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Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ9 Review

Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ9 Review - The Panasonic Lumix SZ9 offers a 10x optical zoom with Wi-Fi all packed into a compact camera. Find out how it performs in our review.

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Category : Compact Cameras
Product : Panasonic Lumix SZ9
Price : £149
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Features
Handling
Performance
Verdict
Specification

Panasonic Lumix SZ9 Large (1)

The new Panasonic Lumix SZ9 updates the Panasonic Lumix SZ7, adding a 16.1 megapixel sensor, Wi-Fi, high speed shooting at 5fps with continuous AF, full HD video recording with stereo sound, a 3 inch screen with 460k dots and the same 10x optical zoom lens with image stabilisation. The Panasonic Lumix SZ9 features a new creative filter panoramic mode, and is available for around £149.

Panasonic Lumix SZ9 Features

Panasonic Lumix SZ9 Large (2)

The front of the camera features a Leica DC Vario-Elmar 10x optical zoom lens, giving 25-250mm equivalent, with optical image stabilisation for steady shots.

The camera features a new 16.1-megapixel MOS sensor with high speed signal output and high sensitivity image recording. The new MOS sensor combined with the Intelligent Noise Reduction system in the Venus Engine is designed to make both photo and video shot at any sensitivity from low to high give good result. The high speed digital signal output technology enables shooting at 5 fps with continuous AF with mechanical shutter or at 10 fps in high speed burst mode at reduced resolution, and burst shooting with flash is also available, also at reduced resolution.

The SZ9 integrates Wi-Fi® connectivity for users to enjoy flexible shooting style and instant image sharing with easy operation. With the "Panasonic Image App", users can enjoy remote shooting, easy SNS upload, and Instant Transfer, which allows the camera to automatically transfer data to the designated electronic devices. Transferring data to PC is available via wireless access point (router) at home.

Another feature is the creative panorama mode with 12 filters, or there is the choice of creative control mode featuring a total of 14 filter effects. In addition the camera features a Beauty Retouch mode, as well as a One Touch Make Up mode.

Panasonic Lumix SZ9 Large (3)

Key Features

  • 16.1 megapixel Live MOS sensor
  • 10x optical zoom lens, 25 - 250mm equivalent
  • Mega Optical Image Stabilisation
  • 3inch 460k dot screen
  • Full HD video recording, Stereo sound
  • Light speed AF
  • Creative Panorama
  • Remote Shooting, Browsing, Sharing (Wi-Fi)
  • ISO100 - ISO3200
  • 5cm macro mode
  • 5fps continuous shooting with AF
  • Available in black or silver

Panasonic Lumix SZ9 Handling

Panasonic Lumix SZ9 Large (4)

Handling - The camera features a metal body, on/off button and playback button on the back. There is a dedicated mode button as well a dedicated Wi-Fi button. The options given on screen are iAuto (intelligent auto), Normal, Creative control, Panoramic and Scene modes. There is a dedicated video record button so you can start recording video regardless of which mode you are in. There is no grip on the front of the camera and none on the back so a wrist strap is recommended.

Panasonic Lumix SZ9 Large (5)

Menus – The Panasonic menus are very easy to use with the camera providing clear text and built in help showing what each option does. Where there are a number of icons, such as the scene mode, each one is explained underneath. The number of options available in the menus changes depending which mode you are currently in, making it very easy to use even for the beginner.

Panasonic SZ9 Image App Remote Panasonic SZ9 Image App Playback Thumbnails Panasonic SZ9 Image App Playback Viewing Image
Image App Remote Control Playback Thumbnails Playback Viewing Image

With the Panasonic Image app installed on your mobile device you can transfer your images from the camera and also use the device as a remote release. You can change the zoom, set the focus point, and release the shutter using the smartphone touchscreen. You can also use the app to add GPS information to your photos.

Trying to upload directly from the camera to social network sites such as Facebook can be a slightly complicated task, as you first need to setup a link to your social network site on the Panasonic Lumix Club website. The camera will generate a user ID and you can set the password, however the Lumix Club website would not accept this, so we were unable to setup the link to Facebook.

Panasonic Lumix SZ9 Large (6)

Battery life - Battery life is rated at 220 shots according to Panasonic / CIPA test results, which is average for a compact camera, and extended use of Wi-Fi is likely to reduce battery life. Charging is via the USB cable, however Panasonic do provide a wall socket to USB adapter in the box so you don't have to be tied to a computer to charge.

Speed - 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.

  Panasonic Lumix SZ9
Shutter Response <0.05
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response 0.2
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response 0.3
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo 1.8
Shot to Shot without Flash 0.6
Shot to Shot with Flash 1.3
Continuous Shooting - JPEG
(shots before slow down)
5fps (3 shots)
Continuous Shooting - Flash (3m) 0.6s (5 shots)
Continuous Shooting - High Speed (3m) 9fps (29 shots)

Focus and shutter response are excellent, with a good switch on time, as well as a fast shot to shot time. The camera offers 5fps continuous shooting with AF at full resolution, although it can only take 3 photos at this speed before slowing to just slightly quicker than 1fps. Additional high speed shooting modes are available at 3 megapixels, as well as a high speed flash mode.

Panasonic Lumix SZ9 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 SZ9 Sample Photos


Sample Photos - Colour reproduction is good with the camera producing pleasing outdoor shots, with saturated colours. The portrait photo with flash shows no red-eye, and the camera features red-eye reduction flash. Exposure is reliable and dynamic range can be expanded using the iDynamic setting, or in Auto mode the camera will automatically set the best options for expanded dynamic range.

Panasonic Lumix SZ9 Lens test images


Lens Performance - The lens performs well, with good detail, although images are very slightly soft in the far corners when shooting at the wide end of the lens. At the telephoto end of the lens images become a little softer, but results are still reasonably good. There is minimal barrel or pincushion distortion, with little noticeable vignetting. Purple fringing is well controlled and very little chromatic aberration was noticed. The closest focusing distance is 5cm with the lens at the wide-angle setting, this lets you get a fairly decent macro photo.

Panasonic Lumix SZ9 ISO test images


ISO Noise Performance - Noise is reasonably low at ISO100, and increases at ISO200. Noise becomes more noticeable at ISO400 with a slight loss of detail. At ISO800, as noise increases, detail suffers, but results should still be usable. At ISO1600 noise increases again and detail suffers further, but results may still be usable resized or on the web. ISO3200 is best avoided due to strong noise, and smudged details. Higher ISO is available in the High Sensitivity scene mode where the camera resizes photos to 3 megapixels.

Panasonic Lumix SZ9 White-balance test images


White Balance Performance - White balance performs well using auto white balance (AWB) in tungsten and fluorescent lighting, with the tungsten preset mode giving a warmer result. The camera doesn't feature a fluorescent preset mode as the camera does a good job on the auto white balance setting.

Under fluorescent lighting, ISO100 causes the camera to use the lowest (default) shutter speed in normal mode of 1/8 which caused an underexposed photo, so the ISO setting was increased to ISO400 for a correctly exposed photo. The lowest shutter speed can be set to a slower speed if needed in the camera menus.

Panoramic Standard | 1/800 sec | f/3.1 | 4.5 mm | ISO 100
Panoramic Standard | 1/800 sec | f/3.1 | 4.5 mm | ISO 100

Panoramic Impressive Art | 1/1000 sec | f/3.1 | 4.5 mm | ISO 160
Panoramic Impressive Art | 1/1000 sec | f/3.1 | 4.5 mm | ISO 160

Panorama mode - The panoramic mode works well with you simply pressing the shutter button and holding it while you sweep the camera around. Twelve digital filters are also available when shooting panoramics, giving you additional creativity and effects.

Panasonic Lumix SZ9 Digital filters


Digital Filters - Fourteen digital filters are available to add a different look to your photos. You can also choose from a number of different colour modes including standard, vivid, black and white, and sepia.

Panasonic Lumix SZ9 Outdoor images


HDR mode can't be manually selected, however in Intelligent Auto, the camera will automatically switch to a HDR / backlight scene mode and take a number of shots at different exposures and merge them for extended dynamic range.

Video - The SZ9 can record 1920 x 1080 full HD 50i video in AVCHD and 25p in MP4 format, with high-quality stereo sound using Dolby® Digital technology. Quality is good and the built in optical image stabilisation helps keep video steady.


Value For Money

The Panasonic Lumix SZ9 is available for £149 which makes it good value for money as one of the cheapest 10x optical zoom cameras with Full HD video recording, Wi-Fi and high speed shooting. Alternatives to look at include the following:

Canon IXUS 135, 8x with Wi-Fi, £119
Samsung WB30F, 10x with Wi-Fi, £119
Sony Cyber-shot WX200, 10x with Wi-Fi, Full HD,  £160
Nikon Coolpix S6500, 12x with Wi-Fi, Full HD, £177
Canon IXUS 255 HS, 10x with Wi-Fi, Full HD, £210
Canon Powershot N, 8x with Wi-Fi, Full HD, £249

For other cameras with Wi-Fi, have a look at our Top 11 Best Wi-Fi Cameras. 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 SZ9 Verdict

The Panasonic Lumix SZ9 is a stylish compact camera with an impressive 10x optical zoom lens squashed into a camera that easily fits into tight pockets. Image quality is good with good levels of detail, good colour reproduction and quick and reliable focus. There are a number of effects available, a number of these can also be used on panoramic photos, which is unique to Panasonic at this moment in time. The Panasonic Lumix SZ9 is one of the cheapest compact cameras with a good zoom, built in Wi-Fi and Full HD video recording, making it easy to recommend this compact camera.


 
  The Panasonic Lumix SZ9 delivers good images and snappy performance with Wi-Fi at a great price.

 

Panasonic Lumix SZ9 Pros

Very compact with 10x optical zoom
Good image quality
Full HD video
Good value for money
Fast focus and shot to shot time
Wi-Fi connectivity
Panoramic mode effects

Panasonic Lumix SZ9 Cons

Little grip provided
Average battery life
Limited number of continuous shots at 5fps
Lumix Club Website setup needed to share to social websites

FEATURES  
HANDLING  
PERFORMANCE  
VALUE FOR MONEY  
VERDICT  

Panasonic Lumix SZ9 Specifications

ManufacturerPanasonic
Lens
Max Aperturef/3.1 - f/5.9
35mm equivalent25mm - 250mm
Optical Zoom10x
Image Sensor
CCD pixels16.1Mp (Megapixels)
Pixels (W)4608
Pixels (H)3456
Sensor TypeLive MOS Sensor
Sensor Size1/2.33
Sensor Size (width)6.16mm
Sensor Size (height)4.6mm
Aspect Ratio
  • 4:3
  • 3:2
  • 16:9
  • 1:1
LCD Monitor
LCD Monitor3in
Screen resolution460k
Touch ScreenNo
Focusing
Min Focus5cm
Focusing modes
  • Autofocus
  • Spot
  • Face Detection
  • AF Tracking
  • Multi
  • Centre
  • Zoom macro
Exposure Control
Shutter speeds shortest1/1600sec
Shutter speeds longest30sec
Exp modes
  • Program
  • Scene modes
Metering
  • Multi Pattern
ISO sensitivity100 - 3200
White balance
  • Auto
  • Manual
  • Outdoors/Daylight
  • Cloudy
  • Incandescent
  • Shade
Exposure Comp+/-2
Shooting Options
Continuous shooting5fps
Video
Movie modeYes
Video Resolution
  • 1920x1080
Video FPS50i
Stereo SoundYes
Optical Zoom with VideoYes
Other Features
Image StabilisationYes
Interface
HDMIYes
USBUSB 2
Wi-FiYes
Storage
Card Type
  • SD
  • SDHC
  • SDXC
File Type
  • JPG
Power Source
Battery TypeLithium-Ion
CIPA Rating220
Box Contents
Box ContentsBattery Pack, AC adaptor, USB Cable, Hand Strap, CD-ROM
Dimensions
Weight119g
Width96.5mm
Height56.8mm
Depth21.2mm

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Photographs taken using the Panasonic Lumix SZ9

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Comments


dcash29 8 1.9k England
8 Jan 2014 5:28PM
No information on the zoom noise or crackling when used in the video??

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