Can a camera like the Panasonic FZ1000 be used as a landscape camera? I’ve seen questions like this, not only for the FZ1000, but also for other small sensor cameras. From my experience using several different types of cameras, I’d say – Yes!
Yes, of course you can use the FZ1000 for landscapes, or anything else for that matter. It all depends on your expectations. If you want to use the FZ1000 in good light, and put it on a tripod from time to time, I think you’ll find that it works quite well. The electronic viewfinder (EVF) is big and bright, and the controls are easily accessed to make any changes that you’d like. Put a 62mm filter on it (like a polarizer or ND) and go for it!
Now, if you want to do some handheld, low light shooting, that’s a different story. While the FZ1000 does quite well with its built-in image stabilizer and decent high ISO performance, it can’t compete with larger sensor cameras (Canon 6D, 5D, etc….). If that’s what you want to do, then you need to step up your game, and spend some serious money on the larger sensor camera and even more money on fast lenses.
Getting back to the FZ1000 as a landscape camera, I have to say that overall I’ve been very pleased with its performance. I was recently able to spend a few weeks in the Eastern Sierra for the annual turning of the leaves. The Fall Color is always a favorite subject of mine. I switched back and forth between my M43 Olympus E-M5 and the FZ1000. Here are a few highlights from using each camera for landscapes:
Small, very solid in the hand
Plenty of external controls
Not so small, not quite as solid in the hand
Fixed zoom lens, great range
Plenty of external controls
My plan of walking/hiking with both cameras was to see how each performed in similar settings. Nothing scientific about it, just my “seat of the pants” experiences. To cut to the quick, both cameras worked well. Trying to keep things simple, I put each camera in its own bag. Even though the FZ1000 is physically larger than the E-M5, it was lighter in the bag because of its wonderful fixed zoom lens. The E-M5’s bag was a little heavier because I had to carry a few different lenses to match the range of the FZ1000. Heavy is a relative term in this situation. Compared to a larger DSLR and equally large lens, both the FZ1000 and E-M5 are very light and easy to walk/hike with!
Along with the E-M5 and FZ1000, I brought along a small, light weight tripod with 2 matching baseplates for quick camera changes. Both the E-M5 and FZ1000 have excellent 5-axis image stabilization built-in, but for landscapes, I generally prefer to use a tripod and either a remote shutter release or timer. I also switched between using the EVF’s on both cameras and the LCD’s. The E-M5’s LCD tilts up and down, and the FZ1000’s not only tilts, but also swivels. This allows you to put it in quite a few more positions than the E-M5’s, and is especially useful for getting unusual angels (very low or high). Don’t get me wrong, both of them worked quite well, but I think the FZ1000’s was just a little bit better.
Please keep in mind that a lot of this comparison is very subjective. We all have our personal preferences, and they can change quite frequently. After having used the FZ1000 almost non-stop, I had to pause and get the feel for the E-M5 again. It always feels solid, and looks like a finely crafted machine. But it is smaller, along with all of its controls. The FZ1000 felt more natural to use. The FZ1000’s EVF is big and bright and made the E-M5’s EVF a pain to use. But once I got re-acquainted with the E-M5, it ended up working out quite well.
** Disclaimer – These images were edited for the original RAW files (that just the way I roll)!
I think the results speak for themselves. Just because you have a camera with a smaller sensor, don’t let that stop you from using it for serious landscapes. Serious in this case means specifically going out to capture scenic views, maybe at sunrise or sunset, rather than just grabbing a selfie or snapshot in passing. Yes, there are some advantages in using DSLR’s with large sensors, but they are by no means the only game in town! Keep your expectations realistic and work within the strengths of your camera rather than its limitations and you’ll do just fine!
That’s it for this post, until next time – Happy Shooting!