupled to a new Venus Engine FHD LSI image processor, which underpins the new high speed consecutive shooting and full HD movie recording offered by the FZ100. The new camera provides users with two options for continuous shooting of still frames.

      With the mechanical shutter, the top burst speed is 11 frames/second (fps) for up to 15 JPEG frames at full resolution. If you swap to the electronic shutter, image resolution is reduced but the camera can record up to 60 frames at 3.5-megapixel resolution with a burst rate of 60 fps.

      You can even record bursts of shots while shooting a movie. The top burst rate available in this mode is 10 fps for up to 40 frames at 3.5-megapixel resolution. Photos taken with the burst modes are automatically organised and can be played back either in the camera or on a computer using the bundled PHOTOfunSTUDIO 5.2 HD Edition software.

      The Venus Engine FHD processor also supports the camera’s Intelligent Resolution technology, which scans the image file pixel-by-pixel and automatically detects outlines, areas with detailed texture and soft gradations. The outlines and detailed textures are enhanced with edge-sharpening processing, while noise reduction processing is applied to the soft gradations to make them appear even smoother.

      Like the FZ35 before it, the FZ100 supports both JPEG and raw file processing, the latter using Panasonic’s proprietary RW2.RAW file format. RAW+JPEG capture is also supported. The FZ100 is cam record in four aspect ratios and two compression levels are provided for JPEG files. Like its predecessor, the FZ100 changes aspect ratio by cropping the top and bottom of the frame; the horizontal pixel count remains identical for the 4:3, 3:2 and 16:9 aspect ratios.

      Compression ratios for JPEG files appear to be higher than in the FZ35 – at least for larger image sizes; smaller sizes are slightly less compressed. Typical image sizes are shown in the table below.

      Aspect ratio

      Resolution

      Fine

      Standard

      4:3

      RAW

      4320 x 3240

      18.97MB

      14M

      4320 x 3240

      6.17MB

      4.27MB

      10M

      3648 x 2736

      4.65MB

      3.20MB

      7M

      3072 x 2304

      3.79MB

      2.44MB

      5M

      2560 x 1920

      3.20MB

      1.83MB

      3M

      2048 x 1536

      2.56MB

      1.352MB

      0.3M

      640 x 480

      0.20MB

      0.14MB

      3:2

      RAW

      4320 x 2880

      17.07MB

      12.5M

      4320 x 2880

      5.69MB

      3.94MB

      9M

      3648 x 2432

      4.45MB

      2.93MB

      6M

      3072 x 2048

      3.79MB

      2.23MB

      4.5M

      2560 x 1712

      3.20MB

      1.71MB

      2.5M

      2048 x 1360

      2.56MB

      1.31MB

      0.3M

      640 x 424

      0.20MB

      0.14MB

      16:9

      RAW

      4320 x 2432

      14.22MB

      10.5M

      4320 x 2432

      5.12MB

      3.41MB

      7.5M

      3648 x 2056

      4.10MB

      2.63MB

      5.5M

      3072 x 1728

      3.66MB

      2.05MB

      3.5M

      2560 x 1440

      3.10MB

      1.65MB

      2M

      1920 x 1080

      1.14MB

      0.60MB

      0.2M

      640 x 360

      0.17MB

      0.12MB

      1:1

      RAW

      3232 x 3232

      14.63MB

      10.5M

      3232 x 3232

      4.65MB

      3.20MB

      7.5M

      2736 x 2736

      3.66MB

      2.44MB

      5.5M

      2304 x 2304

      3.10MB

      1.83MB

      3.5M

      1920 x 1920

      2.56MB

      1.38MB

      2.5M

      1536 x 1536

      1.28MB

      0.66MB

      0.2M

      480 x 480

      0.17MB

      0.12MB

      The FZ100 records video clips in one of two file formats: AVCHD (MPEG-4/H.264) and Motion JPEG. The AVCHD format is designed for recording HD video and almost doubles the recording time of conventional Motion JPEG recordings. Unlike its predecessor, the FZ100 supports Full HD (1920 x 1080 50i) resolution as well as the lower 720p widescreen capture. Clips recorded in AVCHD format are compatible with most HD TV sets and Blu-ray players. Stereo soundtracks are recorded through twin microphone grilles atop the pop-up flash housing.

      Continuous movie recording is supported for up to 15 minutes – or 2GB. AVCHD Lite video clips are always recorded with a 16:9 aspect ratio, while Motion JPEG clips can be recorded in 16:9 or 4:3 format. Three bit rates are provided for HD video clips and four picture sizes are available for Motion JPEG video clips, all with frame rates of 30 frames/second. Typical recording times are shown in the table below.

      Video format

      Aspect ratio

      Picture Mode

      Picture size
      (pixels)

      Recording time/4GB card

      AVCHD (1080i)

      16:9

      FSH

      1920 x 1080

      29 minutes

       

      FH

      1920 x 1080

      38 minutes

      AVCHD (720p)

      SH

      1280 x 720

      29 minutes

      H

      1280 x 720

      38 minutes

      Motion JPEG

      16:9

      HD

      1280 x 720

      15 minutes 50 seconds

      WVGA

      848 x 480

      39 minutes 50 seconds

      4:3

      VGA

      640 x 480

      41 minutes 20 seconds

      QVGA

      320 x 240

      1 hour 54 minutes

      Zooming is possible while movies are being recorded and the zoom mechanism has been designed to minimise any sounds produced during focusing or zooming. You can also capture still shots by pressing the shutter button while shooting video clips.

      Other functions supported for movie capture include: the iA (Intelligent Auto) shooting mode, the POWER O.I.S. stabiliser, Face Detection, Intelligent Scene Selector and Intelligent Exposure. A Wind Cut function is also available to suppress noise from background wind.
      Playback and Software
      Playback settings are essentially unchanged from the FZ35 – and its predecessor, the FZ28. And the software bundle contains some of the same applications, although not all of them. The user manual in PDF format is provided on a separate disk from the rest of the bundled software.

      Only two applications were provided with the review camera: PHOTOfunSTUDIO 5.2 HD Edition for Windows, which is used for acquiring and viewing images and AVCHD video clips and Ichikawa Soft Laboratory’s Silkypix Developer Studio 3.1 SE for Windows and Macintosh. We’ve covered both applications in our reviews of the Lumix DMC-FT1 and DMC-LX3.

      Performance
      Pictures taken with the review camera were generally well-exposed. Saturation appeared a little high in JPEG files and this was confirmed by our Imatest testing. As in the FZ35, blown-out highlights were common in shots taken in sunny conditions unless the High Dynamic scene mode was used.

      Imatest showed the review camera to be capable of high resolution, although neither high-resolution JPEGs nor raw files converted with Silkypix Developer Studio 3.1 SE quite reached expectations for a 14-megapixel camera. With most focal length settings, the highest resolutions were obtained at wide apertures. Edge softening was relatively minor at most focal lengths and apertures.

      Diffraction reduced resolution from about f/5.6 onwards and by f/8 a significant drop in resolution had occurred, particularly with shorter focal lengths. The graph below shows the results of our tests, which were unable to cover the entire focal length range of the lens due to a lack of space in our testing set-up.

      -
      FZ100_Res-vs-FL-graph

      We found the expected decline in resolution as sensitivity was increased – although it was much less than expected at the highest ISO settings and high-ISO performance was visible better than we found with the FZ35. The graph below shows the results of our tests.

      -
      FZ100_Res-vs-ISO-graph

      Lateral chromatic aberration ranged between negligible for most focal lengths but moved into the low band with the 4.5mm and 44.3mm focal length settings. Not unexpectedly, we found little evidence of coloured fringing in test shots. In the graph below, which plots the results of our tests, the red line marks the border between ‘negligible’ and ‘low’ CA while the green line separates ‘low’ from ‘moderate’.

      -
      FZ100_ca-graph

      Long exposures at night were as good as those from the FZ35 and the Starry Sky scene mode, which supports exposures longer than eight seconds delivered excellent results in a 60-second exposure at ISO 100. The High Sensitivity Scene mode, which records at ISO 6400, produced after-dark shots that were under-exposed, visibly noise-affected, blotchy and unsharp.

      Close-up shots were impressive, both with the standard Macro mode and with Macro Zoom. Longer focal length settings produced images with attractive bokeh but close-ups shot with the lens at 4.5mm tended to have busy backgrounds, due to the camera’s small sensor.

      Digital zoom shots were a cut above those we commonly see from long-zoom digicams, thanks to effective image processing and lens stabilisation. The built-in flash proved capable of illuminating an average-sized room at all ISO settings and flash shots showed little apparent noise right up to ISO 1600.

      Video quality was generally very good, regardless of the file format and resolution setting. Clips shot with the HD setting in the Motion JPEG mode were almost as sharp and clear when played on an HD TV set as those recorded in the AVCHD format. Even VGA recordings were relatively artefact-free when viewed at the appropriate size. Soundtracks were mostly clear and surprisingly crisp, although wind noise was an occasional problem and the wind filter tended to reduce clarity slightly.

      Unfortunately, the autofocusing and auto exposure systems were often slow to track moving subjects. Although neither is fixed at the start of a recording, there were times when it took a second or two to re-adjust both parameters during slow pans across a scene. (If you buy this camera for its video capabilities, be prepared for a fair bit of editing.)

      For our timing tests we used a Verbatim Class 6 SDHC memory card. We measured a consistent average capture lag of 0.2 seconds. Shot-to-shot times averaged 1.2 seconds for JPEGs but 2.8 seconds for raw files. With flash, shot-to-shot times averaged 2.2 seconds

      It took 2.6 seconds to process each JPEG image and 2.8 seconds for each raw file. A RAW+JPEG pair took 3.5 seconds on average to process.

      All the settings in the Burst mode performed to specifications. The two highest-speed settings can only be used for JPEG shots and resolution is reduced to between 3M and 2M (depending on aspect ratio) for the 60 frames/second setting. It took 16.2 seconds to process this burst.

      For bursts of raw files and RAW+JPEG pairs, the camera recorded 11 frames in just under one second. It took 21.6 seconds to process a burst of 12 raw files and more than 30 seconds to process a burst of 11 RAW+JPEGs.

      Buy this camera if:
      – You want P, A, S and M shooting modes plus a useful range of functions in a compact, long-zoom digicam.
      – You require effective image stabilisation.
      – You like shooting close-ups of flowers and other small objects.
      – You’d like the ability to shoot both still pictures and HD video clips.
      – You require good performance at moderately high sensitivity settings.
      Don’t buy this camera if:
      – You’re looking for a pocketable camera.

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      IMATEST GRAPHS
      JPEG images

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      FZ100_P1010383_colorerror_JPG
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      FZ100_P1010383_colors_JPG
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      FZ100_P1010383_YBL71_ca_JPG
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      FZ100_P1010383_YR41_cpp_JPG
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      FZ100_P1010383_YBL71_cpp_JPG

      Raw images converted with Silkypix Developer Studio 3.1 SE.

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      FZ100_P1010383_colorerror_RAW
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      FZ100_P1010383_colors_RAW
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      FZ100_P1010382_YBL72_ca_RAW
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      FZ100_P1010383_YR42_cpp_RAW
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      FZ100_P1010383_YBL72_cpp_RAW

      SAMPLE IMAGES

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      FZ100_P1010356_AWB-tung

      Auto white balance with incandescent lighting.

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      FZ100_P1010358_AWB-fluoro

      Auto white balance with fluorescent lighting.

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      FZ100_P1010482_4x3

      4:3 aspect ratio: 4.5mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/100 second at f/5.6.

      -
      FZ100_P1010483_3x2

      3:2 aspect ratio: 4.5mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/100 second at f/5.6.

      -
      FZ100_P1010484_16x9

      16:9 aspect ratio: 4.5mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/100 second at f/5.6.

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      FZ100_P1010485_1x1

      1:1 aspect ratio: 4.5mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/100 second at f/5.6.

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      FZ100_P1010442_wide

      4.5mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/200 second at f/6.3.

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      FZ100_P1010443_tele

      108mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/200 second at f/5.2.

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      FZ100_P1010448_digizoom

      Digital zoom: 108mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/320 second at f/5.2.

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      FZ100_P1010471_close-wide

      Close-up at 4.5mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/100 second at f/2.8.

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      FZ100_P1010476_close-tele

      Close-up at 56.9mm focal length showing attractive bokeh; ISO 100, 1/20 second at f/4.1.

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      FZ100_P1010362_night_ISO400

      Long exposure in S mode: ISO 400, 5.6mm focal length, 8 seconds at f/3.2.

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      FZ100_P1010365_night-ISO1600

      Long exposure in S mode: ISO 1600, 5.6mm focal length, 8 seconds at f/5.

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      FZ100_P1010462_starry-sky-mode

      Long exposure in Starry Sky mode: ISO 100, 5.6mm focal length, 60 seconds at f/3.2

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      FZ100_P1010464_Hi-sens

      High Sensitivity Scene mode: ISO 6400, 5.6mm focal length, 1/4 second at f/3.2.

      -
      FZ100_P1010367_flash_ISO100

      Flash exposure at ISO 100: 31.2mm focal length, 1/60 second at f/3.8.

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      FZ100_P1010368_flash-ISO400

      Flash exposure at ISO 400: 31.2mm focal length, 1/60 second at f/3.8.

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      FZ100_P1010371_flash_ISO1600

      Flash exposure at ISO 1600: 31.2mm focal length, 1/60 second at f/3.8.

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      FZ100_P1030146

      Indoor lighting; 23.7mm focal length, ISO 1600, 1/200 second at f/5.2.

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      FZ100_P1030151

      Indoor lighting; 108mm focal length, ISO 800, 1/160 second at f/5.2.

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      FZ100_P1010450

      108mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/250 second at f/5.2.

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      FZ100_P1010454

      108mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/800 second at f/5.2.

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      FZ100_FHD-video-sharp

      A still frame from a Full HD AVCHD video clip showing the scene in focus.

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      FZ100_FHD-video-unsharp

      A couple of frames before the above frame grab showing the degree of unsharpness produced by autofocusing lag.

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      FZ100_MJPG-HD

      A still frame from a Motion JPEG video clip shot at 1280 x 720 pixel resolution.

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      FZ100_VGA_video

      A still frame from a VGA video clip.

       

      Specifications

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      leadpic_DMC-FZ100

      Image sensor: 6.13 x 4.60 mm MOS sensor with 15.1 million photosites (14.1 megapixels effective)
      Lens: Leica DC Vario-Elmarit 4.5-108mm f/2.8-5.2 zoom lens (25-600mm in 35mm format) 14 elements in 10 groups (2 Aspherical Lenses / 3 Aspherical surfaces / 3 ED Lenses)
      Zoom ratio: 24x optical, 4x digital
      Image formats: Stills – JPEG, RAW, RAW+JPEG; Movies – AVCHD (MPEG-4/H.264) at 50i, AVCHD Lite, Motion JPEG
      Image Sizes: Stills – 4:3 aspect: 4320 x 3240, 3648 x 2736, 3072 x 2304, 2560 x 1920, 2048 x 1536, 640 x 480; 3:2 aspect: 4320 x 2880, 3648 x 2432, 3072 x 2048, 2560 x 1712, 640 x 424; 16:9 aspect: 4320 x 2432, 3648 x 2056, 3072 x 1728, 2560 x 1440, 2048 x 1360, 1920 x 1080, 640 x 360; 1:1 aspect: 3232 x 3232, 2736 x 2736, 2304 x 2304, 1920 x 1920, 1536 x 1536, 480 x 480; Movies – 1920 x 1080 (AVCHD 17, 13 Mbps); 1280 x 720 (AVCHD Lite 17, 13, 9 Mbps), 1280 x 720, 848 x 480, 640 x 480, 320 x 240, 320 x 240 (all at 30 fps)
      Shutter speed range: 1/2000 to 8 seconds (Starry Sky mode: 15, 30, 60 seconds)
      Self-timer: 2 or 10 seconds delay
      Image Stabilisation: Lens-shift Power O.I.S.
      Exposure Compensation: +/- 3EV in 1/3 EV steps
      Focus system/range: TTL contrast-based AF; range 30 cm to infinity; macro to 1 cm
      Exposure metering/control: Intelligent Multiple, Centre-weighted, Spot metering
      Shooting modes: Program AE, Aperture Priority AE, Shutter Priority AE, Manual, Program Shift (Program AE Mode); Scene presets (Panorama Assist, Party, Candle Light, Baby1, Baby2, Pet, Sunset, High Sensitivity, Flash Burst, Panning, Starry Sky, Fireworks, Beach, Snow, Aerial Photo, Photo Frame, High Speed Movie)
      ISO range: Auto, Hi Auto (ISO 1600-6400), ISO 100, 200, 400,800, 1600
      White balance: Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Shade, Flash, Halogen, Colour Temperature, White Set 1 & 2
      Flash modes/range (ISO auto): Auto, On, Off, Red-eye reduction, Slow Sync; range 0.3 to 9.5 metres
      Sequence shooting: Max. 11 frames/second at full resolution
      Storage Media: 40MB internal memory plus SD/SDHC/SDXC expansion slot
      Viewfinder: 0.2-inch colour EVF with 201.6K pixels equiv.; approx. 100% field of view
      LCD monitor: 3-inch Free-Angle TFT LCD with 460,000 dots
      Power supply: rechargeable lithium-ion battery; CIPA rated for 410 shots/charge
      Dimensions (wxhxd): 124.3 x 81.2 x 95.2 mm
      Weight: 496 grams

       

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      Rating

       

      -
      PR-EdChoice-web-100

      RRP: $799

      Rating (out of 10):

      • Build: 8.5
      • Ease of use: 8.5
      • Autofocusing: Stills – 8.5; Video – 7.5
      • Image quality: Stills – 8.5; Video – 9.0
      • OVERALL: 8.5

      Buy