Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS7 MP Digital Camera with 12x Optical Image Stabilized Zoom and 3.0-Inch LCD (Black) 12.1

Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS7 12.1 MP Digital Camera with 12x Optical Image Stabilized Zoom and 3.0-Inch LCD (Black)

Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS7 12.1 MP Digital Camera with 12x Optical Image Stabilized Zoom and 3.0-Inch LCD (Black) Rating:
List Price: $349.95
Sale Price: $176.99
Availability: unspecified

Product Description


The Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS7 delivers AVCHD Lite HD movie recording capability, 25mm ultra wide-angle and powerful 12x optical zoom lens in a compact body to cover virtually any shooting situations. This 12.1-megapixel powerhouse performer ZS7 further advanced to comprehend attractive features including the Intelligent Resolution technology as well as the built-in GPS (Global Positioning System) unit and manual exposure. An abundance of functions for both photo and movie recording are organized in the well-considered operational command including an independent movie recording button achieving smooth, easy operation in both recording modes.

FEATURES:

  • 25mm Ultra Wide-angle Lens - The DMC-ZS7 features a 25mm ultra wide-angle 12x optical zoom f/3.3-4.9 Leica DC Vario-Elmar lens (35mm camera equivalent: 25-300mm). Incorporating Panasonic's advanced optical technologies, this lens system is comprised of 10 elements in 8 groups, with 2 ED (Extra Low Dispersion) lenses and 2 aspherical lenses / 3 aspherical surfaces while preserving compactness. This lens system enables a remarkable 25 to 300mm range of focal length in this compact body. The powerful zoom of the DMC-ZS7 can be freely controlled even when shooting motion images. Inheriting the fine rendering and outstanding quality of the Leica Elmar lens, this easy-to-carry camera delivers beautiful images any time, any place.
  • 16x Intelligent Zoom/23.4x Extra Optical Zoom - Thanks to the newly incorporated Intelligent Resolution technology, the Intelligent Zoom is available with the DMC-ZS7 which extends the zoom ratio by approx. 1.3x maintaining the picture quality even combining a digital zoom. This means the 12x optical can virtually extend to 16x equivalent. Furthermore, the Extra Optical Zoom function that extends zoom power to 23.4x by using the center part of the large CCD to bring subjects even close

    Details

    • 12.1-megapixel effective recording
    • 12X optical zoom (4X digital/48X total zoom)
    • Built-in GPS function lets you keep track of your photos by location
    • Optical image stabilization
    • Recording Media - Built-in Memory, SD Memory Card, SDHC Memory Card, SDXC Memory Card

Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS7 12.1 MP Digital Camera with 12x Optical Image Stabilized Zoom and 3.0-Inch LCD (Black) out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 953 user reviews
Panasonic Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS7 12.1 MP Digital Camera with 12x Optical Image Stabilized Zoom and 3.0-Inch LCD (Black)
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS7 delivers AVCHD Lite HD movie recording capability, 25mm ultra wide-angle and powerful 12x optical zoom lens in a compact body to cover virtually any shooting situations. This 12.1-megapixel powerhouse performer ZS7 further advanced to comprehend attractive features including the Intelligent Resolution technology as well as the built-in GPS (Global Positioning System) unit and manual exposure. An abundance of functions for both photo and movie recording are organized in the well-considered operational command including an independent movie recording button achieving smooth, easy operation in both recording modes.

FEATURES:
  • 25mm Ultra Wide-angle Lens - The DMC-ZS7 features a 25mm ultra wide-angle 12x optical zoom f/3.3-4.9 Leica DC Vario-Elmar lens (35mm camera equivalent: 25-300mm). Incorporating Panasonic's advanced optical technologies, this lens system is comprised of 10 elements in 8 groups, with 2 ED (Extra Low Dispersion) lenses and 2 aspherical lenses / 3 aspherical surfaces while preserving compactness. This lens system enables a remarkable 25 to 300mm range of focal length in this compact body. The powerful zoom of the DMC-ZS7 can be freely controlled even when shooting motion images. Inheriting the fine rendering and outstanding quality of the Leica Elmar lens, this easy-to-carry camera delivers beautiful images any time, any place.
  • 16x Intelligent Zoom/23.4x Extra Optical Zoom - Thanks to the newly incorporated Intelligent Resolution technology, the Intelligent Zoom is available with the DMC-ZS7 which extends the zoom ratio by approx. 1.3x maintaining the picture quality even combining a digital zoom. This means the 12x optical can virtually extend to 16x equivalent. Furthermore, the Extra Optical Zoom function that extends zoom power to 23.4x by using the center part of the large CCD to bring subjects even close $349.95 http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41mObreJEQL._SL160_.jpg
http://www.newborn-portraits.com/panasonic-lumix-dmc-zs7-mp-digital-camera-with-12x-optical-image-stabilized-zoom-and-3-0-inch-lcd-black-12-1.html
    

10 Responses to “Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS7 MP Digital Camera with 12x Optical Image Stabilized Zoom and 3.0-Inch LCD (Black) 12.1”

  1. Eian Prohl Says:

    Rating

    I thought this camera would be the perfect camera for the field biologist (ornithologist in my case) for several reasons:

    1) Compact, really doesn’t make sense to be lugging an SLR into remote locations on foot if amazing photography isn’t your primary goal.

    2) Megazoom, Leica lens

    3) High quality 720p video (with zoom and stereo sound)

    4) Built-in geotagging capability

    What separated this camera from my other considerations? The built-in geotagging capability. Why does this camera get 3 stars rather than 4? The built-in GPS. Field biologists beware: It will not lock-on in a forest; the canopy is too much of an obstruction. I should have known this was no Garmin receiver…oh well.

    As for the rest of the camera. First let me say that I am coming from the Fuji Film F30, one of the finest compacts at its release in many’s eyes. I have experience with dSLR but won’t hold a compact to their picture quality standard. I’ve mated this camera to a class 10 8GB SD card with 30 mb/s write speed capability.

    DISAPPOINTMENTS:

    1. Battery life and charging: Battery life is acceptable, but downright terrible in comparison to the F30. I recommend a second or third battery, especially if you are taking this into the field. The fact you can’t charge it without removing the battery is an oversight by Panasonic, although it isn’t a deal breaker for me as it is for some. I consider it a minor inconvenience.

    2. Picture-quality: *7/27 update* I’ve taken some great outdoor photos with this thing; it’s very capable you just need to explore all its settings and give it a tripod so it can use low ISOs in low light situations* Inconsistent at times, pretty average to slightly above average all-around which is a disappointment for a compact at this price point. All the technology that goes into intelligent auto often leaves me thinking the camera is “thinking too hard” — the camera is capable of very nice photos but consistently struggles in intelligent auto when lighting or subject are just a tad tricky. So essentially pictures are too hit or miss. But when the ZS7 nails the photo and can use a low ISO, I think it’s well above average for a compact. Still, the low-light performance is not great. I’m shocked when the camera needs to go to ISO 800 in shady outdoor conditions to achieve 1/30s shutter speed…what the heck?! ISO 800 is just about the limit with a small sensor 12.1 MP camera before noise is obvious. I consider this an outdoor camera only now, especially coupled to such an anemic flash. The 6.1 MP CCD and metering in the 4 year-old Fuji F30 clearly takes superior pictures…

    3. GPS (see above)

    4. *7/27 Update*: After lot of heavy use, I still find the Macro mode auto-focus terrible, even if a flower is 80% of the frame, it seems to love to focus on the ground or whatever the lower surface is if its within a few inches of the subject.

    MACRO-mode autofocus (preliminary) and autofocus in general: Although I haven’t had much time to use it, I was surprised how much trouble the autofocus was having taking a easy picture of a flower with macro mode enabled. I tried all of the autofocus settings (spot, average, 11 spot, etc etc) and still wasn’t impressed. Autofocus has come to several “interesting conclusions” as to what the subject of my picture is as well.

    5. Burst mode limited to 3 pictures if you are shooting the high-quality picture size, and there definitely is pretty long lag between them.

    THE “GOOD”:

    1. The zoom lens. Very nice. Nearly silent (I can’t hear it, but the speakers do pick it up in video mode) and powerful with little image deterioration.

    2. The large screen is of very high quality.

    3. Nice video, quick write times with this powerful card. Good audio.

    4. FULL FEATURED and logically laid out. Overall, navigating the plethora of menus and options is intuitive. I have not had problems with accidentally pressing the dedicated record button or accidentally switching to playback from image capture mode. The quick menu with dedicated button is especially nice. I have to say, some of the features are overboard and don’t work that well, like face recognition.

    5. Manual control, shutter priority, and aperture priority modes.

    MISCONCEPTIONS AND FIRMWARE UPDATE

    I also want to clear up something I believe I read in a review here. In airplane mode, the GPS does not use battery when the camera is off, at least AFAIK and as far as the detailed manual (which IS available online if you are persistent) indicates. Airplane mode means the camera will attempt to lock on only when the camera is first turned on.

    A 1-star review also claims that the GPS reverts to “ON” whenever you turn the camera on. This is not true; if you select GPS OFF, it will remain off.

    I have also not noticed any shutter lag. I’m not sure if that reviewer meant lag between pictures, which could be a function of the memory card used.

    Also, please note that there is a firmware update for this camera. I purchased mine 2 weeks ago and it came with the outdated v1.0 firmware. Update (v. 1.1) and installation instructions are available on the product page at Panasonic’s website.

  2. Cyrus R. Mody Says:

    Rating

    I recently sold my JCV HD camcorder because I realized my lifestyle required me to take more still photos than videos.

    I did some extensive research and in the process learnt a few things I did not realize. I researched blogs, reviews, and other expert and end user forums including consumer reports trends for `brand’ reliability, cNet reviews and many other popular electronics authorities.

    In my research I discovered that unless you are a professional photographer printing a 5 foot tall poster, for day to day use and the ability to `blow up a regular image to a reasonable size – most people do not need a camera with more than 6-8 megapixels. However if you get more megapixels then that is a bonus. (Something you get in the Panasonic DMC-ZS7K a total of 12.1 mega-pixels)

    On the other hand Zoom is a different matter. Getting a camera with good range in `Optical zoom’ is always better. You might say to yourself “I will never need to `zoom in’ “that far” – trust me you will! And you will appreciate your decision. The Panasonic DMC-ZS7K has a total of 12x optical zoom which is also `Wide angle” and the ability to add another 4x digital zoom giving you a total of 16x zoom). However to get crisp images you should try to stay within the `optical zoom’ limitations (up to 16x).

    Now to review the actual camera:

    Model: Panasonic: DMC-ZS7K

    I have owned this camera for about 3 weeks now. Unpacking it was a breeze. It took a very short time to charge the battery. Once I plugged in the battery, programming the initial basic settings like the time and location, was easy. However while I have used the GPS feature, to be on the safe side (re battery draining) I keep my GPS `OFF’. If I am actively going to be in an area where I specifically want the `added’ feature of the GPS then I will turn it on. BUT I will try to remember to turn it off as soon as I am done. Even if you power off your camera – as long as the battery is inserted in the unit the GPS will be running 24/7. This WILL drain you r battery.

    It took me a few hours to read through the manual and play (adjust) all the advanced settings. I don’t think I will use the `advanced settings much but I will have it set to my liking when I am ready to use it.

    I have taken a handful of photos to test all the settings including the macro zoom. For the most part unless your environment absolutely demands `advanced’ shutter and aperture settings the `iAF’ mode works best. This camera in `iAF’ mode (Intelligent Auto Focus) is a breeze. Just point and shoot. “Even a caveman can do it”

    In macro mode once again I found the AF Macro mode to work the best. Although if you are zoomed in to the object and switch from tele-macro to af-macro you will not see any change. You will need to physically zoom out and back in or move your camera away from the object and bring it back so it can refocus.

    ISSUES – QUIRKS:

    At this point I do not have any major complaints with this camera – except that for the price it could have come with a carry pouch (case) and at lease 8GB of memory. I have not yet bought a camera case but however bought 32GB of memory. [SanDisk 32GB Extreme - SDHC Class 10 High Performance memory card 200x - NEW 30MB/s version]. Again from research I have discovered that for true HD quality recording a Class-10 SDHC memory card is the best.

    I am taking a 2 week trip to Florida at the end of May 2010 and expect to use the camera extensively.

    Today I am happy with my decision and this camera.

    I will definitely come back and update this review after my trip.

    ***************************************************************

    _______________

    27th June 2010:

    _______________

    Update from my trip to Florida.

    This is a follow up to my purchase of the Panasonic DMC-ZS7K.

    I am adding some photos to review.

    Overall the camera is great.

    Photo quality is `Excellent’ ***** (5 star)

    HD Video quality is `Very Good’ **** (4 star) only because it does not have an internal backlight.

    All the special settings work great.

    The `scene’ mode works great. I found the `Beach’ scene mode was sharper and more clear when used on the beach during mid-day in the hot sun as well as the `evening’. I shot some pictures with the camera pointing directly at the sun and still got a great result.

    There was some issue with the `Sunset’ scene mode.

    I captured approximately 50 photos of one sunset over a period of 15-20 minutes.

    I used the following modes:

    - `Full Intelligent Auto’ mode

    - `Beach’ Scene mode

    - `Sunset’ Scene mode

    In my opinion the `Sunset’ Scene mode was the worst.

    The second best was the `Beach’ Scene mode.

    The best pictures were produced using the `Full Intelligent Auto’ mode.

    I also traveled to the Florida Aquarium where I took some very good pictures using `Underwater’ Scene mode. I was extremely impressed with two things:

    1. All my photos were great even though I took 90% of them through an Aquarium Tank Glass (see my photos attached to the product review).

    2. In some areas of the Aquarium we were not allowed to use a `Flash’. I forced the flash `off’ and switched the camera to `Full Intelligent Auto’ mode.

    In all cases the colors were very good.

    In a couple of instances I used the `BURST’ mode you can see in my `posted’ photos I have a picture of a turtle swimming in full speed.

    NEGATIVES:

    I tried very hard to find something negative to say but could only come up with this:

    1. The shooting mode wheel can sometimes `half turn’ while in your pocket or bag. So when you try to start it up and shoot you will see an error on the screen! The locking mechanism could have been tighter?

    2. The screen definitely needs a `very good quality’ protective plastic screen covering it. I purchased this from Amazon.com that works perfectly:

    Garmin Nuvi 755T ClearTouch Anti-Glare Screen Protector (Single Pack)

    3. Te last negative comment I have on this camera would be to have the unit ship out with some sort of case?! It is amazing that a camera costing as much as this does is sold without a case!

    CONCLUSION:

    This camera is a keeper (with a good screen protector and a carry case :) LOL)

  3. iestyn Bleasdale-Shepherd Says:

    Rating

    I bought the original camera in this line (the DMC-TZ1) three years ago and have absolutely loved using that camera. I have taken over 60,000 photos with it and couldn’t be happier. I never suffered any kind of technical problem with it – I only decided to get the ZS7 (or TZ10, as it is known in Europe) because the new features I read about were so enticing! In just 3 years, this line has raced through 4 generations and the improvements are amazing – despite which the price has stayed exactly the same.

    Before I go into details, I should be clear as to what I personally am looking for in a camera, so that you may judge how relevant this review is to you. Things that I care about:

    - I take photos everywhere I go, often at a moment’s notice, so it must fit in my jacket pocket and be quick to use

    - it must have a good zoom since that gives me the freedom to frame subjects tightly and remove them from context

    - it should be good at macros since I love taking macro shots

    - it needs to take photos with as close to SLR quality as possible, given that it’s a compact

    If you care about other things, like the packaged software (which I never use) or the various peripheral ‘features’ (e.g. face recognition, which btw does work – though sadly not on my cat ;) ), then this review may not provide the information you’re most interested in.

    Anyway, here’s what I’ve found in my first few weeks using the ZS7.

    Everything that I loved about the TZ1 is present in the ZS7, but in improved form:

    - it’s now even smaller and lighter

    - I can get even closer for macros (down to 3cm!)

    - I can zoom in even further (19x optical!)

    - the awesome macro and zoom features now combine in the incredible ‘telephoto macro’ mode, which lets me focus on objects just 3 feet away at maximum zoom (the depth of field is simply gorgeous in these shots; bokeh like an SLR!). Definitely my new favourite feature!

    In addition, I have been enjoying these lovely enhancements:

    - image quality is improved along every axis:

    -> noise: in addition to generally lower noise levels, ‘noise reduction’ can now be turned OFF and the overall improvements to image quality are fantastic – the ugly ‘grunge’ in the pixel noise that the TZ1 had was probably its single worst feature, and that is now completely gone.

    -> dynamic range: images taken in bright sunlight are far less contrasty now, and I can take pictures of objects against the sky without ugly fringing and chromatic aberration around their silhouettes (as long as I get exposure right of course!)

    -> colour balance: automatic white balance is in a new league compared to the TZ1. I was constantly changing the custom white balance settings for the TZ1, but with the ZS7 I’m happy to just leave it on automatic white balance 99% of the time (quite a relief!). Overall, colours look much more natural – they match how the scene looks to my as well as the SLRs that I have used.

    - the new image stabilisation is absolutely UNBELIEVABLE – all but the most major jolts are smoothed out. This has a huge impact on the clarity of my shots when at max zoom or shooting in dim lighting (which let’s face it is not the forte of these small-aperture compacts), and the jittery videos you’d expect from such a light camera are now smooth as butter. Really, really impressive.

    - speaking of video, the HD video is absolutely STUNNING. You could shoot cable TV on this thing.

    - minor but very welcome improvements:

    -> in-built lens cap (yay!)

    -> support for SDXC memory cards (I used to empty my TZ1′s 2GB card every few days; my first 64GB card for the ZS7 isn’t even a third full yet!)

    -> JPG compression artifacts are noticeably reduced

    -> the new program/aperture/shutter modes give me a little bit more control under certain circumstances (though not that much, given the small lens you get on a compact)

    -> the new UI is very streamlined (the quick menu is extremely useful and photo browsing is much quicker)

    -> GPS works well, and it’s nice to have my photos automatically register on the world map once I upload them to Flickr.

    Just so I don’t give the impression that I’m gushing uncontrollably, I should also mention the things that I don’t like:

    - I wish the quick menu was customizable (e.g. I’d like to be able to use it to change aspect ratio and set custom white balance)

    - I’m disappointed that zoom+scroll in review mode isn’t any quicker than before

    - I really don’t like losing the ‘review’ button (review ‘mode’ resets the lens after a couple of seconds, to frequently irritating effect)

    - auto-focus isn’t noticeably faster (one of the big general down-sides of compacts, unfortunately)

    - there is the occasional encoding error when shooting videos, which Panasonic needs to fix in a firmware update

    Those are pretty minor complaints, compared to all the great new features I’m enjoying. My old camera, beloved as it was just a couple of weeks ago, is already languishing on a shelf, all but forgotten! Before getting the ZS7, I would have whole-heartedly recommended the TZ1 to anyone that cares about the same things that I do (portability, flexibility and image quality), and the ZS7 stands head and shoulders above it in every regard. What more can I say? Get one!

  4. Analyst 1951 Says:

    Rating

    Panasonic makes the best compact superzoom cameras! Here’s why. I was a professional photographer for over twenty years and recently sold all my professional film cameras (35mm, 21/4″x 23/4″ and 4″ x 5″). I’ve been searching for a compact superzoom camera that I can keep with me at all times to catch those once-in-a-lifetime shots without the expense or weight of a Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) camera. Keep in mind that a compact superzoom has a smaller imaging sensor and will never truly compete with a high quality DSLR but if you want the best camera available in the compact point-and-shoot category then Panasonic DMC-Z series of cameras wins hands down. I’ve conducted an exhaustive search of camera review sites and have found Panasonic to consistently meet my standards of excellence. You don’t have to take my words for it, you can check out my claims for yourself at the digitalcamerareview and dpreview web sites.

    OPTICS:

    The heart of any camera is the lens. Nothing else in photography counts without good optics. Panasonic uses Leica DC Vario-Elmar lenses in many of their cameras. Amongst professional photographers Leica has a reputation for quality akin to Rolls Royce. Leica appears to have maintained their reputation in Panasonic cameras by avoiding significant optical flaws. Most superzoom camera optics suffer from multiple flaws. Two optical flaws that I find completely unacceptable are chromatic aberration and uneven or soft focus.

    You’ll see chromatic aberration as a color fringe (red on one edge and blue or green on the opposite edge) along the edge of an object. It’s often most visible near the corner of the image and along the edges of high contrast subjects like a dark car in front of a bright building. Sometimes chromatic aberration is so bad that it can be see in the center of a 4″ x 6″ photo but it’s most often only visible when enlarged to full screen on a 17″ or larger monitor. In my opinion, when it comes to chromatic aberration, Panasonic consistently out performs all competitors including Nikon, Canon, Olympus and Sony. I strongly suggest you see this for yourself by looking at web reviews that have full resolution images. Click on the full resolution image, zoom in and scroll from corner to corner and you’ll see what I mean.

    The second major optical concern is focus. Some camera lenses are sharp in the center of the photo but go slightly out of focus towards the edge of the photo. This usually isn’t a problem if you are only going to use your multi-hundred dollar camera to make 4″ x 6″ prints but soft focus can be a huge disappointment when making larger prints or viewing the photo as a full screen image. The Leica lenses on the Panasonic cameras appear to excel in the category of sharp focus. Again, I suggest you see for yourself by zooming in on full resolution images available from some web review sites.

    Other optical concerns include barrel and pincushion, which describe how vertical and horizontal lines can be curved in the photograph even though they were straight in real life. Some barreling or pincushioning is inherent to every zoom and are usually only noticeable at the widest angle or strongest telephoto settings. This type of distortion can be so severe that it distracts the viewer from appreciating the subject of the photograph. Leica does a superb job of minimizing barreling and pincushioning to the point that I find this type of distortion within acceptable limits.

    My final comment on the Panasonic DMC-Z series optics is that the wide-angle setting on the zoom lens is equivalent to a 25mm lens on a 35mm camera. In my experience, the wide-angle lens is the most important feature of a zoom lens. You can always crop an image to get the equivalent effect of a stronger telephoto (of course you’ll lose some resolution) but there is no similar way to compensate for not having a wide enough lens. Sure you can paste images together using a panoramic mode but you wind up with a long narrow picture that’s difficult to put in a frame. Plus, except for the latest top-of-the-line Sony, you can’t paste a large group photo together because people will move between shots.

    SENSOR:

    If the heart of a digital camera is the lens then the soul is the imaging chip and the camera’s internal image processing software. Panasonic excels in this area too. Again, I strongly suggest you see for yourself by zooming in on full resolution images available from some web review sites. Every digital camera has software that is designed to minimize the noise introduced into the image by the sensor. If noise reduction is too strong then details are lost and objects start to look like cartoon drawings. If noise reduction is too weak then smooth areas like blue sky or concrete look unnatural because they’re covered with dots. Panasonic has managed to achieve a pleasing balance in this category.

    CONCLUSION:

    Finally, I’d like to mention that, for the most part, I don’t care about what photo editing or cataloging software comes with a camera. There’s plenty of great software available from third party vendors and if the camera is not capable of producing a quality image then the accompanying software is absolutely useless to me.

    So the bottom line is that the Panasonic DMC-Z series has the best combination of lens & sensor/built-in image processing software of any of the point-and-shoot cameras and is the most capable of producing an image that can stand up to being enlarged. Additionally, considering Costco has the Panasonic on sale this month along with their great return policy, I consider Panasonic a great buy.

  5. A. Sanders Says:

    Rating

    I just replaced my trusty ZS3 with the new ZS7 and, so far, I am very pleased with this camera. The output is much cleaner and smoother than the ZS3′s, much more refined. Compared to the ZS7, the ZS3 produced images that look brittle and over-processed. As with virtually all small-sensor cameras, the ZS7′s images are a little noisy (even at base ISO) if you look close enough. But noise is far less objectionable than ragged edges and smeared details, which is what I usually got from the ZS3. The images I’m getting from the ZS7 look surprisingly good even at 100% on-screen enlargement; whereas the ZS3′s output was virtually unusable at this magnification. The improvement is dramatic. Considering that the ZS7′s resolution has also increased from 10 to 12 MP (it’s actually a 14 MP sensor that is masked to create different aspect ratios), I’d say that Panasonic has done a really good job here.

    The ZS7 improves on the ZS3 in several ways; but for me the most important new feature is Picture Adjustments, which let you turn down the amount of sharpening and noise reduction that are automatically applied to every image. Photographers who do their own post-processing will appreciate the ability to apply their own preferred methods of sharpening and noise reduction.

    The next most important new feature (imho) is the addition of aperture/shutter-priority shooting modes. There isn’t much latitude for adjusting the f-stop in most small-sensor cameras because of defraction effects; but it’s great to be able to control the shutter speed manually.

    The ZS7 also adds GPS, which can (thankfully) be turned off. Leaving it on shortens battery life.

    Other improvements that I appreciate include (1) improved image stabilization, (2) new Venus processing engine, (3) High Dynamic mode, and (4) the LCD now has a good anti-glare coating.

    All things considered, the ZS7 is an impressive upgrade that is easily worth the price.

  6. Photo-Am Says:

    Rating

    I’ve got my ZS7 today – the camera is just great! A superior Leica lens with a high-resolution sensor, advanced image processing, and plenty of sophisticated features in a small but very solid and stylish body.

    PROS:

    - Solid metal body, stylish design, nice dark-blue color

    - Very convenient one-hand grip, unusual for such a small pocket-size body

    - Short startup time (1-1.5 sec), no shutter lag, fast auto focus

    - A dedicated Movie-button for instant recording

    - Big 3″ colorful “juicy” display visible even in direct sunlight

    - Intuitive menu plus very convenient Quick-menu with a dedicated button

    - Excellent quality Leica lens: sharp and contrast in the entire zoom range

    - Wide 25mm (35mm equiv.) is very convenient for indoors

    - Huge 12x optical zoom (up to 300mm equiv.) in such a compact design

    - Two-speed of zooming – fast/slow controlled by the lever

    - Smooth and silent auto focus and optical image stabilization

    - Best in the industry “iAuto” mode – you can really trust it!

    - New “Intelligent Resolution” feature greatly improves the image quality

    - Creative Aperture- and Shutter-priority and full Manual modes

    - Three independent scenery modes including “High Dynamic” range scene

    - New GPS feature for those who travel a lot

    - Very good movie quality in 720p AVCHD mode looks like a full 1080 HD one

    - High-quality stereo microphones

    - Accepts SD/SDHC and new SDXC huge capacity memory cards

    CONS:

    - A mechanical lever for switching between shooting and playback modes

    - Some soft “sh-sh-sh” noise while zooming in and out (but no “clicks”)

    - I wish more sensitivity for low-light shooting

    BUILD: The ZS7 camera looks and feels as good as it’s predecessor DMC-ZS3. The design is almost as the same, just the power switch and the mode dial exchanged their places. One significant addition – a GPS mark on the top, right above the lens. The blue color is not that dark as on TZ5 and not so striking bright as on ZR1. A slight dent on the back with some prominence on the right side makes a very convenient grip to operate with one hand. A metal body looks pretty solid, however it is not that heavy.

    PERFORMANCE: The new camera has a pretty good performance: the startup time is a little bit more than 1 sec and with almost zero shutter lag. Taking into account a new very quick “Sonic Speed” auto focus, which takes about 0.35-0.4 sec, you will be able to catch virtually every spur-of-the-moment photo. And a dedicated movie button allows starting video recording at any time without any preparation.

    LENS: Leica lens is just excellent: unusually big for a so small body 12x zoom starting with the very convenient for indoors shooting 25mm up to telephoto 300mm (equiv.) plus a quick and precise auto focus (however might be somewhat slower in low-light), and good optical image stabilization in conjunction with the digital one which allows you to take sharp pictures in the entire zoom range and at the very low shutter speed around 1/8 and even 1/4. The auto-focusing and optical image stabilization work in absolute silence, and the only zooming produces some soft “sh-sh-sh” noise. Good news – without any start/stop clicks on the footage :) .

    DISPLAY: A large 3-inch high-resolution LCD monitor with 460K pixels has a very good contrast and saturation – the pictures look very “juicy”. The brightness also is high enough to be seen even in a direct sun-light (just a bit darker) and in a wide angle of view. All that allows to share photos and videos immediately with other people.

    MENU: For those who used the Panasonic P&S cameras before the ZS7 menu looks very familiar, just some new items added. Also there is a Quick-Menu button which is very helpful for a quick access to the most frequently used settings. The new camera has such a luxury as the Aperture, Shutter speed, and Manual modes and there is a new Exposure button (next to the video one) which allows to set manually the aperture using the Left-Right buttons and the shutter speed with Up-Down buttons.

    AUTO SETTINGS: The best in the industry Panasonic’s Intelligent Auto mode is getting better with each new model. Actually it’s a whole bunch of sophisticated algorithms which help to take really nice pictures with minimum efforts. They are worth to be aware about so here is a brief list of most effective of them.

    “Intelligent Scene Selector” – It quickly analyzes the light conditions as well as focusing results and selects either portrait, scenery, macro, night portrait or night scenery. It also displays a small icon of the chosen scene in the top left corner. The feature is extremely helpful when you need to shoot very fast on spur-of-the-moment.

    “Intelligent ISO” – If camera detects that your subject is moving, it raises ISO and shutter speed to take shots without motion blur, otherwise it will try to keep the lowest possible ISO to reduce noise and to get nice clear pictures.

    “Intelligent Exposure” – it’s a kind of a small brother of the High Dynamic Range feature. If the camera sets the correct overall exposure but some areas happen to be too dark, this feature automatically increases the brightness of the dark areas to make the entire picture to look more balanced. It also pretty effective for the backlight conditions – instead of getting just a silhouette of your subject against the bright sky it makes the subject normally exposed but without washing out the nice blue sky.

    “Face Detection” – is another great thing for taking good-quality pictures of people. It happened to me a number of times in the past that a presence in the frame of a more contrast element somewhere behind the person I’m taking picture of was making the camera to adjust focus at that unimportant distant object and therefore made the major person out-of-focus. The same way if there is a bright background behind the person then the camera will measure the luminance of that background while the person’s image will be pretty much underexposed (dark). The Face Detection feature identifies the human faces and tells the camera to adjust focus and exposure for the faces first so the people on the picture will be looking well exposed, clear and sharp.

    ADVANCED FEATURES: I guess the most interesting and advanced is a new “Intelligent Resolution” feature. Actually it combines a sophisticated noise reduction with a new picture enhancement algorithm. This feature automatically identifies the 3 type of the picture areas: outlines, detailed textures, and smooth gradation panes and provides an optimized handling for each of them separately. As a result the photo looks sharper at the edges and more clean in between. Many old P&S cameras had pretty fast picture quality degradation at the ISO around 300-400 and higher. The shots taken by ZS7 even at ISO 400 look pretty good on the small and even medium-size prints.

    IMAGE QUALITY: Imagine on a sunny day you take an outdoors picture of a wall made of the new brown bricks with a $3000 DSLR and a small P&S camera from the distance about 6-8 feet. How could you recognize by which camera was taken a certain shot? The subject is plain so no Depth-of-Field is involved into comparison. However in this example the two characteristics will help to distinct the cameras: 1) The edges of bricks will be well outlined on DSLR shots and a kind of fuzzy on the P&S ones; 2) The new bricks do not have any structure on their sides, they are just plane and so exactly that way they will look on the DSLR shots, while on the P&S ones their sides will show more or less amount of noise. If you perform the same test for an evenly cut line of bushes (again DOF is not involved) you will see the same result plus the internal structure of each leaf will be more clear on the DSLR photos. So to make pictures taken with your P&S camera looking like the DSLR ones the P&S camera should make the outlines sharper, clean the noise on the plane or soft gradation areas, and slightly emphasize the internal structures, if any. That is exactly what the new “Intelligent Resolution” (IR) feature tries to do.

    The “iAuto” mode in ZS7 is organized the way that you will have decent, good photos in virtually any situation right out-of-the-box. The several hundreds shots I took by now look good on my 24″ display and so they will on the similar size prints. But if you look at them at 100% crop (magnification) then on many of them you might find some areas which do not look natural. If the IR-algorithm decides about a certain low-contrast part on your picture that it’s a plane area then it will remove all the noise altogether with all the subtle details from that part of the picture. If you take a picture of a big tree with hundreds of branches (but without leaves) against a bright sky the IR-feature will treat it as a structured area and will slightly sharpen it to look clearer. But when you take a landscape picture with many distant trees in front and behind, those hundreds of crossing branches will create a low-contrast pattern which together with internal sensor’s noise might look for IR-algorithm as just a noisy plain area and so it will obliterate all the details leaving only some average color in that part of the picture and so making it looking very unnatural. The thing is that unlike the previous models the noise reduction in ZS7 is pretty strong. I would not call it “aggressive” but it’s really strong.

    QUALITY IMPROVEMENTS: There is a way how to get the best out of this camera while shooting landscapes on sunny days. Here is a recipe for experienced amateurs:

    – Switch the mode dial to the program “P” mode.

    – Press the Menu button and select the lowest ISO 80 instead of “Auto” (this is the key-point! If there is no enough light to set that low ISO it will not work).

    – Make sure you have the “Intelligent Resolution” feature on!

    – Find on the 4th page of the shooting menu the item “PICT.ADJ.” and press the right button to go inside. You will see the 4 pictures attributes:

    CONTRAST

    SHARPNESS

    SATURATION

    NOISE REDUCTION

    - A default value for each of them is “0″. Set “-1″ for contrast (to reduce the clipping of highlights), “+1″ for sharpness, leave the saturation unchanged, and most important set noise reduction to “-1″ or even to its minimum “-2″. Take this advice as a starting point and try to play with the SHARPNESS and NOISE REDUCTION settings and see what looks more appropriate for you, because some people prefer more sharpness while the others are more concern about noise visibility, so try different settings and choose which one looks better for you.

    Those settings will allow you to take the most sharp and detailed pictures of landscapes, architecture, etc. if you like that. However you should be alert and check periodically the quality of pictures and if something is going wrong then switch immediately to “iAuto” mode. The ZS7′s intelligent auto-mode is very sophisticated and might take into account the parameters you’re not even aware about. For example, if you apply the full zoom then the aperture drops to a small F/4.9 value giving much less light for the sensor and additionally at that huge focal length 300mm (equiv.) the impact of your shaking hands might be as so much that the optical image stabilization can not completely compensate it and so the camera will have to increase the shutter speed to have the picture un-blurred. In that tough scenario the only high ISO around 300-400 might satisfy all those conditions and the camera will normally set it in auto-mode. But if you keep shooting recklessly at ISO 80 without getting the feedback such kind of pictures might be spoiled in some way. So, use this recipe only if you know what you’re doing.

    Update: Having using ZS7 for a while I’ve identified the 3 major types of pictures depending what is most important for you on those shots: 1) The main part are the areas with soft gradations like human faces, petals of flowers on macro shots, etc; 2) Mixed content of plain areas and patterns with no central subject; 3) Landscapes with plenty of trees, branches and leaves or small flowers. The above proposed recipe is most effective for the last category – it will give you the sharpest pictures with no low-contrast areas smeared by the strong noise reduction and on the other hand the higher level of noise will be effectively hidden by the complex image structure. For the 2nd category it would be wiser to decrease noise reduction just to -1 (not -2) to make the noise less visible on some plain areas, and for the 1st category it seems better to keep the default neutral setting since to have less noise on the human’s face is much more important than lack of minor details around. Anyway you’ll still have the advantage of less noise at minimum ISO.

    I did some comparative testing of ZS7 with my Nikon D90 to find out how much that new IR technology and the above mentioned recommendations could help to improve the overall picture quality. I’ve uploaded some pictures and put a link into my comments dated 04/24/2010 with the title “Compare to Nikon D90″. Don’t assume, just take a look – you might be a bit surprised :-)

    LOW LIGHT: Recently I performed a brief comparative test of my P&S cameras: Panasonic ZS7 and Sony TX7. Shortly – their low-light performance (in normal mode) is very similar. The medium-size 8″x10″ prints without much cropping look good up to ISO 400. At ISO 800 there is a noticeable drop of the image quality of both cameras and at 1600 the shots look decent only for 4″x6″ prints. Generally the Sony TX7′s shots look smoother because of more aggressive noise reduction while the Panasonic ZS7′s ones display slightly more details along with a little bit more noise. So it’s the matter of taste to decide which shots look better. I would admit that at ISO 1600 while the Panasonic’s shots became much more blurred because of the increased noise reduction strength, the Sony’s shots became poured with much coarse noise which got even stronger at ISO 3200 making the pictures completely unusable. So neither of these cameras could be considered as great low-light performers.

    In case when the shots become too dark because of big lack of light you can select the “HIGH SENS.” (sensitivity) scene. The camera will automatically choose a high ISO in the range 1600 – 6400 and decrease resolution to 3MP (it was stated 3200-6400 but in some tests my camera set ISO 1600). It will not provide better quality but at least will allow to increase the picture’s brightness.

    NOTE! This camera is great outdoors, but if many of your pictures are indoors or in low-light environment then you’d better look for some other cameras like Panasonic LX3 or GF1, Canon S90 or G11, Fujifilm F80EXR, etc. which were designed especially for those conditions. The original model name of this camera is “TZ” which stands for “Travel Zoom” i.e. it was designed for travel outdoors, not for indoors.

    DYNAMIC RANGE: means the difference between the most light and dark areas on the picture. If you’re taking the shots of your friends on a sunny day with a bright blue sky above and some bushes with green leaves aside and those bushes happen to be in the shadow of a nearby building then the difference between brightness of the sky and the bushes will be thousands of times. On the shots taken by a camera with narrow dynamic range only one element – your friends might look good, but the sky will be completely washed out to white and the bushes will be almost black. For the cameras with a decent DR like ZS7 at least two elements of that picture will look good i.e. either your friends with a nice blue sky while the bushes will be very dark, or the friends and bushes good but the sky pretty much wiped out. The new Panasonic ZS7 has the two solutions to help in such situations: the “Intelligent Exposure” feature and the “High Dynamic (range)” scene.

    Although both solutions aim at the same goal they work in a different way and should be used in different situations. The “Intelligent Exposure” feature once it is activated via the main or quick menu puts its white icon to the lower left corner and starts constantly analyzing the picture. If the difference in brightness of some significant areas of the picture exceeds a certain threshold then the icon becomes yellow and that feature decreases the overall contrast of the picture. Since that threshold is very high that feature would be mostly useful on the bright sunny days. Its effectiveness is not that big but it still can be helpful and anyway it’s better than nothing so you can have it turned on all the time. The “High Dynamic” scene should be used only in low light conditions because even in a bright sun it will unconditionally set ISO 400 (or even higher) and decrease the shutter speed. Such a high ISO will greatly increase the amount of noise and therefore will cause a more aggressive noise reduction which will actively obliterate small details. That scene provides much more effective dynamic range compression but at the cost of significantly decreased picture quality. If you’re shooting in a low-light condition you have nothing to loose, but if you’re taking pictures on a nice day with a plenty of sunshine the loss of quality might greatly disappoint you, so that scene should be used only for the low-light shooting.

    MOVIE MODE: By now I tried only the advanced AVCHD movie mode – it looked very well. Apart from the processing the still images in this model Panasonic applied their new “Intelligent Resolution” feature to video recording as well and the result is just gorgeous! Because of that special processing personally its 720p HD looks even better than from my Sony TX7 with its full 1080 HD resolution.

    So this new Panasonic ZS7 camera is a very good device for taking nice still pictures and advanced video recording.

  7. David Luis Pereira Says:

    Rating

    Things that exceeded my expectations/Pros:

    - GPS accuracy was good (when updated)

    - Video stabilization worked really well

    - Image quality when optical zoom was at max was very good

    - A lot more manual control than I expected

    - Battery life with GPS on wasn’t that bad. Noticed about a 25% reduction with taking photos (no flash) during a 3 hour period.

    Cons:

    - not thrilled with the button layout… need to get used to it.

    I primarily bought this camera over other cameras because of the integrated GPS and HD video. I knew ahead of time it was 720p. For what I need, 720p is fine and I’m quite impressed with the video quality. Another reviewer mentioned a high pitched noise. My camera doesn’t make this sound. I can hear high pitched frequencies pretty good and I didn’t hear any coming from the videos I took.

    With regards to the GPS, I was a bit skeptical at first and heard a lot of complaints about battery draining. I took the camera on the first day I got it for a test drive at the San Diego Wild Animal Park. The photos were easy to get off my camera with the included usb cable and geotagged directly into Flickr with ease.

    I had GPS on for about 3 hours during our visit and with taking photos, I drained about 1/4 of the battery. For 3 hours on all the time, this didn’t seem too bad. I was expecting worse based on others comments. I was also impressed with the resolution of the GPS location. I wasn’t sure if the GPS was just going to just report one spot at the park, but you can see from the flickr page that it was able to locate my exact position throughout the park. The update can be a bit off. The GPS was updating within 5 minute periods, so when riding in the tram at the park, it wasn’t always exactly where I took the picture. One nice feature is that you can request to have the location updated at anytime.

    The image quality in light conditions is very good and I’m very impressed with the zoom and how clear pictures still are with full optical zoom. I haven’t tested dark conditions yet. I like the balance of it’s ease of use and the flexibility of having a lot of manual controls.

  8. Ray T Says:

    Rating

    I recently upgraded from a DMC-ZS1 because I wanted the aperture priority mode (and okay, manual mode in general!!) The GPS was just an added plus. I use this as my “walk around” camera (restaurants, parks etc.) when on long trips and for “everyday” shots…like parties, BBQs etc. Have taken it out on two outings now and snapped about 200 shots. As with the previous ZS series, the zoom and overall pic quality for a point and shoot are outstanding. It makes a great “travel camera.” Fairly speedy to turn on and zoom times are quick. I have read the new board is easier on the battery, but I have not had to charge it after the first time (ps. I bought and am using some 3rd party batteries…work just great…will review them in the future.) A feature I really enjoy is the ability to set up 3 “programs”–with your settings for all kinds of things. So I have my “normal” set up in program 1, my tripod set up (auto bracketing, anti-shake off, iso 100 etc.)in program 2 and an indoor/fast program in 3. It is really nice to just load your “normal” program if you have been messing about with a few things trying to get a better picture. I also like the “quick menu” button which opens a menu with commonly tweaked items such as white balance, focus type etc. GPS has surprised me, as I don’t have it in my car, but when wandering down by the river near my house, it correctly identified a golf course which was just across the water. Okay, it is a “relatively” inexpensive (compared to my DSLR and lenses) camera…so what are the trade-offs. Well, no viewfinder (although the larger and brighter LCD has been great) and it is a little hard to “dial in” the exact zoom you want as it is motorized. This isn’t the strongest flash in the world and some indoor shots are a little noisy. But all in all, this is a great little point and shoot.

    ps Wanted to add that I have taken this out, several times, for a full day of shooting. So far, the battery will do maybe 250 photos (with GPS turned off) before it wants power. Also the battery power meter is deceptive….showing 2/3 full when I was about 25 shots from needing more power. None of this changes my overall opinion of the camera and I would buy it again in a heartbeat. Just get a spare battery or bring the charger!!

  9. K. Wheaton Says:

    Rating

    After using this camera for a few weeks I am amending my rating and giving it 5 stars. This camera is truly incredible. The intelligent automatic is amazing—I only move it to manual for a few special situations. The only real complaint is that I occasionally inadvertently hit the video button. Otherwise it is simply amazing.

    It handles difficult situations with grace. Sunset with sky and foreground properly exposed. Delivery room newborn with no flash and low ambient lighting. Black and white is fantastic. Couldn’t be happier.

    This is a great camera for a beginner—Point and shoot. Lots of control for advance photographers. I’m sorry to say I don’t lug around a camera bag and tripod anymore. Just slip this in my purse.

    I waited a long time to upgrade from the first generation Panasonic Lumix TZ1 (complete with dangling lens cover & 5MP) Glad I did. The best improvements are the quick power-up and lack of a shutter delay for catching fast action. If you leave it in the completely automatic mode it does an impressive job—and if you need control there’s plenty and then some. Lots of programs plus aperture and shutter priority or complete control.

    Other notable improvements are in the macro end of things where capturing very fine close-ups are greatly improved—my TZ1 was always focusing on the background if I could get it to focus at all. This does an incredible job! Almost too much detail (if that’s possible) Every speck on the petal of a flower is exposed. This camera is slightly smaller and has a larger display screen. Most of the functions and dials are similar and I find easy to use but that may be because they are familiar.

    Flash is improved over the first generation.

    The zoom on the original was 10X. 12X even better. I took incredible photos of bullfrogs 15 feet away. Unbelievable detail.

    This camera isn’t perfect and no camera will ever be. It would be nice to have a more powerful flash and nice if you could shoot in lower light with less noise without flash and it would be nice if it had a 20X optical zoom and a faster lens but for what it is its an incredible piece of engineering. AND don’t forget the Leica lens which is just plain beautiful.

    All cameras have limitations and this is no exception. However it will get you a great photo most of the time. The wide angle to long telephoto range is why I bought my first Lumix. This flexibility makes for great travel photos. I did side by side comparisons of a Sony, Canon, Nikon and the first Lumix in the store and then we printed them out on the spot. No comparison. No ghosting, better color correction, better macro. And I like the ergonomics. I always place the wrist band over my wrist and hold onto the camera with fingers and pad of thumb and it feels secure. Some of the ultra small cameras are almost too small for me. (Didn’t compare to current models)

    What is truly awful about this camera is that the manual is on a disk and covers this camera and its 2 predecessors making it a bit (if Not totally confusing at times). It also does not come with MAC compatible editing software which is really not a big deal for me. One person asked if it is MAC OSX 10.6.3 compatible and it is. The only problem I’ve encountered is in using Aperture (a MAC program)it doesn’t want to import directly into a project that has other images from my other Lumix camera. Make a new project and problem is solved but irritating. (Manual software and downloading from card to MAC is compatible)

    Haven’t tried uploading video yet.

    DO purchase an extra Panasonic Battery DMW-BCG 10PP. Make sure it has the PP (It won’t work without it) Also you’ll need a SD Card. It’s not necessary to go to the Class 6 cards unless you are shooting HD video. A SDHC 4GB card will hold 700+ photos at full MP.For most people this will be more than adequate. I carry two cards in case one goes south. You can always find them on sale for under $20. I also like the Caselogic TBC-302 Ultra Compact Camera Case for under $8.

  10. King Tut Says:

    Rating

    First; I loved the ZS3 after I tried the demo display at the local Fry’s store, then the ZS7 got announced with tons of improvement over the Zs3, then Canon announced the SX210 with 14X Zoom but it comes in unattractive colors and strange buttons layout. After all reading tons of reviews and comparison charts, and live demos; the Winner is the ZS7.

    ZS7 Improvement over the ZS3:

    Manual settings (ZS3 is only auto w/o manual settings), 1/2.33″ CCD processor, 16X Intelligent Zoom/23.4X Zoom at 3 Meg resolutions, Sonic speed AF, Venus Engine HD II, Color Mode, Video divide, Happy & Custom Mode, Travel Mode “GPS”, and more important Panasonic has moved the shutter button to its natural location (the ZS3 has the mode dial button placed closer to the finger, and the shutter button was somewhat far)

    Panasonic ZS7 vs. Panasonic LX3 vs. Canon S90:

    Panasonic LX3 and Canon S90 both offer better low light images due to lens opening at its widest aperture of f/2.0 that allow significantly more light versus the ZS7 f/3.3, also they offer RAW format and better light sensitivity, the ZS7 don’t. However when it comes to the zoom power; LX3 offer only 2.5X and the S90 has 3.8X zoom, where the ZS7 has the best zoom in a compact size camera of 12X Optical, 16X Digital, and 23.4X extended zoom at around 3 mega pixel resolution. So it really depends on your needs and preference.

    The ZS7:

    This is a beautiful eye-catching camera; the all metal deep black color is Majestic, compact size but sturdy solid feel, you will love the astonishing 460K DPI 3″ wide LCD display. The camera has a very fast focus with auto tracking, almost no shutter-lag (0.006 of Second), flash recharges quickly and always ready to shot right away. The main attraction of this camera its 12X zoom, but it also can extend to 16X digital zoom with little or no loss of quality picture (see the first few pictures on the customer’s images to see a real life zoom example and other modes). The GPS is nice but it consumes battery life even if the camera is turned off!! The good news is that you can turn if off if you don’t need it. The camera has 15 MB internal memory, Stereo (right and left) microphone for recording and play back, faster 2.3 fps continuous shooting. The buttons and controls layout is easy and every thing makes sense; the dial has the auto, manual, and even custom setting for creative users, also there is a separate button for recording HD 720P video. Other features; Macro zoom, Panorama assist, Clipboard, ability to Zoom while recording movies, play back slide show with music, face detection, O.I.S., digital red-eye removal, and auto back light compensation. There a lot to mention about this camera, but I’m sure more experts reviews to follow. The only negative would poor low light images without the flash, the lack of mini HDMI cable to play back on HDTV, and the tiny little user guide is useless. A screen protector for the LCD screen is definitely recommended for any buyer.

    Finally, this is an Elegant, Sexy, and Powerful Camera that is sure to Satisfy.

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