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The super zoom compacts roll on: now with the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS7 (also known as the TZ10) Panasonic offers a 12x Leica optical zoom that puts into your hands focal range that matches a 35 SLR camera’s 25-300mm lens. Some lens!
Panasonic describes this camera as a Travel Zoom model: compact, pocketable, easy to use but offering a healthy range of exposure options that could handle most photographic challenges, viewed on a 7.6cm LCD screen. To my mind this camera would act as a superb, compact companion to a serious DSLR kit, as it has auto operation, Program AE, shutter and aperture priority and manual exposure as well as a host of scene modes. The iA mode is one that could be useful when shooting video, as it automatically selects the most suitable scene mode and helps correct blurring, focus and brightness challenges.
Capturing 12.1 megapixels, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS7/TZ10 can shoot a maximum image size of 4000×3000 pixels, enough to make a 34x25cm print. Using the AVCHD Lite video format, I felt the resolution to be a little disappointing at 1280×720 pixels at 30fps.
Added to this is a GPS feature as well as an optical image stabiliser that as two modes plus auto; you can also switch it off for tripod work.
The GPS feature is a little startling. Take a picture (outside, dummy!) and on preview the location is displayed beneath it. Now I’m trying to think of a use for it in my day to day activities.
A Panorama Assist mode eases the task by taking a series of images to stitch into a panorama shot, while checking the degree of overlap between adjacent shots. You can shoot a series panning left, right, up or down.
One of the best lenses I’ve seen in a compact, the Leica optic showed no signs of barrel or spherical distortion at either end of the zoom. Excellent!
Not so quick off the mark, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS7/TZ10 shots its first shot three seconds after power on; follow on shots came in at about two seconds each.
Quality: I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, but this little camera produced pictures that exceeded any I’ve seen from a compact camera. Very high quality.
The movie mode is also excellent: you begin recording by pressing the dedicated button on the TZ10’s rear; the zoom and auto focus is operable and Panasonic’s excellent optical stabiliser takes care of the bumps. Tops!
Why you would buy it: you want a 12x zoom in a compact.
Why you wouldn’t: cannot think of a no-no!
Image Sensor: 12.1 million effective pixels.
Metering: Multiple zone, centre-weighted and spot.
Sensor Size: 11mm CCD.
Lens: Leica DC Vario-Elmar f3.3-4.9/4.1-49.2mm (25-300mm as 35 SLR equivalent).
Shutter Speed: 60 to 1/2000 second.
Continuous Shooting: 2.3 fps.
Memory: SD, SDHC, SDXC cards plus 15MB internal memory.
Image Sizes (pixels): 4000×3000, 3264×2448, 2560×1920, 2048×1536, 640×480.
Movies: 1280×720, 848×480, 640×480, 320×240 at 30 fps.
LCD Screen: 7.6cm LCD (460,800 pixels).
File Formats: JPEG, Motion JPEG, AVCHD Lite.
ISO Sensitivity: Auto, 80 to 6400.
Interface: USB 2.0, HDMI, AV.
Power: Rechargeable lithium ion battery, DC input.
Dimensions: 103.3×59.6×32.6 WHDmm.
Weight: 218 g (inc battery and card).
Price: get a price on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS7/TZ10 at Amazon.