Panasonic has long offered a respectable range of superzoom cameras within its Lumix portfolio, but the Lumix FZ1000 was still a notable addition when it arrived three years ago. The reason? While it adhered to the same formula as previous FZ models, by employing a 1.0-inch-type sensor it promised far better image quality than we’d expect from such a camera.
This, combined with its DSLR-style body, meant it became a natural rival to the Sony Cyber-shot RX10, a camera that also married a long zoom with the same size of the sensor. Sony has since updated its camera twice, most recently with the Sony RX10 III, while Canon has also muscled in on the action with its 1.0-inch-sensor-toting PowerShot G3 X. Now, Panasonic is fighting back with the FZ2500 (it’s called the FZ2000 outside the US).
The new model arrives with a longer lens than its predecessor’s, together with a handful of updated features, and the FZ1000’s video specs sweetened with a few extra additions. Indeed, the level of control offered by the camera over video recording is exhaustive, and way beyond what we’re used to seeing at this level. This video functionality is centred around the camera’s ability to capture 4K footage, with some of the changes made to the new optic helping to record more professional footage – even more on this later.
While understandably pricier than the FZ1000 it supersedes, the FZ2500 / FZ2000 is currently cheaper than its closest rival, the Sony RX10 III. True, the two aren’t completely equal in every area, with optical capabilities, battery life, and weight is the main points of difference. Nevertheless, the FZ2500 / FZ2000 will no doubt be an attractive alternative for anyone interested in the RX10 III, but perhaps less keen on its asking price.
Panasonic Lumix FZ2500:Price
Panasonic Lumix FZ2500: Specifications
- 20MP – 1″ BSI-CMOS Sensor
- ISO 125 – 12800( expands to 80-25600)
- 24-480 mm F2.8-4.5 Zoom Lens
- 5-axis Optical Image Stabilization
- 3″ Fully Articulated Screen
- 2360k dot Electronic viewfinder
- 12 fps continuous shooting
- 4K (DCI) – 4096 x 2160 video
- Built-in Wireless
- 915g. 138 x 102 x 135 mm
- Also known as Lumix DMC-FZ2000
Panasonic Lumix FZ2500: Features
- 1.0-inch CMOS sensor, 20.1MP
- 24-480mm f/2.8-4.5mm zoom lens
- Built-in ND filters
Every camera we’ve seen to date with a 1.0-inch-type sensor has offered a 20MP pixel count, and the FZ2500 / FZ2000 follows suit. Panasonic isn’t claiming that this is in any way different from the sensor inside the FZ1000, so it’s reasonable to assume that this has been carried over.
The sensor features a back-illuminated construction for more efficient light capture, and a sensitivity range that runs from ISO125 to ISO12,800, although it’s possible to expand this to settings equivalent to ISO80 and ISO25,600 should you need to.
This sensor works in harness with a Venus processing engine, and together these allow for 4K video capture, now in both 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) and 4K DCI (4096 x 2160) flavours. You can record at 30p and 24p frame rates, at a rate of 100Mbps, and if you switch to Full HD and you can record at up to 60p at 200Mbps. As we’ve come to expect from Panasonic, the 4K video functionality is complemented by a wealth of supporting options, and on the FZ2500 / FZ2000 these stretch from fun and novelty settings to those you tend to only see in pro-grade equipment.
You can, for example, use the Creative Controls when recording, instantly adding effects such as Toy Effect and Rough Monochrome to footage. You can also utilize the useful Live Cropping feature to pan or zoom across the framework without manually having to do so, with the camera outputting the results in Full HD quality. There’s also focus peaking and zebra patterning for concentrate and exposure respectively, while more advanced options include adjustment to the Master Pedestal Level, appending Time Code and colour bars that conform to the SMPTE, EBU, ARIB standards. You may also output 10bit footage with 4:2:2 chroma subsampling through the HDMI port to an external recorder, and opt for a V-LogL option to give you a better starting point for post-production, although this latter option is a chargeable extra.
Video recording is also improved by changes made to the optic. There’s a new guide-pole mechanism that’s said to minimise shifts in the position of the image when zooming, and this works with an internal zoom structure to help keep things even more stable as the lens moves. Panasonic also says that a new galvanator-type actuator helps to smoothly adjust the nine-bladed diaphragm for more discreet modifications in brightness, while the further incorporation of two ND filters allows for three levels of filtration – useful for movie recording. The lens itself spans a 20x optical zoom range, covering focal lengths equal to 24-480mm in 35mm terms – the far end of the zoom range is shown above. This is broader than the 25-400mm range offered by the FZ1000. It has a variable maximum aperture of f/2.8-4.5 and is equipped with a Hybrid O.I.S. system that promises correction over five axes, although this doesn’t quite offer optimum correction when recording in either 4K high quality or when using high-speed shooting for slow-motion footage.
Once again Panasonic has opted for the same partnership of an electronic viewfinder – or ‘Live View Finder’ in Panasonic parlance – and an LCD screen that can be pulled away from the body, although adjustments have been made from those on the FZ1000. While the LCD screen is still 3.0 inches, for instance, Panasonic has increased its resolution slightly from 921K dots to 1.04 million dots, and also made it touch-sensitive. It’s furthermore increased the magnification of the EVF from 0.7x to 0.74x, although its 2.36 million-dot resolution remains exactly the same.
Internally, everything will be recorded to an SD, SDHC or SDXC card, with support provided for the UHS-I Class 3 standard, although the HDMI port is there should you want to output footage to an external recorder. Wi-Fi can be on board, although unlike on the FZ1000 there’s no NFC technology alongside. In another move that will please videographers, the mic socket has already been joined by a headphone slot, which allows for audio to be monitored during documenting.
Panasonic Lumix FZ2500: Performance
- 12fps burst shooting (50fps with electronic shutter)
- 5-Axis Hybrid O.I.S system
- 2.36 million-dot Live View Finder
The FZ2500 / FZ2000 is capable of shooting at 12fps continuously, although this drops to 7fps should you want the autofocus system to keep a lock on moving subjects. When using the electronic shutter, however, it’s possible to boost this to 50fps at the camera’s maximum resolution.
Battery life is rated at around 350 images when using the LCD and 270 images with all the viewfinder, although you can typically extend it by adjusting your power management settings. Helpfully, you can also charge the camera through its USB 2.0 port, which is great if you happen to be by your computer or if you’ve misplaced your charger. This is also handy for travel and holidays – ideal applications for the FZ2500 / FZ2000 – as you can travel without a bulky charger.
The camera’s five-axis image stabilization system is clearly effective and makes a significant difference to help keep things steady at the telephoto end. Furthermore, the dual-axis leveling function is perhaps one of the better systems of its kind, clear enough to show that the camera is level without posing an obstruction to details in the scene. Another change Panasonic has made from the FZ1000 is an increase to the viewfinder’s magnification, from 0.70x to 0.74x (in 35mm terms). This places it at the same degree as many compact system cameras and some DSLRs, and its performance is very good in both good lighting and more demanding conditions. Details are clear, while noise and artifacts are both low, and the feed is nice and fluid. The new touchscreen on the FZ2500 / FZ2000 is a massive help too, particularly when you’re using the LCD screen for composition, and even more so when it’s pulled away from the digital camera and used down reduced or up high.
The screen is highly sensitive, which makes it easy to focus on subjects by touch, and its own visibility in harsher light is better than expected – looking closely you can see that it’s quite close to the outer panel, which helps to combat reflections. Its excellent sensitivity, however, is also something of an issue, in that it’s very easy to inadvertently move the focusing point, or select an option by simply brushing against it.
The sensitivity and protrusion of the viewfinder’s eye sensor also mean it’s easy to deactivate the LCD screen when you’re using it, particularly if shooting at hip or ground level. You can reduce the sensor’s sensitivity a touch through the menu, though, and this helps a little. One of the main impressions you develop through use is just how responsive the FZ2500 / FZ2000 is in a range of situations. For example, even though you have to wait a brief moment for the lens to fully extend upon powering it up, the camera is ready for action with very little delay.
Panasonic Lumix FZ2500: Conclusions
The Panasonic FZ2500 / FZ2000 is an impressive camera, with lofty ambitions that are thankfully matched by strong performance. If you’re using it for video recording in particular it’s likely that you’ll be pleased with the results, if somewhat overwhelmed by the level of control on offer. Even so, with 4K movie recording cropping up on many cheaper interchangeable lens cameras, the FZ2500 / FZ2000 does appear to be targeted towards a particular niche of photographers, those who need a broad level of video control together with an expansive optic. Those using the FZ2500 / FZ2000 for stills will also find plenty to like. The camera’s autofocus system is excellent, and does a great job of tracking moving subjects, while images show a good dynamic range and low noise throughout the lower end of the ISO scale, with optical aberrations well controlled. Both the EVF and LCD are fine performers in all key areas, while the responsive touchscreen is a huge bonus for ease of use and focusing, particularly when holding the camera in less conventional orientations. In some respects, the FZ2500 / FZ2000 falls a little short of the competition, and image quality is one area where the Sony Cyber-shot RX10 III has a slight but noticeable advantage. However, the Panasonic is cheaper by some margin, and certainly better value, so unless you’re in the habit of pixel peeping it may well be the better model for your requirements.