Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100 Review

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100 Review

This digital camera is the Lumix DMC-FZ100, released to enhance Panasonic’s super-zoom series. It has a newly developed MOS image sensor with 14 megapixel resolution. This is primarily capable of recording FullHD videos (1,920 x 1,080 pixels), whereby the FZ100 makes use of the AVCHD format. Quicktime Motion-JPEG is available as an alternative – but only at reduced resolution. But also the lens is new. It zooms optically 24x from 25-600 mm (KB), an optical image stabilizer is already obligatory at Panasonic, as it is built into every digital camera. The video sound is in stereo, whether with an external or internal microphone. The sensor is even capable of recording serial images at high speed: At full resolution 11 frames/s are achieved. Another highlight is the foldable and tiltable screen with 3″ diagonal and 460,000 pixels resolution. Those who prefer the (electronic) viewfinder will find a resolution of 202,000 pixels. Like the LX5, the FZ100 uses the Venus Engine FHD and the associated high image quality and intelligent automatic functions, but manual control is also possible. The extensive range of accessories includes not only a stereo microphone, but also teleconverter, macro attachment, optical filters, cable remote release and system flash units. The Lumix DMC-FZ100 is be available since 2010 for about 530 EUR in black as well.

Brief assessment


  • Foldable and tiltable display
  • Good ergonomics (apart from the main menu)
  • Lens with very large zoom range and good image stabiliser
  • Outstanding video features
  • Outstanding variety of equipment


  • Cheap plastic housing
  • Small video viewfinder with low resolution
  • Noise and dynamic range below average


To pack as much camera as possible into a housing with a fixed lens – that seems to have been Pansonic’s goal for the new ultra-zoom camera Lumix DMC-FZ100. And indeed, the complete camera can shine with a wealth of features that outperforms many a mid-range DSLR. Added to this is a lens that covers the gigantic focal length range from 25 to 600 millimetres. The 15-megapixel image sensor, on the other hand, could also come from a handy compact camera. Our detailed test report clarifies how the Lumix FZ100 performs in everyday photography and through the test software.

Ergonomics and Workmanship

The exterior alone betrays the idea that the Lumix FZ100 does not want to be a snapshot camera. The camera looks like a somewhat small DSLR, the massive lens and the strongly protruding handle further strengthen this impression. Once taken in hand, it is immediately clear: The Lumix FZ100 is a genuine ultra-zoom camera. It weighs just 540 grams and is ready for operation. No DSLR is that light, especially not one with a 600 millimeter zoom. However, Panasonic achieves this flyweight through the consistent use of somewhat cheap-looking plastic. Only the tripod thread is made of solid metal, but is unfortunately not in the optical axis. The flaps for the various connections close tightly, but do not close splash-proof or even “waterproof”. On the contrary: The Lumix FZ100 sits perfectly in the hand and the most important controls can be easily reached with one hand. This is also true of the generously dimensioned mode dial, on which Panasonic has accommodated no less than 14 setting positions. In addition, there are another round dozen buttons and switches, so the Lumix FZ100 can be configured quite quickly without going into the menu. It’s just a pity that Panasonic didn’t give the camera a front dial in addition to the somewhat smooth-running thumbwheel. After all, the thumbwheel changes its function when pressed and then, for example in mode A (aperture priority), no longer adjusts the aperture but serves as exposure compensation. Clever too: Important settings, for which there was no room for dedicated buttons, can be accessed via a quick menu. You can change the flash mode or exposure metering method in a flash, to name just two examples. However, if a trip to the configuration menu becomes necessary, even the most experienced photographer quickly loses track. Although the long lists are divided into up to seven tabs, you have to scroll through them completely to call up the desired menu item. The individual tabs cannot be selected directly.

Panasonic has spared hardly any effort with the display of the Lumix FZ100, which is attached to the left side of the camera body with a clever swivel and fold hinge, so it can be swivelled to practically any position – even when the camera is mounted on a tripod. This makes it easy to take overhead shots or photographs close to the ground. With a three inch diagonal (approx. 7.6 cm), the monitor is lavishly dimensioned, but the resolution is only 460,000 subpixels. This is just enough to display a properly resolved viewfinder image, but the Lumix FZ100 doesn’t provide the richness of detail of current VGA displays. As an alternative to controlling the image on the monitor, the camera has an viewfinder (EVF). However, it is very small and the exit pupil is far in front of the actual display. Glasses wearers can hardly see the whole of the tiny viewfinder image, the view into the video viewfinder is like looking into a tunnel that has become too small. With a resolution of around 200,000 pixels, the electronic viewfinder has too coarse a resolution, and the sharpness of the image can only be judged with it to a limited extent. It is also a pity that the Lumix FZ100 does not automatically switch from display to EVF when the eye approaches the viewfinder. The Dimage series from Minolta could do this years ago, but with the Lumix FZ100 you have to switch between LCD and EVF by hand.


Equipment And Features

Panasonic has given the Lumix FZ100 an almost lavish range of functions. Both less experienced and comfortable photographers as well as demanding amateur photographers will find a range of functions tailored to their needs. Well over 20 scene mode programs, for example, are designed to make it easy for beginners to quickly and safely adjust the camera to the current shooting situation – for example, for photos in the snow or pictures of babies. There are also subprograms for certain subject programs. So you can not only choose the “Portrait” program, but also “Portrait inside”, “Portrait outside”, “Portrait beautiful skin” and others. Of course, the Lumix FZ100 also offers face recognition. Whether this abundance of possibilities really helps or does not unnecessarily increase the agony of choice, let’s ask ourselves. If you don’t want to go to the trouble, the iAuto program allows you to let the camera choose the appropriate scene mode – in case of doubt, the desired picture will be taken faster. But watch out! The flash does not switch the Lumix FZ100 on automatically even in the dark coal cellar, the flash must always be folded out manually. With guide number 11 the small on-board flash is quite powerful, the Lumix FZ100 also offers a hot shoe for connecting an external flash.

The Lumix FZ100 offers photographers with ambitions a wide range of options for adjusting the camera to suit their taste. It can be operated semi-automatically (as a time or aperture control) and also completely manually controlled. The latter also applies to the autofocus; it can also be switched off. A practical feature is that the Lumix FZ100 automatically enlarges the viewfinder image when manual focus is selected. Panasonic also makes manual focusing easier with another function: the thumbwheel is used to roughly select the focus, and the arrow keys can then be used to fine-tune the focus to the exact spot – cleverly done! The camera is also very versatile when it comes to choosing ISO settings. In addition to the usual ISO automatic with selectable upper limit, the Lumix FZ100 also has the “intelligent ISO setting”: It works similar to ISO automatic, but detects moving subjects. If necessary, it then increases the ISO number to obtain the fastest possible shutter speeds. The engineers at Panasonic have also given the Lumix FZ100 an AE/AF lock button. Once the focus distance to the subject has been stored, the Lumix FZ100 readjusts the focus as soon as the subject moves out of the selected focus plane – a clever function. For those who don’t trust the automatic exposure control, the Lumix FZ100 can take bracketing shots – up to three exposure values (EV) difference between each shot can be set. The camera even allows white balance series, although these are certainly rarely necessary: The white balance of the Lumix FZ100 can be adjusted in such detail that in most cases it “fits”. But perhaps the most important feature for dedicated photographers is that the Lumix FZ100 also records in RAW format, offering great potential for post-image processing.

For creative photographers the Lumix FZ100 also offers a wide field of activity. Coloration, saturation, sharpness, contrast and much more can be adjusted to your taste. And so that the experimental photographer doesn’t have to laboriously reconstruct every favorite setting, the camera allows image styles to be saved and recalled with just a few keystrokes via the quick menu. Likewise, up to three individual menu settings can be stored in user programs and then selected at lightning speed using the selection wheel. If you can’t wait to transfer your recordings to a PC before editing them, the Lumix FZ100 offers at least basic editing options: Crop images, straighten them, add titles or other information – all this is possible. The Lumix FZ100 also offers videographers a wealth of functions: it records in the modern AVHCD format (1080i), with the built-in stereo microphone providing a spatial sound impression. Aperture and shutter speed can be preset during video recording or set manually. The autofocus during video recording and the zoom also work.

While the camera separates the individual images with an electronic shutter during filming, it offers a conventional mechanical shutter for photo shooting. This is particularly noticeable for its very restrained background noise, the Lumix FZ100 triggers almost silently. In quiet surroundings, for example when photographing animals or at events, the camera always remains acoustically in the background. But the Lumix FZ100 can also take photos with an electronic shutter and then reach the breathtaking frame rate of up to 60 frames per second. However, the image resolution is reduced to around 3.5 megapixels and the image series is terminated after one second of recording time at the latest. In full resolution, the camera shoots a rapid 11.8 shots per second, then the series of shots also ends after a good second or 15 photos. And: The camera requires ideal lighting conditions for the rapid series of pictures. Already on a gloomy autumn day, the serial image speed dropped to half of the promised value, but even the increase of the ISO sensitivity did not help.


One of the highlights of the Lumix FZ100 is certainly its lens. It covers a gigantic focal length range of 25 to 600 millimetres and proves to be quite fast at least at the short end with an initial aperture of F2.8. However, the light intensity decreases rapidly with increasing focal length, in the telephoto range it is only F5.2. Panasonic has also equipped the camera with a very effective optical image stabilizer. This is the only way to use the long maximum focal length in a meaningful way, as the so-called O.I.S. stabilisation system makes sure that the viewfinder image is as if nailed down – and of course that the image is not blurred. The macro capabilities of the lens are impressive: in wide-angle position, the close-up distance is only ten centimeters; at 600 millimeters focal length, the shortest shooting distance is only one meter. In combination with the small sensor, which provides a lot of depth of field even at a large aperture, the Lumix FZ100 could well become an insider tip for macro enthusiasts with a small budget.

Panasonic has solved the handling of the large zoom range excellently. The very sensitive, ring-shaped zoom rocker stops the focal length adjustment at any position. In addition, the zoom moves faster when the ring is pushed all the way through and slower when it is moved gently. So it is hardly any trouble to adjust the desired image section to the point. However, you should have a little patience when zooming: The camera takes 2.5 seconds to cover the entire focal length range. Those who are not satisfied with the wide-angle and macro capabilities of the lens can “flange on” corresponding attachment lenses from the Panasonic accessories range. For example, with the DMW-LW55 wide-angle lens attachment (approx. 230 euros) the minimum focal length can be reduced to 17.5 millimetres. However, the lens does not offer a classic filter thread, but a bayonet lock, accessories can only be attached via a special adapter ring.

Image quality

The bulging equipment of the Lumix FZ100 can certainly meet professional demands. But does this also apply to the image quality? After all, Panasonic has only implanted a comparatively tiny sensor with a diagonal of 1/2.3 inches into the camera. In addition, a good 15 million light-sensitive cells crowd this small sensor, so each individual sensor cell can only capture a comparatively small number of photons. And the 24x zoom lens also raises fears that the image quality of the Lumix FZ100 might not be as good as it is today. As always, we intensively pursued the questions and concerns regarding image quality with the DCTau software.

The lens bears the branding “Leica Vario Elmarit” not without reason, there is hardly any reason for criticism. Thus practically no edge darkening is measurable. Also the distortion values are more than okay for a lens with this gigantic focal length range. The lens does not perform quite as well in the resolution test. Even in the medium focal length range, the lens delivers only 70 percent of the maximum possible resolution in the middle, while towards the edges and with increasing focal length the resolving power deteriorates significantly once again. Even fading does not counteract this, because already from f-stop 7.1 diffraction effects limit the resolution. If you look at images taken with the Lumix FZ100 in 100% view, they look a little blurred. In print, however, the weakness in resolution is less noticeable. The engineers at Pansonic then have an excellent grasp of chromatic aberrations again: color fringes at contrasting edges are practically completely alien to the lens – you rarely see that.

However, the sensor cannot hide the fact that it has its problems with the immense pixel density. Even at the basic sensitivity of ISO 100, the noise suppression of the Lumix FZ100 must intervene and suppress brightness interference. Unfortunately she is too brisk in her work, with the noise she erases even the finest details. RAW files recorded in parallel show a very fine grain, but also much more detail. The noise misery increases with increasing ISO sensitivity, beyond ISO 400 there is a significant loss of detail and yet the images are still covered with flat brightness disturbances. The Lumix FZ100 is also weak when it comes to input dynamics: it cannot process more than 7.6 f-stops, and the lights burn out immediately with high-contrast subjects. Here it helps to correct the exposure by -0.5 EV or more downwards and – as with the noise problem – record in RAW.

The output dynamics of the camera are decent, black actually reproduces it as black and not as dark grey. The measured values for the autofocus are also excellent – it usually finds its target in the lab after about a third of a second, making it faster than many a DSLR camera. In practice, however, the autofocus does not always appear so fixed. Especially at the long end of the zoom, it demands high-contrast subjects, otherwise the AF will pump back and forth several times and slowly until the focus is locked – or not.


The Lumix FZ100 leaves a somewhat ambivalent impression. On the plus side, it boasts a very lavish equipment that even dedicated amateur photographers will be delighted with. In doing so, Panasonic has managed to ensure that the camera does not pose an unsolvable puzzle even for beginners and occasional photographers. In addition, there is a very ergonomic housing, a well thought-out function key layout and, as a highlight, the rotatable and foldable display. However, the bottom line is that the image quality of the camera cannot meet the demands that might have been raised when looking at the feature list. While the lens performs well with the 24x zoom range, the sensor and image processing engine show clear weaknesses. Even at low ISO sensitivity, the resolution is significantly lower than one would expect from a nominal 15 megapixels. The Lumix FZ100 is lagging behind in terms of dynamic range, and image noise becomes annoyingly noticeable from ISO 400. The video capabilities of the Panasonic Lumix FZ100 may become a crucial asset – the camera can easily replace a camcorder. Therefore, the Lumix FZ100 is recommended for all photographers and videographers for whom the pure image quality is not the most important thing, but the almost unlimited possibilities and the easy to handle camera body.


Manufacturer Panasonic
Model Lumix DMC-FZ100
Price approx. EUR 450 at market launch
Sensor Resolution 15.1 megapixels
Max. Image resolution 4.320 x 3.240
(aspect ratio) (4:3)
Lens F2.8-5.2/25-600mm
Filter thread optional
Viewfinder electronically
Dioptre correction yes
Resolution 202.000
LCD monitor 3″
Resolution 460.000
rotatable yes
swiveling yes
as Viewfinder yes
Video output AV and HDMI (PAL and NTSC each)
as Viewfinder yes
Automatic programming yes
Automatic aperture control yes
Automatic timer yes
manual exposure yes
BULB long time exposure
Scene modes
Portrait yes
Children/baby yes
Landscape yes
Macro yes
Sports/action yes
More 12 additional scene modes
Exposure metering Multi-field, centre-weighted Integral, Spot
Flash yes
Guide number 11 (measurement)
Flash connection TTL system hot shoe
Remote release yes
Interval recording
Storage medium SD/SDHC/SDXC
Video mode
Format AVCHD or Quicktime
Codec H.264 or Motion-JPEG
Resolution (max.) 1.920 x 1.080
Frame rate (max.) 50 frames/s
automatically ISO 200-1.600
(upper limit adjustable)
extended ISO 80-1,600
manually ISO 80-6.400
White balance
Automatic yes
Sun yes
Clouds yes
Fluorescent lamp
Incandescent lamp yes
Miscellaneous Flash
Manually yes
Number of measurement fields 23
AF auxiliary light Red-orange
Speed approx. 0.3-0.4 s
Languages English
Mode 15 additional languages are available
Switch-on time 2,6 s
One-hand operation
(zoom and shutter release)
(ready for operation)
542 g
Continuous shooting function*
Number of serial images 15 (JPEG only)
11.8 (JPEG only)
Continuous run
1.5 (JPEG only)
with flash
Zoom adjustment motorized via ring rocker
Zoom levels infinitely variable
Time WW to Tele 2,5 s
Memory speeds*
JPEG 2.3 s (4.9 MByte)
RAW 3,1 s
Trip during saving possible. yes
Battery life about 420 pictures
– = “not applicable” or “not available
“* with 4 GByte Patriot Class 10 SDHC memory card

Brief assessment


  • Foldable and tiltable display
  • Good ergonomics (apart from the main menu)
  • Lens with very large zoom range and good image stabiliser
  • Outstanding video features
  • Outstanding variety of equipment


  • Cheap plastic housing
  • Small video viewfinder with low resolution
  • Noise and dynamic range below average

Firmware update 1.3 for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100: Image quality and performance improvements

Panasonic provides a new firmware version 1.3 for the digital camera Lumix DMC-FZ100. Like version 1.2 for the FX70 and FX700, this improves the performance of the Motion Deblur function (detection and elimination of motion blur) in iA mode. The firmware also improves the performance of the autofocus when taking a picture during video recording. The update is available on the support website of Panasonic Japan, including an English update manual. If you are not confident with the update process, you can ask your dealer or Panasonic Service for support.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100 [Photo: Panasonic]

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100 Datasheet


Sensor CMOS sensor 1/2.3″ 6.2 x 4.6 mm (crop factor 5.6
)15.7 megapixels (physical), 14.1 megapixels (effective)
Pixelpitch 1.4 µm
Photo resolution
4.320 x 3.240 pixels (4:3)
3.264 x 2.448 pixels (4:3)
2.560 x 1.440 pixels (16:9)
2.048 x 1.536 pixels (4:3)
640 x 480 pixels (4:3)
Image formats JPG, RAW
Color depth
Metadata Exif (version 2.21), DCF standard
Video resolution
1.920 x 1.080 (16:9) 25 p
1.280 x 720 (16:9) 50 p
Video format
MOV (Codec Motion JPEG)
MPG4 [codec MPEG-4]
AVCHD (Codec H.264)


Focal length 25 to 600 mm (35mm equivalent
)24x zoomDigital zoom
Sharpness range 30 cm to infinity (wide angle
)200 cm to infinity (telephoto)
Macro area 1 cm (wide angle
)100 cm (telephoto)
Aperture F2.8 to F8 (wide angle
)F5.2 to F8 (telephoto)
Autofocus yes
Autofocus functions Single AF, Continuous AF, Manual, AF Assist Light
Filter thread 55mm

Viewfinder and monitor

Monitor 3.0″ TFT LCD monitor with 460,000 pixels
Video finder Video viewfinder available


Exposure metering Center-weighted integral measurement, matrix/multi-field measurement, spot measurement
Exposure times 1/2,000 to 1 s (Automatic
)1/2,000 to 60 s (Manual)
Exposure control Programmed automatic, Shutter priority, Aperture priority, Manual
Exposure bracketing function Bracketing function with a maximum of 3 shots, 1/3 to 1 EV increments
Exposure Compensation -2.0 to +2.0 EV with step size of 1/3 EV
Photosensitivity ISO 100 to ISO 1,600 (manual)
Remote access non-existent
Scene modes Baby, various motif programs, fireworks, candlelight, landscape, aerial view, night portrait, party, portrait, sunset, food, sports, starry sky, beach/snow, and animals
Picture effects Pinhole camera
White balance Clouds, Sun, Shadow, Flash, Manual
Continuous shooting Continuous shooting function max. 11 fps at highest resolution and max. 15 stored photos, high-speed mode 60B/s at max. 3.5 megapixel resolution
Self-timer Self-timer with 2 s interval, special features: or 10 s (optional)
Recording functions Live histogram


Flash built-in flash (hinged) Flash shoe: Olympus/Panasonic (also Leica compact camera), standard center contact
Flash range 0.3 to 9.5 m at wide angle1
.0 to 5.1 m at teleflash range
at ISO auto
Flash functions Auto, fill-in flash, flash on, flash off, slow sync, red-eye reduction


Image stabilizer optical image stabilizer
Internal memory yes (40 MByte)
Microphone Stereo
Power supply unit Power supply connection
Power supply 1 x Lithium-ion (Li-Ion) battery (7.2 V, 895 mAh
)410 pictures according to CIPA standard
Playback functions Image index, slide show function
Face recognition Face recognition
Grille can be faded in during recording yes
Connections Data interfaces: USBUSB type
: USB 2.0 High SpeedVideo output
: yes (HDMI output Micro (Type D))
Supported direct printing methods PictBridge
Tripod thread 1/4″
Special features and miscellaneous Face Detection and Detection Optical
Image Stabilizer O.I.S.
2-axis color temperature fine tuningHigh
ISO mode (1600 to 6400)
“Starry Sky” program 15, 30 and 60s Exposure timeAutomatic
backlight correctionWorld time functionTravel time functionStereoMicrophone

Size and weight

Weight 540 g (ready for operation)
Dimensions W x H x D 124 x 81 x 95 mm


standard accessory Li-ion battery chargerVideo connection cableUSB connection cableLens coverLens hoodBackstrapImage editing software

PHOTOfun Studio HD 5.2Image editing software
Silkypix Developer Studio 3.1 SE

additional accessories Olympus FL-700WR attachable flash with swivel reflectorReplacement rechargeable batteryPower supplyRemovable memory cardTele-converterCamera bag
USB 2.0 High Speed


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