894 of 922 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 3rd time's a charm- a standing "O" for the ZS3!
I have owned two prior digital cameras- the first was a Canon that took good pictures, but was too bulky to pocket around and required AA batteries to power it. The second was a Sony CyberShot DSC-W150 that took crappy, blurry pictures in low light. Needless to say, I felt an upgrade was in order.
So I'm going on an east coast trip next month. My buddy and I...
Published on April 28, 2009 by Michael J. Christensen
534 of 568 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Panasonic Customer Service / Warranty
It is really hard to rate this item, without discussing customer service / warranty issues as well. For the first week the camera worked well, but after two usages the LCD screen became pixilated and the camera was sent to Panasonic for warranty repair. The warranty department stated that NO EXTERNAL DAMAGE IS COVERED AT ALL. Regardless of the fact that my camera was...
Published on June 19, 2009 by Amazon Customer
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49 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Camera,
This review is from: Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS3 10MP Digital Camera with 12x Wide Angle MEGA Optical Image Stabilized Zoom and 3 inch LCD (Blue) (Electronics)
I read a lot of reviews and have to say the camera exceeded my expectations. In multiple reviews everyone complained about the battery life. In summary the camera is fantastic, and the battery life is not an issue for me. Here is an example of a real life usage.
Using a fully charged battery, which had been sitting in the camera for a couple weeks. I took my daughter to a pop concert, Miley Cyrus, with a 2 gig SD card. I was able to shoot 10 videos of different length as was over 100 pictures. Since this was my first time to push the camera's limits, I was doing alot of zooming, digital zooming, checking this, and that. Of course the digital zooming required me to be real steady, for a long time, while I waite for a good shot. So for a little less than 3 hours I never shut the camera off, zoomed constantly, and shot a lot of pictures, as well as reviewed, deleted shots/videos I did not need.
The videos & pictures came out fantastic even when I went into digital zoom, since the seats we had were just below the nose bleed section at the opposite end of the 20,000+ concert. The next day when I turned the camera I got the battery low alert and the camera turned off, so I recharged it, etc.. From what I read, using all rechargable batties, waiting until you get a low battery message will assist in maintaining a proper charge amount.
I transferred the Videos to the mpg format and took them to work. The people in the office were in shock at the quality, the distance, since I would zoom back to the actual seat point of view, as compared to the size of the camera. There were very impressed by the camera, and no one cared including myself that the battery only lasted for this concert.
The ability to put an 720P HD video camera, with 12x optical, and a clear 40x digital in your pocket worth the cost of buying a second battery. I attached a video to this review using a MPEG-2 format, .mpg, if you are running WinXP or Vista yo may need to fix the sound on your system, otherwise in Win7 it runs perfectly. This video demonstrates the video as well as the sound quality for this little pocket camera.
75 of 79 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The amazing Panasonic Lumix ZS3!,
This review is from: Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS3 10MP Digital Camera with 12x Wide Angle MEGA Optical Image Stabilized Zoom and 3 inch LCD (Blue) (Electronics)
Here is an unboxing & review of my new (blue) Panasonic Lumix ZS3 -- I love it!
34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing point and shoot -- probably the best you can get,
This review is from: Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS3 10.1 MP Digital Camera with 12x Wide Angle MEGA Optical Image Stabilized Zoom and 3 inch LCD (Black) (Electronics)First, I want to preface this by saying I mostly shoot with a professional dSLR, so to me, Image Quality is the most important aspect of photography -- but I will be the first to say that there are times that I would never lug around a dSLR -- to an amusement park, a family picnic, a night out with friends, a weekend at the beach, a walk with the dog...
I had been using a Canon G9 as my backup camera for point-and-shoot situations, but over the last couple years I have had many situations where it has been just too heavy and as cumbersome as bringing along my dSLR...I looked at the G10, which was even heavier and even bigger!. Hm....
Having played around with several top of the line compact point-and-shoots, and having even bought a few of them and returned them, there was nothing that I deemed high Image Quality until I read all the reviews on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS3 coming out of Europe and Asia (who had it before we did under a different name)...I couldn't want to try it - and BOY was the wait worth it.
This camera produces far and away the best Image Quality I have ever seen on a small point-and-shoot that is lightweight, small, and has an amazing 12x zoom. It's 1/2 the size of the Canon G10. But the real test came when I took the camera to a weekend at Cedar Point and got daytime as well as nighttime shots that were simply stunning. While you can't really set any of the manual settings, there are plenty of shooting modes, but right out of the box, the camera has the "smarts" to just take great photos - auto setting the ISO, auto setting the shutter and aperture settings as needed, and just having a "knack" to produce sharp and brilliant jpg photos (there is no Raw setting for those who want it -- I don't so I am perfectly happy). Photos of neon lit roller coasters and LED light strewn trees at night just looked amazing, all hand-held, all just a snap. Putzing a bit with the scene modes gives you a little bit of creativity with flash -- but it's hardly necessary.
This camera now stays in my work messenger bag 24/7 for photos on the fly. It simply has stunning IQ, photos are sharp and well exposed, and I can not recommend it more.
Re-reading this starts to sound like an advertisement for the camera! You can read through my reviews and see that I primarily shoot only with Nikon equipment, occasional Canon equipment. This Panasonic camera is just a total surprise. It shouldn't be - since people have been touting how great Panasonic's point and shoots have been for years to me, but seeing is believing.
I wish I could give it 6 stars. Nothing else compares. One word of warning: the camera is massively underproduced so it is out of stock most places -- look around and you should be able to find it - don't pay the over-inflated prices that some people are gauging because they know how popular this camera now is, and are asking 4 - 5x the asking price. The list price is 399.99 -- anything over that is price gauging.
I got mine through pre-order, and paid about 349.00 for it through a reputable dealer.
31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ZS3 VS TZ5 vs ZS1,
This review is from: Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS3 10.1 MP Digital Camera with 12x Wide Angle MEGA Optical Image Stabilized Zoom and 3 inch LCD (Black) (Electronics)I'll compare ZS3 with TZ5 in this review if you want full review about ZS3 read other reviews, I wanted to buy new camera and TZ5 was already available for 210$ and ZS3 sold out and costs 399$, since ZS3 is an upgraded TZ5 from last year i was thinking if its worth the wait and the extra 200$~ to get the ZS3 (Been trying to get it for weeks but couldn't find it anywhere)
Anyway here we go
ZS3 got everything that TZ5 have with extra stuff which is
* ZS3 is slimmer/smaller/lighter and the battery is a little bit better
* ZS3 got brighter screen (Good when you shoot during sunlight)
* ZS3 record HD 1280X720p in AVCHD high quality 17mpbs format
* Better placed microphone,in the TZ5 your hands end up on the microphone
* ZS3 record in High Quality Stereo,TZ5 record in low quality mono sound
* better cleaner picture and less noise thanks to the newer Sensor/tech
* ZS3 got Extra 2x Zoom and better 25mm wide angle instead of 28mm
* New Auto mode is so smart even the inexperienced gets good pictures
* Faster and stronger auto focus with face Recognition and Face Detection
* Dedicated recording button for videos (Take videos during photo mode)
* 10MP without any quality loss thanks to the newer sensor
* HDMI Output that can be used for both videos and pictures
In the other hand ZS3 VS ZS1 (ZS1 is cheaper by 100-150$ right now)
* ZS1 lacks the HDMI output that can be found in the ZS3
* ZS1 Can not record in HD at all and AVCHD format not available
* ZS1 record in low quality mono sound
* ZS1 got no dedicated button for fast access to video recording
* ZS1 LCD is smaller (2.7 vs ZS3 3.0) and less resolution
* ZS1 got 1/2.5 CCD vs 1/2.33 CCD on the ZS3 (ZS3 a little better)
* ZS1 Image stabilization is not great during video capture unlike ZS3
* ZS1 Does not have the wind noise reduction option unlike the ZS3
So after my research i decided that i want the ZS3 and it was worth it because i care a lot about high quality HD videos with High quality Stereo sound so it was no brainier to me specially the fact its smaller even when they added more zoom and extra wide angle lens with more MP and less noise
I hope this was helpful
37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A $3,500 lens - For Under $400,
This review is from: Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS3 10.1 MP Digital Camera with 12x Wide Angle MEGA Optical Image Stabilized Zoom and 3 inch LCD (Black) (Electronics)Leica is famous for the quality of their lens designs. A 24mm super-wide angle lens provides a much greater field of view than the more common 35mm wide angle lens. A 24mm ultra-wide lens makes it possible to take interior photos that show a large portion of a room, or to take architectural photos of entire buildings, even in tightly packed urban areas.
The problem is that Leica's famous 24mm super-wide angle lens costs about $3,500. But, now Leica has designed a 25mm to 300mm zoom lens for the Panasonic ZS1 and ZS3 which has even LESS visible distortion (bowing of straight lines, such as doors and window frames) and vignetting (darkening of the photo's corners) than does Leica's famous 24mm lens.
The Panasonic DMC-ZS1 and DMC-ZS3 share a superb Leica-designed zoom that provides outstanding performance from the super-wide 25mm range, through to the 50mm "normal" range waaay up to very long telephoto zoom of 300mm...and the lens provides excellent color and contrast in every part of that very long range.
There are NO zoom lenses or digital cameras available at ANY price level that will outperform the Panasonic ZS series for ultra-low distortion, rich colors and excellent contrast throughout the entire ultra-wide to long telephoto range of the ZS cameras.
The Panasonic ZS series cameras are designed to be easy to use. Putting them in the "intelligent auto" mode enables the camera to make all of the decisions. You simply zoom in on your subject, press the shutter very slightly to pre-focus, wait a second to see the focus confirmation "dot", then press the shutter to take your photo.
The camera will automatically switch to the "macro" mode if you are taking a photo of something a few inches from your lens, it will recognize a person's face and switch to the "portrait" mode for natural skin tones, and it re-adjusts the ISO level and shutter speed to match the lighting conditions for each photo.
Outdoors, the "intelligent auto" mode delivers consistently fine photos with natural color tones and contrast. The photos are "sharp" due to Panasonic's auto stabilization mode, which makes it possible to get hand-held photos that are tack sharp, even at the full telephoto range of 300mm.
WARNING: Flash photos tend to be mediocre unless you are careful. The "intelligent auto" mode is most effective in with subjects that are very close...about three feet to six feet from the camera. Beyond six feet, many flash photos are darker than most people would prefer. The solution is to switch to the manual mode, and select a higher ISO of 200 or 400. The flash results are best in a well lighted room. However, the tiny flash, and a mediocre indoor "white balance" results in flash photos that are too dark, and with skin tones that are "off". As a indoor flash camera, the Panasonic is average...or even less than average.
Panasonic provides many "scene" options, including a "night mode" that takes beautiful time exposures in dim lighting. I took some "night mode" shots in a dark coffee shop without flash that perfectly recreate the mood of the dimly lighted room. Also, in the manual mode, users can set the maximum ISO they want to use, and set the minimum shutter speed they prefer. So, for a sports photo, you can chose to use ONLY shutter speeds of 1/250 of a second or faster to "freeze" the action. Or, you can switch to the "sports" mode, and the camera will select a fast shutter speed, and lock the focus to keep subjects beyond about 16 feet away in sharp focus.
The manual options give users dozens of ways to tailor their photos, including ways of fine-tuning the color balance. The instruction book uses 140 pages to detail all of the options for every type of photo. It is worth an owner's time to work page by page through the entire 140 pages to learn everything this camera can do.
But, MOST people will be happy to simply put the camera in "intelligent auto" mode and let the camera make all of the decisions. With just a hour or two of practice, anyone should be able to obtain fine photos consistently.
Digital "noise" is always an issue with pocket sized compact digital cameras. However, with the ZS cameras the digital "noise" is well controlled. In an 8 x 10 inch enlargement, it would take a very keen eye to see any "noise" in the ISO 80 to ISO 200 range. At ISO 400, a small amount of noise be visible in an enlargement, but only if you are looking for it.
For people who are "fanatics" about reducing digital "noise", the ZS enables you to select an "auto" mode that "locks" the ISO to the 80 ISO to 400 ISO range, or you can "lock" the ISO at 80, 100, or 200 for low "noise" photos. In bright sunlight, locking exposure at ISO 80 results in photos that can match up well with those from $3,000 pro DSLR cameras.
The battery will last about 300 photos without using the flash, depending on how much time you spend reviewing and editing them, and about 200 photos if you use the flash for half your photos. The battery gauge tell you how much power is remaining with three segments followed by a flashing red warning. The battery charges in two hours or less.
WARNING: The size and shape of the LS cameras make them VERY easy cameras to drop. It would be wise to ALWAYS wrap the strap around your wrist BEFORE you pull the camera out of its case. The LS will fit into a jacket pocket, but it would be better protected in a case. Cameras this nice, with such an astounding zoom lens deserve being treated with care, and a padded case is an inexpensive way to protect your investment.
30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Easy to use digital Camera with great HD video!~But CAUTION when order replacement batteries!,
This review is from: Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS3 10MP Digital Camera with 12x Wide Angle MEGA Optical Image Stabilized Zoom and 3 inch LCD (Red) (Electronics)I purchased this camera just before I left for a trip to the Galapagos Islands. I'm not a whiz kid when it comes to cameras, but I knew the Galapagos Islands would have once-in-a-life-time photo opportunities that I didn't want to miss due to poor quality equipment or equipment that was too complicated for me to use. This camera DELIVERED on all my needs! (except battery incompatibilities, mentioned later!)I recommend spending an hour or two with the camera and instruction book. The 130 page instruction book was easy to navigate through, but it takes a while to familiarize yourself with everything this amazing little camera is capable of doing!!
The quality of my vacation photos and videos were amazing! I was able to record a video of the mating dance of two blue-footed boobies, iguanas fighting, and sea lions and penguins playing. My landscape photos have such detail that it's hard to believe these were not taken with a more expensive SLR digital. When I returned home, I projected the video onto a giant classroom screen during a lecture and the quality was amazing. Everyone asked what type of camera I was using! I connected the camera to my Samsung 46 inch 1080i HDTV. The photos and videos looked so good I couldn't believe they were really MY photos!
The large 3 inch LCD monitor on the SZ3 is large enough to review photos and videos so I could easily determine which photos and videos were worth keeping while I was still on vacation. The size and quality of the LCD was even good enough replay videos and scan through photos for fellow travelers.
The 12X optical zoom on this camera allowed me to zoom up on animals and landmarks otherwise too far away to photograph. I did not try out the 21X extended optical zoom. Thanks to the setting made for photos from airplane windows, my on-flight photos turned out better than any on-flight photos I've ever seen.
There is a setting on the camera that allows you to hold the shutter down. It will continue to take photos until you release the shutter. This allowed me to take photos of animals in motion and later choose to save which photo caught the animal in that "ideal" position! No more pushing the shutter only to have the subject move and you've missed the shot! If you don't want to change settings on the camera, there is an "Intelligent Auto Mode" that adjusts automatically to light, movement, scenery (adjusts to take sharp pictures near and far landscapes), recognizes faces to adjust light to create optimal settings for portrait lighting, etc.
The FACE RECOGNITION setting isn't always accurate. I tried to train it to recognize my dad, and several other faces were later incorrectly identified by my camera as "Dad." Hopefully re-training it will resolve that glitch. I eventually had to turn off. It was even labeling photos of women as "Dad"!
The Travel feature allows you to set the dates of your vacation into the camera memory. It also allows you to change the time zone during your vacation and automatically returns to "home" clock at the end of the 'Vacation mode dates'. This creates a time stamp that is not only accurate to your vacation time zone, but allows you to record when & WHERE each photo was taken! This is especially great if your travels include several cities or islands. The on-screen menu tells you what day of your trip you are on (Galapagos Day 1, Galapagos Day 2, etc.). It's really nice for later when you are trying to sort through photos and remember what day and where they were taken. Especially when you have more than one SD card!
You can increase the size of the on screen menu to a larger font if you have problems with reading small print.
I have to say I was impressed with the different settings for taking photos of babies, sunsets, portraits, food, etc. It was amazing how many differnt settings were available and the instruction book gives great hints on how to maximize the use of each of those settings. I think this is one of the best instruction manuals I've seen for cameras.
Again, my only hesitation with this camera is with the battery, and it's more of an idealogical complaint against Panasonic. I just don't think they should create a camera with a battery that is so difficult to find and doesn't have a compatable generic. SO.........WARNING!!!!!!!!! THE ONLY battery that is compatable with this camera is the Panasonic Lumix DMW-BCG10PP. USE CAUTION when ordering batteries advertized on Amazon's website that claim to be compatible with this camera. I ended up going on vacation without a second battery and due to the high volume of photos and videos I was taking each day I ran out of battery before the end of the day. Luckily most days I had a lunch period where I was able to recharge the battery. The instructions say you can get 300 photos from a battery charge, but I got more than twice that amount and somedays got almost three times that many. Still, If I didn't recharge mid-day, I ran out of battery before I ran out of photo opportunities each day. I'm sure it's because I took those shots so close together. One battery is probably good enough for almost every situation except special vacations where photos are a huge part of your day! ENJOY!
154 of 175 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great for photos, mediocre for movies at lower settings,
This review is from: Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS3 10MP Digital Camera with 12x Wide Angle MEGA Optical Image Stabilized Zoom and 3 inch LCD (Silver) (Electronics)Update 2010/1/3: Bought the Panasonic DMC-FZ35 a few days ago. Will write my review on that camera eventually. As always, thanks for your comments!
Update 2009/11/17: I am noting this at the top of the review to make something clear. A few days ago, I dropped my ZS3 on the concrete (while photographing construction site) about five feet up and it doesn't power on anymore. Now I am looking for a new camera in the meantime. Having said that, if you can't power it on, you can't get the data off the SD or SDHC card, right? If you have a photo printer, for instance, that can read SDHC cards, just put the card in and you can get the data off the card pronto! Transfer may be a bit slow. Hope this helps in case you think you may be stuck for a while... Now on to my original review (May 2009)...
This review is long, but will be useful to the more tech-savvy (I guess as the saying goes, "Buyer beware")... (Notice I rated this camera 4/5 stars--after all, it is 'primarily' a high-MP camera, not a HD camcorder, although some HD camcorders probably aren't better than the Panasonic DMC-ZS3.)
The Panasonic DMC-ZS3 could literally serve as a paperweight and what it is intended for (unless it stops working by popular terminology). It feels solid and heavy (made of metal), but lest its screen can easily be scratched (does fingerprint easily), and if dropped, may be damaged. This camera has a wrist strap, no neck strap like some cameras have. Buy a camera case such as Lowepro--inexpensive and durable, e.g. if you would rather carry it securely looped through your belt.
I bring up a few other cameras in this review (either have them or have compared their features/reviews on other sites).
Start with memory cards--you can't use MultiMedia for movies, just photos. Standard SD cards work in this camera but will take several seconds to write photos or movies. You can't record but the lowest MJPEG movie res on internal memory. High-speed SD cards can't be read on older and some newer card readers (surprised the local Best Buy did not carry high-speed card readers). You can always copy directly from the camera via USB cable. :-| You don't need the software CD to read on Mac and PC, unlike some cameras that need the drivers from it for Plug-in-Play (at least on XP and Tiger). :-)
Received this new Panasonic camera yesterday (May 11). The small included battery out-of-the-box had enough power to change settings and try it out before the full charge (about two hours) for its firmware update.
I'd not recommend updating the firmware unless you enjoy updating anything (some people can't stand updating, but it's my favorite thing aside from productivity on a computer). If you don't feel comfortable updating the firmware, heed your instinct. I went ahead and updated the firmware without a problem (read the instructions several times, easier than it looks), but it did not change the behavior of the AVCHD readability, and the 'noise' during zoom while recording movies was as noticeable--updater beware!
Zooming is noisy and somewhat fast taking photos, but very slow recording movies. Most, if not all compact cameras zoom slower than larger cameras would to compensate for size--it is common sense!
Taking pictures and motion pictures is a breeze, and best of all, as in my old Panasonic camcorder (which is much too intolerant in cold and humid environments, causing the tape not to play/record properly, and nearly damaged the unit), the camera will tell you which mode you have changed, if using internal memory, and if the card is full (but all cameras do that to my knowledge). It reads three bars on its battery level meter, unlike some cameras like the Canon PowerShot S1 IS with only a blinking low battery icon.
Disclaimer the following explanations: I am basing the following on my experience only. I'd not bother to enable sound recording (warning--don't confuse with the Canon PowerShot that creates a separate WAV file) while taking photos. It takes the photo then creates a still video file from whatever setting the camera's movie recording happens to be set to, and will record the few seconds. In other words, it uses the picture you shot and turns it into a video file that plays back still with the audio. It takes up little disk space and clutters the media card. Not too annoying for me, but don't expect individual voice memos with the DMC-ZS3. The default setting is off anyway. Memo-taker beware!
To find the AVCHD Lite files quickly, memorize where to go (there may be more folders/files on the card than on the internal media): LUMIX (ROOT) > PRIVATE > AVCHD > BDMV > STREAM > #####.MTS (MTS the file extension of the AVCHD Lite file). The following may be helpful for Mac users...
If you have Roxio Toast (probably version 9 or later recommended) installed, double-click on the AVCHD file, choose to open with Roxio (or Roxio Toast) Video Player, and it will then play for you. It won't show the time (at least by default settings).
Another but free option is VLC you can download (its icon the white & orange striped cone). Its interface is like simplified iTunes. To associate the AVCHD Lite (MTS extension) in the future so that VLC will always play (show terminal-like icon with 'exec' in small print on the icon - Toast Video Player won't change the white generic icon, usually files not associated with any known program on the OS). Select the file, Get Info, choose Other to select which application to open with, choose application (navigate to where VLC located and will be unavailable - to make it available, drop-down where it reads Recommended Applications and choose All Applications). Select VLC program (with the cone icon), choose, and then make default and confirm (changing to the terminal exec icon). Double-click on the file and enjoy watching AVCHD Lite!
Low-quality AVCHD Lite is very good quality and will save substantial memory card space, but not suitable for zooming and fast motion, as the colors and compression artifacts appear patchy, making the video look cruddy. I have not tried the high-quality setting, but for fast motion or zooming (very slow, and it does not matter how slow--you can still hear the motor--this is not a professional $25,000 camera for the big screen, so you get what you pay for). Use MJPEG for smooth playback and compatibility with most software, but use the HD quality setting. Actually, the VGA and QVGA modes look very pixilated compared to other cameras in the league of Canon PowerShot S series--my old 2004 S1 IS takes better VGA movies and much smoother than this new Panasonic (especially the 320 X 240 on the PowerShot is somewhat better). :-( In addition, the Canon's movie mode is better (at saving disk space) because you can choose 15 or 30 fps for 320 X 240 and 640 X 480/Fine, unlike this Panasonic 30 fps (well, it is the standard anyway). Overall movie recording feature on the DMC-ZS3 = 4/5 for stereo recording and HD, but substandard quality on VGA settings to Canon PowerShot S series and possibly the new Samsung HZ10W or HZ15W models. On the other hand, of all the cameras mentioned, this Panasonic has the best photo quality IMO--maybe better than some entry-level SLRs!
The picture quality on this Panasonic given 5/5, better than most cameras in its price range (checked Google Image Search and YouTube for samples). Even some SLR cameras don't take quite as clear photos. JPEG compression is quite low on the DMC-ZS3, but probably due to the high MP for its small lens, graininess appears in low lighting on any ISO setting, but subtle, and even ISO 1600 is not bad in well-lit outdoor environments. Indoors, yes, color artifacts and noise are apparent, but probably just good enough for printing at ISO 800. ISO 1600 might be decent for printing on bright, sunny days, i.e. if you want a perfect shot of a water sprinkler in action. Let the automatic 'intelligent' setting(s) do the rest. I have not done extensive testing yet (duh, have had it one day now), but believed to work very well. Sometimes I had to set the flash not/to fire manually, a minor annoyance.
If minor grain/noise in any ISO setting for pictures, very low JPEG compression artifacts (no RAW support), any random photo in moderate to ambient lighting is almost free from blur, and to expect decent movie recordings in HD only, this camera is for you. If you want any movie recording to look decent at any resolution/quality setting but can do with more grain, noise, and some blurry photos, Canon or Samsung might be your ticket. Do keep in mind that the settings and environment will yield results for better or for worse. (In fact, I ordered the Samsung HZ15W at first sight, but then canceled as it was not yet available, and felt the reviews on the DMC-ZS3 were better received. Happy with my alternated decision! Who knows, the HZ10W/HZ15W may be just as capable--you can pause and resume movies without starting a new movie file, you can't do on the Panasonic and any camera as of current, but I am not sure if MJPEG is available on the HZ15W.)
Keep in mind that neither the Canon PowerShot S1 IS nor the Panasonic DMC-ZS3 focus well in low lighting in movie mode, but does fine for photos in my experience.
Battery life is very good, but if you are planning on recording at a ball game or an amusement park, consider purchasing a spare battery (expensive but any proprietary battery of such will be), a couple of 16 GB or 32 GB memory cards, record in HD, and transfer to PC via high-speed card reader or the camera (with sufficient battery life) for best performance. (Just one hour of HD video may be enough to fill a Dual Layer recordable DVD.)
Despite its minor shortcomings, this camera is one of the best in its class. Very well worth the wait (at least a week for free shipping in my case). Happy Panasonicking, Samsunging, or Canoning!
Hope this helps other reviewers and others who have this model or ready to purchase one. Most say this camera competes with the Canon PowerShot SX200 IS, but IMO its closest competitor (because of optical zooming unlike the Canon) is the Samsung HZ15W (HZ10W its predecessor).
P.S. This review took a few hours of careful writing and proofreading. Thank you for your time.
40 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding "Point n Shoot",
The wide angle capability (25mm) is spectacular. It opens a a whole new perspective on the point and shoot camera. The images just have a spacious quality to them that really grabs your attention. And the wide angle allows for and extra creative element to your photos. The LCD is very high quality. It's a generous 3 inches and is absolutely outstanding in it's color and clarity.
The camera is small and compact but has a very solid and quality feel to it. Seems to be all metal with exception of the battery/SD chip cover.
The photos I have taken so far have turned out excellent,super clear and sharp.
27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The ideal camera for the picky photographer - or married to one.,
I wanted a camera I could take everywhere, and use everywhere. That meant that PORTABILITY was my number one criteria for this purchase. The camera HAD to fit in shirt pocket or pants pocket. Than means that the lens had to retract with a cover, like it does on the Lumix. That said, the question was, "How good of a camera can you get in that small package?"
The answer is, "UNBELIVABLE." The most important thing for any photographer in a camera is the optics ("glass," we call it). The Leica lens has to be the most sophisticated lens in a camera this size. Although the motorized lens folds flat into the body, it has 10 elements (pieces of glass in the lens), including three aspheric surfaces and two made out of extra-low dispersion (ED) glass. A couple of years ago a single piece of aspheric glass in a lens meant that lens would sell for $800 or more. In other words, Leica used amazing new technology inside this lens, which is why the pictures look so amazing. I can't say enough positive about the picture quality from this small camera.
For most people, the most important thing in a point-and-shoot camera like this is USABILITY. What that means is getting the pictures you want with the least amount of fuddling around. It is one thing to read a list of 50 features before you buy; it is quite another thing to hunt through dozens of tiny, cryptic menus to figure out how to turn off the flash, or whatever.
It is in creating a new standard of USABILITY that I think Leica/Panasonic deserves an award. The buttons are easy to get to and despite their size, they have confident feel with a real click. And they are LABELED! The on/off switch says, "ON OFF." There is a dedicated flash button and a dedicated delete button (with a high contrast picture of garbage can next to it). There is a dedicated movie button, although I won't be taking any videos with this camera.
The menus are in ENGLISH. (Can whoever decide that reverting to Egyptian icons from written language be taken out and cut into 10.1 million pieces, please!) The menus use color intelligently, and are in type on the 3" LCD screen large enough for people to read without putting on reading glasses. The most important features are the fastest to get to. Somebody talked to real photographers in designing the user interface.
There are too many well-thought-out usability features to list here. For example, the top knob has two programmable positions where you can store your favorite settings. I love that!
For me, the feature that triggered my purchase decision was the ability to record five or ten seconds of audio annotation with each photograph. If you are at a party, you can speak the name of the person after you take the shot. If you are on a trip, you can name the location. This, for me, is HUGE!
I have to talk about the zoom lens. Obviously, 12X optical zoom is unusual. Most photographers don't like zoom lenses because the sacrifice in image quality is too great. However, the optical quality out of this camera is AMAZING. The wide-angle setting is unusually wide. I have used it liberally. The word is, FUN. You can shoot in a crowded room full of people and get every single person. You can shoot a big scenic and get all the mountains, lake, sunset--everything. You can shoot a puppy's nose from three inches away. All wide-angle lenses suffer from a problem known as chromatic aberration, which means that at the corners of the picture you get green and purple fringe around objects. This lens does not do that. I don't know what magic they used.
Panasonic includes an optical image stabilizer. I have used this feature in the past on my high-end DSLR, and it is magic. However, until this camera, I had never seen it work well on a small camera. I have taken some ultra-zoom pictures that came out 100% sharp. I haven't done enough testing to know the limits of stabilizer, but under average conditions the results are AMAZING.
There is macro capability, which means the lens can focus as close as few inches. I took a photo of a bumble-bee.
Battery-life. We went on a three-hour hike. I had the camera on nearly all the time, with the display on, and the flash forced on, and the lens in auto-focus. One hundred photos later, the battery showed two-thirds left. Your mileage may vary, but I think that kind of battery life is amazing. And yes, I always carry a spare, charged battery with me.
The camera does not come with accessories. Plan on buying: a soft case, an HD-SC memory card (the faster the better - look for a minimum speed of "6"), and an extra battery. The camera has a tiny amount of internal memory - I could take about nine photos with NO memory card installed. So I could play with the camera while I waited for my later purchase to arrive. Thank you, Panasonic.
I should name some negatives. There is one big one and one small one. The big one is that the LCD is not visible in sunlight. Nobody has an LCD that fixes this problem, yet. But I wish they did. There is no viewfinder, so for outdoor photography you are pretty much blind. I know you can buy sun-shades, but you shouldn't have to buy some after-market, glue-on band-aid to this problem. And, you need more than a sunshade to see the screen in daylight.
The small problem is that there is no "raw" mode. Us picky types like to adjust contrast and color in post-production software. A camera like this goes to a lot of trouble to give you an acceptable picture with no tweaking. The camera does a good job, but I like my sky blue, not white. I have found a work-around, but what I really want is, "raw."
The user manual is printed paper and well written. Very well written. My biggest complaint is that nobody makes a small case for this camera with a dedicated compartment for the user manual.
I almost gave this camera a rating of 3 stars, just so people would read my review. But that wouldn't have been fair. You have to buy the products you respect so the manufactures build more good products like this wondrous camera, instead of the discount drek you see everywhere.
Thank you for reading. I have never written a review longer than a couple of sentences before.
27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous!,
Things I love:
a)amazing pics - true to life color and light and beautiful resolution
b) easy to use right out of the box
c) can take stills in 16:9 aspect ration for beautiful scenery pics
d) video in HD AND zoom while videoing (very few cameras offer this option)
I am a former pro-photog (many years ago, during film age), exclusively used Nikon F2 and Leica M4. I have owned a variety of digital Nikon, Olympus, Canon, as well as sampling friends' digital cameras. I had gotten to the point where I expected never to be impressed by a digital camera - as convenient as they are, they just don't render images with the detail that film does. I am now admitting I was wrong - this camera renders images so true in color and resolution, I would have thought I took them with my Leica.
I have been reading some of the negative reviews about grainy indoor shots and poor low-light shots. I think I have an idea why some users have experienced this. No pics are going to look good or be free of grain or noise above 400 ISO. DO NOT USE IA (intelligent auto) feature - in low light it will automatically use higher ISO and you will end up with grainy, noisy pics. Instead, use normal mode and go to menu - intelligent ISO and select ISO 400 max. I just tried both modes side by side - with IA and flash off in a semi-dark room, the ISO was 1250. Using Normal mode and ISO 400 max, the aperature and shutter speed adjusted and the resulting pic was much sharper - incredible difference. User error will get you every time!
A bit more expensive than your average digital camera, but so worth it. If you are looking for a simple camera for pics of kids and vacations, you can spend less, but you will not find better image quality. If you are a frustrated digital user who can't understand why a digital can't seem to take a decent picture in extreme conditions (low-light, for example), or want digital images that rival film images - you have found your nirvana.
I would wager that this compact camera stacks up to the digital SLRs costing many hundreds more.
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