The compact long-zoom camera has never been our favorite, it’s true. To give up image quality in exchange for a powerful aim was, in many cases too much to ask. The Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-RX10 wasn’t the first to reinvent the wheel, but it was one of the cameras that was able to bring this type of photography back into fashion among the most exacting photographers and those interested in combining photo and video.
Months after Panasonic jumped on the bandwagon with the Lumix DMC-FZ1000, a camera basically challenging Sony, offering a sensor similar to the RX10 (one inch in size and 20 megapixel resolution), but with more zoom and video recording in 4K resolution for less money. Sony lowered the starting price and now the RX10 can now be found for less than 998 dollars compared to the Lumix, which costs 850 dollars.
We’ve tried both cameras separately, and have both found it to be true that there are a few downsides to them; they’re excellent options for lovers of the all-in-one who also have a considerable budget. But, if we had to choose only one (isn’t that how it always is), which do we pick? That is what we are going to try to find out.
Dimension of Sony RX10
Dimension of Panasonic FZ 1000
The specifications of these two cameras are well-known, so it’s not worth going over them all again. Essentially, they do the same thing (advanced controls, RAW, interesting possibilities in the field of video …) , and their 1 inch CMOS and 20 megapixels are among their best features.
The other key is in the zoom, and this is where the differences begin. Sony set a precedent of 24-200 mm f2.8 with a fixed luminosity. As we have already seen, this results in an excellent lens with which we can come face-to-face with almost anything.
Panasonic went a little further, offering more range (25-400 mm) but sacrificed some angle and, above all, light, since it falls to f4 to deploy the longest focus. But it doesn’t stop there, because in addition to double zoom (16x versus Sony’s 8x), the Lumix also challenges Sony with 4K resolution video recoding, making it’s competitor’s full HD recording seem unimpressive.
As we feared, it isn’t easy to do either of these cameras justice in these few paragraphs, since both have various pros and cons, relative to their body and price. Regarding the feeling of holding the camera in your hands, however, we have to side with the RX10.
Sony’s camera transmits a greater sensation of robustness and presents interesting details in its odds and ends. To start with, obviously, the handling of equipment, is really comfortable. The small LCD screen is another one of the details we love, as well as the ability to override the button of aperture ring to facilitate change aperture when shooting video clips.
If to all of this, it adds a dedicated dial to the compensation of the exposure and an electronic viewfinder to take on the Lumix, in this case we have a winner. Yes, the rear dial is too small for it to be comfortable to handle, and that goes for all the models in the Sony RX series, trying to control the focus point is absurdly complex.
All this is not to say that the FZ1000 is a bad choice in terms of design and ergonomics. In fact, despite being bigger (let’s remember that it offers twice the zoom with the same captor size), it turns out to be slightly lighter to hold- and there are always people who are grateful for that!
The articulated screen (the Sony is only swing) and a total of four buttons for configuration with the additional personal configuration settings are the highlights of the Lumix, compared to the RX10, better constructed, but uncomfortable handling in details such as this.
The Zoom, The Key
With the same resolution, sensor size, and philosophy, it’s clear that you’ll have to look at the small details and other features to make a decision about one or the other. Besides the price, which we’ve already commented on, the zoom and the videos are the two major subjects up for comparison.
And that’s because the Panasonic FZ1000 offers twice the range reaching up to 400mm compared to Sony’s 200mm. But the 24mm angle and above all the continuous brightness f2.8 of the RX10 are definitely points in its favor. So much so that what before might seem like the definitive argument for us it isn’t so anymore.
Why? Very simple, because with 24-200mm we cover the vast majority of situations (unless we are thinking about nature photography, for example) and that continuous f2.8 put together with the 24mm angle in lots of cases can be more determinant.
We have less doubts when we talk about the automatic focus. Both cameras respond very well but the DFD focus system that the FZ1000 inherit form the DMC-GH4 puts it one step ahead of Sony. Something that shows a lot on brightness falls or in areas without enough contrast.
We imagined it, but it’s confirmed: both cameras offer an excellent image quality, above the average of most compacts on the market. The bad news is that their performance is so similar that it’s hard to choose between one or the other using the image quality as a tie argument.
In fact, just take a look at the sample gallery to check it (and also confirm that in both cases the results are more than acceptable). There are differences, of course. In the exposure (the calibrated sensitivity, we know is always a circus), and even in colour processing.
Sony RX10 Sample Image
Sony RX10 Sample Image
In this sense, and although at this point it ́s no secret that Sony always sins for excess at the time of make their archives, Panasonic is not far behind either. In fact, despite that -we insist- the similarities are greater than the differences, if we apply the lens to 100%, we are more convinced with the direct files that RX10 gives.
In any case, up to ISO 1600 and even beyond, depending on the level of requirement for our lens and brightness of the scene, can work smoothly.
ISO sensitivity comparison:
If we put this together with a good brightness, an excellent stabilizer and a well-managed dynamic range (especially if we bother to work on RAW and reveal the files with care), we will be certain that we are in the presence of an authentic all-in-one couple of cameras. That’s something that many of them promise but just a few ones really deliver.
If we combine this with a good brightness, excellent stabilizer and a well-managed dynamic range (especially if we tried to work on RAW and reveal the files with care), we confirm that we are front an authentic pair of cameras all–in-one. Something that many will promise but, very few truly provide.
4K and 1080p
We left for the final another function that stand out clearly differences between the two models. Because, despite the two cameras are betting hard for the video with a very comprehensive list of specifications in this section, FZ1000 stands out offering 4K clips recording versus the 1080p clips RX10.
And why we want video with 4K? Many users wonder. Panasonic has learned the right answer, because in fact it is the same answer used in his days for GH4. Even if we do not plan to work in 4K, that plus of resolution can translate into improved quality in terms of sharpness and detail if we reduce the videos to 1920 x 1080 pixels.
In the same way, if the final destination of the sequences is a Full HD movie, you can use the extra resolution to reframe or stabilize the plane in post production.
Although the differences go beyond that a issue of the numerical or frame size, even recording with both cameras in full HD and 28 Mbps, the Lumix appears slightly winner thanks to its somewhat sharper sequences. of course, suffers a tendency to overexpose and has slightly less contrast, while Sony provides a more finished and processed image that can be to the liking of some users.
On the other hand, the RX10 offers a couple features that can also be determining factors to seduce lovers of video: a neutral density filter built to take full advantage of the f2.8 aperture and a connection for headphones to monitor the external audio
Waiting for other firms like Canon, show their strengths cards in this segment, we are front to the two best mega zoom cameras of the moment. Therefore it is difficult to choose one. After that we tested it for a long time, the truth is that we would not hesitate to recommend or carry it for our next trip. Either of the two, of course.
So, as usual happen, the final decision will depend on factors such as the budget or the needs of photographer than of the quality that offers. If the video is of some importance to us, the 4K recording is an argument undeniable for prefer the Lumix , though we miss the ND filter and the headphone jack. The first at least can be corrected with a conventional filter in the frontal of the optics.
Even when the construction, the handling and the general feeling of the RX10 turn us towards it, it’s hard to find things to justify paying more for it and give up something more than zoom and 4K video. Even more if we put into counts that is a tie on image quality and video speaking Lumix is better.
For all these reasons, and although we will observe the evolution of its prices, in the case forces us to reformulate our choice at today, we are ready to prefer or recommend one of them – this was the intention -, our balance is inclined to the Lumix DMC – FZ1000.