PANASONIC LUMIX ZS100 4K Point and Shoot Camera, 10X LEICA DC Vario-ELMARIT F2.8-5.9 Lens with Hybrid O.I.S., 20.1 Megapixels, 1 Inch High Sensitivity Sensor, 3 Inch LCD, DMC-ZS100K (USA BLACK)
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PANASONIC LUMIX digital cameras are full of innovation for both traditional and modern camera enthusiasts. The LUMIX ZS100 brings together the visual performance of a large 1" sensor and the legendary optical performance of a bright LEICA DC Lens in a highly compact point-and-shoot camera. Traditionalists will love the hands-on manual feel of a lens-mounted control ring and thumbwheel, plus the familiarity of an eye-level electronic viewfinder. The modern enthusiast will love the Wi-Fi mobile device controllability and next-generation flexibility that 4K video and 4K PHOTO modes bring to the creative experience.
Most helpful customer reviews
137 of 142 people found the following review helpful.
Not Perfect but a Major Step Forward
I wanted this camera badly, so I bought it a day or two after it became available. It was through Amazon, but the order was fulfilled by Focus Camera. The ZS100 arrived in a few days (seemed a little slow on the shipping) and immediately there were problems out of the box. I got lots of error messages just trying to do the initial setup. I did get it set up and took a couple of photos, but was getting error messages and freeze ups every minute or so. So the same day I received it, I shipped it back to Focus Camera for a refund. Once the camera arrived at Focus, the refund was slow in coming and I was not reimbursed for the return shipping. I eventually got the refund and Amazon reimbursed for the shipping after I complained.
The camera was in short supply and I wanted it badly for an upcoming assignment (a paying photography gig), so I ordered a replacement from Adorama. That one came promptly with a carton full of accessories -- and the camera worked perfectly out of the box. On to the review of the Panasonic ZS100:
I like it... I really like it. I have had several Panasonic ZS series cameras starting with the ZS7, but the last one I got (the ZS50) was not nearly as good as I expected. It's photos were just fair at best, although video was pretty good. I loved the size and the long zoom (30x) but the lens added distortion and artifacts, especially when zoomed all the way in. I knew what I needed: I wanted to trade some zoom length for a bigger sensor. That's exactly what the ZS100 is, and it works much as I expected.
The Panasonic ZS100 has a "1-inch" sensor, which works out to a diagonal of about 16mm. That doesn't sound that big, but it has something like four times the area of the sensor in the ZS50 (which is a 1/2.3 inch sensor). More area means bigger pixels that have better light gathering ability, which means lower noise and higher resolution from less optical interference. This sounds complex, but I can tell you that it works -- the ZS100 takes much better photos and much better video than the ZS50. Of course, it costs quite a bit more.
What I like about photos from the ZS100:
-Excellent clarity and color
-Much better in low light than a small-sensor camera. The ZS100 really is usable to ISO1600.
-The flash on the ZS100 is excellent. It's a pop-up flash that lines up with the lens almost exactly, eliminating ugly flash shadows.
-Even though the lens is f5.9 when zoomed all the way in, I still get excellent bokah. Check one of my images below.
-At 20 megapixels, there is plenty of resolution for my applications, which includes magazine publishing.
What I don't like about photos from the ZS100:
-The lens is not as good as the removable Panasonic lenses I have for my GX8 Micro-FourThirds camera. Lens quality seems to be the limiting factor on the ZS100
-The auto focus doesn't always find the right focus, even when the subjects are in the clear and seemingly obvious.
I want to re-iterate what I said about the flash on the ZS100: This is the best flash I have seen on a pocketable camera, and I have owned about 10 such cameras over the years. It reaches out 15 feet or so with good illumination and the results look natural. Because it's a pop-up flash, it is virtually impossible to accidentally cover it with a finger. (It was much too easy to accidentally cover the flash on the ZS50.)
I complained about the autofocus on the ZS100 and you might think that I could just use manual focus. I do use manual focus and it is easy to use, but it's just not as fast as touching the shutter button to get a focus. I love that the ZS100 has a convenient manual focus, which I find especially useful for video shooting -- more about that in a moment.
As for my photography assignment, I completed it with the ZS100 with good results. A couple of these photos are shown below.
Now onto the ZS100's video capabilities. I actually shoot video more than I do photos, so I was really excited to get the ZS100 for its 4K video capability.
Here's what I like about the Panasonic ZS100's video:
-4K video quality is excellent, and HD (1080p) is even better.
-The format the ZS100 uses for 4K video (100 Mbps MP4) plays back on all my computers with minimal complaint. I can even take the raw video files and play them on my Hisense 4K TV. That has a REAL "wow" factor!
-When shooting 4K video, the lens works out to be 37mm to 370mm, and I like the 370mm telephoto. Having 37mm at the wide end is not so good.
-Although no one has mentioned it that I've seen, the ZS100 will record 1080p at 120 fps for nice slow motion. Yes, it will do 120 fps at 1080p -- very nice. When shooting at 1080p, either slow-motion or normal speed, the zoom range is 31mm to 310mm.
Here's what I don't like about the ZS100's video:
-Again, the lens is not as good as the MUCH more expensive lenses I have for the Panasonic GX8. As with photos, the lens quality limits the ultimate quality of the images. They just don't look quite as pristine as the photos and videos I get from the GX8, although the ZS100 does fine with both. (The cheapest lens I have for the GX8 costs as much as the ZS100 camera, so this is not a surprise.)
-There's no jack for external audio.
-Having the widest shot be 37mm (31mm at 1080p).
For a pocketable camera, the ZS100 does a great job with photos and video, although a tick below the similarly priced Panasonic LX100. On the other hand, the LX100 has just a 3x lens, although higher quality... decisions, decisions.
Ergonomics and handling:
The ZS100 is chunkier and noticeably heavier than the ZS50. The ZS100 will easily fit in a jacket pocket and will even go in a roomy pants pocket, but you'll notice it. I carried it for four days at a big convention, where I took dozens of photos for publication. It was in the pocket of my sport coat and was not a problem there at all.
The 3-inch touch screen display on the ZS100 is excellent, and I quickly adapted to the touch screen after not having one on the ZS50. The ZS100 also has a small but useful eyepiece (electronic) viewfinder that is wonderful when shooting outdoors or when I need the added stability of holding the camera to my face. The eyepiece viewfinder has just enough pixels to be useful -- as far as I can tell, the ZS100's eyepiece viewfinder is identical to the viewfinder on the ZS50.
The other buttons and controls on the ZS100 are in logical locations, although there is a knob on top of the camera that I don't really see the need for. I can probably assign it to do something I regularly use, such as exposure, but I haven't yet done that. It's just there and does nothing at the moment.
Overall, I like the size, photo quality and video quality of the ZS100 quite a bit. I wish the auto focus was better, but I very much enjoy the lower noise and higher sensitivity of the ZS100, as compared to the ZS50. It does exactly what I expected the larger sensor to do. And the flash -- I'm very happy with the flash on the ZS100, despite the fact that it shoots only straight forward and can't be pointed anywhere else.
Below are a couple photos from the ZS100. Amazon won't let me post a link to a video, but if you go to YouTube and search on my name (Bob Kovacs) and ZS100, you will find multiple videos that I've shot with the ZS100. I also have a l-o-n-g video review of the ZS100, and a comparison video: ZS100 vs. the Panasonic LX100. One nice recent video I shot with the ZS100 is on Arlington Cemetery on Memorial Day 2016. Go to YouTube and search on "arlington cemetery memorial day 2016 zs100" and you'll find it.
I recommend the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS100, and appreciate Amazon's customer service for making right the initial problem I had.
74 of 79 people found the following review helpful.
Not a Durable Travel Camera
This camera is enough to make a seasoned DSLR user happy: excellent features, options, flexibility, and compact size that makes it easier to travel with. The primary reason I bought this camera was for travel. Previously, I brought my Canon 60D with me, but after awhile, it gets heavy, so I wanted something that would produce comparable photos. I spent several months researching and even spoke to several professional photographer friends and settled on the DMC-ZS100.
The photos were sharp, it was compact and fit in my purse, it was easy to use - it worked great! When it worked.
On a road trip from California to Florida, I started noticing a lens error whenever I zoomed. Turning it on and off was enough to get it to work again I was concerned it was humidity around the gulf, as it didn't have that issue in drier climates. Still, it worked and I brought it with me to Greece - where the promotional video for it was done.
First day there and there is fatal "System Error". The lens zoomed out, got stuck, and wouldn't retract. I tried removing the battery, restarting it - nothing. The camera would not work the rest of the trip. The weather was mild and not humid. I was also very careful with the camera and kept it in a case when not in use. In the end, I ended up using my Galaxy S7 Edge to photograph my trip and upon return, send the DMC-ZS100 to be fixed as it was still under the 1 year limited warranty.
To be fair, Panasonic was very good contacting me upon receipt of the item and even left a phone number and other information if I wanted to call and check up on the camera. Please keep in mind that they require that you send it in with all its parts: battery, usb cord, strap, etc. I made sure it was registered, contacted the website via the chat feature to get more information on what was needed to have it repaired, and buried it in shipping peanuts to protect it. I mailed it in for repair last month and received it back yesterday. It works again, but came with instructions not to use in places with humidity, dust, sand, water (including rain); not to drop it or bump it against anything - basically it was sensitive and easily damaged.
If you want to use this as a travel camera, I don't recommend it. I feel guilty about having suggested it to a friend who ended up buying it and had lens errors while in Europe. It's a good camera, but it's not a durable one and depending on your travel style and location, the DMC-ZS100 won't cut it. It's far too fragile to be a good travel camera and if you plan to go to the tropics, deserts, beaches, or places where there is a strong possibility of rain, you risk severely damaging the camera. I highly suggest sticking to a mirrorless compact with interchangeable lenses or a water proof camera. Panasonic's waterproof cameras are great, actually! Dropped one on rocks in the Galapagos and it's fine.
Overall, when it works, it's a solid 5 Stars.
As far as durability, it's a fragile 1 Star. The fact that it did not work out for its intended purpose - as a compact alternative to taking DSLR quality photos - is what resulted in such a low rating. Had I known it was this delicate, I wouldn't have purchased it.
108 of 116 people found the following review helpful.
Hits Many of the Notes
This is a good camera that checks off a number of boxes for many people. This is not the perfect camera, nor is it trying to be. It's not a full frame sensor but it does have a good size 1" sensor that gathers a lot more light than the traditional small sensors shoved in cameras of this size for so many years. It's not a super zoom but it's got a good focal range of 24-250 that is wanted by many. Finally, it's compact, which is really appreciated by those who prefer to travel light.
The image quality (IQ) is good for a camera of this type and should satisfy many. You can't go too far wrong with this camera and I think a great many people will enjoy it. Are there cameras that can do better in all the things I just mentioned? Sure, but this camera didn't aim to be the "best" in any particular category. It aimed to be a pretty nice collection of a number of features so many people were after (compact, good sensor and nice focal range).
My only personal issue is the menu system, which I hate LOL! Fortunately, I'm not one who needs to fiddle with settings too often and once I've got things set up pretty much the way I traditionally like them . . . the settings become stable for me. All in all, it's a nice package that takes good images. It's kind of the first of it's kind in this category and it will be interesting to see how Sony, Canon, Nikon, Fuji, etc. react to it and attempt to surpass it. We are finally starting to see the things so many of us wanted for so long appear in a compact package. Hopefully, this is just the beginning. I'm confident this category will grow and be refined.
The main thing is to just get out there and enjoy the journey of capturing images and memories. Don't get caught up in all the technobable and camera trashing that sadly has become sport for too many. The camera forums are filled with people trashing EVERY SINGLE CAMERA that comes out! Listening to them too intensely can paralyze you from buying anything! Just go out and enjoy taking pictures!