The Panasonic ZS100 camera, or Lumix TZ100 as it’s known outside of North America, is the new kid on the block with its popular travel-zoom series. It took a full year to hit the market, but the Panasonic ZS100 was worth the wait. It's lightyears beyond what you'd expect from a pocketable point, look and shoot camera.
It is the first Panasonic ZS-series camera that includes a one-inch sensor. The image quality produced by the ZS100 is impeccable. It also has a wide array of 4k video and photo features, but the versatile 10x zoom lens is the icing on the cake. Panasonic claims that the 10x zoom is a brand new invention -- a new kind of superzoom for travel cameras.
While the Panasonic ZS100 is not perfect, it performs well in a wide variety of situations and isn't that what travelers look for in a camera?
The Panasonic ZS100 isn't hard to recognize. It's iconic. Panasonic did a good job of not mixing up too many things and just stuck to the important stuff. It feels extremely tough and has a solidly built metal body that comes in shades of black and silver or just black. The ZS100 has a slim body with a slightly protruding lens that is visible even in a collapsed state. It measures 2.5 inches by 4.4 inches by 1.7 inches and weighs about 11 ounces.
What the Panasonic ZS100 lacks is a rugged outline that’s perfect for gripping. However, it has an indent that helps users hold the device comfortably. Since it’s a traveler’s camera, we highly advise using a wrist strap. After all, you don’t want to lose your priceless photos in a gorge. It's very easy to drop this camera during the action without the strap. The strap is a great choice if you want to protect your investment.
The Panasonic ZS100 has an organized design, all the buttons are grouped logically towards the edge of the right-hand side. This arrangement is especially convenient for people who are right-handed. There are two large dials on it, one for context-specific changes and the other for exposure modes.
The Panasonic ZS100 has a myriad of awesome new features. It’s got a 49-point Autofocus (AF) with face and eye detection. Shutter speeds run up to 1/16,000, which is impressive. The ZS100 is fast at 10 frames per second (fps) burst shooting.
It doesn’t disappoint when it comes to printing. It is capable of printing A4 size or smaller. The Panasonic ZS100 has a high level of detail comparable to its bigger brother, the Panasonic Lumix GF7. Keep in mind that the GF7 has a larger four-thirds sensor.
If you are looking for 4K video, you will get it here at 25 or 30 fps. On top of that you get, Power Optical image stabilization (OIS) for stills that compliments it’s five-axis image stabilization for video. It also has the recent Venus Engine processor Leica DC Vario-Elmarit 25 to 250 mm zoom with an aperture of f/2.8-5.9.
It’s deceiving and frustrating when you realize the touch screen on your device was a marketing gimmick. But, the Panasonic screen is very sensitive to touch. It also has built-in Wi-Fi that makes it a whole lot easier to tackle image transfers. What’s best, you get a variety of filters with which you can boost your pictures.
What is the performance of the Panasonic ZS100?
The Panasonic ZS100 has an all-purpose metering system that offers accurate exposures. It's slightly disadvantageous when you want to take a picture of something with areas of high-contrast. But still, it’s much more than you would ever expect from a camera in this category.
The ZS100 is compact, but don’t expect it to fit the pockets of your jeans. Your jacket pocket might be a better place for it. It’s also got a boatload of customizable buttons, four that are physical and five on its touchscreen interface. You will need a bit of finger stretch to reach out to some of the tabs though.
Users can also compose pictures on the three-inch touchscreen LCD or the electric viewfinder. It has a pretty standard LCD for a camera in this class. With just about 1.04 million dots, its touch compatibility is well done.
This camera preserves detail well throughout the optical zoom range, and the JPEGs produced are vibrant and don’t wander into the overly processed territory.
How does its performance compare to its rivals?
Compared to its rivals, its dynamic range is complex. It’s not as good as the Sony RX100 when it comes to exposure. The Panasonic ZS100 picture quality isn’t as good in lower ISO of 200 to 800 when you compare it to the image quality at higher ISO of 12,800.
The ZS100 performs much better while shooting in RAW, beating its rivals from ISO 400 going up. The problem here is noise reduction, therefore, if you will be shooting detail, you’d better stick to raw rather than JPEG.
When faced with different lighting conditions, its automatic white balance copes well. You will notice that there are slightly warmer tones produced under artificial lighting situations. Therefore, if you are the type of person that’s concerned with ultimate accuracy, you could either switch to a preset value or set it to a custom white balance.
The battery is great, up to 300 shots. However, it drops if you are using the viewfinder. The number of shots you can take significantly drops with the viewfinder activated. If you plan on going for a long weekend, don’t forget to carry your battery pack.
The Panasonic ZS100’s retail price ranges from $ to $$. Its competitor, the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 III’s price ranges between $$ and $$, while the Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II and Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 V retail from $ to $$ and $ to $$ respectively. If you are looking to get this camera, you can check it out at Focus or Amazon. However, if you are looking to save a few bucks, Amazon Marketplace is a great option as well.
How We Reviewed
There are a lot of reviews of the Panasonic ZS100 on the internet, most of them are positive. In addition to consumer reviews, we researched specifications and market comparisons. On Amazon, the Panasonic ZS100 Camera has a rating of 4.1 out of 5 stars. Most reviewers commended its ability to shoot great pictures in low light conditions. They also praised it for being handy during travel.
Panasonic ZS100 Market Comparison
According to market critics, the Panasonic ZS100 is a much better buy than other travel cameras in this class. It's cheaper, more compact, and has better image quality. So how does the Panasonic ZS100 compare to its main rivals, the Panasonic DC-ZS200 and Sony’s RX100?
It’s important to note that both of these cameras have 20.1 MP 1 sensors. Why would you get the Panasonic ZS100 over the ZS200? First, the shutter speed. The Panasonic ZS100 has a much faster shutter speed than the ZS200. Its maximum shutter speed is 1/16000s.
It’s also 28g lighter making it a better travelers' camera compared to the ZS200. Regarding aperture, you get a faster lens on the Panasonic ZS100 at 2.80 compared to ZS200 3.30 (wide) and 5.90 over ZS200’s 6.40 (tele). For the flash coverage, the Panasonic ZS100 is still better with a flash coverage of 8.0m which is 1.2m longer than the Panasonic ZS200.
One of the advantages the Panasonic ZS100 has over the Sony RX100 V is its sensitive touchscreen. Its camera functions are also easier to access since all the essential buttons are on the right, logically placed for most users.
Both the Sony RX100 and the Panasonic ZS100 have Wi-Fi capabilities. However, Panasonic’s ZS100 offers much better connectivity. The ZS100’s electronic viewfinder is also superior, especially when it comes to framing and control. When shooting continuous bursts, Panasonic’s ZS100 has faster shooting speeds of 50.0 fps when compared to the Sony RX100 V’s 24.0 fps.
If you are looking for quality 4k pictures, the ZS100 is a much better buy since you get 4K photo mode. With the Sony RX100, users need to extract 8MP photos from 4K video.
The Sony RX100 V is lighter than the Panasonic ZS100, making it an appropriate travel companion. However, it doesn’t make a significant difference since it's only 13g lighter. Lastly, the Panasonic ZS100 is cheaper. It costs between $$$ and $$$ whereas Sony’s RX100 V's sells for $$$ to $$$.
The Panasonic ZS100 is no doubt a revolutionary travel camera. It has occupied a spot in the one-inch-type enthusiast market ever since Sony created the genre several years ago. It's an amazing camera with some of the key benefits being its 20MP BSI-CMOS sensor that is able to shoot 4K video. It also has great focus with an electronic viewfinder, which is great considering its class.
To be honest, Panasonic has produced the perfect camera that can be used by travelers. This is especially true for those who are looking for very high-quality images with a bit of flexibility on the zoom. To this point, we have witnessed a lot of one-inch sensors, but none is as pocketable and compact with the zoom capabilities of the Panasonic ZS100.
Panasonic is right to claim that they have introduced a new segment to the market, and according to the reviews, it's an acceptable one indeed.
There’s a lot of awesome features of the Panasonic ZS100, apart from its commendable large sensor and focal length. It has a great viewfinder. It might be small, but it is very useful. Let’s not forget about its sensitive touchscreen and built-in Wi-Fi that works perfectly with their free app.
It wouldn’t be fair to talk about the Panasonic ZS100 without mentioning its image quality. The ZS100 produces images that are fantastic. They are detailed, with great colors and a good range of creative options with which users can experiment.
Why Choose Panasonic ZS100
In summary, there’s very little to dislike about the Panasonic ZS100. If it came to picking out a problem, we wouldn’t mind having a movable screen. The viewfinder is tiny, meaning you wouldn’t want to use it for every photo you take. Being a traveler’s camera, you can easily find yourself between a rock and a hard place literally, so it would be nice to have some grip on your camera to capture this moment.
It's safe to conclude that Panasonic has raised the stakes when it comes to premium compact cameras. Even though Canon, Sony and currently Nikon have made valuable contributions to the one-type sensor compact camera market, none of them has this kind of zoom. Arguably, none of the mentioned cameras have such a well-rounded set of specifications either.
In case you are standing next to the Panasonic ZS100 in your store aisle, and you can’t decide on which camera to pick in this category, go with the ZS100. Users recommend it highly.