The Panasonic DMC-FZ2000/2500
The Panasonic DMC-FZ2000/2500

The much anticipated upgrade to Panasonic's FZ1000 type 1 inch sensor bridge camera.

 

This new camera adds a host of new features missing on the original FZ1000 and now brings this camera into a new league for both stills photographers and videographers. It is the later users who get the biggest boost in user features with this camera.

The camera supports 4K (UHD) video at 24 or 25(30) fps depending upon how you set the camera system frequency.

The usual 29min 59 sec recording limit has been removed this enabling longer recording sessions - limited only by the memory card capacity.

The memory card slot has also been relocated to the side of the camera making access much easier and quicker.

A touch sensitive LCD screen brings with it the possibility of touch to focus/shoot and focus pulls in video operation.

Built in ND filter 1/4 to 1/64 allows the camera to shoot at the widest aperture and lowest ISO whilst keeping the correct shutter angle for cinematic recording.

The camera has a 3.5mm port for audio monitoring so that audio can be checked during recording or during playback preview.

The zoom operation can be operated via the usual zoom lever (2 - step) or the two new function buttons  (Fn1 & Fn2) on the lens side.

The videographer will be pleased to find that the camera has many professional level controls such as Master Pedestal, Time Code Generator, Colour Bar Generator, choice of AVCHD, MP4 or MOV recording formats and independent manual focus and zoom rings. It can also output a "clean" HDMI 4:2:2 10 bit signal for external recording.

 

The FZ2000 / FZ2500 shares the same type 1inch 20 Megapixel sensor as the FZ1000, giving it a step-up in quality over cameras with 1/2.3 inch sensors, while also allowing a large zoom to be accommodated.

 

The lens is the major upgrade over the earlier FZ1000, providing a 20x range / 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 what they term "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 which is important for steeples brightness control in video recording.

 

A pair of built-in ND filters work together provide two, four or six stops of light absorption (1/4, 1/16 and 1/64). These can be manually set or left in the Auto mode.

 

4k video (with an approximate 1.5x crop) can be captured in UHD or the wider Cinema 4k format at 24,25 or 30p (depending upon the system frequency that you set) for as long as you have memory and battery remaining.

 

The 29:59min limit (in any region) has been removed.

 

1080 HD video is available at 24, 50 or 60p with variable frame rate options for further slowdown (effectively up to 120fps).

There is now the 4k / 10 bit / 4:2:2 clean HDMI output for external recording on portable devices.

 

Panasonic are offering the chance to buy an upgrade to support V-Log for about £90 in the UK if you want professional level grading files.

The Cinelike D and Cinelike V profiles are included as standard.

 

The FZ2000 / FZ2500 supports 4k in a variety 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).

 

I did find the in-camera focus stacking did not do a particularly good job and it uses the small JPEG resolution 8M images to make the final stacked image. It is so much easier now to set your own focus position and use the full JPEG resolution of the camera and make the final stacked image in an external image editing program like Heliconsoft.

 

These modes are all defined and adjusted using the 3in fully-articulated touchscreen.

 

The viewfinder uses the same 2360k dot / OLED panel as the FZ1000 but boosts the magnification from 0.7x to 0.74x for a satisfyingly large and detailed image.

 

The FZ2000 / FZ2500 has seven programmable function buttons compared with five on the earlier FZ1000.

 

The first three are mounted on the left side of the lens barrel: Fn1 and Fn2 zoom the 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 switch for stabilisation. There’s now a second, smaller, ring for focusing. Both the zoom and focus operations work silky smooth unlike the "jerky" operation we saw on the FZ1000 model.

 

Adjacent to 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.

On the top panel, there has been a big change to the control dials.

 

The original thumb-operated wheel that was recessed into the back becomes a robust, top-mounted dial.

A new second index finger-operated control wheel as now situated just behind the shutter release.

 

Behind that there’s now a single function button, Fn4, and slightly moved to the right of that is the movie record button.

 

Functions Fn5, Fn6 and Fn7 are on the rear LCD screen and, as before they’re assigned to the Q Menu.

 

The FZ2000/2500 back very similar to the Lumix FZ1000, with the four-way controller, display and playback buttons on the right side of the articulated screen. The screen itself gets a boost in resolution from 920k to 1040k dots.

 

As with the previous FZ1000 camera it’s 3:2 proportioned so when shooting stills in the native 3:2 sensor shape the image fills the entire screen area.

 

The LCD screen is now a touch sensitive panel which means you can tap it to set the AF area or touch to shoot, make menu selections and take advantage of other features like the screen function buttons. 

 

Pressing the Disp button on the rear panel toggles between four viewfinder display overlays: one displays the full information, the second shows exposure details only with both of these options also available with a two-axis level.

 

The image viewed on the EVF is replicated when you switch to the screen, however, the screen has two other options one being a detailed information only display and the other which is blank.

 

On the right side of the body a plastic flap covers the mini HDMI port with a USB/ A/V outport below.

 

Panasonic has rectified the ommission of a headphone jack on the earlier FZ1000 and on the new model it’s positioned just above the HDMI and USB ports with its own separate cover. The socket for the wired remote control has moved to the right side of the body just above the SD card compartment. 

 

Like the FZ1000, the Lumix FZ2000 / FZ2500 is fitted with a integral pop-up flash which is raised by sliding a small switch on the right side of the viewfinder housing. The switch releases a spring-activated mechanism which pops the flash forwards an up, raising it well clear of the body and lens barrel.

It has a maximum range of 13.2 Metres with auto ISO set to on and offers forced on, forced on with red-eye reduction, slow sync and slow sync red-eye reduction modes.

 

Two other new video features you can take advantage of when shootings are Slow/quick and Dolly zoom.

 

The first allows you to speed up or slow down the action by a factor of 2x by pressing Fn1 or Fn2 respectively.

Dolly zoom is a special effect zoom, most often used to create an altered reality look where the central subject remains fixed while only the background zooms.

 

There’s also lower bit-rate video modes available from the MP4 (without LPCM) and AVCHD menus.

In AVCHD you can choose 1080 video at 23.98p, 29.97p, 50p, 59.94p or 50i or 59.94i at 17 to 28Mbit/s (depending upon system frequency set).

 

In MP4 you can choose 1080 at 25p, 29.97p, 50p, or 59.94p, 720 at 25p or 29.97p. 

 

The FZ2000 / FZ2500 can be operated using either its mechanical or electronic shutter. The range of the mechanical shutter is 60s to 1/4000 plus a bulb setting with a maximum of two minutes.

Switch over to the electronic shutter and the top shutter is extended to 1/16000. The electronic shutter is automatically selected when the camera is used in Silent mode, which also turns off the flash, AF illuminator and all other sounds.

 

The FZ2000 / FZ2500 provides full auto bracketing options for a bridge camera offering  up to seven frame shooting at intervals from 1/3 to 1 EV.

Auto bracketing has its own dedicated position on the drive mode dial and bracketed frames are shot individually or as a burst depending on the menu setup; you can even change the sequence order; white balance bracketing is also available.

The FZ2000/2500 rear view
The FZ2000/2500 rear view
The new location for the SD card
The new location for the SD card

The FZ2000 / FZ2500 supports Panasonic’s 4k Photo mode – exploiting the fact 4k video captures an 8 Megapixel image up to 30 times a second.

 

The FZ2000 / FZ2500 lets you easily capture bursts of video before scrolling through the footage and extracting the perfect frame as a JPEG image, all in-camera.

 

There’s three options: Burst (which records video while the shutter button is pressed), Burst S/S (which starts recording with one press and stops with another), and 4K Pre-burst (which keeps a rolling buffer to avoid unwieldy clips to store and go through).

 

Post Focus is another feature that uses the 4K shooting mode to focus-bracket a sequence of images.

When this mode is selected you can no longer set the AF area, however the PASM and other shooting modes can be set in the usual way as can the ISO sensitivity.

 

The only limitation is the slowest available shutter speed which, as for other 4k shooting modes is 1/30. You can choose one of four 8M aspect ratios – 4:3, 3:2, 16:9 and 1:1.

 

When the shutter is pressed the FZ2000 / FZ2500 captures a short burst of 4k video while racking the focus from the closest to the most distant subject in the composition.

 

It then takes a short while to process the results before displaying a composite on screen.

You can then simply tap the screen to select the focus point. If a green rectangle appears, this indicates that the camera made a successful focussed image at this point. However, if the rectangle is red then FZ2000 / FZ2500 didn’t record a frame with the focus set at that specific point. 

 

The second option is to zoom in to an area you want in focus and drag a slider at the bottom of the screen which cycles through all of the bracketed frames. Once you’ve found a version you’re happy with, you can export it to the memory card as a JPEG image.

The Post focus clips are also saved as MP4 video files so if you keep these you can always grab a frame later using video editing software, but it’s much simpler to do in the camera.

You don’t have to edit immediately after shooting, you can activate post focus editing at any time in playback mode.

 

The Lumix FZ2000 / FZ2500 also adds a new post focus mode that stacks images to produce a composite with greater apparent depth of field than you’d get from an individual frame.

 

It’s particularly useful when the lighting conditions force you to shoot with a wide aperture or in macro photography where the depth of field is always very shallow.

 

In my testing the image results were not fantastic showing lots of stitching errors and the fact that the MP4 file uses the lower quality (S) JPEG images the results are nowhere near as good as if you were to shoot your own manual sequence of images and changing the focus point for each.

 

These would be at the full JPEG resolution and you could then import these into a dedicated image stacking program (like Helicosoft) to generate a much higher quality image.

 

Nevertheless less it is a bonus feature and one which may get improvements in software processing in the future.

the FZ2000/2500 Top View
the FZ2000/2500 Top View

 

Above full 480mm EFL shots using the FZ2000/2500 at 4.5/5.6/8

 

Below 100% crops from the images- Diffraction limited resolution starts to affect images at F5.6 and F8 markedly softer. Chromatic aberration also evident on the high contrast edges throughout the aperture range

 

Below images at 135mm EFL

The FZ2000/2500 has an extended ISO sensitivity range that can be activated from the menu. It  extends down to 80 ISO and has an additional 25600 ISO setting at the top. 

 

I think it’s fair to say that the Lumix FZ2000 / FZ2500 handles noise very well for a 1 inch sensor when viewing JPEG's straight from the cameras . At the lower ISO settings and at the natural base of 125 ISO there’s very little if any noise texture visible.

 

As you move up the ISO sensitivity scale of course the noise increases but it’s managed well with the result that up to 400 ISO you would be hard pressed to notice it.

The noise is visible beyond 400 ISO, but the noise structure is natural-looking with no sign of clumping or smoothing.

Similarly at 800 and 1600 ISO, despite the increase in noise 100% crops maintain a natural look, but 3200 ISO the noise became apparent and the images are only suitable for web page display or small prints.

 

It's hard not to like the FZ2000/2500 with its new features, however, for the stills photographer the only advantage is the post focus/focus stacking and the touch screen interface for selecting the focus point and the silky smooth manual focus.

 

Judging on the performance of the focus stacking I would not consider this a plus point for the camera and so can be discarded.

Similarly to the FZ1000 there were times where the camera would not focus on a subject but reported that it had focus locked though the image was clearly out of focus.

Nothing would force it to refocus unless I pointed the camera at a closer, or further, distance to make it acquire real focus and then go back to the point that I wanted to focus upon.

 

I guess this is due to the DFD (depth from defocus) used to speed up the AF performance.

 

The FZ1000 is currently around £450 in the UK compared to the current £1100 for the FZ2000/2500

Some Sample Images from The FZ2000/2500 (click to enlarge)

ISO NOISE TEST

Using the FZ2000/2500 with close up lens accessories.

my USB power bank to Panasonic camera  power conversion unit for use with the DCC8 battery box
my USB power bank to Panasonic camera power conversion unit for use with the DCC8 battery box

coming soon!