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4K is quickly becoming the new HD--and now, it's available in even compact cameras. The Panasonic Lumix FZ1000 is the world's first compact camera with 4K video, according to the manufacturer. But, that's not all this little bridge-style camera can do.
The FZ1000 sports a large 1" sensor, the same size in the Sony RX100 series and Nikon 1 line. The big sensor means big resolution and solid low light performance, putting the FZ1000 firmly into the advanced category. That big sensor is paired with a f2.8-4.0 lens, which is rather bright considering this camera also has a 16x zoom. The bright lens and big sensor should mean excellent low light performance as well as soft, defocused backgrounds. Enthusiasts will also appreciated the RAW capability, with in-camera RAW conversions.
Speed-wise, the FZ1000 can shoot 12 fps, which is an excellent speed for this category. The maximum shutter speed is 1/16,000 using the electronic shutter (1/4000 mechanical). Panasonic is boasting faster autofocus speeds on this model too, though we have yet to test it out ourselves. Panasonic says autofocus is as fast as .09 seconds. Beware though, sometimes a fast autofocus means a tendency to focus on the center of the frame--but again, this is something that can only be really tested with a hands-on review.
While the FZ1000 is an advanced compact camera, with such a big, fast lens, the size and shape resembles a small DSLR. But, that also looks to mean improved usability with a variety of physical controls. There's no dual control wheels (just one on he back), but the FZ1000 looks to have a good set of shortcuts including ISO, focus mode, white balance, metering and several function buttons set based on the camera's mode and user preferences.
Sporting both an electronic viewfinder and a tilting LCD screen, composing shots on the FZ1000 should be a breeze. When using the live view mode on the LCD, users can even adjust the intensity of the shadows and highlights using the control wheel.
But of course, the FZ1000 is making waves for the video specifications. While it's hard to judge video performance based on specs since there's factors like autofocus speed and noise when zooming that won't be listed there, everything on paper looks excellent so far. The 4K video is available in the MPEG-4 format and records at the 30p rate. If you'd like a faster frame rate, you can record in the traditional 1080 HD at 60p, and the AVCHD file type is also available at this setting. An external flash is also available (sold separately) that includes a continuous video light function. A shotgun mic can also be added.
Overall, the Panasonic FZ1000 looks to be an excellent camera at it's introduction. The retail price is up there at $899.99. While that price puts it out of many consumer's budgets, the list of features do seam to fit the price well compared to other advanced compacts. Still, when you can get a consumer DSLR for a similar price, it's a hard purchase to make. The FZ1000 looks to be a good choice for those who never upgrade the kit lenses on their consumer DLSRs, or enthusiasts and pros that want a smaller shooter that still offers a bit of zoom. And of course, with 4K video, consumers who use a lot of the video features on their current camera will want to take a look too.