The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100 is more advanced -- and therefore bulkier, heavier and pricier -- than most other ultra-zoom cameras. Its wide-angle lens extends to a long 24x zoom, even while shooting 1080i HD video. It offers some manual controls, such as focus and white balance. Unlike most other ultra-zooms, the FZ100 includes an electronic viewfinder, and its LCD screen swivels.
One of the FZ100's biggest selling points is its fast burst rate -- up to 11 frames per second (fps) at full resolution, or 60 fps at lower resolution. But in a test at Steves-Digicams.com, editors say "We were only able to reach 5 fps with a class 10 SD card, even at the highest burst setting." More than one expert also criticizes the image quality from the FZ100's 14.1-megapixel sensor: It's fine in bright light, but at ISO 400 and above, JPEGs get grainy (or else the automatic noise-reduction drastically over-smoothes them). Some testers say that to dodge that problem, you can shoot in RAW mode and then process the files yourself, but other experts get grainy results in RAW, too. The pop-up flash is another drawback; it doesn't pop up automatically, and it's not strong enough to keep up with the FZ100's zoom limits.
We found detailed tests of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100 at the photography enthusiast sites such as Imaging-Resource.com, Steves-Digicams.com, DigitalCamera-HQ.com and PhotographyBlog.com, as well as at the tech review site CNET. User reviews at Amazon.com discuss the camera's real-world performance.
Despite its impressive wide angle-ultrazoom lens, the Panasonic DMC-FZ100's sensor noise "muddies the picture, quite literally," experts here say. It's really fun to use, but you probably won't be happy if you print larger than 8-by-10 or want the best low-light photos.
Review: Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100, Greg Scoblete, Dave Etchells, Shawn Barnett and Stephanie Boozer, Dec. 6, 2010
"As long as you're willing to work with raw image files, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100 is one of the best full-size megazooms you can get," Joshua Goldman says. JPEG photos suffer from yellow blotching and "smeary details" even at ISO 400, but you can process raw files yourself and take care of those problems.
Review: Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100, Joshua Goldman, Dec. 17, 2010
Testers here can only manage 5 fps, rather than the 11 full-resolution fps Panasonic advertises for the DMC-FZ100. They still think it's "an excellent choice" among compact super-zoom cameras, though, thanks to its impressive image quality, features and controls.
Review: Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100 Review, Editors of Steves-Digicams.com, Dec. 21, 2010
"The FZ100 is the most impressive superzoom that money can buy right now," Liam McCabe says -- but it's also the most expensive, even pricier than some DSLRs. Although its image quality can't match even a cheap DSLR, the DMC-FZ100 offers lots of fun features and a great zoom -- perfect for parents of kids in youth sports.
Review: Panasonic Lumix FZ100: Hands On Review, Liam McCabe, Dec. 3, 2010
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100 would win a top award here if not for its "poor image quality at higher ISO speeds and the rather eye-watering price tag," Mark Goldstein says. Still, it can shoot HD video and "could replace your video camcorder." It's rated Highly Recommended.
Review: Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100 Review, Mark Goldstein, Aug. 12, 2010
More than 120 users give the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100 an average rating of 4 stars out of 5. A few users complain about grainy low-light photographs and the $50 proprietary battery pack.
Review: Panasonic Lumix FZ100, Contributors to Amazon.com