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Panasonic Lumix FZ2500 Review

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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.

In-depth Review of Panasonic Lumix FZ2500

The Panasonic Lumix FZ2000, or FZ2500 as it’s called in North America, is a high-end DSLR-styled super-zoom camera with a 20x / 24-480mm range, 1inch 20 Megapixel sensor, large EVF, fully-articulated touchscreen and a wealth of pro movie options including unlimited 4k recording in UHD or Cinema 4k. Announced in September 2016, it’s positioned above the existing FZ1000 which remains on sale.

The FZ2000 / FZ2500 shares the same 1inch 20 Megapixel sensor as the FZ1000, giving it a step-up in quality over cameras with smaller sensors, while also allowing a large zoom to be accommodated. The lens is the major upgrade over the earlier FZ1000, boosting the previous 16x / 25-400mm f2.8-4 range to 20x / 24-480mm f2.8-4.5 and, importantly for balance and minimising image shift, the zooming now takes place internally so once the camera’s powered-up the barrel doesn’t extend any further. Panasonic has also fitted a coreless DC motor for smooth zooming at a choice of speeds. The nine-blade diaphragm can now be controlled smoothly for step-free adjustments, while a pair of built-in ND filters work together to provide two, four or six stops of light absorption.

4k movies (with an approximately 1.5x crop) can be captured in UHD or the wider Cinema 4k format at 24 to 30p for as long as you have memory and battery remaining (there’s no 29:59 limit in any region), while 1080 is available between 24 and 60p with variable frame rate options for the further slowdown (effectively up to 120fps). Movie pros will appreciate the 4k / 10 bit / 4:2:2 HDMI output along with the chance to buy an upgrade to support V-Log; note Cinelike profiles are included as standard.

Like other Panasonic cameras, the FZ2000 / FZ2500 exploits 4k in an abundance of photo modes, including 4k Photo (effectively capturing 8 Megapixel stills at 30fps), Post Focus (which racks the focus during capture to let you later extract the one at the desired point of focus), and the latest Focus Stacking (which again racks the focus during capture but then lets you create a stacked image in-camera between a defined range of distances). These modes are all defined and adjusted using the 3in fully-articulated touchscreen. The viewfinder uses exactly the same 2360k dot / OLED panel because the FZ1000 but boosts the magnification from 0.7x to 0.74x for a satisfyingly large and detailed picture.

In my review, I’ve tested and compared the Lumix FZ2000 / FZ2500 alongside Sony’s RX10 Mark III. Many of the FZ2000 / FZ2500’s upgrades on the FZ1000 are in response to Sony’s earlier RX10 models, but I wanted to see how it measured up against the latest Tag III. It’s certainly a compelling rival which trumps the range of the FZ2000 / FZ2500 with its 25x / 24-600mm f2.4-4 lens, weather-sealed body, High Frame Rate (HFR) video around 1000fps and faster continuous shooting. It’s comfortably more expensive than the FZ2000 / FZ2500 though and lacks its Cinema 4k option, fully-articulated touch-screen (versus vertical tilt-only and non-touch), 4k photo settings and adjustable ND filter. Read on to find out which movie-oriented premium super-zoom will be best for you! Though the Lumix FZ2000 looks a lot like the earlier FZ1000, there’s much that’s new. It’s roughly the same size and weight as its predecessor, which is to say comparatively big and heavy if you’re used to a smaller sensor superzoom. The FZ2000 / FZ2500’s dimensions are 138 x 102 x 135mm and it weighs 4 grams short of a Kilo with the battery and a card fitted.

The figures for the Sony RX10 III are 132 x 94 x 127mm and 1095g, a little bit, though not noticeably smaller and a bit heavier. But compare those figures with Panasonic’s FZ200, which measures 132 x 91 x 117mm and weighs 691g and you begin to appreciate how much more substantial the larger sensor super-zooms are usually.

The FZ2000 / FZ2500 has no fewer than seven programmable function buttons compared with five on the sooner FZ1000. The first three are mounted on the left side of the lens barrel: Fn1 and Fn2 zoom the zoom lens in and out at the slowest of the available speeds, Fn3 controls white balance and ISO sensitivity. These Function buttons replace the zoom/focus switch which toggled the function of the lens ring and the change for stabilisation. There’s now a second ring for focusing and stabilisation is set from the menu. Behind the three function buttons is the five-position switch for the ND filter which has three manual settings of 1/4, 1/16 and 1/64 (2, 4 and 6 stops) as well as off and auto positions. Moving up to the top panel, the large change here regards the control dials. The original thumb-operated wheel that was recessed into the back becomes a fully-formed, generously-proportioned, top-mounted dial. A second index finger-operated handle wheel as now situated just behind the shutter release.

Just behind it, there’s right now a single function button, Fn4, and slightly moved to the right of that maybe the movie record switch. The mode dial loses its second custom position to panorama setting but is otherwise unchanged.

Fn5, Fn6 and Fn7 are on the rear panel in the places previously occupied by Fn3, Fn4 and Fn5 and, as before they’re assigned to the Q Menu, delete/back and the viewfinder/display toggle. Styling details aside the trunk panel is normally very similar to the Lumix FZ1000, with the four-way controller, display and playback control keys on the proper part of the articulated display screen. The screen itself gets a boost in resolution from 920k to 1040k dots. As before it’s 3:2 proportioned so when shooting stills in the native 3:2 sensor shape the image fills the entire screen area. But the big news is that it’s now a touch-sensitive panel which means you can tap it to set the AF area, make menu selections and take advantage of other features like screen functionality buttons. Touch screens have been a great success on some other Lumix versions and it’s an obvious, but nonetheless a welcome addition to the FZ2000 / FZ2500.

None of the Sony RX10 models has touch displays and, like the earlier versions, the RX10 III’s screen is attached at the bottom with the double-hinge so that it can flip up and down, but the aspect hinge on the FZ2000 / FZ2500 means it can be positioned at any angle including forward-facing for self-shooting also it can also be folded inside on itself for protection when not in use.

The FZ2000 / FZ2500’s OLED viewfinder has the same 2359k dot resolution as its predecessor but now presents a larger view thanks to a higher magnification of 0.74x. The FZ2000 / FZ2500’s native 3:2 image shape means that when capturing full-sized stills the picture doesn’t quite fill the 4:3 proportioned viewfinder and narrow black bands appear at the top and bottom. These areas don’t go to waste though and are used for information screen. Shooting mode, photo style, flash mode, movie mode, image size and quality, focus setting and battery life are displayed along the top; with metering mode, aperture and shutter speed, exposure compensation and remaining card capacity across the bottom.

In practice, the quality of the viewfinder is excellent and on a par with the best EVFs fitted to compact system cameras. It’s big, bright and the image is nice and stable though inevitably when panning there’s an ever so somewhat perceptible lag. If this bothers you there’s an option to increase the refresh rate from the default 30fps to 60fps though at the higher rate the battery will run down more quickly.

For most situations though, I found the FZ2000 / FZ2500’s viewfinder a pleasure to use. In a side-by-side comparison with the Sony RX10 III, the FZ2000 / FZ2500’s viewfinder looks slightly bigger, brighter and more detailed. Perhaps most importantly the view looks more steady with no hint of flicker even at the default 30fps refresh rate.

An eye sensor is positioned just above the FZ1000’s viewfinder so the display automatically switches from the display to the viewfinder when you raise your eye to it. Pressing the Fn7 key toggles between the EVF and display screen displays. This is also handy to prevent the EVF from kicking in once you don’t want it, for example when shooting at waist level with the screen flipped up. Pushing the Disp button on the rear panel toggles between four viewfinder display overlays: one displays the full information, another only shows exposure information with both of these options also obtainable with a two-axis level. Generally, what’s displayed in the viewfinder is replicated when you change to the display, however, the display screen has two other options one being detailed information the only screen and the other that is blank.

So it’s possible to have a clear uncluttered see in the viewfinder with all the detailed information displayed on the trunk screen, though you can’t have both at the same time, but need to remove your vision from the EVF to switch the screen on. If you’re really not keen on using the display at all you can set the blank option, which uses less battery power than permanently switching to the EVF as the viewfinder then only becomes active when you put your attention to it. With the rear screen disabled you can still get the detailed info display screen if you want it by setting the viewfinder to monitor mode.

Finally, if you like the way the FZ2000 / FZ2500 switches between your EVF and screen but don’t like how it sometimes happens accidentally, there’s actually an option to alter the sensitivity of the sensor. All in all, it’s a very well thought through, practical system which is easy to configure.

On the right side of the body, a plastic flap covers the mini HDMI port with a USB / A/V out slot below. Panasonic has rectified the omission of a headphone jack on the earlier FZ1000 and on the new model, it’s positioned right above the HDMI and USB ports using its own separate cover. The socket for the DMW-RSL1 wired remote has moved to the proper side of your body just above the SD card compartment. The HDMI will impressively output 4k in 10 bit / 4:2:2.

The Lumix FZ2000 / FZ2500 takes exactly the same DMW-BLC12E battery because of the FZ1000. From a full charge you can expect to get 350 shots if you use the screen exclusively and 270 if you are using the viewfinder, for most people using both it’ll be somewhere between those two numbers. That’s on the low side for a super-zoom and you’ll probably want to carry a spare. The Sony RX10 III does better with a quoted figure of 420 / 370 for screen / EVF use. Plus it is possible to recharge the Sony’s electric battery over USB from sources including a laptop, car charger or portable battery, a big advantage if you’re travelling as you don’t have to carry a separate charger and rely on mains power. Sadly the FZ2000 / FZ2500 can’t be charged over USB.

One of the unique things about the FZ2000 / FZ2500 is its ability to keep filming clips beyond the usual 29:59 limit. But how long will the battery last and is overheating an issue? To find out I installed a freshly-formatted 64GB cards and started filming 4k / 25p at 100Mbit/s. It kept filming well-beyond the traditional half-hour control, and just stopped when the 64GB card filled-up after an hour and 26 minutes. I then reformatted the cards and began recording again straightaway, capturing an additional 44 minutes before the battery gave up. So with a big enough card, you should be able to film an individual 4k clip lasting over two hours on a single charge, that is pretty impressive.

Like the FZ1000, the Lumix FZ2000 / FZ2500 is fitted with an integral pop-up flash which is raised by sliding a small switch on the right side of the viewfinder housing. In fact, it appears to be the exact same flash as on the sooner model. The change releases a spring-activated mechanism which pops the flash-forwards an up, raising it well clear of the body and zoom lens barrel. To return it you just push it back down. It has a maximum selection of 13.2 Metres and offers forced on, forced on red-eyesight, slow sync and slow sync red-eye modes.

There’s furthermore a standard hot shoe for fitting an external flash and the built-in flash can be used to wirelessly control compatible Panasonic external flash units just like the DMW-FL360 and DMW-FL580. The RX10 III’s hot shoe can also accommodate an external flash, but Sony offers a host of other accessories, including a variety of LED lights, exterior microphones and even Sony’s XLR-K1M adapter which not only includes an external microphone but XLR jacks for additional professional mics.

Lumix FZ2000 / FZ2500 lens and stabilisation

The FZ2000 / FZ2500’s fixed zoom lens gets a major upgrade having an extended range that now starts slightly wider than before at 24mm equivalent and extends to 480mm weighed against 400mm previously. The maximum aperture remains at f2.8 however now closes to f4.5 at the telephoto end of the number.

Below you can see the comparative coverage of the zoom lens at either finish of the range. This is one of, if not really the most important factors for people thinking of buying a super-zoom, so let’s look at how it compares with the competition. Sony and Panasonic have been playing leapfrog with their respective RX10 and FZxxxx series zooms for a couple of years today. About six months after the RX10 with its 8.3x / 24-200mm zoom was launched in October 2012 Panasonic announced the FZ1000 with double the number – 16x / 25-400mm f2.8-4. The RX10 II stuck with the 24-200mm lens until the arrival of the RX10 III in March 2016 with a 25x / 24-600mm f2.4-4 lens. Then half a year later came the FZ2000 / FZ2500. This time around it doesn’t leapfrog the RX10 III with it’s 20x zoom, but the new zoom lens has some other very interesting features which might swing the balance in its favour despite the shorter range.

Lumix FZ2000 / FZ2500 movie modes

The Lumix FZ200 / FZ2500 video capabilities have been upgraded with the option of 4k movies in either UHD or the wider Cinema 4k format, and no limit (other than battery life and memory capacity) on recording time. 1080 is available between 24 and 60p with variable frame rate options for the further slowdown (effectively up to 120fps). Movie pros will appreciate the 4k / 10 bit / 4:2:2 HDMI output along with Cinelike D and V profiles for flatter output, along with the chance to buy an upgrade to support V-Log. These updates effectively put the FZ2000 / FZ2500’s movie capabilities on a par with Panasonic’s flagship mirrorless model the Lumix GH4.

You can record Cinema 4k (4096×2160) at 24fps or UHD 4k (3840×2160) at 23.98, 24, 25 or 29.97fps, all at a bit rate of 100Mbit/s and in the choice of MOV or even MP4 wrappers with LPCM audio. Note most 4k cameras only offer the UHD format.

The FZ2000 / FZ2500 is also very capable at 1080p, offering it at 23.98, 24, 25, 29.97, 50 and 59.94fps. Each frame rate can be encoded at 50, 100 or a huge 200Mbit/s. In addition, the 200Mlittle bit/s modes encode with All Intra, which means frames are compressed individually for better quality and easier editing. Again all modes are offered with MOV or MP4 with LPCM wrappers.

If the 1080p frame rate is set to 23.98, 24, 25 or 29.97fps and the bit rate to 100Mbit/s, you’re also given the chance to apply a variable frame rate to speed up or slow down the footage. The maximum frame price in the 23.98 and 24fps modes is 96fps, which in turn results in the four-times slowdown.

Two other new features you can take advantage of when shooting in these modes are Slow/quick and Dolly zoom. The first allows you to increase or decelerate the action by a factor of 2x by pressing Fn1 or Fn2 respectively. It is possible to of course do this in post-processing, but it’s much easier in the camera. Dolly zoom is a special effect zoom, most often used to create a creepy altered reality look where the central subject remains fixed while only the background zooms.

There’s also lower bit-rate video settings available from the MP4 (without LPCM) and AVCHD menus. In AVCHD it is possible to choose 1080 movie at 23.98p, 29.97p, 50p, 59.94p or 50i or 59.94i at 17 to 28Mbit/s. In MP4 you can choose 1080 at 25p, 29.97p, 50p, or 59.94p, 720 at 25p or 29.97p. The one omission from the GH4 video mode line-up is the VGA (640 x 480), which I suspect few will miss.

The high bit rates of the MOV and MP4+LPCM will be welcomed by demanding videographers and moviemakers, but they require a pretty fast SD card to aid them. Panasonic recommends at least Class 4 for AVCHD, Course 10 or UHS-I Class Speed 1 for 50Mbit/s, and UHS-I Class Velocity 3 (U3) for the 100 and 200Mbit/s options.

The sheer wealth of video formats can understandably cause confusion, so Panasonic divides them up by region with three system frequencies: 24Hz for Cinema, 50Hz for PAL and 59.94Hz for NTSC. You change the frequency in the Setup menu and need to reboot the digital camera after each switch by switching it off and on again.

There can be some confusion though. If you want 24.0fps, you’ll have to select the 24Hz rate of recurrence, but if you want 23.98fps, you’ll find it under the 59.94Hz NTSC configuration. As a format aimed for theatrical release, Cinema 4k is only available at 24.0fps, so you’ll only see it offered when the system frequency is set to 24Hz – and in addition only when the shooting mode is set to Creative Movies. In contrast, UHD, as a TV format, can be acquired across all three program frequencies, and for any shooting mode.

The FZ2000 / FZ2500 delivers UHD by taking a 3840×2160 pixel crop straight from the middle of the 5472 x 3648-pixel sensor. As illustrated by the red rectangle above, the cropping results in a significantly reduced field of view compared to shooting still photos at the native resolution, but the benefit is a complete absence of scaling, thereby allowing the 4k mode on the FZ2000 / FZ2500 to avoid the undesirable moire artefacts of most cameras. Plus while you miss out on the widest coverage, you do gain extra reach at the telephoto end. The Cinema 4K mode likewise uses a 4096×2160 pixel crop providing a slightly wider industry of view with the same vertical angle shown by the green rectangle above. The GH4 is the same in this regard, although with a lower resolution 16 Megapixel sensor as a starting point, the field of seeing isn’t reduced as significantly.

For 1080p video, the FZ1000 takes the full sensor width and scales it down to 1920 pixels using a non-integer factor of 2.85 times. The benefit is 1080p footage shares exactly the same horizontal industry of look at as shooting stills, however, the downside is again the potential for moire artefacts from the non-integer scaling element. With this in mind, those wanting the best 1080p output may prefer to shoot in UHD and scale it down by two times, although they’ll have to accept the reduced field of watch. Once again this is the same approach employed by the GH4 for 1080p.

The FZ2000 / FZ2500 lets you start recording movies in most shooting modes, but for the greatest control – and to unlock the Cinema 4k option, variable frame rate and Slow / Quick and Dolly zoom features – you’ll need to turn the mode dial to Creative Movies. This reformats the screen to preview the video aspect ratio and enables you to choose to shoot in Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Concern or full Manual.

The FZ2000 / FZ2500 can present and adjust the shutter speed and sensitivity as conventional seconds and ISO, angle and ISO, or seconds and DB. Filmmakers will gravitate towards the second option so they can set the shutter to 180 degrees for the most natural-looking capture of motion. Anyone used to consumer cameras will also be interested to find the chance to adjust the movie Luminance Level between 0-255, 16-235 or 16-255, giving more latitude to grade, along with a Master Pedestal Degree for setting black levels. There’s also a variety of timecode options and the chance to display or result in SMTPE, EBU or ARIB colour bars for calibration.

One of the unique things about the FZ2000 / FZ2500 is its ability to keep filming clips beyond the usual 29:59 limit. But how long will the battery last and will be overheating an issue? To find out I fitted a freshly-formatted 64GB card and started filming 4k / 25p at 100Mbit/s. It kept filming well-beyond the traditional half-hour control and only stopped when the 64GB cards filled-up after an hour and 26 minutes. I then reformatted the card and began recording again straightaway, capturing an additional 44 minutes before the battery gave up. So with large enough cards, you should be able to film a single 4k clip lasting over two hours on a single charge, which is pretty impressive.

Verdict

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 the dynamic range and low noise throughout the lower end of the ISO scale, with optical aberrations well controlled. In some respects, he 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 will be 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.

Check Panasonic Lumix FZ2500 Price 

1. PANASONIC LUMIX FZ2500 4K Point and Shoot Camera, 20X LEICA DC Vario-ELMARIT F2.8-4.5 Lens, 21.1 Megapixels, 1 Inch High Sensitivity Sensor, 422 10-bit, HDMI Out, DMC-FZ2500 (USA BLACK)

$897.99  in stock
3 new from $897.99
3 used from $810.99
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as of January 21, 2021 11:29 am

Features

  • The ideal hybrid camera choice for the advanced 4K video enthusiast and photography enthusiast alike.
  • Large 1-inch 20.1 Megapixel sensor and bright 20X LEICA VARIO-ELMART F2.8-4.5 lens.
  • 4K Ultra HD video recording plus exclusive LUMIX 4K PHOTO and 4K Post Focus and internal Focus Stacking modes.Operating humidity:10%RH to 80%RH
  • “CINELIKE D” and “CINELIKE V” for cinema-like gradation, time code, live HDMI output (4:2:2/8 bit or 4:2:2/10 bit), and lens ND filter controls.
  • Optional V-Log L upgradability for purchase, and an out of the box unlimited recording duration..Weight:Approx. 915g / 2.02 lb (Body only)
Best Alternative of Panasonic Lumix FZ2500 

1. Sony DSC-RX10 III Cyber-shot Digital Still Camera

$1,598.00  in stock
1 new from $1,598.00
2 used from $899.99
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as of January 21, 2021 11:29 am

Features

  • High zoom 24-600mm (25x) F2.4-4.0 ZEISS Vario-Sonnar T* lens, 20.1 MP 1" Exmor RS stacked back illuminated CMOS sensor w/ DRAM, 4K movie recording w/ direct pixel readout and no pixel binning
  • Super slow-motion movie HFR (High frame rate) up to 960 fps (40x), Fast Intelligent AF achieves autofocus as quick as 0.09-sec., Fast response up to 14fps and 1/32000 sec. Anti-Distortion Shutter
  • Enhanced operability w/ independent focus, zoom and aperture rings, Professional dust/moisture resistant magnesium-alloy body, Bright XGA OLED Tru-Finder viewfinder and Sharp 3" multi-angle LCD
  • Simple connectivity to smartphones via Wi-Fi and NFC w/ camera apps
  • BIONZ X engine for superior detail reproduction and noise reduction.Wifi:Yes (IEEE802.11b/g/n (2.4 GHz band))

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