This is a camera that changes everything in its market sector: 4K for less than 1,000 USD
We had to take a deep breath when we saw this. It is, to say the least, a step-change in the 4K camera market. To put that more precisely: the cat is well and truly amongst the pidgins.
The Panasonic FZ1000 is a still camera, with a non-interchangeable lens, a 1", 20.1 Mpixel sensor, and it comes in well under $1000 dollars.
Now, before anyone dismisses this because it doesn't have interchangeable lenses, just consider what this means. If the lens is a good one, and the chances are that it is, then you can buy this camera and go out shooting in 4K for under $1000. That's it. You don't need an expensive bag of dust-attracting lenses, and you'll have the benefit of the lens optimisation that fixed lens cameras are able to do because they have such a close relationship with their own optics. All you'll need is the usual assortment of mechanical parts to turn this into something that you can hold like a video camera.
Aimed at the Sony RX10
I'm writing this as a Sony RX10 owner. This is clearly the camera that the FZ1000 is aimed at. There are striking similarities: the sensor specifications, and the fact that the new Panasonic and the Sony RX10 are the only cameras to occupy a slot that doesn't have a name yet. You can only really refer to it as "fixed-lens cameras with high specification that seem a bit expensive until you realise how good they are"!
There are differences. The Sony isn't 4K and the Panasonic is. And while the Panasonic is actually potentially cheaper (on the street), it doesn't share the Sony's metal body, nor its extremely sharp lens with a fixed F2.8 apperture. It's not weather sealed, either. It's the lens that makes the Sony truly outstanding and we'll have to see how close the Panasonic comes to this if it's to be seen as a true competitor, although for anyone that hasn't experienced the RX10, this will be a moot point.
Any of these features are enough to account for more than the cost difference, but none of them invalidate any claim that the Panasonic should be a superb camera for the price.
What FZ1000 users can certainly expect is a measure of video sophistication in facilities and the way it's handled, many of which will have trickeled down from the GH4, which seemed to us more like a professional video camera in a still camera body. One example is the autofocus, which, if it really is the same as the GH4, is very fast and accurate.
The Venus Engine
There's a new processor "The Venus Engine" that is designed with 4K video in mind. We don't know whether this means that 4K and HD are downsampled from the entire sensor or if the less sophisticated line-skipping and decimation common to DSLRs is used, but it seems likely that the former will be the case, so you should expect some very smooth images.
There's a clean HDMI out as well so you'll be able to use HDMI recorders including - one assumes - Atomos' 4K Shogun when it hits the shelves, hopefully later this year.
There's a slew of other details in the press release after the break. Meanwhile, here's a second opinion on the launch of the FZ1000 from a long time Panasonic user
Panasonic announced today the new LUMIX DMC-FZ1000 (FZ1000) -- the world’s first digital compact camera to offer 4K video recording capability*. The FZ1000 boasts a one-inch, High Sensitivity MOS Sensor and 4K video recording capability. The latest member of the popular LUMIX FZ series, the FZ1000 will be available at www.shop.panasonic.com and select channel partners in late July with an MSRP of $899.99.
The integration of a newly developed LEICA DC VARIO-ELMARIT 16x optical zoom lens achieves high resolution edge to edge. It also produces stunningly beautiful defocus together with the large-sized MOS Sensor.
The 1-inch large 20.1-megapixel High Sensitivity MOS Sensor dramatically improves S/N (signal to noise) ratio, making it possible to capture a clear image with minimum noise even when it is shot at a high ISO. The Venus Engine is also newly developed to feature multiple noise reduction systems such as Multi Process NR, Random Filter and Aperture Filter, to achieve high color reproduction and high image quality with a natural look.
The FZ1000 incorporates 4K (QFHD 4K: 3840x2160, up to 30 fps in MP4) video recording capability for the first time with a digital compact camera*1. Panasonic is also proposing a new solution to capture 3840x2160 8-megapixel equivalent images from the 4K video footage which is normally difficult to photograph. Also, videos can be recorded in full-HD 1,920 x 1,080 60p in AVCHD Progressive (MPEG-4 / H.264) format or MP4 at 60p. A powerful 16x optical zoom with 5-step speed control enables smooth zoom adjustment even while video recording. The 5-axis HYBRID O.I.S. (Optical Image Stabilizer)+ with Active Mode effectively compensates for vibration. Creative Video mode, High Speed video in full-HD at 120fps, Time Lapse Shot and Stop Motion Animation are all available for a variety of video effects..
The FZ1000 also features DFD (Depth From Defocus) technology, for its focusing accuracy and improved Light Speed AF of approx. 0.09 sec*2. Together with the quick start-up time of approx.0.66 sec, the DMC-FZ1000 never misses a shooting opportunity. High speed burst shooting can be shot at 12 fps in 20.1-megapixel full resolution. It also offers a max.1/4,000 (mechanical) and 1/16,000 (electronic) shutter speed.
The FZ1000 boasts a high-precision, high-speed OLED (Organic Light-Emitting Diode) LVF (Live View Finder). With 0.39-inch 2,359k-dot high resolution in 4:3 aspect ratio, the new LVF boasts approx.1.88x / 0.7x (35mm camera equiv.) magnification and 100% field of view. The 3.0-inch 921k-dot free-angle LCD with its wide-viewing angle rotates 180° to the side and tilts 270° up and down. Operability is also improved with a newly added zoom lever, zoom ring and drive mode dial for more intuitive operation. For more creative freedom, Creative Control, Creative Panorama and Photo Style are available.
The FZ1000 integrates Wi-Fi® connectivity (IEEE 802.11 b/g/n) with NFC (Near Field Communication) to offer a more flexible shooting experience and instant image sharing with a simple operation. The FZ1000 also comes with a 3.5mm jack for an external microphone connection. In addition, RAW data can be processed in camera
Bright Leica DC Lens 25-400mm F2.8-4.0
Panasonic newly developed LEICA DC VARIO-ELMARIT lens system (F2.8-F4.0) with 16x optical zoom (35mm camera equivalent: 25-400mm). Comprised of 15 elements in 11 groups, including 4 ED lenses and 5 aspherical lenses with 8 aspherical surfaces, this advanced lens unit achieves high MTF value.
Large 1-inch 20.1MP MOS Sensor for Amazing Defocus Control
The DMC-FZ1000 incorporates a 1-inch large High Sensitivity MOS Sensor with 20.1-megapixel high resolution. The new 1-inch sensor is 4x larger than conventional 1/2.3-inch sensor in size. This new large MOS Sensor improves S/N ratio, resulting in dramatic reduction of noise even when shooting at ISO 12,800.
The Venus Engine image processor was developed for the DMC-FZ1000 to dramatically boost its performance with a new quad-core CPU providing high speed signal processing required for rich 4K video recording . The advanced Multi-process NR (Noise Reduction) applies effective noise reduction and detail processing according to each component frequency. Plus, newly added Random Filter granulates chromatic noise to be blended into the image even more naturally.
The World’s First Digital Compact Camera Recording High Quality Video in 4K
The LUMIX FZ1000 is not only for capturing still images but also high quality video in 4K. It features outstanding 4K video recording capability (QFHD 4K: 3840x2160, up to 30 fps (NTSC) / in MP4 ( up to 29 minutes 59second). Users can enjoy recording video in ultra high definition and even grab an 8-megapixel frame as still image. After recording video in 4K, users can cut out a single frame to choose the best still image in rich resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels. The FZ1000 should be used with UHS Speed Class 3 (U3). The UHS Speed Class 3 (U3) guarantees a constant minimum write speed of 30MB/s to respond to market needs for 4K video.
Super-fast LUMIX DFD Focusing Technology
For even faster response and higher mobility, the FZ1000 newly integrates a dedicated motor into the focus system to achieve extremely fast focusing. In addition, the Light Speed AF is further enhanced with an adoption of DFD (Depth From Defocus) technology which even shortens the time to set focus. It calculates the distance to the subject by evaluating 2 images with different sharpness level while consulting the data of optical characteristics of the current lens in a moment. As a result, the DMC-FZ1000 achieves ultra high speed AF of approx.0.09 sec2 at wide end and even approx. 0.17 sec at tele-end.3 Together with the quick start-up of approx.0.66 sec and short release time lag, the DMC-FZ1000 never lets photographers miss fleeting shooting opportunities.
Integrated Smartphone/Tablet Wi-Fi® for Remote Imaging Control
The FZ1000 integrates Wi-Fi® connectivity (IEEE 802.11 b/g/n) with NFC (Near Field Communication) technology camera to offer more flexible shooting experience and instant image sharing. With the Panasonic "Image App", remote shooting of both stills and video is possible by using the smartphone/tablet for a remote shutter with a monitor. You can release the shutter, zoom, focus and set shutter speed, aperture, exposure compensation with a smartphone / tablet.
3cm Macro Shooting
Stunning macro shots can be shot with minimum focusing distance of 3cm.
The Live View function is also advanced digitally making it possible to adjust highlight / shadow separately with the front/rear dial. 3 patterns of settings can be customized in addition to 3 patterns of preset.