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Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ7 Digital Compact Camera Review

Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ7 Digital Compact Camera Review - Daniel Bell reviews the Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ7, a compact digital camera with 10x optical zoom and 14.1 megapixel sensor.

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Category : Compact Cameras
Product : Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ7
Price : £50
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Features
Handling
Performance
Verdict
Specification

Panasonic Lumix Dmc Sz7 Lens Extended

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ7 was announced in January 2012 alongside the SZ1 and is a super-zoom compact camera, available in black, white and brown for £179.00.

Panasonic Lumix Dmc Sz7 Front 1

Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ7 Features

The SZ7 has a 14.1 megapixel sensor with Intelligent Noise Reduction to allow shooting in low light conditions possible using ISO settings up to 3200. There is a 10x optical zoom lens, a 35mm equivalent of 25-250mm, which can be extended to 20x using Intelligent Zoom. Panasonic claim that the camera has a 0.1 seconds speed autofocus and quick start-up.

High-speed shooting is available in full 14.1 megapixel resolution at 10 fps, with 5 fps in continuous autofocus. Other modes include HDR (several images taken at same time and combined), miniature effect and Panorama Shot Mode. Pictures can be edited in camera through the Creative ReTouch menu which has the following six filters available: Toy Effect, Soft Focus, Dynamic Monochrome, Expressive, High Key and Retro.

Videos are recorded in full 1080p HD with stereo sound and optical zoom available.

Panasonic Lumix Dmc Sz7 Top

Key Features

  • 14.1 megapixel MOS sensor
  • 10x optical zoom lens (35mm equiv: 25-250mm)
  • Intelligent zoom
  • Full 1080p HD video recording
  • Intelligent Auto mode
  • 10 fps 14 megapixel sensor burst shooting
  • 0.1 sec Light Speed AF
  • 3.0 inch 460,000 dot TFT LCD screen
  • HDR mode
  • Miniature Effect
  • Panorama Shot
  • Creative Retouch
Panasonic Lumix Dmc Sz7 Screen

Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ7 Handling

The SZ7 has a metal front and is small enough to carry around in your pocket, despite its 10x optical zoom lens. On the top of the camera is the shutter release, zoom rocker, movie record and sliding on/off buttons. On the rear of the camera is a sliding switch which takes you from shooting mode to playback, as well as mode, d-pad with menu/set, display and Q.menu buttons. The rest of the rear of the camera hosts the 3 inch 460,000 dot LCD screen, which is easy to see in most lighting conditions. There is a raised dotted area from your right thumb to help with grip.

The SZ7 has an easy to navigate menu system, with the Q.menu button making it easy to make quick changes to the settings, dependent on which mode you are currently using. The battery has a CIPA rating of 250 shots which is plenty to keep you going for a full day of shooting. We tested the camera's performance at focusing, shutter response, shot-to-shot time, continuous shooting etc. and have posted the results below. To test this we took 6 or more shots and calculated the average.

Shutter Response   0.1 seconds
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response   0.3 seconds
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response   0.4 seconds
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo   2.1 seconds
Shot to Shot (without flash)   1.0 seconds
Shot to Shot with Flash   1.9 seconds
Flash Burst
  1.2 fps
10 fps AF-single
  10 fps
5 fps AF-Continuous
  5 fps
2 fps AF-Continuous
  2 fps

All the continuous shooting modes record at full 14 megapixel resolution except flash burst which is limited to 3 megapixels.

Panasonic Lumix Dmc Sz7 Battery And Memory Card 2

Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ7 Performance

Images produced by the SZ7 are well exposed with decent colour reproduction. Detail is OK in the centre of the images, slightly softer in the corners, with purple fringing in contrasting areas. The lens as a minimum focusing distance of 5cm, which allows the camera to get close enough to take a good macro shot.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ7 Lens test images


There is no noise at ISO 100, with noise barely noticeable at ISO 200. There is a slight increase in noise at ISO 400, with images becoming a touch softer at ISO 800. Noise causes a significant decrease in image quality when switching to ISO 1600, ISO 3200 has plenty of noise and is best used for images which are to be resized for web use, rather than large prints.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ7 ISO test images


Landscape images have good blues and greens, with portraits having good skin tones and are free of red-eye. Panoramas are particularly impressive, with very little signs of any stitching and consistent exposure.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ7 Scene modes


Panorama | 1/1000 sec | f/3.1 | 4.5 mm | ISO 100
Panorama | 1/1000 sec | f/3.1 | 4.5 mm | ISO 100

The auto white-balance (AWB) setting performs excellently, evidence of which can be seen in the images taken under our studio lighting. The incandescent preset has given a slight orange cast under the incandescent lights. There isn't a fluorescent preset, so you have to rely on the AWB setting under the fluorescent lighting, fortunately the camera copes excellently in this situation.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ7 White-balance test images


The SZ7 has four different colour modes, with examples of each below.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ7 Digital filters


Video Mode

Below is a video shot at full 1080p HD, the camera also allows the use of optical zoom during recording, an example of which can be seen on the ePHOTOzine YouTube Channel.



Value For Money

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ7 is currently priced at £179.00. Other cameras to consider are the Olympus VR-340 at £119.00, Fujifilm FinePix T400 at £129.00, Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ1 at £169.00, Nikon Coolpix S6300 at £179.00 and Sony Cybershot W690 at £179.00, all with 10x optical zoom and 16 megapixel sensors.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ7 Verdict

The Panasonic Lumix SZ-7 has a decent amount of zoom packed into a compact body, making it an ideal camera for taking on your holidays as it is very easy to carry around. The zoom can be extended using intelligent zoom and the camera takes a decent picture, shoots up to ISO 3200 at full resolution and records full 1080p HD videos.

When using the continuous shooting modes you are limited to the number of consecutive shots you can take, so you need to be spot on with your timing when capturing a fast moving subject. Other than that, the camera has some decent features which make it a worth while consideration if you are in the market for a compact camera with a decent zoom range.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ7 Pros

Full 1080p HD video recording
Good amount of zoom in compact body
AWB performs well
Fast focusing
Panoramic mode

Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ7 Cons

Limited number of shots in continuous shooting modes
One of the more expensive 10x optical zoom compacts

FEATURES
HANDLING
PERFORMANCE
VALUE FOR MONEY
OVERALL

Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ7 Specifications

ManufacturerPanasonic
Lens
Max Aperturef/3.1 - f/5.9
35mm equivalent25mm - 250mm
Optical Zoom10x
Image Sensor
CCD pixels14.1Mp (Megapixels)
Pixels (W)4320
Pixels (H)3240
Sensor TypeLive MOS Sensor
Sensor Size1/2.33 inch
Sensor Size (width)6.08mm
Sensor Size (height)4.56mm
Aspect Ratio
  • 4:3
  • 3:2
  • 16:9
  • 1:1
LCD Monitor
LCD Monitor3in
Screen resolution460,000 dots
Touch ScreenNo
Focusing
Min Focus5cm
Focusing modes
  • Face Detection
Exposure Control
Shutter speeds shortest1/1600sec
Shutter speeds longest8sec
Exp modes
  • Program
  • Scene modes
  • A
Metering
  • Multi Pattern
ISO sensitivity100 - 6400
White balance
  • Auto
  • Manual
  • Outdoors/Daylight
  • Cloudy
  • Incandescent
  • Shade
Exposure Comp+/-2
Shooting Options
Continuous shooting10fps
Video
Movie modeYes
Video Resolution
  • 1920x1080
  • 1280x720 720p
  • 640x480 VGA
  • 320x240 QVGA
Video FPS25
Stereo SoundYes
Optical Zoom with VideoYes
Other Features
Image StabilisationYes
Interface
HDMIYes
USBUSB 2
Wi-FiNo
Storage
Card Type
  • SD
  • SDHC
  • SDXC
File Type
  • JPG
Power Source
Battery TypeLi-ion Battery Pack (3.6V, Minimum: 680mAh)
CIPA Rating250
Box Contents
Box ContentsBattery Pack, AC Adapter, USB Cable, Hand Strap, CD-ROM with PHOTOfunSTUDIO 8.0 Advanced Edition / Adobe Reader
Dimensions
Weight116g
Width99mm
Height59.4mm
Depth21mm

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Photographs taken using the Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ7

mixturefookboroughbenmore pond argyll in the rainvenus& cupid at scalestonr morecambe
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