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Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ8 Review

Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ8 Review - Daniel Bell reviews the Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ8 - a compact camera with 12x optical zoom, built-in Wi-Fi and a range of special effects for creative photography.

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Category : Compact Cameras
Product : Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ8
Price : £139
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Features
Handling
Performance
Verdict
Specification

Panasonic Lumix DMC SZ8 Black (4)

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ8 was announced in January 2014. It is designed for beginners and boasts a 12x optical zoom lens, built-in Wi-Fi and a range of special effects. It is available in silver and black and costs £139.

Panasonic Lumix DMC SZ8 Black (1)

Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ8 Features

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ8 has a 16 megapixel CCD sensor and 12x optical zoom lens, which is a 35mm equivalent of 24-288mm. To help keep images as sharp as possible there is optical image stabilisation. The SZ8 can shoot full resolution images at 1.2 fps.

There is the Intelligent Auto mode which adjusts the camera settings automatically depending on the detected scene. There are also a number of scene modes and creative control, which includes a number of effects such as dynamic monochrome, impressive art and high dynamic. The panorama shot mode shoots in four different directions and you can also add effects for unique shots.

The SZ8 has built-in Wi-Fi, connection can be made using a QR code displayed on the camera screen. For your smartphone or tablet device you can download the Panasonic Image app which lets you perform a number of functions such as remote shooting, instant transfer and geotagging.

Videos are recorded in 720p HD which optical zoom available.

Panasonic Lumix DMC SZ8 Black (5)

Key Features

  • 16 megapixel CCD sensor
  • 12x optical zoom lens (35mm equiv: 24-288mm)
  • Optical image stabilisation
  • 3.0 inch 460k dot LCD screen
  • Built-in Wi-Fi
  • 720p HD video recording
  • ISO 100-1600 (ISO 1600-6400 in High Sensitivity Mode)
  • Special effects
  • Creative Panorama
  • 3cm minimum focusing distance
  • 1.2 fps continuous shooting
  • Available in black or silver
Panasonic Lumix DMC SZ8 Black (8)

Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ8 Handling

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ8 has a lightweight plastic body with a metal brushed effect front and the lens slightly protrudes from the camera. There are a number of dots on the rear where your thumb sits to help grip. The top of the camera has the on / off button as well as the zoom rocker and shutter release. On the rear of the camera are mode, Wi-Fi, play back and q menu buttons. The q menu gives you quick access to picture settings such as ISO and white balance.

There is also a d-pad on the rear for cycling through the menus. The four directional buttons on the d-pad also give access to the flash, exposure compensation, self-timer and display. The menu system is easy to navigate - there is large text and explanations of what each option does. The screen is a good size and has a decent resolution as well. In sunlight it can be a little difficult to view.

Panasonic Lumix Dmc Sz8 App Screenshot 2 Panasonic Lumix Dmc Sz8 App Screenshot 3 Panasonic Lumix Dmc Sz8 App Screenshot 5

Connecting to the Wi-Fi is also easy, particularly when using the QR code. You need to install the Panasonic Image app on your mobile device. When shooting remotely you can adjust the zoom and change many picture settings. You can transfer pictures and videos, but it is a little slow, there's also a noticeable lag when remote shooting.

Battery life is rated at 200 shots according to CIPA test results, which is quite poor for a compact camera, particularly as using the Wi-Fi will reduce the battery life even more.

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   0.175 secs
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response   0.85 secs
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response   1.6 secs
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo   2.35 secs
Shot to Shot without Flash   3.3 secs
Shot to Shot with Flash   3.8 secs
Burst mode   0.9 fps
High-speed burst 3m   3.6 fps

Focusing is slow and times between shots are quite long. Burst mode records in full 16 megapixel resolution and high-speed burst is limited to 3 megapixels.

Panasonic Lumix DMC SZ8 Black (9)

Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ8 Performance

Additional sample photos and product shots are available in the Equipment Database, where you can add your own review, photos and product ratings.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ8 Sample Photos


Sample Photos - The Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ8 takes well exposed images with good colour reproduction. Detail suffers when shooting HDR pictures, this is also the case when using the night scenery mode. Portrait shots have decent skin tones and are free of red-eye when using the flash.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ8 Lens test images


Lens Performance - Details isn't great at all, the centre of the images are OK, but they are very soft around the edges, and there isn't much detail in darker areas of the images either. Purple fringing is quite strong in contrasting areas as well. The lens has a minimum focusing distance of 3cm, which does mean you can take a reasonably good macro shot.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ8 ISO test images


ISO Noise Performance - Images are low in noise at ISO 100 and 200. At ISO 400 images become soft, with substantial detail lost at ISO 800. More detail is lost with very soft images produced at ISO 1600. Image quality is poor at ISO 3200, with image size limited to just 3 megapixels.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ8 White-balance test images


White Balance Performance - Under the incandescent lights the Auto White Balance (AWB) performs well and takes a very similar image when using the incandescent preset. Again, under the fluorescent lights in our studio, the AWB takes a very good image - the SZ8 doesn't have a fluorescent preset.

Panorama | 1/800 sec | f/7.8 | 0.4 mm | ISO 100
Panorama | 1/800 sec | f/7.8 | 0.4 mm | ISO 100

Panorama mode - Detail is reasonably good in panorama shots, but not ideal for large prints. A positive note is that the SZ8 does a good job of stitching the images together.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ8 Digital filters


Digital Filters - There are a number of different filters included within the Creative Control mode - we have included examples of each above.

Video - Below is a video recorded in 720p HD. Quality is good, when using the zoom the focusing takes a little while to adjust.



Value For Money

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ8 is available for around £139. Other cameras with a similar amount of optical zoom include the Nikon Coolpix S6700 (10x zoom) at £140, Samsung WB35F (12x zoom) at £149.99, Sony Cyber-Shot WX200 (10x zoom) at £132.99, Canon IXUS 255 HS (10x zoom) at £170.82, Fujifilm FinePix T500 (12x zoom) at £74.99 and Olympus Stylus VR-370 (12.5x zoom) at £130.00.

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-SZ8 Verdict

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ8 has a good set of features for a reasonable price. It's got Wi-Fi, a good zoom range, optical image stabilisation and lots of creative filters. It also has a 3 inch screen with a decent 460k dot resolution. Unfortunately the battery life is short, focusing is slow and image quality isn't great. Images look fine when resized for sharing on the web, but if you want large prints then you will be disappointed. The SZ8 is an ideal camera for shooting and sharing on social network sites instantly.


 

Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ8 Pros

Screen has a decent 460k resolution
Optical image stabilisation
Lots of filters within Creative Control mode
12x optical zoom
Has built-in Wi-Fi

Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ8 Cons

Low battery life
Very slow focusing
Image quality isn't good enough for large prints

FEATURES  
HANDLING  
PERFORMANCE  
VALUE FOR MONEY  
VERDICT  

Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ8 Specifications

ManufacturerPanasonic
Lens
Max Aperturef/3.1 - f/6.3
35mm equivalent24mm - 288mm
Optical Zoom12x
Image Sensor
CCD pixels16Mp (Megapixels)
Pixels (W)4608
Pixels (H)3456
Sensor TypeCCD
Sensor Size1/2.33 inch
Sensor Size (width)No Data
Sensor Size (height)No Data
Aspect Ratio
  • 4:3
  • 3:2
  • 16:9
  • 1:1
LCD Monitor
LCD Monitor3in
Screen resolution460k dots
Touch ScreenNo
Focusing
Min Focus3cm
Focusing modes
  • Autofocus
  • Face Detection
  • Centre
Exposure Control
Shutter speeds shortest1/2000sec
Shutter speeds longest8sec
Exp modes
  • Program
  • Scene modes
  • A
Metering
  • ESP Light Metering
ISO sensitivity100 - 6400
White balance
  • Auto
  • Outdoors/Daylight
  • Cloudy
  • Incandescent
  • Shade
Exposure Comp+/-2
Shooting Options
Continuous shooting1.2fps
Video
Movie modeYes
Video Resolution
  • 1280x720 720p
Video FPS30
Stereo SoundNo
Optical Zoom with VideoNo
Other Features
Image StabilisationYes
Interface
HDMINo
USBUSB 2
Wi-FiYes
Storage
Card Type
  • SD
  • SDHC
  • SDXC
File Type
  • JPG
Power Source
Battery TypeLi-ion Battery Pack (3.6V, 690mAh, 2.5 Wh)
CIPA Rating200
Box Contents
Box ContentsBattery Pack, AC Adaptor, USB Cable, Hand Strap
Dimensions
Weight144g
Width99.8mm
Height60.4mm
Depth26.5mm

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