Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ5 Wireless Camera Review - The Panasonic Lumix SZ5 is Panasonic's latest compact camera with built in Wi-Fi, this time however, the Wi-Fi is designed to connect to any wireless device. Joshua Waller reviews it to find out how it performs.
The Panasonic Lumix SZ5 is Panasonic's latest compact camera with built in Wi-Fi, while previous models from Panasonic had limited Wi-Fi connectivity (sharing to phone only), the new SZ5 allows you to control it from a smartphone, share to smartphones, connect to DLNA devices (TV etc), and upload directly to the internet (once you've setup a Lumix account). The camera side features a 14 megapixel CCD sensor, 10x optical zoom lens, 3 inch screen, optical image stabilisation and 720p video.
Panasonic Lumix SZ5 Features
14 megapixel CCD sensor
10x optical zoom lens, 25-250mm equivalent
Mega Optical Image Stabilisation (O.I.S)
Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi button
ISO100-1600 (ISO3200 high sensitivity mode)
Miniature mode, Panoramic shooting
Available in white or black
Panasonic Lumix SZ5 Handling
Handling - The camera features a metal body, on/off button and playback buttons making it easy to switch the camera on and change between modes with the dedicated mode button. The options given on screen are iAuto (intelligent auto), Normal, Miniature 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 just an area of raised dots on the back so a wrist strap is recommended.
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. The Q.menu button makes it easy to make quick changes to the settings, dependent on which mode you are currently using.
Wi-Fi Main Menu
Wi-Fi Social Sharing (all disabled)
Wi-Fi Setup Wizard lets you setup:
Smart Transfer - transfers images automatically to a PC or other destination during charging
Smartphone / tablet connection
Web service - PC destination, Cloud Sync. Service, Web service, AV device - To acces a web service a Lumix account is required, and to setup the connection you need to go onto the Lumix website to enable the connections to the social sites such as facebook etc.
TV connection - DNLA
Wi-Fi connection settings include WPS (Push-button), WPS (PIN), or Manual connection. Using the camera to connect and setup the wireless connection is quite awkward, with a difficult to use keyboard, and each step features an explanation screen, this can make it a little time consuming. The setup of your Lumix club account gives you a 12 digit number, although this was not accepted by the Lumix Club website, which stopped us from sharing to Facebook or other social sites.
Battery life - Battery life is rated at 250 shots according to CIPA test results, we were able to take 200 shots before the battery went flat. 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. Use of Wireless features is likely to lower the number of shots possible.
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.
Shutter response is good as if focusing at both the wide and telephoto ends of the lens, and a high speed continuous shooting mode is available at 3mp, shooting at 7fps.
Panasonic Lumix SZ5 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 SZ5 Sample Photos
Sample Photos - The camera takes a decent portrait photo, and there is no red-eye in this photo, although the photo is a little soft. Colours are good with bright blues and greens in landscape shots.
Panasonic Lumix SZ5 Lens test images
Lens Performance - The lens performs well at both wide and telephoto settings with better than expected detail from such a small camera. The Leica branded lens appears to do a good job with the only complaint being some purple fringing showing in the photo of the trees above. Macro performance is reasonable with the camera letting you focus on subjects that are roughly 5cm from the front of the lens.
Panasonic Lumix SZ5 ISO test images
ISO Noise Performance - Noise is quite low at ISO100 and ISO200, however at ISO400 you can see the image becoming softer as the camera tries to removes noise. At ISO800 the colour saturation begins to drop, as does detail. This continues at ISO1600 and it may be best to avoid using this setting if possible. ISO3200 is only available at a reduced resolution of 3 megapixels.
Panasonic Lumix SZ5 White-balance test images
White Balance Performance - White balance performs well using auto white balance 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.
Panoramic | 1/800 sec | f/9.0 | 4.5 mm | ISO 800
Panorama mode - The panoramic mode works well with you simply pressing the shutter button and holding it while you sweep the camera around.
Panasonic Lumix SZ5 Digital filters
Digital Filters - The camera has a built in miniature mode and numerous scene modes such as "Shoot through glass" and frame photo as well as all the usual scene modes we've come to expect on compact cameras. There are some additional colour options including Vivid, Black and White and Sepia. The camera doesn't feature a dedicated HDR or Backlight scene mode, however it does feature i-exposure and i-resolution, design to improve dynamic range and detail recorded respectively.
Video - The camera records 720p video. Optical zoom is available, and image stabilisation appears to be quite effective in this hand-held video:
Value For Money
The Panasonic Lumix SZ5 is available for around £169 in white or black, this makes it reasonable value for money, although there are cheaper alternatives available, and the non Wi-Fi version is much better value for money, in the Panasonic Lumix SZ1. Alternative Wi-Fi cameras to look at include: Samsung DV300F (Front screen, £119), ST200F (10x zoom, £119), WB150F (18x zoom, £179), Canon IXUS 510 HS (12x zoom, £219), Fujifilm FinePix XP170 (Waterproof, £179).
The Panasonic Lumix SZ5 has been designed to allow Wi-Fi connections to a number of destinations, however this is made more awkward with the Panasonic requiring a Lumix Club account to share to web sites like facebook, which unfortunately we couldn't get working despite a number of attempts.
The Panasonic Lumix SZ5 is a compact, stylish camera with decent image quality, and a good 10x optical zoom lens. However, as we had problems with the Wi-Fi, we find it difficult to recommend, and instead you could find better value for money in the non-Wi-Fi version of this camera.
Panasonic Lumix SZ5 Pros
Compact metal bodied camera
Good 10x optical zoom lens
Easy to use (apart from the Wi-Fi)
Good image quality and colour
Panasonic Lumiz SZ5 Cons
Wi-Fi drains battery life
Not impressed by the screen quality
Awkward Wi-Fi connections / problems with logon / PC still needed at times