Panasonic’s new Lumix FZ1000 II for serious snaps

The Panasonic Lumix FZ1000

The Panasonic Lumix FZ1000 mark two is a bridge style camera that offers an incredible amount of features in a camera that only has a single lens.

The FZ1000 II doesn’t allow you to change lenses like you can on a mirrorless or DSLR camera; instead, you get a fixed lens that is 25mm at its widest and 400mm at the tele-zoom end (35mm equivalent).

You’ve basically got all your bases covered for most situations and for most people.

Yes, I love the flexibility of being able to mount lenses and try different focal lengths with various apertures on my mirrorless cameras, but I hate sensor dust, the hassle and time it takes to swap in and out lenses and the amount of gear I have to carry.

In the FZ1000 II, you get all of the same flexibility of a more expensive system without all the inconvenience.

At the heart of the FZ1000 II is a 1-inch 20.1-megapixel sensor. This is a lot bigger than you’ll find on any smartphone, but equally, it’s much smaller than a full-frame sensor like those found in Panasonic’s new S1 and S1R cameras.

Of course, there’s more to a camera than just the sensor size and the FZ1000 II has a Leica lens that has an aperture of f/2.8 at 25mm and f/4 when at 400mm.

It’s f/4 from about 170mm up to 400mm, which isn’t super bright, but thanks to some excellent processing, noise is kept under control for such a small 1-inch sensor as long as you don’t push the limits too far.

It has an ISO range of 125-12800, but realistically, for stills, all the way up to 1,600 is usable and even further if you’re only posting the photos on social media.

The aperture only closes down to f/11, but this is better than its predecessor, which only went to f/8. I typically used between f/9-11 to increase detail and depth-of-field for landscape shots.

Panasonic cameras like the GH5 are well-known for amazing stabilisation and the FZ1000 II doesn’t disappoint with its five-axis hybrid system.

This uses a combination of in-body sensor and lens stabilisation. At 400mm, you can see how well the camera handles such a challenging zoom, in both video and stills.

Reducing shake, especially for the longer focal lengths really helps to get better, sharper images or video.

The FZ1000 II can shoot up to 12 fps and a respectable 7 fps with continuous autofocus and a shutter speed of 1/16,000sec when using the electronic shutter.

I testing this with birds in flight, and it performed okay. It will catch focus, but the overall hit rate wasn’t fantastic.

I also found it struggled at times to find focus in lower light too, but compared to other cameras in its class, it wasn’t bad either.

Modes like the 4K photo mode allow you to shoot continuously to capture that fleeting moment easily with 30 frames per second, albeit with a smaller file size.

You can choose the best frame afterwards and dump the rest and an ‘Auto Marking’ feature helps you to find the right shot quickly and easily.

Other features in the 4K photo mode include Post Focus (change the point of focus in a photo after you’ve taken the photo), Focus Stacking (it takes several photos at different focus points and merges them in-camera so that the entire photo, foreground to background is in focus) and the ability to combine multiple images for a fun “stromotion” effect. These are fun and often useful features that are easy to use.

You can also capture video and again the stabilisation system works great here. You can shoot up to 4K at 30fps, but with a crop, so at 25mm it’s more like 37mm. 1080P video is up to 60p and if you want slow motion, then that’s possible too, but image quality isn’t fantastic.

Compared to a camera like the Sony RX10IV, the FZ1000 II is much lighter making it far better take on your travels. Despite being light, it feels great in the hand with a deep grip, a fully articulating 3-inch touchscreen and 13 customisable buttons.

There are even custom buttons on the lens. Just behind the shutter release button is a dial to change the aperture. On top are two mode dials and the on/off switch.

Ergonomically, this is a really pleasurable camera to use in part thanks to all the physical buttons but also the great menu system and the touchscreen interface.

There is a pop-up flash, but unfortunately, you can adjust its angle. However, there’s also a hotshot to mount an external flash.

The FZ1000 II also features Bluetooth and WiFi and you can download free software to share images or control the camera remotely.

There’s a single SD memory card slot and the battery is rated for up to 440 shots, but had no problem exceeding that in my testing, which mostly consisted of shooting stills and some video.

For €850, the Lumix FZ1000 II feels great and is an excellent performer.

For all those who want improved image quality over their smartphone and the flexibility of wide to superzoom, this really isn’t a bad investment and comes recommended.

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