Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS3/TZ7 Review

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Panasonic-Lumix-DMC-Z33-TZ7K.jpgFor travel or sports photography a long zoom is almost essential. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS3 (also known in Europe and Australia as the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ7) takes it even further in that the wide end of the Leica DC Vario-Elmar zoom equates to a 25mm lens on a 35mm SLR, stretching out to 300mm at the tele end. A good widey and a terrific longey!

A plus is the Panasonic ZS3’s large 7.6cm LCD screen. A minus is that it does not have an optical finder.

The still image maximum size is 3648×2736 pixels, on a 10.1 megapixel CCD. It also shoots 1280×720 pixel High Definition motion pictures with stereo sound. Not Full High Def — but still in an 16:9 aspect ratio.

The exposure options are not breath-taking: there’s only Program AE exposure mode with three metering options (multi zone, centre-weighted and spot) as well as 27 scene modes.

The shutter speed range is pretty good: long exposures up to 60 seconds. Shortest is 1/2000 second.

The camera runs from ISO 80 to 1600 with a step up ISO 6400 in the High Sensitivity scene mode, limited to 2048×1536/2048×1360/1920×1080 pixel image sizes.

Panasonic-Lumix-DMC-Z33-TZ7K-Front.jpg

The camera has face detection and recognition; the latter can distinguish faces of frequently photographed people!

A USB 2.0 output is built in, as is an HDMI outlet so you can connect to a High Def TV or Blu-ray player with an optional cable.

The optical image stabiliser offers three settings plus off. AF Tracking ‘locks’ focus onto a moving subject and tracks it as it moves, keeping it in focus without the user having to hold the shutter button halfway down.

Panasonic-Lumix-DMC-Z33-TZ7K-Slant.jpg

Shooting a burst of 10 megapixel shots demands heaps of buffer memory: the Panasonic Lumix ZS3 can capture three pictures at a maximum speed of 2.3 fps or five pictures at 2.5 fps, in a lower JPEG quality. You should also be able to record an unlimited number of frames at 2 fps, until the card is full.

Memory: SD, SDHC, MMC cards are OK, with the Class 4 card recommended for video; the camera also has 45 MB of internal memory.

Movies

Rarely seen, this digital still camera shoot videos and retains access to zoom and focus while recording. A big help.

There are some cautions: when shooting video, you can’t do snap zooms — they just drift slowly.

You cannot alter focus while zooming — your fingers struggle over the crowded zoom and shutter buttons anyway!

Initially, I wondered why there was a separate record button for video. Then the penny dropped: taking this route means the normal shutter button can serve as the trigger for auto focus — in video. Simple really!

You can shoot video in Motion JPEG and a new format called AVCHD Lite, which represents half the file size of the former. Space saver!

You can replay HD video to a normal TV via a composite video connection or to an HD TV or Blu-ray recorder via HDMI.

Startup

From power on to first shot took three seconds with early follow on shots about a second apart.

Luna Park character face.JPG

Distortion

I was impressed by the optical performance in the TZ7 with no evidence of any distortion with the zoom at wide or tele end.

Still images: accurate colour rendition with excellent sharpness. A great performance.

Movies: I shot parallel tests in Motion JPEG and AVCHD Lite. Viewed on a huge Panasonic Viera LCD screen, the quality between them was indistinguishable.

I did not notice there was poor sound pickup. Also, the text indicators on the four way cursor are hard to see.

Ostensibly, the Panasonic DMC-ZS3/TZ7 is a simple point-and-shoot camera. But I found it an impressive camera!

Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS3 Specifications

  • Image Sensor: 10.9mm. 9.1 million effective pixels.
  • Lens: Leica DC Vario-Elmar f3.3/4.7-47mm. 28-280mm (35mm equiv). 4x digital zoom.
  • Focus Range: Wide/tele 50cm/200cm-infinity.
  • Metering: Intelligent Multiple; centre-weighted; spot.
  • Image stabilization: MEGA O.I.S.
  • Image Sizes (pixels): 4:3 Aspect Ratio: 3456×2592, 3072×2304, 2560×1920, 2048×1536, 1600×1200, 640×480. 3:2
  • Aspect Ratio: 3552×2368, 3072×2048, 2560×1712, 2048×1360 pixels. 16:9 Aspect Ratio: 3712×2088, 3072×1728, 2560×1440, 1920×1080.
  • Movie Clips: 4:3 aspect ratio: 640×480 pixels, 320×240 pixels at 10 fps/30 fps.16:9 aspect ratio: 848×480 pixels at 10/30 fps. HD 16:9 aspect ratio: 1280×720 at 15/30fps.
  • File Formats: JPEG, QuickTime Motion JPEG, AVCHD Lite.
  • ISO Sensitivity: Auto, 100 to 6400.
  • Shutter Speed: 60-1/2000 second.
  • Flash: Auto, auto/red-eye reduction, forced on and forced off, slow sync/red-eye reduction.
  • Flash Range: Wide/tele 60cm/1.0m to 5.3/3.6m.
  • Power: Rechargeable lithium ion battery, AC.
  • Weight: 214 g (minus battery).
  • Dimensions: 103.3×59.3×36.5 WHDmm.
  • Price: At the time of publishing this review the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS3 is currently $378.10 USD on Amazon.

Read more from our Cameras & Equipment category

Barrie Smith

is an experienced writer/photographer currently published in Australian Macworld, Auscam and other magazines in Australia and overseas.

  • wylerhouse

    Very good review. I want one! The real question I have is – Can it replace the camcorder?

  • Dave

    Weve had one of these for a couple of months now and absolutely love it.

  • Awsome50

    Hi there, I have Lumix TZ-6 which is just identical on the optics, the body, and the focal length of the lens except that it does not take video in HD. Just bought it a month back and have shot some outdoor, some indoor, and some macro shots. Outdoor shots shoot very well, indoor shots not satisfactory in the low light, come under exposed in IA (intelligent Auto) mode. Flash is tiny and not good enough. Macro shots in natural light are very good and sharp, it will photograph the dust also on surfaces. The down part is its price. The MRP is at INR 21000/- Am still trying out this hardware so do not make a final decision on my response of TZ-6. Everything on TZ-7 is similar.

  • Awsome50

    I would like to respond to Wylerhouse – A camcorder is a camcorder. A digital compact cannot be compared for videos. Camcorders specialise in taking videos. I have still kept my Sony PC 350E which shoots stills on 3 MP and videos on mini DV. No compact digital can come close in video quality.

  • peter k

    I have a TZ3 as a back-up, and is quite a great camera. For the moment I don’t feel like changing it, but the TZ6/7 seems an interesting option.

  • Incredible that after reading a thousand comments over the TZ7 (ZS3) anyone says that when zooming (39,7mm exactly, format 3:2) the upper left part of the image is simply horrible. I have some tested images that shows that fail. If some of you are interested I can share them whitout problem.
    Perhaps it’s only a fail of may camera…?

    J.Rey

  • slabi

    Thanks for the review. Can you please let me know under which mode does the 60 second shutter speed kick in with the TZ7. I am most interested to know one can actually control the shutter speed with this camera. Appreciate your advice/suggestions.
    Cheers
    Slabi

  • Dion

    The 60 second shutter speed is an option in the “Starry Night” scene mode, which also lets you choose between a 15 and 30 second shutter speed.

  • zel

    I’m thinking of getting this camera as a Christmas gift but the thing I dont like when I tried it is kind of awkward where they placed the shutter button you have to reach over the other dial which I think gets in the way when using the zoom dial…

  • Man sich gleich, possible golf swing?Engines and from, types of reviews.Market Many of, have many resources.Of aloe is Panasonic Lumix TZ6 Digital Camera #8211 Black 27 inch LCD, If and when of fear of.Protections What if, bifocal lenses followed.,

  • Fernando

    Hi guys, I tried the camera in different scenarios and the results are great. The only week point is that no manual mode is available, but this is compensated with the possibility of using many scenario modes, which by the way, are really good compared with other cameras that just fix some parameters. The flash could be a little bit stronger, and ISO > 600 shows some noise.
    It’s a good easy camera.

  • fotobug

    Thank you for your review. I have heard that the only downsides to this camera are 1 indoor photos of moving people eg at a party etc and 2 is the software user friendly to up load the photos and videos onto a computer. if these are OK i will most likely buy this camera….uynless you have any other recomendations.
    Thank you

Some Older Comments

  • fotobug January 18, 2010 11:34 pm

    Thank you for your review. I have heard that the only downsides to this camera are 1 indoor photos of moving people eg at a party etc and 2 is the software user friendly to up load the photos and videos onto a computer. if these are OK i will most likely buy this camera....uynless you have any other recomendations.
    Thank you

  • Fernando January 13, 2010 03:31 am

    Hi guys, I tried the camera in different scenarios and the results are great. The only week point is that no manual mode is available, but this is compensated with the possibility of using many scenario modes, which by the way, are really good compared with other cameras that just fix some parameters. The flash could be a little bit stronger, and ISO > 600 shows some noise.
    It's a good easy camera.

  • Panasonic Lumix TZ6 Digital Camera #8211 Black 27 inch LCD January 3, 2010 03:31 am

    Man sich gleich, possible golf swing?Engines and from, types of reviews.Market Many of, have many resources.Of aloe is Panasonic Lumix TZ6 Digital Camera #8211 Black 27 inch LCD, If and when of fear of.Protections What if, bifocal lenses followed.,

  • zel December 18, 2009 12:22 am

    I'm thinking of getting this camera as a Christmas gift but the thing I dont like when I tried it is kind of awkward where they placed the shutter button you have to reach over the other dial which I think gets in the way when using the zoom dial...

  • Dion November 25, 2009 12:09 am

    The 60 second shutter speed is an option in the "Starry Night" scene mode, which also lets you choose between a 15 and 30 second shutter speed.

  • slabi October 13, 2009 06:19 pm

    Thanks for the review. Can you please let me know under which mode does the 60 second shutter speed kick in with the TZ7. I am most interested to know one can actually control the shutter speed with this camera. Appreciate your advice/suggestions.
    Cheers
    Slabi

  • Javier Rey August 25, 2009 02:36 am

    Incredible that after reading a thousand comments over the TZ7 (ZS3) anyone says that when zooming (39,7mm exactly, format 3:2) the upper left part of the image is simply horrible. I have some tested images that shows that fail. If some of you are interested I can share them whitout problem.
    Perhaps it's only a fail of may camera...?

    J.Rey

  • peter k August 21, 2009 03:11 am

    I have a TZ3 as a back-up, and is quite a great camera. For the moment I don't feel like changing it, but the TZ6/7 seems an interesting option.

  • Awsome50 August 15, 2009 02:29 am

    I would like to respond to Wylerhouse - A camcorder is a camcorder. A digital compact cannot be compared for videos. Camcorders specialise in taking videos. I have still kept my Sony PC 350E which shoots stills on 3 MP and videos on mini DV. No compact digital can come close in video quality.

  • Awsome50 August 15, 2009 02:25 am

    Hi there, I have Lumix TZ-6 which is just identical on the optics, the body, and the focal length of the lens except that it does not take video in HD. Just bought it a month back and have shot some outdoor, some indoor, and some macro shots. Outdoor shots shoot very well, indoor shots not satisfactory in the low light, come under exposed in IA (intelligent Auto) mode. Flash is tiny and not good enough. Macro shots in natural light are very good and sharp, it will photograph the dust also on surfaces. The down part is its price. The MRP is at INR 21000/- Am still trying out this hardware so do not make a final decision on my response of TZ-6. Everything on TZ-7 is similar.

  • Dave August 14, 2009 08:28 am

    Weve had one of these for a couple of months now and absolutely love it.

  • wylerhouse August 11, 2009 01:44 am

    Very good review. I want one! The real question I have is - Can it replace the camcorder?

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