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Panasonic Lumix DMC-S3 Digital Camera Review

Panasonic Lumix DMC-S3 Digital Camera Review - Daniel Bell reviews the Panasonic Lumix DMC-S3, a stylish compact aimed at those new to photography.

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Category : Compact Cameras
Product : Panasonic Lumix DMC-S3
Price : £105
Rating :
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Features
Handling
Performance
Verdict
Specification

Panasonic Lumix DMC-S3 lens extended

Panasonic announced the release of the DMC-S3 in January 2011 and it is aimed at those who are buying their first digital camera or have limited photography knowledge. As well as being stylish the camera is designed to be simple to use, with easy to use features while performing to a high standard. As well as the black version reviewed here the DMC-S3 is also available in white, purple, blue and red for £104.99.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-S3 front

Panasonic Lumix DMC-S3: Features

To avoid blurry images the camera is armed with MEGA OIS (Optical Image Stabiliser) helping to take sharp pictures in less than ideal lighting conditions. Taking pictures is made easy by Panasonic's iA (Intelligent Auto) mode which utilises MEGA OIS, Intelligent ISO Control, Face Detection AF/AE and Intelligent Scene Selector.

As well as a 14.1Mp sensor the DMC-S3 has a 4x optical zoom which is a 35mm equivalent of 28-112mm which can be extended to 8.4x zoom when using Extra Optical Zoom although images are restricted to a maximum of 3Mp. On the rear of the camera is a 2.7in LCD screen with 230,000 dot resolution. With high-angle mode the display is designed to be easy to view from a low angle.

The DMC-S3 can record videos in HD (1,280 x 720 pixels at 30fps). Videos and photos are easily uploaded to YouTube and Facebook.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-S3 rear


Key Features:

  • MEGA OIS
  • iA (Intelligent Auto) mode with Intelligent Scene Selector
  • HD movie recording
  • 4x optical zoom
  • 14.1Mp sensor
  • 2.7in 230,000-dot LCD screen
Panasonic Lumix DMC-S3 top

Panasonic Lumix DMC-S3: Handling

Although made with plastic, the DMC-S3 looks and feels great in your hand. Shaped like a bar of soap it will easily slip into your pocket. The camera is ready to take pictures with a couple of seconds of switching on and the menu system is easy to navigate and isn't complicated with all the buttons easy to press.

According to Panasonic / CIPA the battery is capable of 250 shots which is good and during testing the camera was certainly capable of this number on one charge.

The camera is quick to focus. From shot to shot the camera takes less than 3 seconds and when in continuous shooting mode it was capable of 1.1fps.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-S3 battery and memory card compartment

Panasonic Lumix DMC-S3: Performance

The DMC-S3 takes well exposed images with excellent colour reproduction and plenty of detail retained at either end of the lens. There is also no sign of lens flare or purple fringing. Despite a minimum focusing distance of 5cm the camera is capable of taking excellent macro pictures.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-S3 wide-angle   Panasonic Lumix DMC-S3 full optical zoom
Wide-angle, ISO100, 1/80, f/9, 5mm (35mm equiv: 28mm)   Full optical zoom, ISO125, 1/125, f/6.5, 20mm (35mm equiv: 112mm)
Panasonic Lumix DMC-S3 landscape scene mode   Panasonic Lumix DMC-S3 macro mode
Landscape scene mode, ISO100, 1/640, f/3.1, 5mm (35mm equiv: 28mm)   Macro, ISO250, 1/60, f/3.1, 5mm (35mm equiv: 28mm)

At ISO100 there is little sign of any noise in the images and it barely gets any worse at ISO200. Noise worsens a touch at ISO400 but it is ISO800 where you start to see a loss of detail with colours beginning to suffer. ISO1600 produces images which are best served for use on the web.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-S3 ISO100 Panasonic Lumix DMC-S3 ISO200 Panasonic Lumix DMC-S3 ISO400
ISO100, 2/3, f/6.5, 20mm (35mm equiv: 112mm) ISO200, 1/3, f/6.5, 20mm (35mm equiv: 112mm) ISO400, 1/6, f/6.5, 20mm (35mm equiv: 112mm)
Panasonic Lumix DMC-S3 ISO800 Panasonic Lumix DMC-S3 ISO1600  
ISO800, 1/13, f/6.5, 20mm (35mm equiv: 112mm) ISO1600, 1/25, f/6.5, 20mm (35mm equiv: 112mm)  

Using the portrait mode outdoors gives a very pleasing image with excellent skin colours. The indoor shot has used the flash as well as a high ISO of 800. There is some reflection from the model's forehead, but no red-eye which is good to see.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-S3 Outdoor Portrait   Panasonic Lumix DMC-S3 indoor portrait with flash
Outdoor portrait, ISO100, 1/100, f/5.8, 16mm (35mm equiv: 90mm)   Indoor portrait, ISO800, 1/60, f/5, 12mm (35mm equiv: 67mm)

Shooting into the sun doesn't faze the DMC-S3, in my shot below there is plenty of colour and detail retained in the image although there is a hint of lens flare. In beach mode the camera takes a good snap of the coastline.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-S3 sun in shot   Panasonic Lumix DMC-S3 beach mode
Sun in shot, ISO160, 1/250, f/9, 5mm (35mm equiv: 28mm)   Beach mode, ISO100, 1/160, f/9, 5mm (35mm equiv: 28mm)

During testing and in our studio tests shots auto white-balance proved itself more than capable. The camera doesn't have a preset for use under fluorescent lights, the incandescent preset produced an almost identical image to that of the AWB under the incandescent lights.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-S3 Auto White Balance - Incandescent Lighting   Panasonic Lumix DMC-S3 Preset Incandescent WB - Incandescent Light   Panasonic Lumix DMC-S3 Auto White Balance - Fluorescent Light
Auto White Balance - Incandescent Lighting, ISO100, 1/8, f/4, 9mm (35mm equiv: 50mm)   Preset Incandescent WB - Incandescent Light, ISO100, 1/8, f/4, 9mm (35mm equiv: 50mm)   Auto White Balance - Fluorescent Light, ISO100, 1/2, f/4, 9mm (35mm equiv: 50mm)

Video Mode

The best quality video the DMC-S3 can record is HD 1280 x 720px at 30fps. If you are short on memory the camera can also shoot VGA videos at 640 x 480 and QVGA videos at 320 x 240, both at 30fps.



Value For Money

Cameras with approximately 14Mp sensors and 4x optical zoom are very popular, with the DMC-S3, at £104.99, being one of the cheapest available. The Pentax Optio RS1000 is now available for £82.99, the Sony Cybershot W530 for £109.00, Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS16 for £119 and the Sony Cybershot W350 for £129.00. If you fancy 5x optical zoom instead, the Nikon Coopix S3100 is available for £111.00 and the Canon Powershot A3300 IS can be bought for £122.00.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-S3: Verdict

There is no doubting that the DMC-S3 is an easy to use camera, looks good and takes pleasing images with excellent colour reproduction. The reason why this camera doesn't score higher is that there are other cameras at a similar price range which perform better and offer more optical zoom amongst other features.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-S3: Pros

Panasonic Lumix DMC-S3 Easy to use
Excellent colour reproduction
Panasonic Lumix DMC-S3 Great macro pictures
Panasonic Lumix DMC-S3 Excellent auto white-balance

Panasonic Lumix DMC-S3: Cons

Panasonic Lumix DMC-S3 Limited number of features
Panasonic Lumix DMC-S3 Other cameras with more features at this price

FEATURES
HANDLING Panasonic Lumix DMC-S3
PERFORMANCE Panasonic Lumix DMC-S3
VALUE FOR MONEY Panasonic Lumix DMC-S3
OVERALL

Panasonic Lumix DMC-S3: Specification

Price £104.99
Contact www.panasonic.co.uk
Optical zoom 4x optical zoom, 5 - 20.0mm (28-112mm in 35mm equiv.), f/3.1 - 6.5
Resolution 14.1 Megapixels
Sensor size 1/2.33in
Max image size 4320 x 3240
Aspect ratio 4:3
Focusing system Quick AF
Focus distance 5cm
File types JPEG
ISO sensitivity ISO100 - 1600 (High Sensitivity mode: ISO 1600-6400)
Metering system Program AE
Metering types Intelligent Multiple
Exposure compensation 1/3 EV step, +/-2 EV
Shutter speed range 8 - 1/1600 sec
Frames-per-second 1.5fps
Image stabilisation MEGA OIS
Movie mode [4:3] VGA: 640 x 480 pixels, 30fps (Motion JPEG) QVGA: 320 x 240 pixels, 30 fps (Motion JPEG) / [HD Movie(16:9)] 1280x720 pixels, 30fps (Motion JPEG)
Monitor 2.7in TFT Screen LCD Display (230K dots)
Media type SD / SDHC / SDXC
Interface AV Output (PAL), USB2.0 High speed
Power Li-ion Battery Pack (3.6V, Minimum: 660mAh) (Included) (250 pics)
Box Contents Battery Charger, Battery Pack, USB Cable, AC Cable, Hand Strap, CD-ROM
Size 98.8 x 58.8 x 20.9mm
Weight Approx. 117g with Battery and SD Memory Card

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-S3 costs £104.99 and is available from Warehouse Express here:

Panasonic Lumix DMC-S3

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Photographs taken using the Panasonic Panasonic Lumix DMC-S3

Beige RageorangeMiss DFirst day of springA lovely little visiterThe Upside down treesblanket 2Just restingStop me and buy oneblanket 1Your empty eyesHanging Manpink ladyAnd some just see the snow
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