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Panasonic's Lumix FZ1000 is the camera I recommend the most to those considering a digital SLR for photography, but who aren't in love with the idea of buying and lugging around lenses. The new $1,200 Lumix FZ2500 arriving in December goes beyond that, eliminating the need for a high-performance camcorder, too.
According to Panasonic, the FZ2500 is essentially the company's GH4 interchangeable lens camera -- a model popular with moviemakers -- but with a fixed zoom lens. In this case, a 20x f2.8-4.5 24-480 lens with an inner zoom structure for reducing image shift when zooming. Ever noticed a little jump in your video when zooming in and out with another camera? That's what this system is suppressing.
The camera does not have a Micro Four Third sensor like the GH4 either, but the FZ2500's 1-inch 20-megapixel sensor is still big. If the performance is anything like the FZ1000's 1-inch sensor, you can expect better color, detailed dynamic range and low-light performance for photos and video than a typical camcorder or point-and-shoot.
So, how exactly is it like the GH4 then? Well, it's all in capabilities:
Design features like its 3.5mm mic and headphone jacks, a hot shoe, zoom and focus rings on the lens barrel, an SD card slot on the side for quick swaps when it's on a tripod, front and rear control dials and a high-res 3-inch flip-out rear touchscreen that tilts up and down by 270 degrees only add to its flexibility as a movie-making machine.
The design is great for photography, too, including a large, high-magnification OLED viewfinder; built-in ND filters -- -2EV(1/4), -4EV(1/16), -6EV(1/64) and AUTO - selectable with a switch on the lens barrel; built-in Wi-Fi for remote control and a nine-blade aperture for smooth-looking out-of-focus areas.
The camera has fast performance in general, with a full-resolution burst mode of 12fps with fixed focus or 7fps with continuous autofocus for up to 100 JPEGs or 30 raw images at a time.
Like Panasonic's other high-end compacts, the FZ2500 can use its 4K video capabilities to fire off 8-megapixel pictures at a blazing fast rate of 30 per second, grabbing moments you might otherwise miss. Another mode takes a burst of photos with different focus points and lets you select the area you want in focus after you shoot. Fans of close-up macro shots will appreciate the Focus Stacking mode, so you can decide how much of the shot is in focus.
If you were looking for a (slightly) less expensive competitor to Sony's Cyber-shot RX10 III, this is it.