Panasonic Lumix FZ100 review
Panasonic Lumix FZ100 review - Performance
The Lumix FZ100 performs well in the majority of areas. Focusing is relatively nippy throughout the focal range, only occasionally failing to focus correctly. The 23-area focus tends to pick out the most ‘obvious' areas of contrast for focus, which is fine for the majority of use. Should more specific focusing be desired then the AF Area option allows a cursor to be manually moved around the rear LCD screen to act as the focus point. There's also a Subject Tracking AF mode that will follow a moving subject around in continuous focus or a Face Detection AF mode (now with Face Recognition technology to identify particular faces following repeated shooting). Don't expect super-fast subjects to be kept up with by the Subject Tracking AF, but it's certainly good for casual use where people are moving around a scene.
A real star of the show is the Power O.I.S. image stabilisation technology. As this is an optical lens-shift technology, the LCD or EVF preview benefits from the steadying of the image prior to it even being shot. This is particularly useful for long telephoto lengths, as keeping steady hands at 600mm is nigh-on impossible and makes framing tricky, which is somewhat alleviated here. A 600mm equivalent should be shot no slower than 1/600th of a second where possible, 500mm at 1/500th and so forth - so it's good to know that the FZ100's top-end shutter speed is a fairly fast 1/2000th of a second (professional DSLR cameras top-out at around 1/8000th second).
The HD movie mode, which will be a clincher for some prospective purchasers, is also well-equipped. As well as 1080i capture at 50 fields per second (25 full frames per second equivalent), it's possible to zoom in and out during recording, with continuous AF maintaining good focus throughout. PAL models have a 25fps output, while NTSC models keep the country-corresponding 30fps. It's small touches like this ensure that best quality will be attainable wherever you're based in the world).
Other quirky little features include an option where the lens position is memorised and re-acquired when the camera is turned back on. A similar menu-based option also features to ensure less menu digging to re-locate modes that have just been adjusted.
Layout, button positioning and the abundance of quick menus and one-touch buttons makes for a very easy, user-assignable use that's hard to fault. There's even an AF/AF Macro/MF focus switch on the side of the lens for quickly toggling between focus types without so much as having to delve into a menu (though no focus ring means manual focus has some speed of use limitations).