Panasonic Lumix Dmc-zs7 12.1 Mp Digital Camera With 12x Optical Image Stabilized Zoom And 3.0-inch |
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I bought the original camera in this line (the DMC-TZ1) three years ago and have absolutely loved using that camera. I have taken over 60,000 photos with it and couldn't be happier. I never suffered any kind of technical problem with it - I only decided to get the ZS7 (or TZ10, as it is known in Europe) because the new features I read about were so enticing! In just 3 years, this line has raced through 4 generations and the improvements are amazing - despite which the price has stayed exactly the same.
Before I go into details, I should be clear as to what I personally am looking for in a camera, so that you may judge how relevant this review is to you. Things that I care about:
- I take photos everywhere I go, often at a moment's notice, so it must fit in my jacket pocket and be quick to use
- it must have a good zoom since that gives me the freedom to frame subjects tightly and remove them from context
- it should be good at macros since I love taking macro shots
- it needs to take photos with as close to SLR quality as possible, given that it's a compact
If you care about other things, like the packaged software (which I never use) or the various peripheral ‘features' (e.g. face recognition, which btw does work - though sadly not on my cat ), then this review may not provide the information you're most interested in.
Anyway, here's what I've found in my first few weeks using the ZS7.
Everything that I loved about the TZ1 is present in the ZS7, but in improved form:
- it's now even smaller and lighter
- I can get even closer for macros (down to 3cm!)
- I can zoom in even further (19x optical!)
- the awesome macro and zoom features now combine in the incredible ‘telephoto macro' mode, which lets me focus on objects just 3 feet away at maximum zoom (the depth of field is simply gorgeous in these shots; bokeh like an SLR!). Definitely my new favourite feature!
In addition, I have been enjoying these lovely enhancements:
- image quality is improved along every axis:
-> noise: in addition to generally lower noise levels, ‘noise reduction' can now be turned OFF and the overall improvements to image quality are fantastic - the ugly ‘grunge' in the pixel noise that the TZ1 had was probably its single worst feature, and that is now completely gone.
-> dynamic range: images taken in bright sunlight are far less contrasty now, and I can take pictures of objects against the sky without ugly fringing and chromatic aberration around their silhouettes (as long as I get exposure right of course!)
-> colour balance: automatic white balance is in a new league compared to the TZ1. I was constantly changing the custom white balance settings for the TZ1, but with the ZS7 I'm happy to just leave it on automatic white balance 99% of the time (quite a relief!). Overall, colours look much more natural - they match how the scene looks to my as well as the SLRs that I have used.
- the new image stabilisation is absolutely UNBELIEVABLE - all but the most major jolts are smoothed out. This has a huge impact on the clarity of my shots when at max zoom or shooting in dim lighting (which let's face it is not the forte of these small-aperture compacts), and the jittery videos you'd expect from such a light camera are now smooth as butter. Really, really impressive.
- speaking of video, the HD video is absolutely STUNNING. You could shoot cable TV on this thing.
- minor but very welcome improvements:
-> in-built lens cap (yay!)
-> support for SDXC memory cards (I used to empty my TZ1's 2GB card every few days; my first 64GB card for the ZS7 isn't even a third full yet!)
-> JPG compression artifacts are noticeably reduced
-> the new program/aperture/shutter modes give me a little bit more control under certain circumstances (though not that much, given the small lens you get on a compact)
-> the new UI is very streamlined (the quick menu is extremely useful and photo browsing is much quicker)
-> GPS works well, and it's nice to have my photos automatically register on the world map once I upload them to Flickr.
Just so I don't give the impression that I'm gushing uncontrollably, I should also mention the things that I don't like:
- I wish the quick menu was customizable (e.g. I'd like to be able to use it to change aspect ratio and set custom white balance)
- I'm disappointed that zoom+scroll in review mode isn't any quicker than before
- I really don't like losing the ‘review' button (review ‘mode' resets the lens after a couple of seconds, to frequently irritating effect)
- auto-focus isn't noticeably faster (one of the big general down-sides of compacts, unfortunately)
- there is the occasional encoding error when shooting videos, which Panasonic needs to fix in a firmware update
Those are pretty minor complaints, compared to all the great new features I'm enjoying. My old camera, beloved as it was just a couple of weeks ago, is already languishing on a shelf, all but forgotten! Before getting the ZS7, I would have whole-heartedly recommended the TZ1 to anyone that cares about the same things that I do (portability, flexibility and image quality), and the ZS7 stands head and shoulders above it in every regard. What more can I say? Get one!
Panasonic ZS-7 - Johan Smits - Hidden
This is an amazing camera, all my friends want it too, it's handy, easy to pack and has big quality for its size! Little minor thing is the GPS functionality, it's slow. But as a gadget it's fun!
Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS7 12.1 MP Digital Camera with 12x Optical Image Stabilized Zoom and 3.0-Inch LCD | Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS Review
Products by : Panasonic
Rating : 4.5
Price on May 18, 2010 19:53:57 : $399.95
Best Price : Too low to display
Availability : Usually ships in 1-2 business days
- 12.1-megapixel effective recording
- 12X optical zoom (4X digital/48X total zoom)
- Built-in GPS function lets you keep track of your photos by location
- 3″ LCD screen
- Optical image stabilization
The DMC-ZS7 features a 25mm ultra wide-angle 12x optical zoom f/3.3-4.9 Leica DC Vario-Elmar lens. Incorporating Panasonic's advanced optical technologies, this lens system is comprised of 10 elements in 8 groups, with 2 ED (Extra Low Dispersion) lenses and 2 aspherical lenses/3 aspherical surfaces while preserving compactness. This lens system enables a remarkable 25 to 300mm range of focal length in this compact body. The powerful zoom of the DMC-ZS7 can be freely controlled even when shooting motion images. Inheriting the fine rendering and outstanding quality of the Leica Elmar lens, this easy-to-carry camera delivers beautiful images any time, any place.Thanks to the newly incorporated intelligent resolution technology, the intelligent zoom is available with the DMC-ZS7 which extends the zoom ratio by approximate 1.3x maintaining the picture quality even combining a digital zoom. This means the 12x optical can virtually extend to 16x equivalent. Furthermore, the extra optical zoom function that extends zoom power to 23.4x by using the center part of the large CCD to bring subjects even closer.
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