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The Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ3 was announced in January 2013 alongside the SZ9. They are both similar cameras, but the SZ3 is a cheaper budget model, with a CCD sensor and 2.7 inch screen, whereas the SZ9 has a MOS sensor and 3.0 inch screen. The SZ3 is available for around £80 in white, violet and black.
The SZ3 has an Intelligent Auto mode which adjusts the camera settings for the detected scene. There are a number of scene modes to choose from, panorama shot mode and creative control. Creative control has a wide range of creative shooting modes, such as high dynamic, dynamic monochrome and impressive art. Portrait shots can be improved using Beauty ReTouch, available in playback.
Videos are recorded in 720p at 24 fps with optical zoom available during recording.
- 16.1 megapixel CCD sensor
- 10x optical zoom lens (35mm equiv: 25-250mm)
- Mega Optical Image Stabilisation
- 2.7 inch 230k dot LCD screen
- Creative Control mode including HDR
- 720p HD video recording at 24fps
- ISO 100 - 1600
- 5cm minimum focusing distance
- 1.4 fps continuous shooting
- Panorama shot mode
- Available in white, violet and black
On the top of the camera is the on / off button, shutter release and zoom rocker. On the rear are mode, movie record, playback and delete buttons, as well as a d-pad for cycling through the menu. The menu is access via the button in the centre of the d-pad and the menus are easy to navigate, although there is no direct way to access picture settings (such as ISO and white balance), you have to press menu, then choose rec. The d-pad offers quick access to self-timer, flash and exposure compensation.
Battery life is rated at 250 shots according to CIPA test results, which is decent for a budget camera. We took a number of shots to test the camera's responsiveness, from switch on to first photo, shot to shot, focusing speed etc. We take a number of shots and then use the average to ensure accurate and consistent tests, making it easy to compare with other cameras.
|Shutter Response||0.1 secs|
|Wide - Focus / Shutter Response||0.2 secs|
|Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response||0.4 secs|
|Switch on Time to Taking a Photo||1.5 secs|
|Shot to Shot without Flash||2.5 secs|
|Shot to Shot with Flash||3.0 secs|
|Continuous Shooting - Burst||0.6 fps|
|Continuous Shooting - High-Speed Burst||7.9 fps|
|Continuous Shooting - Flash Burst||1.1 fps|
We struggled to get anywhere near the 1.4 fps in continuous shooting that Panasonic claim the SZ3 is capable of. The high-speed burst and flash burst modes both record at a maximum of 3 megapixels.
Equipment Database, where you can add your own review, photos and product ratings.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ3 Sample Photos
Portrait | 1/60 sec | f/4.6 | 12.3 mm | ISO 400
Landscape | 1/200 sec | f/4.0 | 8.6 mm | ISO 100
Night Scenery | 8 sec | f/3.1 | 4.5 mm | ISO 100
Pet Portrait | 1/60 sec | f/3.8 | 7.4 mm | ISO 400
Sample Photos - Images are bright and colourful, with good shots possible outdoors in good light and indoors using the flash. Portrait shots aren't the best, with skin tones benefiting when edited using the Beauty Retouch mode in playback.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ3 Lens test images
Wide Angle | 1/400 sec | f/3.1 | 4.5 mm | ISO 100
Some Optical Zoom | 1/250 sec | f/5.8 | 25.3 mm | ISO 100
Full Optical Zoom | 1/200 sec | f/5.9 | 45.0 mm | ISO 100
Macro | 0.5 sec | f/3.3 | 5.2 mm | ISO 100
Lens Performance - Image detail is decent enough throughout the zoom range for a budget camera, with purple fringing kept under control as well. The lens has a minimum focusing distance of 5cm, which does allow for a good macro shot.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ3 ISO test images
0.3 sec | f/5.4 | 19.1 mm | ISO 100
1/6 sec | f/5.4 | 19.1 mm | ISO 200
1/13 sec | f/5.4 | 19.1 mm | ISO 400
1/25 sec | f/5.4 | 19.1 mm | ISO 800
1/50 sec | f/5.4 | 19.1 mm | ISO 1600
ISO Noise Performance - Noise is low at ISO 100 and 200, with a little noise appearing at ISO 400 that causes a slight softening of the images. Image quality really starts to suffer at ISO 800, which becomes even worse at ISO 1600, with a large amount of detail lost at this setting.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ3 White-balance test images
AWB Tungsten | 1/6 sec | f/4.0 | 8.6 mm | ISO 100
WB Tungsten | 1/6 sec | f/4.0 | 8.6 mm | ISO 100
AWB Fluorescent | 1/4 sec | f/4.0 | 8.6 mm | ISO 100
White Balance Performance - Under the incandescent and fluorescent lights the Auto White Balance (AWB) performs excellently. The incandescent preset produces an image with a slight colour cast under the incandescent lights, there isn't a fluorescent preset available on the SZ3.
Panorama 2 | 1/200 sec | f/9.0 | 4.5 mm | ISO 800
Panorama mode - Panoramic shots have a decent amount of detail and are stitched together well. If bright, sunny conditions, the SZ3 struggled to keep a consistent exposure throughout the panoramas.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ3 Digital filters
Colour Mode - Black And White | 0.8 sec | f/3.9 | 8.0 mm | ISO 100
Colour Mode - Cross Process | 1/5 sec | f/3.9 | 8.0 mm | ISO 400
Colour Mode - Sepia | 0.8 sec | f/3.9 | 8.0 mm | ISO 100
Colour Mode - Standard | 0.8 sec | f/3.9 | 8.0 mm | ISO 100
Colour Mode - Toy Effect | 0.5 sec | f/3.9 | 8.0 mm | ISO 400
Colour Mode - Vivid | 0.8 sec | f/3.9 | 8.0 mm | ISO 100
Creative Control Miniature Effect | 1/15 sec | f/3.5 | 6.0 mm | ISO 400
Creative Control One Point Colour | 1/20 sec | f/3.5 | 6.0 mm | ISO 400
Creative Control - Dynamic Monochrome | 1/5 sec | f/3.9 | 8.0 mm | ISO 400
Creative Control - Expressive | 1/4 sec | f/3.9 | 8.0 mm | ISO 400
Creative Control - High Dynamic | 0.5 sec | f/3.9 | 8.0 mm | ISO 400
Creative Control - High Key | 0.5 sec | f/3.9 | 8.0 mm | ISO 400
Creative Control - Impressive Art | 1/4 sec | f/3.9 | 8.0 mm | ISO 400
Creative Control - Low Key | 1/8 sec | f/3.9 | 8.0 mm | ISO 400
Creative Control - Retro | 1/4 sec | f/3.9 | 8.0 mm | ISO 400
Creative Control - Sepia | 1/5 sec | f/3.9 | 8.0 mm | ISO 400
Digital Filters - The SZ3 has a number of colour modes to choose from, or you can opt to use the creative control mode to produce unusual and unique shots. We've included a number of examples above.
Video - Below is a video recorded in 720p HD. Quality is good, you can use the zoom during recording, where the focusing keeps up with the zoom and you can't hear the lens movement.
Value For Money
You'll also need to buy a memory card and a case or bag to keep your camera safe and protected - have a look at our complete guide to camera bags.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ3 ProsDecent image quality for a budget camera
Creative control mode for unique pictures
Has optical image stabilisation
Good value for money
Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ3 ConsLacks a button to give quick access to picture settings such as ISO and white balance
Continuous shooting slower than expected
Inconsistent exposure in panoramas in bright sunlight
|VALUE FOR MONEY|
Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ3 Specifications
|Max Aperture||f/3.1 - f/5.9|
|35mm equivalent||25mm - 250mm|
|CCD pixels||16.1Mp (Megapixels)|
|Sensor Size (width)||6.16mm|
|Sensor Size (height)||4.6mm|
|Shutter speeds shortest||1/1600sec|
|Shutter speeds longest||60sec|
|ISO sensitivity||100 - 1600|
|Optical Zoom with Video||Yes|
|Box Contents||No Data|