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Panasonic ZS100 versus Sony RX100 IV

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS100 (called Panasonic TZ100 in some regions) and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 IV are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in January 2016 and June 2015. Both the ZS100 and the RX100 IV are fixed lens compact cameras that are equipped with an one-inch sensor. Both cameras offer a resolution of 20 megapixel.

Body comparison

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Panasonic ZS100 and the Sony RX100 IV is provided in the side-by-side display below. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are presented. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. If you prefer, you can also use the toggle button to switch to a comparison in percentage terms (in this case, the camera on the left side – the ZS100 – represents the basis for the calculations across all the size and weight measures).

Panasonic ZS100 vs Sony RX100 IV front
ZS100 versus RX100 IV top view
ZS100 and RX100 IV rear side
Body view (ZS100 on the left)

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony RX100 IV is notably smaller (18 percent) than the Panasonic ZS100. Moreover, the RX100 IV is slightly lighter (4 percent) than the ZS100. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the ZS100 nor the RX100 IV are weather-sealed.

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, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible comparisons there.

Camera Body Specifications
Camera Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(y/n)
Camera
Launch
(year)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(amazon)
Used
Price
(ebay)
Panasonic ZS100 (⇒ rgt) 111 mm 65 mm 44 mm 312 g 300 no 2016 699 latest check
Sony RX100 IV (⇒ lft) 102 mm 58 mm 41 mm 298 g 280 no 2015 999discont. check
Canon G7 X Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) 106 mm 61 mm 42 mm 319 g 265 no 2016 699 latest check
Canon M3 (⇒ lft | rgt) 111 mm 68 mm 44 mm 366 g 250 no 2015 679discont. check
Canon G5 X (⇒ lft | rgt) 112 mm 76 mm 44 mm 353 g 210 no 2015 799 latest check
Canon G7 X (⇒ lft | rgt) 103 mm 60 mm 40 mm 304 g 210 no 2014 699discont. check
Panasonic GX85 (⇒ lft | rgt) 122 mm 71 mm 44 mm 426 g 290 no 2016 799 latest check
Panasonic LX10 (⇒ lft | rgt) 106 mm 60 mm 42 mm 310 g 260 no 2016 699 latest check
Panasonic FZ1000 (⇒ lft | rgt) 137 mm 99 mm 131 mm 831 g 360 no 2014 899discont. check
Sony RX100 V (⇒ lft | rgt) 102 mm 58 mm 41 mm 299 g 220 no 2016 999 latest check
Sony A6000 (⇒ lft | rgt) 120 mm 67 mm 45 mm 344 g 360 no 2014 599discont. check
Sony RX100 III (⇒ lft | rgt) 102 mm 58 mm 41 mm 290 g 320 no 2014 799discont. check
Sony RX100 II (⇒ lft | rgt) 102 mm 58 mm 38 mm 281 g 350 no 2013 749discont. check

The listed prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The ZS100 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 30 percent) than the RX100 IV, which puts it into a different market segment. 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. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.

Sensor comparison

The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors 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 tend to be more expensive and 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.

Panasonic ZS100 and Sony RX100 IV sensor measures
Sensor size

The two cameras under review do not only share the same sensor size, but also offer an identical resolution of 20 megapixel. This similarity in sensor specs implies that both the ZS100 and the RX100 IV have the same pixel density, as well as the same pixel size. It should, however, be noted that the ZS100 is a somewhat more recent model (by 6 months) than the RX100 IV, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time.

ZS100 versus RX100 IV MP
Sensor resolution

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. The Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar image quality. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.

Sensor Characteristics
Camera Sensor
Class
Resolution
(Megapixel)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Panasonic ZS100 (⇒ rgt) 1-inch 20.0 5472 3648 4K/30p 22.8 12.5 559 70
Sony RX100 IV (⇒ lft) 1-inch 20.0 5472 3648 4K/30p 22.8 12.6 591 70
Canon G7 X Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) 1-inch 20.0 5472 3648 1080/60p - - - -
Canon M3 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 1080/30p 22.8 11.8 1169 72
Canon G5 X (⇒ lft | rgt) 1-inch 20.0 5472 3648 1080/60p - - - -
Canon G7 X (⇒ lft | rgt) 1-inch 20.0 5472 3648 1080/60p 23.0 12.7 556 71
Panasonic GX85 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 15.8 4592 3448 4K/30p 22.9 12.6 662 71
Panasonic LX10 (⇒ lft | rgt) 1-inch 20.0 5472 3648 4K/30p .. .. .. ..
Panasonic FZ1000 (⇒ lft | rgt) 1-inch 20.0 5472 3648 4K/30p 22.1 11.7 517 64
Sony RX100 V (⇒ lft | rgt) 1-inch 20.0 5472 3648 4K/30p 22.8 12.4 586 70
Sony A6000 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p 24.1 13.1 1347 82
Sony RX100 III (⇒ lft | rgt) 1-inch 20.0 5472 3648 1080/60p 22.4 12.3 495 67
Sony RX100 II (⇒ lft | rgt) 1-inch 20.0 5472 3648 1080/60p 22.5 12.4 483 67

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, and both provide the same movie specifications (4K/30p).

Feature comparison

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The two cameras under review are similar with respect to both having an electronic viewfinder. However, the one in the RX100 IV offers a substantially higher resolution than the one in the ZS100 (2359k vs 1166k dots). The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Panasonic ZS100 and Sony RX100 IV in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras. If needed, the dpreview camera hub, for example, contains further detail on the cameras' specs.

Core Features
Camera Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(Y/n)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(Y/n)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec))
Build-in
Flash
(GN)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Panasonic ZS100 (⇒ rgt) 1166 no 3.0 1040 fixed YES 2000 10.0 YES YES
Sony RX100 IV (⇒ lft) 2359 no 3.0 1228 tilting no 2000 16.0 10.2 YES
Canon G7 X Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.0 1040 tilting YES 2000 8.0 7 YES
Canon M3 (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.0 1040 tilting YES 4000 4.2 5 no
Canon G5 X (⇒ lft | rgt) 2360 no 3.0 1040 swivel YES 2000 5.9 7 YES
Canon G7 X (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.0 1040 tilting YES 2000 6.5 7 YES
Panasonic GX85 (⇒ lft | rgt) 2765 no 3.0 1040 tilting YES 4000 8.0 6 YES
Panasonic LX10 (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.0 1040 tilting YES 4000 10.0 12.1 YES
Panasonic FZ1000 (⇒ lft | rgt) 2359 no 3.0 921 swivel no 4000 12.0 13.5 YES
Sony RX100 V (⇒ lft | rgt) 2359 no 3.0 1229 tilting no 2000 24.0 10.2 YES
Sony A6000 (⇒ lft | rgt) 1440 no 3.0 922 tilting no 4000 11.0 6 no
Sony RX100 III (⇒ lft | rgt) 1440 no 3.0 1229 tilting no 2000 10.0 YES YES
Sony RX100 II (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.0 1229 tilting no 2000 10.0 15 YES

Both the ZS100 and the RX100 IV have zoom lenses build in. The ZS100 has a 25-250mm f/2.8-5.9 optic and the RX100 IV offers a 24-70mm f/1.8-2.8 (focal lengths in full frame equivalent terms). Hence, the Sony provides a wider angle of view at the short end than the Panasonic, but less tele-photo reach at the long end. The RX100 IV offers the faster maximum aperture.

The ZS100 is a current model that online retailers, such as amazon, will have in stock. In contrast, the RX100 IV has been discontinued (but it can be found pre-owned on ebay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the RX100 IV was succeeded by the Sony RX100 V.

Summary

So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Panasonic ZS100 and the Panasonic ZS100? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.


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Advantages of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS100:

  • Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
  • More tele-reach: Has a longer tele-lens for perspective compression and subject magnification.
  • Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization build-in.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (30 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 6 months after the RX100 IV).

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Reasons to prefer the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 IV:

  • More detailed viewfinder: Has higher resolution electronic viewfinder (2359k vs 1166k dots).
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1228k vs 1040k dots).
  • More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (16 vs 10 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Better light gathering: Has a lens with a wider maximum aperture (f/1.8 vs f/2.8).
  • Wider view: Has a wider-angle lens that facilitates landscape or interior shots.
  • More compact: Is smaller (102x58mm vs 111x65mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in June 2015).

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the RX100 IV emerges as the winner of the match-up (8 : 5 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features.

ZS100 05:08 RX100 IV

In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it says nothing about, for example, the handling, responsiveness, and overall imaging quality of the ZS100 and the RX100 IV in practical situations. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased. This is where reviews by experts come in. The following table reports the overall rankings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites. The detailed reviews can be accessed, respectively, on the websites of cameralabs.com, dpreview.com, ephotozine.com, imaging-resource.com, and photographyblog.com.

Review scores
Camera camera
labs
dp
review
ephoto
zine
imaging
resource
photography
blog
Camera
Launch
(year)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(amazon)
Used
Price
(ebay)
Panasonic ZS100 (⇒ rgt) HiRec 82/100 Gold 4.5/5 4/5 4.5/5 2016 699 latest check
Sony RX100 IV (⇒ lft) HiRec 85/100 Gold 4/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2015 999discont. check
Canon G7 X Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 81/100 Silver 4.5/5 4/5 4.5/5 2016 699 latest check
Canon M3 (⇒ lft | rgt) reviewed 75/100 4.5/5 4.5/5 4/5 2015 679discont. check
Canon G5 X (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 78/100 Silver 4.5/5 4/5 4.5/5 2015 799 latest check
Canon G7 X (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 77/100 Silver 4.5/5 3.5/5 4.5/5 2014 699discont. check
Panasonic GX85 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 82/100 Silver 5/5 4.5/5 5/5 2016 799 latest check
Panasonic LX10 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 81/100 Silver 4/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2016 699 latest check
Panasonic FZ1000 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 82/100 Gold 4.5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2014 899discont. check
Sony RX100 V (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 83/100 Silver 4/5 5/5 4.5/5 2016 999 latest check
Sony A6000 (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec 80/100 Gold 4.5/5 5/5 5/5 2014 599discont. check
Sony RX100 III (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 82/100 Gold 4.5/5 4.5/5 5/5 2014 799discont. check
Sony RX100 II (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 79/100 Silver 4.5/5 5/5 4.5/5 2013 749discont. check

The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

Other comparisons

In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just make your choice using the following search menu. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored. If the camera you are interested in is not available, please contact me, and I will try to add information on that model to the database.

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