Nikon 1 J5 vs Panasonic ZS100
The Nikon 1 J5 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS100 (labelled Panasonic TZ100 in some countries) are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in April 2015 and January 2016. The J5 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, while the ZS100 is a fixed lens compact. Both cameras are equipped with an one-inch sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 20.7 megapixels, whereas the Panasonic provides 20 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon 1 J5 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS100? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Nikon 1 J5 and the Panasonic ZS100 is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The J5 can be obtained in three different colors (black, silver, white), while the ZS100 is available in two color-versions (black, silver).
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Panasonic ZS100 is notably larger (23 percent) than the Nikon 1 J5. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the J5 nor the ZS100 are weather-sealed.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the ZS100 has a lens built in, whereas the J5 is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup.
The power pack in the ZS100 can be charged via the USB port, which can be very convenient when travelling.
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, you can move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|1.||Nikon 1 J5||98 mm||60 mm||32 mm||231 g||250||n||Apr 2015||399||ebay.com|
|2.||Panasonic ZS100||111 mm||65 mm||44 mm||312 g||300||n||Jan 2016||699||ebay.com|
|3.||Canon G7 X Mark II||106 mm||61 mm||42 mm||319 g||265||n||Feb 2016||699||ebay.com|
|4.||Canon SX720||110 mm||64 mm||36 mm||270 g||250||n||Feb 2016||379||ebay.com|
|5.||Canon G9 X||98 mm||58 mm||31 mm||209 g||220||n||Oct 2015||529||ebay.com|
|6.||Canon SX710||113 mm||66 mm||35 mm||269 g||230||n||Jan 2015||349||ebay.com|
|7.||Canon 1200D||130 mm||100 mm||78 mm||480 g||500||n||Feb 2014||449||ebay.com|
|8.||Canon G7 X||103 mm||60 mm||40 mm||304 g||210||n||Sep 2014||699||ebay.com|
|9.||Nikon 1 V3||111 mm||65 mm||33 mm||381 g||310||n||Mar 2014||799||ebay.com|
|10.||Nikon 1 J4||100 mm||60 mm||29 mm||232 g||300||n||Apr 2014||549||ebay.com|
|11.||Panasonic ZS200||111 mm||65 mm||45 mm||340 g||370||n||Feb 2018||799||amazon.com|
|12.||Panasonic FZ2500||138 mm||102 mm||135 mm||915 g||350||n||Sep 2016||1,199||amazon.com|
|13.||Panasonic LX10||106 mm||60 mm||42 mm||310 g||260||n||Sep 2016||699||amazon.com|
|14.||Sony HX80||102 mm||58 mm||36 mm||245 g||390||n||Mar 2016||349||ebay.com|
|15.||Sony HX90V||102 mm||58 mm||36 mm||245 g||360||n||Apr 2015||429||ebay.com|
|16.||Sony A5000||110 mm||63 mm||36 mm||269 g||420||n||Jan 2014||449||ebay.com|
|17.||YI M1||114 mm||64 mm||34 mm||281 g||450||n||Sep 2016||349||ebay.com|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down.
The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixel-units in a sensor of the same technological generation. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Both cameras under consideration feature an one-inch sensor and have a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 2.7. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the review cameras among the medium-sized sensor cameras that aim to strike a balance between image quality and portability. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the J5 offers a slightly higher resolution of 20.7 megapixels, compared with 20 MP of the ZS100. This megapixels advantage translates into a 2 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the J5 has a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 2.37μm versus 2.41μm for the ZS100). Moreover, it should be noted that the ZS100 is a somewhat more recent model (by 9 months) than the J5, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of individual pixels. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the J5 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The J5 has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.
The Nikon 1 J5 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 160 to ISO 12800. The corresponding ISO settings for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS100 are ISO 125 to ISO 12800, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 80-25600.
In terms of underlying technology, the J5 is build around a BSI-CMOS sensor, while the ZS100 uses a CMOS imager. Both cameras use a Bayer filter for capturing RGB colors on a square grid of photosensors. This arrangement is found in most digital cameras.
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). Of the two cameras under consideration, the ZS100 has a markedly higher DXO score than the J5 (overall score 5 points higher), which will translate into better image quality. The advantage is based on 1.7 bits higher color depth, 0.5 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.2 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
|1.||Nikon 1 J5||1-inch||20.7||5568||3712||4K/15p||21.1||12.0||479||65|
|3.||Canon G7 X Mark II||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||21.8||11.9||260||62|
|5.||Canon G9 X||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||21.5||12.3||495||63|
|8.||Canon G7 X||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||23.0||12.7||556||71|
|9.||Nikon 1 V3||1-inch||18.2||5232||3488||1080/60p||20.8||10.7||384||52|
|10.||Nikon 1 J4||1-inch||18.2||5232||3488||1080/60p||20.8||10.7||426||53|
|17.||YI M1||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||23.0||12.6||1030||73|
|Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, but the ZS100 provides a faster frame rate than the J5. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/30p, while the Nikon is limited to 4K/15p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the ZS100 has an electronic viewfinder (1166k dots), which can be very helpful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the J5 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Nikon 1 J5, the Panasonic ZS100, and comparable cameras.
|1.||Nikon 1 J5||none||n||3.0 / 1037||tilting||Y||1/4000s||60.0/s||Y||n|
|2.||Panasonic ZS100||1166||n||3.0 / 1040||fixed||Y||1/2000s||10.0/s||Y||Y|
|3.||Canon G7 X Mark II||none||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/2000s||8.0/s||Y||Y|
|4.||Canon SX720||none||n||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/3200s||5.9/s||Y||Y|
|5.||Canon G9 X||none||n||3.0 / 1040||fixed||Y||1/2000s||6.0/s||Y||Y|
|6.||Canon SX710||none||n||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/3200s||6.0/s||Y||Y|
|7.||Canon 1200D||optical||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|8.||Canon G7 X||none||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/2000s||6.5/s||Y||Y|
|9.||Nikon 1 V3||optional||n||3.0 / 1037||tilting||Y||1/4000s||60.0/s||Y||n|
|10.||Nikon 1 J4||none||n||3.0 / 1037||Fixed||Y||1/4000s||60.0/s||Y||n|
|11.||Panasonic ZS200||2330||n||3.0 / 1240||fixed||Y||1/2000s||10.0/s||Y||Y|
|12.||Panasonic FZ2500||2360||n||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||12.0/s||Y||Y|
|13.||Panasonic LX10||none||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||10.0/s||Y||Y|
|14.||Sony HX80||638||n||3.0 / 922||tilting||n||1/2000s||10.0/s||Y||Y|
|15.||Sony HX90V||638||n||3.0 / 921||tilting||n||1/2000s||10.0/s||Y||Y|
|16.||Sony A5000||none||n||3.0 / 461||tilting||n||1/4000s||3.5/s||Y||n|
|17.||YI M1||none||n||3.0 / 1040||fixed||Y||1/4000s||5.0/s||n||n|
|Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.|
The reported shutter speed information refers to the use of the mechanical shutter. Yet, some cameras only have an electronic shutter, while others have an electronic shutter in addition to a mechanical one. In fact, both cameras under consideration feature an electronic shutter, which makes completely silent shooting possible. However, this mode is less suitable for photographing moving objects (risk of rolling shutter) or shooting under artificial light sources (risk of flickering).
The Nikon 1 J5 and the Panasonic ZS100 both have an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the J5 and the ZS100 write their files to SDXC cards. Both cameras can use UHS-I cards, which provide for Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s.
For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Nikon 1 J5 and Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS100 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Nikon 1 J5||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|2.||Panasonic ZS100||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|3.||Canon G7 X Mark II||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|4.||Canon SX720||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|5.||Canon G9 X||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|6.||Canon SX710||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|7.||Canon 1200D||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|8.||Canon G7 X||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|9.||Nikon 1 V3||-||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|10.||Nikon 1 J4||-||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|11.||Panasonic ZS200||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||Y|
|12.||Panasonic FZ2500||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|13.||Panasonic LX10||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|14.||Sony HX80||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|15.||Sony HX90V||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|16.||Sony A5000||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|17.||YI M1||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||Y|
Both the J5 and the ZS100 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. The ZS100 was replaced by the Panasonic ZS200, while the J5 does not have a direct successor. Further information on the features and operation of the J5 and ZS100 can be found, respectively, in the Nikon 1 J5 Manual (free pdf) or the online Panasonic ZS100 Manual.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Nikon 1 J5 or the Panasonic ZS100 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Arguments in favor of the Nikon 1 J5:
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
- More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/4000s vs 1/2000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (60 vs 10 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More flexible: Accepts interchangeable lenses, so that lens characteristics can be altered.
- More compact: Is smaller (98x60mm vs 111x65mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in April 2015).
Reasons to prefer the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS100:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (5 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (1.7 bits more color depth).
- Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (4K/30p versus 4K/15p).
- Easier framing: Has an electronic viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- Ready to shoot: Has an integrated lens, whereas the J5 necessitates an extra lens.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (300 versus 250) out of a single battery charge.
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- More modern: Was introduced somewhat (9 months) more recently.
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the match-up finishes in a tie (10 points each). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision. A professional wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Nikon 1 J5 and the Panasonic ZS100 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera and Best Superzoom Camera listings whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the J5 or the ZS100 perform in practice. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate.
This is why expert reviews are important. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.
|1.||Nikon 1 J5||..||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2015||399||ebay.com|
|2.||Panasonic ZS100||4.5/5||+ +||..||82/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2016||699||ebay.com|
|3.||Canon G7 X Mark II||4.5/5||+ +||..||81/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2016||699||ebay.com|
|4.||Canon SX720||..||+||..||..||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2016||379||ebay.com|
|5.||Canon G9 X||3.5/5||+ +||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2015||529||ebay.com|
|6.||Canon SX710||..||+||..||..||4/5||3.5/5||Jan 2015||349||ebay.com|
|7.||Canon 1200D||3/5||+||..||..||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2014||449||ebay.com|
|8.||Canon G7 X||4/5||+ +||..||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||699||ebay.com|
|9.||Nikon 1 V3||3/5||..||..||76/100||4.5/5||4/5||Mar 2014||799||ebay.com|
|10.||Nikon 1 J4||3/5||..||..||..||4.5/5||4/5||Apr 2014||549||ebay.com|
|11.||Panasonic ZS200||..||+ +||4.5/5||81/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2018||799||amazon.com|
|12.||Panasonic FZ2500||..||+||..||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||Sep 2016||1,199||amazon.com|
|13.||Panasonic LX10||..||+ +||4/5||81/100||4/5||4.5/5||Sep 2016||699||amazon.com|
|14.||Sony HX80||..||..||..||..||..||..||Mar 2016||349||ebay.com|
|15.||Sony HX90V||4/5||+ +||..||..||4/5||4.5/5||Apr 2015||429||ebay.com|
|16.||Sony A5000||3/5||+||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2014||449||ebay.com|
|17.||YI M1||..||..||..||69/100||..||..||Sep 2016||349||ebay.com|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just use the search menu below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
- Canon 1Ds Mark II vs Panasonic ZS100
- Canon 50D vs Nikon 1 J5
- Canon G7 X Mark II vs Nikon 1 J5
- Leica TL vs Panasonic ZS100
- Leica X Vario vs Panasonic ZS100
- Nikon 1 J5 vs Nikon D500
- Nikon 1 J5 vs Olympus E-450
- Nikon 1 J5 vs Olympus E-510
- Nikon 1 J5 vs Sony H400
- Nikon D3300 vs Panasonic ZS100
- Panasonic S1 vs Panasonic ZS100
- Panasonic ZS100 vs Sony NEX-3
Specifications: Nikon 1 J5 vs Panasonic ZS100
Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.
|Camera Model||Nikon 1 J5||Panasonic ZS100|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Fixed lens compact camera|
|Camera Lens||Nikon 1 mount lenses||25-250mm f/2.8-5.9|
|Launch Date||April 2015||January 2016|
|Launch Price||USD 399||USD 699|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon 1 J5||Panasonic ZS100|
|Sensor Format||1" Sensor||1" Sensor|
|Sensor Size||13.2 x 8.8 mm||13.2 x 8.8 mm|
|Sensor Area||116.16 mm2||116.16 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||15.9 mm||15.9 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||20.7 Megapixels||20 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||5568 x 3712 pixels||5472 x 3648 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||2.37 μm||2.41 μm|
|Pixel Density||17.79 MP/cm2||17.18 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||4K/15p Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||160 - 12,800 ISO||125 - 12,800 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||80 - 25,600 ISO|
|Image Processor||EXPEED 5||Venus|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||65||70|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||21.1||22.8|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||12.0||12.5|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||479||559|
|Screen Specs||Nikon 1 J5||Panasonic ZS100|
|Viewfinder Type||no viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||1166k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||1037k dots||1040k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Tilting screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Nikon 1 J5||Panasonic ZS100|
|Focus System||On-Sensor Phase-detect||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/4000s||1/2000s|
|Continuous Shooting||60 shutter flaps/s||10 shutter flaps/s|
|Electronic Shutter||up to 1/16000s||up to 1/16000s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||Intervalometer built-in|
|Image Stabilization||Lens stabilization only||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||Built-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||SDXC cards|
|Single or Dual Card Slots||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||UHS-I||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Nikon 1 J5||Panasonic ZS100|
|External Flash||no Hotshoe||no Hotshoe|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||micro HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||NFC built-in||no NFC|
|Body Specs||Nikon 1 J5||Panasonic ZS100|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||250 shots per charge||300 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||no USB charging||USB charging|
98 x 60 x 32 mm
(3.9 x 2.4 x 1.3 in)
111 x 65 x 44 mm
(4.4 x 2.6 x 1.7 in)
|Camera Weight||231 g (8.1 oz)||312 g (11.0 oz)|
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