Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS7 Review
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS7 is one of our favorite point and shoot cameras. With a 12.1 megapixel CCD, a 12 X optical zoom, and an excellent LCD display, and many cool technical features such as a built-in GPS, there's a lot we love about the ZS7. And we're not the only one it seems that likes the Lumix DMC-ZS7, it's typically the best selling point & shoot in Amazon, appearing in the best sellers list every week.
Let's start with the design of the ZS7, which looks very similar with the Sony HX5V. The ZS7 has a large, powerful lens from Leica, with a 12X zoom. It ranges from 25mm to 300mm, making it one of the best lens we've seen in point and shoots. There's a small grip, that's big enough to hold, though we did use the wrist strap most of the time. Between the Leica lens and the grip is the flash.
On the top panel is where you'll find the shutter release button and zoom lever. In the far corner is the power switch. The mode dial is here too, and has program auto, manual mode, aperture priority, shutter priority, and a scene mode. There is also a custom mode as well.
In the rear, we have the excellent 3 inch LCD with 460,000 pixels with a good wide angle. It's an intelligent LCD, which means it will change the brightness level, depending on how much sunlight there is. It works, we have no issues with shooting under sunlight - great feature.
To the right of the 3.0 inch LCD, we have the exposure button, and a movie record button to enable video capture. There's a mode switch to change the camera from record mode to playback, or vice versa. The problem is that we found ourselves in playback mode when we wanted to take a shot, so we had to change the mode back, wasting precious time. There's also the typical 4-way navigation control that let you change exposure compensation, flash modes, off/macro/macro zoom modes, and the self-timers.
The Leica lens is one of the highlights of the Lumix DMC-ZS7. It has a very good range, starting at 25mm, all the way to 300mm. At wide angle, we noticed a little chromatic aberration on the edges, and soft corners, but they weren't major. At telephoto, sharpness is superb, although there is some chromic aberration in spots. At full wide angle, barrel distortion was minimal and below what we expected.
There's lot of shooting mode options available. If you're afraid to adjust the settings, you can use the intelligent auto mode, which chooses the best scene mode (from portrait, scenery, night portrait, sunset, night scenery, and macro) based on the scene it's shooting. If you like to take control of things, there's the typical manual controls: program auto, aperture priority, shutter priority and manual modes. There's many scene modes to choose from as well for typical situations, such as Portrait, Soft Skin, Transform, Self Portrait, Scenery, Panorama Assist, Sports, Night Portrait, Night Scenery, Party, Food, Candle Light, Baby, Pet, High Sensitivity, Hi-Speed Burst, Sunset, Fireworks, Beach, Snow, Aerial Photo, Pin Hole, Film Grain, High Dynamic, Photo Frame, Underwater, Flash Burst, and Starry Sky. You can also create your own custom mode, using a set of configurations/settings.
There's a lot of impressive technology packed into the ZS7, and we can't cover all of them. As we mentioned, the ZS7 has an intelligent auto mode, which sets the best scene mode for your particular shot. It also enhances the detail in your shots using intelligent resolution technology. You can enable this through the menu. The ZS7 also has intelligent zoom. It's basically the same as 1.3X more than optical. There's intelligent ISO, which detects movement and tweaks the ISO sensitivity, and shutter speed, depending on how much movement there is. There's intelligent exposure too, which boosts the exposure in areas with under-exposure.
And of course, there's the built-in GPS, another one of those cool technology. It's very simple to use, although it takes awhile to load. It may not be a big factor for many consumers though, but it's very convenient while traveling. Instead of having to chug along 2 devices, just bring your camera.
Let's get into the image quality, shall we? At low ISOs, we were impressed with the colors, and details of our photos. The ZS7 really captured the fine, sharp details when we used ISO 80 and 100. Colors were accurate, and well saturated. Most cameras over-saturate their colors to make them appear more intense, but the colors in the ZS7 are more natural looking. Only blue and green are over-saturated, ever so slightly. Hue accuracy was pretty good as well. The ZS7 preserves detail a bit better then average, and this could be a result from its intelligent resolution. Overall, we were pleased with our photo quality at these low ISOs.
However, when we increased the ISO to 200, we noticed some softness, and a bit less detail. The images are still good though. When we went up to ISO 400, the chroma noise starts to become more of an issue, as we noticed some yellow blotching, and even more so in 800 - our images looked quite bad. We were afraid to jump up to ISO 1600, but we did, and the results just got worse - softening gets rid of almost all the details. Overall, the ZS7 is not great at shooting in high ISO/low light situations.
If you're planning to make prints from your shots with the Lumix DMC-ZS7, here's what you can expect: If you using ISO 80, or 100, prints will look excellent up to 16 X 20 with lots of details, and good colors. At ISO 200, you'll see some softening, but 13 X 19 prints should look great. At ISO 400, the noise becomes an issue, and you should use up to 11 X 14 prints. At ISO 800, cut it down to 8 X 10, and at 1600, just 5 X 7.
The performance is a bit above average for a camera of this class. Start to first shot takes 2.3 seconds, and shot-to-shot takes 2 seconds with no flash, and 4.5 seconds with the flash enabled. Shutter lag is not great, and a bit below average: taking .6 seconds in good light, and 1.02 seconds in dim light. Continuous burst mode clocked at 1.71 frames per second, which is fairly average. Flash recycle time is a bit slow though: it took 7 seconds to recharge after one full power shot.
As mentioned, the ZS7 supports movie recording. It offers a resolution of 1280 X 720 in AVCHD Lite. You can also record in HD at 30 frames per second in 16:9 mode. The video quality is pretty amazing, and comparable to a pocket mini-camcorder. It's arguably the best quality you'll find in any point & shoot. You can also zoom while video recording, as well as use any of the scene modes while shooting.
- 12.1 megapixel CCD
- 12 X optical zoom
- 4 X digital zoom
- 3 inch LCD display with 460,000 dots
- 1.8 frames per second in continuous mode
- ISO ranges from 80 - 1600, 1600 - 6400
- Has optical image stabilization
- HD video mode
- Loads and loads of cool features
- Compact, sleek design
- Powerful 12 X zoom lens
- High resolution LCD screen
- Many autofocus modes
- Good ergonomics
- HD video recording
- Performs bad in low light
If you're looking for innovative, cool technology and features, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS7 is filled with them, from intellligent auto, intelligent exposure, intelligent ISO, a built-in GPS, many shooting modes, many scene modes, and a flexible, 12 X wide angle lens. It does have a few flaws, noticeable high ISO/low light performance, which will turn away some buyers. But if you don't commonly shoot in low light, the ZS7 is a fantastic compact camera. It's one of our all time favorite compact cameras.
Rating: 4.9 out of 5
Rating: 4.8 out of 5
Where to Buy It:
Lowest Price: Amazon for $282.69.
Note: This is a 29% off Amazon coupon and one of the best deals for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS7.
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|Amazon||$282.69 (Cheapest Price)|
|Abes of Maine||$286.95|
Prices last updated on: Wed, 12 Dec 2018 12:46:00 PST