738 of 756 people found the following review helpful
on April 14, 2011
Color Name: Black
For the majority of people looking for a "pocket" camera - they can stop looking. This will honestly do for pretty much everything you really need. It's the newly released little brother to the more expensive ZS10/TZ20.
It is not perfect, of course, but even if you take a "money no object" approach to picking an upper premium compact camera - there is currently nothing on the market that is head and shoulders better than this - although there can always be a case made for different qualities.
Big Zoom - check
Good "glass" on the front - yep, Leica
Optical Image Stabilisation - uh huh, works quietly and efficiently in the background making your shots less blurry.
Good quality photos - sure - but with the caveat that a "full on" digital SLR will always do better. The photos come out are a nice colour (not too vivid - but also not too washed out) and they don't come out a funny colour under artificial lighting (some cameras can struggle and give you a funny tint under striplights or old fashioned tungsten bulbs).
Noise levels - the "speckly" bits on photos that you sometimes get in dark conditions - is definitely there - especially at higher ISO's - but you get this problem in dim lighting conditions even with all compact cameras to a greater or lesser degree. Even if you get an SLR camera - even up to a year or so ago - you'll find that they aren't infallible to this either.
HD Video - check, but in MPEG format. I think that this takes up more space than the newer AVCHD format on the SZ10/TZ18 - but I would be wary of getting a camera that uses this format if you have an older PC or laptop and especially if you have a netbook - in case the hardware can't cope. I guess Windows XP/NT/2000 users should definitely be careful - and to a lesser extent even if you have a Windows Vista machines you might think twice - especially if you are on a laptop where the hardware will always be slower than the equivalent price PC.
I have a mixture of laptops and netbooks running Windows 7 through to XP so didn't want to take the chance - especially as other family members and the kids will probably want to view some of the footage (family and my kids have the older machines whilst dad gets the upgrade LOL).
I do wonder if the AVCHD format on the more expensive ZS10/TZ20 is going to be a bit of an evolutionary dead end - just as BLU RAY hasn't really taken off - even though it's technically better than DVD - most people even if they have a big widescreen TV find that their DVD is fine (probably because the modern DVD players and TV's will upscale the DVD resolution to give a semi-HD picture quality). The ZS10/TZ20 I think gives you the option to record in both (I think I read that somewhere but if this a deal breaker you should check to be sure).
If you only want a great point and shoot camera this is brilliant and has loads of options. Not only that but the options are really well laid out and easy to understand - by which I mean the dials and menus are set out in a common sense fashion and also instead of just little symbols/icons to indicate that you are in portrait mode or landscape mode - there is a little text underneath which tells you what it will do.
I've had a number of Nikon's and Canon's - and for some reason they can still make cameras with menus and buttons that were laid out by Martians - they can be so unintuitive even for people who are really experienced photographers - and you have to keep referring to the instruction book to work out what to press or what menu icon you are looking for - and even then it doesn't stick in the memory because it's all so counter-intuitive.
If you think you might - in a little while - like to step up in your photography later and get a bit more creative - or you are thinking of this a second camera to augment your SLR - then you'll want to know that this has A LOT of manual control thrown in which is pretty unusual in the compact camera class and it has Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority and Full Manual modes which is quite a rarity in the pocket camera class.
If you are an experienced SLR user, I can tell you that the PASM options are pretty nicely implemented. Sensibly placed access buttons (the small round exposure button and Q Menu buttons to the right of the screen do this) and the menus are nicely set up to easily access the bits you want for Aperture / Shutter priority / full manual control. It'll never be as good as your SLR but you can't carry that around with you this easily and it won't shoot HD video either (or probably not unless you have the latest generation).
The 16x optical zoom is class leading. You can get really good close ups if you want to.
You should only compare OPTICAL zoom when you are looking at different cameras and ignore the Panasonic advertising guys (or anybody else )who point to the overall 20x zoom - because if you include the quoted digital zoom - the extra 4x zoom basically just crops your optical zoom photo in camera - and your laptop software will do that - only better - though I guess it might be relevant if you don't want to be doing with all that and just need an "okay" sort of photo).
It also has a really good wide angle lens - 24mm - which basically means you can get more scenery in the shot at the edges. The lower the number the better - and 24mm is currently the lowest I am aware of. The lower the number the more you can fit into the photo - so if you are looking at a nice panorama or want to take a photo with the whole table in the shot - you are more likely to get it with this lens than say if you compared it to other cameras - whose lens might start at 27mm, 28mm, 35mm. This small difference can be the difference between getting everything or maybe not quite getting everything into the shot that you want to.
OVERALL it feels nice in the hand - and it is quite light. It has a cool solid feel metal body and all the buttons and switches feel like they will last.
Of course none of this would be of any use if the photos weren't top notch ... but luckily they are in my opinion. Sure, you can get a little better photos perhaps - but bear in mind if you are reading other reviews - a lot of this is personal preference - like how you like your TV at home to be set up with brighter or more vivid colours or more contrast etc.
In technical terms - compact cameras are never going to match SLR cameras - because their sensors just aren't as big. This is also one of the reasons that you get more "noise" (or speckly bits) in photos from pocket cameras. The camera reviewers who do this for a living always seem to forget they are reviewing a pocket camera - as they probably all have SLR's at home - and they get a bit obsessed about how the photo appears when you look up close with a magnifying glass. Surely most people simply look at their photo on their laptop/Mac/PC and go "ooh that's nice" before deciding whether to print it or not ?
Bottom line - this gives great photos that I am more than happy with even compared with my SLR (a two year old Pentax K20) - and if you want a compact/pocket camera with the ability to take great scenery or panoramic shots and then also zoom really close on things as well then this will do a great job for you. I think you'll be pleased with this as your main or secondary camera. Try not to get too hung up on specialist reviews - a compact camera is never going to give you technical quality photos of a large SLR - but you can video with it and even the newer SLR's don't do that very well - though heaven knows why not - maybe they just have a slow escalation marketing policy and are going to deliver that to the market as the desire for SLR's with video capability increases. And remember that if you wanted a whopping great SLR you'd have got a whopping great SLR.
Also - go and have a look at all the cameras "in the flesh" in a store - to see if the size suits you. There aren't any smaller camera's with this big a zoom, but there are plenty of camera's which are smaller and more pocket / handbag friendly.
IF you consider the size too big then you should definitely look at other camera's, but if the huge range zoom is just what you are looking for (like me) - then this is for you I reckon (unless you have a strong loyalty for one or other brand in particular I guess).
IF you really want lower noise on high ISO photos but don't want an SLR and still want the big zoom then do have a look around at the competition and check out the specialist website reviews.
IF you just want a nice pocket camera that gives you nice photos - but you are on a budget then you should look at the outgoing models from all of the manufacturers - but do have a look at Fuji as they have currently (March 28th 2011) some nice deals on their outgoing models which would give you good zoom and reasonable photos eg Fuji Finepix with 10x zoom 12MP photos.
And finally don't get hung up on the megapixels on a compact camera. The quality of the "glass" on the front of the camera is likely going to have just a big - if not bigger impact. Although there are exceptions - more expensive usually equals better glass. This is why getting a formerly $400+ camera which is currently being discounted due to a newer incoming model can be a worthwhile strategy - as the originally more expensive camera will generally have better quality lenses. Anything above 10MP is going to be fine 90% of the time - and more megapixels actually often means more grainy photos in darker conditions.
Here's my snapshot on two good alternatives - although there are potentially important subtleties amongst them and numerous alternatives from other manufacturers like Pentax and Fuji. There are lots of minor but potentially irritating features out there such as how fast can they take photos - how do they perform in low light with the flash off - how realistic are the colours (which can definitely be a personal taste thing) - and also really important day to day things away from how good the camera is technically in delivering a good photo or video - eg are the buttons and switches and menus in just the right or wrong spot for you - and does it feel good in the hand to you - you may prefer a lighter camera, bigger or smaller buttons.
Canon PowerShot SX210 has 14.1 MP and 14x zoom - has only a 28mm lens - which isn't too bad - looks a good bet and has pretty nice write ups. ISO goes up to 3200 if you look at the SX200 - though of course it'll probably give you a speckly ol' photo. FWIW I didn't think that the difference between 24 and 28mm on the wide angle zoom was that much of a difference - but having had it now for a while I have to say that there's no way I'd go back.
Nikon CoolPix S 8100 has 12.1MP, significantly worse wide angle lens at 30mm so you won't be able to get so much scenery into the shot, only 10x zoom but is therefore smaller and more pocket / handbag friendly. It has a fast shooting 10 frames per second though the TZ18 can do similar job if not quite so fast. It has less manual control as it has no Shutter and Aperture Priority.
ME ... personally ... I did have a good look at the SZ10/TZ20 and in fact nearly got it - but in the end I decided that it's a bit heavier (though not much) and I couldn't see that the extra money for Geo-Tagging and Stereo video sound were much use to me. I mean the stereo Mics are 5mm apart and worrying about the battery drain on the geotagging would have driven me crazy - constantly turning it on and off to save power ... and I figured that I would make do with simply remembering where I was when I took the photo. If I really want to know where I was at the time I take a photo of a road sign or landmark nearby ? Works for me anyway :o)
I wanted big zoom - on a compact camera - with a wide zoom and I already have an SLR so this is perfect. Although there are no doubt one or two better cameras out there, they aren't that much better to make me worry.
Good luck and have fun picking your camera.
259 of 263 people found the following review helpful
on June 23, 2011
Color Name: Silver
I purchased this camera (in black) a few weeks ago with the Lowepro Ridge30 case Lowepro Ridge 30 Camera Case (Black) and Transcend 8GB Class 10 SDHC card Transcend 8 GB Class 10 SDHC Flash Memory Card TS8GSDHC10E. I was tired of my old cameras not getting the right shot because they were never fast enough. That was my main criteria for purchasing this camera. After UPS dropped off the camera on a Friday, I took the kids to the park to see what it could do. The camera's ability to capture fast action shots is amazing. Kids coming down slides, crossing the monkey bars, or spinning on the merry-go-round...this captured them all crystal clear. Keep in mind, I did have to do some experimental shots first, but on fast action, set it to sports mode and fire away. Saturday was off to an outdoor Graduation. Again, the colors, ease of use, and quality of the shots was better than I was expecting. Sunday, we were off to the amusement park. I wore cargo shorts and the camera was in the side pocket all day wrapped in a napkin in a ziplock bag to protect it from rain and water rides. It took abuse from roller coasters to bumper cars. This is where I was stunned by the photos. I was able to take pictures of the kids on the roller coasters with their screaming, eyes wide open, hair blown back, "I'm going to kill you dad for making me ride this" expressions. See my pictures in the zs8-black photo's. BEAS62 has included some photos of closeups and the quality of the zoom. I have taken similar photos and had the same results. In my opinion, this is a great everyday-general use camera. As for the battery, I took 300 pictures between two weekends before it went to 'low battery'. Most shots (80%) were outdoor with no flash and most shots were turning the camera on and off to take 1-5 shots at a time.
When I began this journey of trying to find a camera to take fast action shots, I was in the mindset that only a DSLR could achieve this. I have had, and used many others, in the past and have been let down. Finally I accepted that nothing was going to take these action shots without shelling out $800+. But I don't want to shell out that much, not now at least. Besides, I want a camera small enough to throw in my pocket during trips/events and not have it hanging from my neck shouting "tourist". The reviews on Amazon were not enough alone to convince me. The negative reviews, I felt, were lacking more detail. Some, I get it, you dropped the camera and panasonic wont fix it so now you bash them here. After weeding out the bashing, reading professional reviews on other sites, I had it narrowed down. I did have a spending limit of $250. What sold me was others recommending this one for the fast action shots, however, several of those reviewers did comment on poor low light pictures being grainy. Most of my pictures are outdoors or indoors with good lighting. I have taken several indoor photos and played with some of the scene modes. Quality indoor photos can be taken when the right scene mode is used. Auto mode does not always take the best picture. Use the different scenes for the appropriate picture. I feel many reviews are based on this Automatic picture setting. No camera I have seen will take the best pictures in Auto mode. This is not a $50 film camera of yesteryear. These are advanced electronics, the other modes are there because they take the best shots. Auto mode is there for those who don't want to stray away from the basics. Those folks are the ones who should not gripe. Mom...Dad...Grandpa...Grandma...I understand technology is too much for you, but if you are not willing to use the features as they are available or intended, don't review it based on your lack of fully testing the product. I may have passed up several better cameras because the ratings were by less-than-amateur users. I digress.
What I like about the camera:
1. 24mm ultra-wide angle lens. No more backing up to get everything in the picture.
2. 12 element in 10 groups Leica lens. Well known high quality lens.
3. 16x optical zoom. This baby zooms and zooms. Equivalent to 24-384mm lens
4. Intelligent Scene Selector sets the scene automatically. Played with a little and should be useful.
5. Auto focus subject tracking detection. No need to keep pressing shutter button half-way to readjust focus. This helps with the kids and fast action shots.
6. Optical image stabilization, not electronic...keeps the quality of the picture during shaking.
7. 2 speed zoom, fast or slow depending on how fast you swivel the lever.
8. 720p HD motion video. Not the best, Its not 1080p but only blu-ray and some camcorders are. 720p is what your local NBC/ABC/CBS networks broadcast.
9. Face recognition. great for finding photos on your computer.
10. The buttons and menu. Easy to navigate and menu buttons have "teeth" so you know what/where you are pressing.
11. Instant on. From pressing power to 1st shot is like 1-2 seconds. Once the lens motors out, its ready. No waiting.
What I don't like about the camera:
1. Battery. Its a proprietary battery and needs to have the microchip. There are generics, but if it doesn't have the microchip to talk to the camera, the camera wont turn on. Beware on buying generic batteries.
2. No viewfinder. Hard to see the lcd in direct sunlight, but then so is my smartphone and laptop. Not that big of a deal, as shots with direct full sun on screen are rare for me.
When purchasing, I would recommend the Class 10 SDHC cards from a reputable company. Panasonic recommends at least a Class 6. For a few bucks more, get the Class 10. I have yet to wait for the the camera to 'write to disk' before taking the next shot. It is also fast enough for HD video, again, no waiting or buffering/glitching. As for cases, watch the sizes. I originally ordered the Lowepro Ridge 10 because the dimensions said it would fit. It didn't. I went to my local target and they had the ridge series. The 30 fits it with a little wiggle room to spare. The 20 would be too snug and risk breaking the zipper. The ridge 30 has a zipper for the camera, a flap and pouch that fit the charger (but barely, and I would not walk around with it in...just a good place to store it when it sits in the closet), and a zipper on the flap for an extra memory card or battery. Comes with shoulder strap and closed belt loop.
...more to come, I will update the zs8-black
212 of 215 people found the following review helpful
on March 28, 2011
Color Name: SilverVerified Purchase
I upgraded from the Z3 and this is my 3rd Lumix camera. I am a insurance adjuster and take over 300 pictures per day and these cameras get alot of heavy work and is constantly used in conditions that is not the average user. What I wanted most from a work camera, was the ability to zoom in and the wide angle. I take alot of photos on roofs where damages have occured and the ability of this camera to do those things, is unsurpassed. The old one had a 12x zoom which I thought was great, until I used this 16x zoom. Quite amazing to say the least. With your typical camera of this size, you might get a 5 zoom and you will just not believe the difference with this 16 zoom. Next would be the 24 wide angle aspect. Again, quite amazing. I can stand 25 feet in front of a house and get the whole house in the photo. With typical cameras, you would have to stand across the street.
Next would be the picture quaility. Absolutely great as well. Clear, crisp,perfect lighting and on and on.
Easy to use and set the settings as well.
Although a little more pricey than most, it is soooo worth it!!!
Take a chance on this one, if you are unsure. You will NOT be dissapointed!! Love it! Love it!
118 of 119 people found the following review helpful
Color Name: SilverVerified Purchase
First and foremost, this is easy to use and takes great pictures.
I've carried a predecessor to this camera, the TZ5, regularly including while running. That's moving to a dedicated application and I wanted to take advantage of the additional zoom Panasonic offers for my "daily" camera. There are smaller, lighter cameras but this is the best combination with the longer zoom, everything smaller stops at about 5X. This has an optical 16X and a very effective 20X. The macro mode gives crisp,incredible close ups.
A friend recently took his digital SLR and three lenses on a trip to Hawaii and ended up taking pictures with his cell phone because he didn't want to haul any of the photo gear on his touring. "The best camera is the one you have with you." This is easy to carry, even in a back pocket. It is too heavy for a front shirt pocket, but it's OK in a jacket pocket. I keep mine in an Amphipod model 670 Ballistic Trail Pouch which also has a belt loop if I want to use it and is large enough to hold a spare battery, though the battery life is fine in normal use.
This isn't quite a "point and shoot" but it's close enough when the dial is set to "i" or "intelligent" mode where it figures out everything for you. You just have to know to set it to the "i" setting if that's how you want it to work.
My only beef with all these non SLR digitals is that even when set to scenery mode, where a fixed "infinite" focus would be fine, they still work to focus and there's no manual override. A small concern and only occasionally problematic, such as when trying to take a picture of the moon. You have to keep in mind that the flash falls off rapidly at about 10', but the images are good in limited light.
This has a very effective image stabilization system, but as you move over about 10X with any of these cameras you need to be conscious of trying to hold still.
If you want a utilitarian, easy to use, long zoom camera that takes terrific pictures, this is an excellent choice.
99 of 102 people found the following review helpful
on March 24, 2011
Color Name: Black
I purchased the ZS8 as an "upgrade" to my ZS7. For my purposes, I wanted a decent quality pocketable camera with some reach. The ZS8 fits the prescription nicely. I wasn't overly concerned with video performance as that's something I rarely use, and neither was I too concerned about continuous frame rate. To meet the price point, the ZS8 video is "downgraded" from the ZS7's full HD to 720p and it doesn't share the blinding speed of it's big brother ZS10 which uses a totally different MOS sensor versus the ZS8's CCD. But the image quality is quite good and the zoom capability is remarkable for a pocket camera. So far, it is performing very well. One hint is that when you are shooting very fine detail in good light, you may wish to disable the iResolution. In regular use iResolution does improve the overall contrast, but at the expense of fine detail such as fine hairs or fibers things you'll only notice at a 100% crop. The macro capability is astonishing on this camera. I've come to refer to it as my "pocket microscope". All in all, I'm very pleased with operating performance and image quality.
102 of 109 people found the following review helpful
on August 1, 2011
Color Name: BlackVerified Purchase
We loved this camera for the short 4 month lifespan it had. One day it just froze up with the zoom out and open. We tried everything to get it to work again. Thankfully it was under warranty...or so we thought. After having it professionally wrapped and shipped, Panasonic let us know they received the camera. Over 2 weeks after they received it, they called us to say we owe them $175 to repair the camera. They said the camera is "damaged" and therefore not under warranty. This was after they sat on the camera for 2 weeks.
They have yet to define what the "damage" is, but they are adament that there was no way one of their workers dropped/damaged the camera in the 2+ weeks they had the camera in their possession. We know the camera had no damage when we sent it in. Oh, well I guess we need to buy a new camera and it won't be Panasonic because we aren't paying it.
So in a nutshell, it does a great job. But if you have problems with your camera, be ready to have to pay for a repair. Some warranty. BUYER BEWARE!
196 of 218 people found the following review helpful
on April 29, 2011
Color Name: Black
I bought this camera as an upgrade to my Panasonic TZ5, which I absolutely loved. It took amazing pictures for two years, and I had become a fan of Panasonic cameras after also having used, albeit briefly, cameras like the ZS3 and the ZS7. The ZS8 looked much better on paper than all of its predecessors, but I was very disappointed with it in several respects, which ultimately made me return it.
The first thing that I didn't like about it when I opened the package was its lightness. Don't get me wrong - lightness is usually a good trait in a point and shoot - but this camera just felt cheap, at some points hollow, almost. I also noticed how the materials used in its construction felt much cheaper and plasticky than those used in my TZ5.
Upon turning it on, I was in for another bad surprise. Knowing that I was spoiled by my TZ5's 460k screen and my iPhone 4's high resolution display, I had set low expectations for the ZS8's 230k one, but it still seemed much fuzzier than I thought it would be and I found it hard to use to tell whether the camera had focused properly. I suppose you will not notice this if your previous camera had a 230k display, or if you had never used the iPhone 4's display, but for anyone who had, a 230k display these days on cameras is a no-no.
But I could live with these shortcomings, and if the camera took good pictures, I was decided to keep it. A 20 minute photo shoot outside was a complete turn-off, however. The pictures looked worse than on my TZ5, but I thought it was only due to the ZS8's low resolution display, but even after loading them up on my computer, the ZS8's pictures looked worse and only sometimes of the same quality as those from my TZ5. I will admit, though, that I was pleasantly surprised by the zoom and the MEGA O.I.S stabilization on the ZS8: Even at the maximum zoom, it was very easy to take clear, shake-free photos. Other than this redeemable quality, I didn't like the pictures from the ZS8 at all. They had a lot of noise, were rather dull, had low dynamic range, and in general, although much larger in pixel count, not at all of better quality than those from the TZ5.
78 of 84 people found the following review helpful
on November 14, 2011
Color Name: Black
I bought this camera about 10 months ago and it took fair pictures. The camera quit working and I returned it to the Mcallen TX service center as directed. The service center indicated I had damaged the camera. Truly, had I dropped the camera and damaged it I would not have gone to the expense of shipping it. I will not buy another Panasonic product. I called Panasonic to see if they would do anything for me and the tech said she was not allowed to transfer me to anyone who could help me. Not a fun experience to say the least.
91 of 99 people found the following review helpful
on June 8, 2011
Color Name: Black
The aluminum housing at the end of the lens is extremely fragile, thinner than an aluminum soda can. I slightly dented it doing macro photography. The camera continued to work fine, until three weeks later it refused to start up, even with fresh batteries. At this point, it was less than two moths old. I returned the camera under the warranty. Panasonic would not honor the warranty, saying the dent indicated abuse. They offered me a refurbished unit with a 90 day warranty for a $192.50. I refused. I do not think the camera is robust or worth the $s compared to competitors. I will put the $192.50 toward a Nikon or Olympus or Canon camera instead.
Again, the Panasonic warranty program seems designed to refuse honest warranty repairs.
56 of 59 people found the following review helpful
on July 18, 2011
Color Name: Black
This camera is garbage and so is the customer service. I bought the camera for Christmas and it was broken by April. The lens kept sticking and then we got an error message. SO I had to send it back and they sent me a refurbished model. Here it is three months later and the same thing happened. Now they want me to send it in again! I am so disappointed with the product.