Mention the words “Leica”, “One inch sensor” and “16x optical zoom” to anyone interested in photography and it is a fair chance that their minds will start thinking of super hefty price tags in the vicinity of Rs 65,000 (USD 1000). That’s because those features generally come for a pretty penny – one inch sensors do not come cheap, and adding a lot of optical zoom to the mix will only add to the price, and well, Leica for many people is synonymous with “super premium” when it comes to prices.
So imagine if we told you, you get all of those in a single superb point and shoot camera. For about Rs 45,000? Sounds like a terrific deal? Well, it is. And the camera we are talking of is the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ1000.
The model might not ring a bell with some of you. That’s because this camera is not the latest kid on the block. In fact, it was released way back in 2014. Before you start accusing us of trying to make you buy old equipment, do remember that cameras do not get dated as quickly as phones do – take it from us, this camera is still capable of some very serious photography magic!
And that is because of what it has. You have heard of Sony’s famous RX100 series of devices that deliver almost DSLR like quality in surprisingly tiny form factors? Well, the FZ1000 has a sensor that is as big as the ones found on them, a 20.1 megapixel one. Unlike the RX100 series, which comes with very limited zoom, the FZ 1000 has a large 16X optical zoom, all the way from 25-400 mm. What’s more, this is no ordinary lens, but a Leica DC Vario Elmarit lens (Panasonic has a very close relationship with Leica). It also has a large 3 inch LCD display on the back which can be articulated (rotated 360 degrees and twisted outwards), and an excellent 0.39 inch OLED viewfinder, which is great for those who prefer pressing their eyes to the camera while taking pictures. This being a Panasonic, there is also support for 4K video. There is 5-axis optical image stabilisation, a stack of shooting options and settings giving you a lot of control over your final image or video (hey, this does 4K, remember?), support for Wi-Fi and also the option to add an external flash and microphone if you feel the need. And before you ask, yes, you can shoot in AW mode as well.
These are not just spec stars. The FZ1000 is a brilliant camera in terms of performance. Yes, at around 800 grammes, it is not lightweight, but is still lighter than most DSLRs and their accompanying lenses. But if you can put up with that weight and a slightly complicated interface (there are dials and buttons galore on the camera body, which can be a little overwhelming for newcomers, but will be welcomed by DSLR lovers), you are assured of some very good photography. The lens is remarkably stable and with a f/2.8-4.0 aperture, works very well even when extended to its fullest extent, and even in low light extensions. If you are the type that likes to walk around in a city at night and take pictures, you will love this camera – and that is something we do not often say about point and shooters. A very neat touch is the ability to grab 8-megapixel snaps from 4K video footage – so if there is a part of a video you particularly like, you can actually save it as a photograph. Kinda cool, we think. Incidentally, you can also get some fantastic macros and great bokeh – you can shoot from as close as 3 centimetres. And although it is old, it is certainly not a slowpoke – it has a maximum shutter speed of 1/4000 and a burst speed of 12 frames per second at full resolution. It starts up and focuses very fast too.
Image and video quality, of course, is top notch. The colours might sometimes appear a little too warm in auto mode (especially indoors), but that is by no means a deal breaker. The kind of results you are going to get from the FZ-1000 will comfortably beat anything any phone camera can serve up. By miles. No, it is not perfect. We just wish the LCD on the back was a touchscreen, and allowed us to touch to focus and also navigate menus more comfortably, but hey, this is a 2014 camera and touchscreens were the exception rather than the rule. And once you get the hang of it, you will be too busy admiring your photographs and videos to worry about it.
A big sensor, a big zoom, a terrific lens, a massive brand name…all at a price that is significantly below what it was launched at (close to Rs 60,000). If you are looking for a camera that can step in for your DSLR in most circumstances without blowing a major hole in your bank account, go for this one. Some people will say you can get a base level DSLR and a few lenses for as much, but we assure you, even that would struggle to deliver what the DMC-FZ1000 does